Building a modular home layout
#16
The roadbed is in place, along with the finished side panels and the first coat of paint:

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I have an overall plan for the scenery evolving in my head, but the details will just have to come naturally during construction.

Svein
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#17
I am more and more thinking if I shall follow your example when I do the next main rebuild. The entire scenic side could be made of several modules. That would have the benefit of much easier access when working on the modules. Go ahead I watch you closely :tada:
Reinhard
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#18
Time to dig up this thread again, finally got around to continue working on my module after a summer filled with outdoor activities. The last week I've been finishing the wiring underneath, and today I covered the module with spray foam for the terrain. I used chicken fencing under the foam, stapled to the frame, and when all this has dried we'll see if I need another layer in some spots before I can start carving out the landscape.

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Svein
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#19
The terrain contour has been carved out, and gives an idea of how the finished module will be:

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Behind the track there will be a couple of cuts in the rocky terrain, with some fillings in front, and maybe a culvert or two. In the center there will be a simpel grade crossing with gates and no signals, and a narrow gravel road winding its way across the module, other than that there's nothing but trees and nature.

To the right, in front of the track, I've started placing what will eventually become rock outcroppings amidst the trees and bushes. Instead of ordinary plaster, I wanted to try a technique I read about on a Swedish forum, using air drying modeling clay. The rock structure is created by pressing real stones into the clay, but I'm not entirely convinced about how they look, maybe they should be more smooth and polished from the glaciers that covered this country some ten thousand years ago. Well, we'll see once they're painted and partially covered with moss, maybe I'll just rip them out and start over again.
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#20
You are doing a great job on that module..!! :tada:
Will it be attached to other modules..??

I like the idea of using spray foam for the terrain...

We'll be looking forward to more updates...
Gus (LC&P).
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#21
Thanks, Gus.

Most of the layout will be modular and based on the European FREMO standard, except for the staging area. I posted a simple track plan on page 1 of this thread, although it has been slightly altered since then. I've added one staging track for a total of 6, and instead of the single hidden track along the right and lower walls, the right side of the layout will be a mirror image of the left. The layout is basically a single track oval, with a through staging yard hidden behind the upper long side. The two long sides of the oval will be two separate scenes, and each scene can easily be repaced with another set of modules whenever I want to. I can have two stations, a station and a countryside scene, a station and an industrial district and so on, lots of possibilities there.

Svein
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#22
WoW..!! Took a look at your plan...That's quite a layout..!!

Question-Why are you building it as modules, and not as a "traditional" layout.
(Excuse so many questions...I'm really ignorant of this aspect of the hobby... :oops: )

You got some major work ahead of you... Good luck..!!
Gus (LC&P).
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#23
That's a difficult question, I guess the easy answer is 'because I can'... :lolol:

No, really, then main reason I decided to go modular is simply that I can't decide or make up my mind on what I want in my layout. I have a rather small room, and filling it up with a little of everything just wouldn't work for me. With modules it's easy to rearrange the setup, or change the layout completely by building some new modules without having to discard and throw away the old ones. Plus, each module functions as a 'chainsaw layout' in itself when/if I want to try out a new technique I read about somewhere, and working with scenery and detailing is a breeze on small modules that can be carried around, flipped and turned for easy access. Imagine taking your whole layout into the living room and putting it on the coffee table to do some touchup work while enjoying a cold beer and watching your favourite TV show..! Big Grin

Another reason to build modules is the opportunity to attend module meetings with others. I've been to a couple of such meetings, as a bystander only, I've never participated in the operating sessions, but it looks so cool! A bunch of people getting together, assembling their modules into huge layouts and running long trains after timetables and schedules all weekend long Smile

I admit that modules demand a little more work construction wise than a traditional layout, and modules with strict accordance to the standards are somewhat limiting in a small space such as mine, but their overall flexibility and scalability is what I found the most appealing.
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#24
Having completed another appearance at Trainfest, in Milwaukee, I have no question at all about the benefits of modular layouts.
:twisted: :twisted: I simply could never get that many "viewers" in my basement :o Wink :lol: :lol: :lol:
We always learn far more from our own mistakes, than we will ever learn from another's advice.
The greatest place to live life, is on the sharp leading edge of a learning curve.
Lead me not into temptation.....I can find it myself!
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#25
Spent a couple of days in my train room this Christmas vacation, to get it ready for the fun stuff. The ceiling was paneled earlier this fall, but the walls and floor was in a rather poor condition. After scrubbing and painting the walls and laying new flooring, it was finally time to start building the benchwork!

