For the regular readers of this blog this may seem like Spinal Tap's diversion into jazz rock, but I have been meaning for some time to begin a series on the design, planning and construction of my N scale model railroad layout, which began in earnest approximately thirty seconds after our bid on the house was accepted. (In fact, our realtors knew to look for a house with a basement with a "train room," defined as a room with few or no windows and lots of uninterrupted wall space, once they noticed that the first stop on a Dave-led house tour was the basement. Not only did they find a train room, they found one with its own bathroom!)
Laura very kindly gave me a nice gift certificate to a top-notch train store, and for the stuff under the tracks (tables, framing etc.) I have scoured Home Depots in two states, only yesterday completing a 50-mile round trip (with a three-year-old whose last words before he fell asleep in the car were "I don't like Home Depot!" - imagine his reaction when he woke up in the parking lot of same) to procure a large quantity of extruded foam insulation for scenery and track base. Two weeks ago I procured the services of a friend with a truck, whose wife needed him out of the house while she planned his surprise birthday party, to get the large sections of plywood and framing lumber. (And they thanked me!)
The trackplan as it currently stands is this (rendered by XTrkCAD):
There is a 2% grade down from the right of the turntable to the final leftward curve, then a 2.2% grade up from the beginning of the tunnel at the bottom of the diagram to just before the double bridge. I will be using Atlas code 55 flextrack, and C55 #5 and #7 turnouts, with a minimum radius of 12". That is a bit tight, but as I am modeling the mid-1950s transition period I plan on using smaller steam and diesel engines and a mix of 40- and 50-foot rolling stock, so it should be OK. (With two small children, not to mention myself, continuous run is a Given rather than a Druther.)
Control will be interchangeable between DC or DCC; I plan on starting with DC with four general "blocks" which will double nicely as DCC power districts when I make the plunge, and after that it will be useful to use the main line to break in engines awaiting decoders. Although I have a fair amount of engines and stock from may last foray into N scale in the early 1980s, I know that the C55 track will require lots of upgrading of older equipment so there will be few engines on the layout to begin with, so less need for power isolation. (Part of Laura's gift certificate went toward the purchase of a beautiful Bachmann Consolidation that I cannot wait to put to work.)
I have some pictures of raw materials and raw layout space that need to be uploaded, and they will get into the next update post, but I wanted to get this off the ground sooner rather than later. As it is, the official start date for construction was February 7 so I am already a week behind. However, today I was able to make all major cuts on the plywood subsurface, with the next step being the framing of same, construction of L-girder supports for the larger sections (shelf brackets will hold up the yard) and fitting of foam to plywood. Stay tuned!
(For those of you coming for the trains, please make sure to poke around the rest of the site, as I believe there is truly something for everyone, here or in the links at the right edge of the page. Enjoy!)
Update 2/16: In comments I attempt to make the distinction between "train set" and "layout." Don't worry, though, I won't get as upset as Count von Zeppelin: