Started building the wye and reversing loop extension to my layout this weekend that Jan and Dave helped design over the past couple of weeks.

The major issues with the build will be laying out and fitting up the new "wedge" and wye; constructing the liftout across the doorway; cutting out the rear of two closets for passageway for the long extension; and designing and building the reversing loop at the other end.

The basic plan (not to scale) is attached. Most everything to the right (except the top area) is the existing layout. Everything to the right is the new extension.

The attached pics show the left (west) side of the existing layout and where the extension will cross the doorway; pass through the closets; extend across the workbench and up the side wall and then come back via the reversing loop and onto the existing layout via the switch on the new liftout.

You can see that the existing shelving across the doorway is not level, so adjustments will have to be made for that. You can also see the main plumbing stack in one of the closets that limits placement of the long straightaway that will extend from one side of the closets through the other. In order to minimize any possible deflection, I am using a 10' oak 1 x 4 board that will extend through both closets and onto the existing shelving. It's pretty stiff but I'll install a couple of braces to minimize any potential deflection of the oak board.

I'll keep posting my progress as it goes along. 


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Original Post

The 1st step was to mock up the 12.5" "wedge" to mate the liftout to the existing layout. I screwed in a couple of mending braces to the existing shelving and then a scrap board to support the other end and laid in a piece of wood as the wedge. I then fitted up the new switches and the connecting track between them and it looks pretty close right off the bat.

The North/South straight on the edge of the existing layout had a 30" straight piece of FT in it, so that had to be removed and the O-36 switch and two 10" pieces inserted. The lantern switch stand also had to be relocated to the inboard layout side near the Roadway truck. After mocking it up, it looks like about only 1/3 of the piece of wood will be needed to make up the wedge.

I also installed the new O-36 switch at the top of the existing layout in place of where just a plain O-36 curve was in place. The new switch will allow trains to go straight through across the door and onto the extension rather than just curve around onto the straight on the existing layout. Sounds pretty straightforward, right - not - there was no room for the lantern switch stand on the "right" side of the switch because it would interfere with the existing sidings, so it had to be swapped to the left side. No big deal except for the fact that there is a wall there and no place for the switch stand to go. I ended up having to notch out a small section of the wall for the switch stand to lay into. Had to use a Dremel and cut off wheel cutting into 1" thick knotty pine paneling to create the notch. I'll go back and make it look a little nicer after everything is up and running.

I suspect nothing in this build will be easy.


Extension 9 - Wye Mock-upExtension 6 - Switch Stand Cutout

Extension 7 - Braces


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It’s never easy retrofitting an existing layout because we always forget something, like the switch stand. You found a solution pretty quickly, but it’s never as easy as it looks on paper or in the software. Still, I think you’re going to be happy when it’s all done.

Cheers, Dave

USAF E-9 (Ret) Aim High!

After installing two of the new switches and mocking up the wye configuration, the next step was to cut out rough openings in the sides of the closets for the track to pass through. My reciprocating saw got a good workout this weekend. The side nearest the door was pretty easy since there's no rear wall in that closet because the main plumbing stack is inside.

The other closet was not so easy because it has a rear wall and a sink and a lot of framing to hold everything together that had to be cut out to get clearance for the track to pass through cleanly and "sistered" back with new studs to keep everything structurally sound. I had to cut a 6" notch all across the rear closet wall to get access to everything and will have to go back after the project is finished and put a new panel in place to cover the notch.

The pic's show the rough openings with the 10' oak board in place and track temporarily laid on the board. The first pic shows the main stack closet with the board running through. The second pic shows the rough opening on the door side and the third pic shows the track coming out about eight feet later on the other side above my workbench.

I have some 1/4" foam roadbed made specifically for Fastrack width on order that will provide some needed height and sound deadening.

 Extension 2 - Closet InteriorExtension 12 - Rough Opening AExtension 13 - Rough Opening B




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gftiv posted:

You probably need a small shield in the closet to keep the contents of the closet off the tracks. But not so big that you can't reach the trains on a derailment. 

That's a good idea. The closet doesn't get much use but I'll put something there to make sure nothing falls onto the tracks. If a train derails in the closet, it's probably going to have a pretty good fall. Thankfully, it's a pure straight, so there's no reason it should - other than the train gods.  

Completed the "wedge" area along the existing layout which will allow the west leg of the curve to cross the doorway. Glued, butted and screwed the base pine board to the shelf and side of the layout after removing the edging and then added the 1/2" plywood and 1" foam all cut to the same shape to form the wedge and get it to the same height as the existing layout.

It's pretty solid and will be even more so once I cut back some of the wedge towards the edge of the new track. I figure about 50% of the wedge as it now sits will be cut away. I wouldn't stand on it, but it shouldn't need any further support, either.


Wedge 1Wedge 2Wedge 3


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I like planning and figuring out the best way to do these build outs, so it's enjoyable for me.

Couple more pics of the wedge with the track mocked-up in place - looks pretty close.  All of the wedge from about 2" south of the curve track will eventually be cut away with a jig saw. I'll get more done this weekend.



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Made some good progress this weekend. I cut the door molding supports out to the correct height - 7" overall, about 5.5" above the track height which should be more than enough for most trains to clear. It was a little tricky because the shelving is not level from side-to-side across the doorway, so the supports had to be cut at different heights. I then fitted in the liftout to butt directly up against the existing layout on the right side and the edge of the support on the left where the 1 x 4 will butt up against it.

 I then cut away the wedge to allow 1" clearance along the side of the new curve and then trimmed and curved the liftout with the jigsaw from about 4" wide on the left side to about 13" on the wider curve side and fit it to the opening. I then cut the two closet openings from just the previous rough cut to a finished opening and painted the inside concrete wall flat black to resemble a tunnel. I then sanded everything smooth and restained everything where the Sawzall nicked it, so the CEO won't notice.
Next, I laid out the track from the wye to all the way to the far left outside wall beyond my workbench and fired everything up. At 18v on the Z4K, I was reading 18.7v on my voltmeter (the transformer reads low) all the way to that side and ran a test train through. Unfortunately, it snagged on a framing member in the middle of the closets, so I had to stop and cut that away. Once I did that, it ran smooth all the way to the end. Pretty neat to see it run through the closets. It did look like the Legacy signal was deteriorating near the end of the line, though. I hope it's in the track and not through the air.
I have some alignment pins and a set of dowels and holes to keep the liftout aligned and I'll get to that next. I'll screw the track down on both sides and mark a line on where to cut the track and hopefully, that will keep everything aligned. That's next, along with staining the long oak board that runs through the closets and painting and turfing the edge of the layout, wedge and liftout. Then, I'll hard wire all the track inside the closets (won't be too hard since I'm using 30" straights) and start running the main wiring.


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Thanks - easy when you have great track designers !

BTW, the fitment of the wye turned out to be not that difficult. I think that's because I could move the switch back and forth across the liftout until I found a "sweet spot" where both the top of the wye and the curve could connect to it with stock FT pieces and I didn't have to squeeze everything into a defined space.


I agree with Jan - bend the tabs under track, lift the rails and pull the joiner pins at the locations indicated - use 2 - 5" sections on the divergent straight and pull the pins between them.

Pull the pins at the other end where there is a track joint 

Then make power jumpers with plugs



Arctic Railroad


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I wouldn't hesitate to simply cut the track to match the lift-out split. Fastrack cuts easily with whatever your preferred tool is, be it a Dremel-style cutoff wheel or an old-fashioned hacksaw. For me a  hacksaw-kerf left the correct gap to allow placing and removing the lift-out.






Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.


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I like the idea of just pulling the pins and will try that first - I can always go back to cutting the track if the alignment doesn't work out for some reason.

I'm waiting for a wire order and connectors from Del City to come in, so it may be a few days or the weekend until I can get to that part. In the interim, I still have to stain the long oak board running through the closet; paint and turf the wedge; and hard wire the 30" sections of track in the closets. That will keep me busy for a awhile.

I've never added a lift-out, but it seems to me you could just add a cleat (outlined in Red) to the underside where the Lt Green lift-out meets the Green/Yellow main bench work. In your photo, there appears to be about 1.5" of door jam between the edge of the benchwork and the actual door with the new plywood lift-out. If you replace the 10" track with two 5" tracks like Carl suggested and pulled the pins on the 3 Red tracks that extend just past the edge of the lift-out, you wouldn't have to cut anything, bench work or track. Add a similar cleat to the other side and the lift-out would simply rest on the cleats. I don't see any reason whole tracks need to be on the lift-out, especially with FasTrack. If I'm wrong, I'm sure Carl and Jan will let me know.  


Cheers, Dave

USAF E-9 (Ret) Aim High!


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The liftout rests on the bottom part of where the door jam supports were cut-out to allow the train to pass through the doorway. They are about 5/8" wide, but only extend out about 4". That's fine for the left side of the liftout, so it sits right on the door jam support. See pics attached.

The right side sits on the door jam support but since the right side of the liftout is about 12" wide, that would not have been enough support and to insure correct alignment.

I don't have a picture of it, but I have already added a cleat to the side of the wedge extending from the end of the door jam support to the end of the liftout at it's widest point. In addition to extra support, I also needed something to drill into to install the pins and dowels on that end to keep the liftout in alignment. 

The cleat had to be screwed into the side of the wedge and not underneath because the existing shelving is about a 1/2" off from level across the door. That also meant the existing right-side door jam support at that end of the liftout had to be cut 1/2" higher than on the left to get the liftout level.

I'll post some more pics which will make it clearer, but you can also see it from the attached sketches.

I think Jan and Carl are right, too - I just always pictured a liftout as needing to be cut right at the edges and never had the foresight to think out of the box that you could eliminate any cutting by just disassembling the track on either side of the liftout - it takes a village !! 





Not too much done this past weekend - life and family obligations.

I did drill the holes to mount the alignment pins and dowels for the liftout (not all the holes on the right side were actually used) and inserted the metal receivers and pins. I also painted and turfed the wedge and stained the long board that runs through the closets to match the knotty pine.

Also, trimmed, re-installed and filled in the luan edging board that I had removed at the wedge.

The wire, connectors and terminals came in from Del City and I ordered some more quarrystone paper tile to put on the wall behind the wedge.

Hopefully, I'll get more done this week.



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Got the liftout itself completed. Once everything is up and running, I'll go back and install luan edging or veneer strips along the edges of the wedge and liftout for a finished look.

Next step is to complete the fit-up of the 10' long oak board running through the closets. I'll glue down the special FT foam roadbed and solder all the 30" FT straights together to insure no loss of continuity in the closets and screw the track to the board in a few places. I'll also install some plastic clamps underneath the board to carry all the wiring to the other end of the playroom for the reversing loop and accessories.

I'll then disconnect the FT trackpins where shown and start the wiring.



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Yes - that's what I meant by "cuts". One of the unanticipated issues with pulling the pins where two pieces of FT will meet for a liftout (rather than just cutting the track) is that even after pulling the pins, there are still plastic nubs and connectors that snap together to hold the FT together and they have to be removed to allow the track to simply lift straight up w/o having to disengage one piece of track from the other. There is also a small "tab" and "slot" on each side of the roadbed that also helps join two pieces of FT together. You have to cut off the one on the track piece that is on the layout, but you can leave the one on the liftout section to help align the track.  It was short work with a Dremel and grinding stone and the three places where the track meets align very well, both horizontally and vertically.

The liftout side of the extension is completed except for some edging/veneer on the edges. I ran 3 parallel 14ga. wires from the main distribution panel to the edge of the liftout. I had first soldered the Anderson Power Pole connectors to the ends of each wire and ran the other ends over to the panel and crimped spade connectors on and screwed them to the panel and tested for power. I then made 3 pairs of wires the width of the liftout with power poles soldered on each end and clamped that to the underside of the liftout. All of the Power Pole connectors were ganged together (3 black, 3 red) on all the wire ends. I had already soldered a power drop to the underside of the FT on the liftout and drilled through the liftout and ran the wires down. I took one of the three pairs of wires attached to the liftout and slightly separated the red and black wires and attached a T-tap connector to them and then to the power drop leads to the track on the liftout. I turned power on and the switch lantern on the liftout lit up so I knew I had good power to the liftout.
I was able to pop off the knotty pine shelf cap (pic attached) on the closet side of the door which provided a way to drill a hole through to run and hide the long wires to the other side of the closets. I had stained and mounted wire clamps to the bottom of the long oak board running through the closets and glued the 1/4" foam road bed made for FT on the top side of the board. I also hardwired on the underneath side all the FT that was going through the closets and placed that on top of the roadbed and put the board in place through the closets. I then cut 3 long pairs of wires (up to 30' long) and soldered the power pole connectors on one end to connect to the liftout wires and ran the other ends through the hole in the shelf cap ; through the wire clamps on the underside of the oak board; and out the other end. I drilled a small hole at my work bench for the wires to exit.
One of the 3 wires will end at my workbench and supply power to the track along the window. The other two will supply power to each side of the reversing loop. In the closet I had also previously soldered a set of power drops to the underside of the FT on the oak board and drilled through and ran the wires out the bottom before putting the board through the closets. I installed another T-tap connection in the closet to power the track on the board and then connected all 3 wires to the liftout connectors. I measured tack voltage and the ends of the 3 wires on the other side of the closets and have very little, if any, power loss. I ran a train through and back with no issues, so I would say the liftout side is done.
I'll pick up a sheet of plywood and some framing lumber this week to start the reversing loop section.
Couple of Notes - the Anderson Power Pole connectors (30A) are not the easiest connectors to work with and probably overkill for this application, but I've used them since my old R/C racing days and they are bulletproof. I also used the T-tap connectors for the first time and really like them. They are basically a "suitcase" type connector that allows the main wire to simply pass through, but with a hole/tap on the side for a second wire to attach t the main wire via a crimp connection.


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