As I'm building the layout in modules, I'll have a separate frame with storage shelves under the layout, much like the benchwork I did in Vigdis' room. How ever, deciding on a suitable layout height isn't as simple as it sounds. For a single level layout, I've found that a railtop height of 140cm (55") is great for a standing operating position, whereas 105cm (41") is perfect for sitting down. Plus, the FREMO standard calls for a railtop height of 130cm (51"), so if I want to be able to attach freestanding modules towards the center of the room without building an extra set of legs, I need to take this into consideration as well...

Anyway, I've toyed around with the idea of having a second deck as a possible future extension, and yesterday I did a mockup to experiment with different heights:

[Image: 3593_w1200.jpg]

The pic shows the lower modular deck at 100cm (39") and the upper deck at 150cm (59"), I chose these heights as a starting point. To represent the upper deck, I retrieved one of my old layout sections from the attic. With its 10cm (4") height, it resembles an upper deck construction perfectly.

As clearly shown in the pic, there is plenty of room between the decks, I have no problems getting my head and shoulders (not the shampoo...) in there to do some work. It may seem that the upper deck is a bit high compared to the low ceiling height of only 190cm (75"), so the question is whether I should lower the upper deck by 5cm (2") or raise the lower one accordingly. Lowering the upper deck will give some more space up there, but it will block some of the view of the lower deck (only the rear part, behind the track) when standing. Raising the lower deck will give a perfect height for seated operating, and the blocked view isn't as noticable since both decks are a little closer to eye level.

I've never worked on a double deck layout before. Those of you who have, what are your experience and what do you recommend?

Also, I'm wondering whether I should build the framework to match the lower deck right from the start, or if I should go with a higher single deck layout now, and just lower the framework when/if I get to add a second deck at a later stage.

What do you guys think?

PS: I've also posted this in my other thread http://www.bigbluetrains.com/forum/viewt...&start=165.
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#26
Gidday, Some years ago I was involved in building a "Thomas the Tank Engine" portable layout that children could actually drive the locomotives, with a track height of 30 inches (762mm) from the floor, we actually made adjustable legs able to have a track height of 1000mm (approx 39 inches) but left it at the lower height because it was better suited to the youngsters. When exhibiting the layout I used a height adjustable, swivelling wheeled office chair, mainly to bring me down to the childrens height and being a 6'2" bearded Bear, not to to scare them. Confusedhocked:
With that in mind I am contemplating my lower level of the "Yet -to-be-built RR" to have a rail heigth of 30'.
Not sure if that helps ?, but just my two bobs worth,
Cheers, the Bear. Smile
"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."
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#27
Hi Bear,

I've decided to skip the double deck idea and go with a single deck layout instead. Railtop height will be 130cm (51.2"), with 3 storage shelves below the layout. 130cm is standard height for FREMO modules, which means I can attach additional modules without the need for extra sets of (or adjustable) legs. It's also a convenient height for standing operation, and with a high chair (preferably swivelling and wheeled) I can also sit down and relax while watching the trains run by.

I have made some changes to the track plan, will post an updated plan later.

Svein
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#28
Gidday Svein, I had wondered with the size of your room how a helix,or a device to gain height would have fitted in, so I am pleased that you've made your decision. One of the biggest challlenges, I think, to Model Railroaders is how to make the best use of the space available to us and I tend to think that we try to cram too much in. It is a case, quite often, of Less is Best, I know the theory but have difficulty putting it into practice. :wall1: Big Grin
Cheers, the Bear.
"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."
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#29
Hi Bear,

I tried out several possible solutions on the computer to see what would fit:

- Helix in the lower right corner, with modules along the left and top walls, and a narrow shelf crossing the doorway at the lower wall.
- Two individual decks with continuous run, and a train elevator to move trains between the decks.
- Continuous run on both decks, with a nolix twice around the room, and a passing track about midway between the decks. I think this would have been the best solution of the three, using the least amount of space while at the same time allowing the trains to move non stop between the decks. There would, however, be some challenges securing the upper deck framework without the nolix getting in the way.

Anyway, after a lot of planning and re-planning back and forth, I decided to go with the Less is more approach. After all, being able to easily replace parts of the layout with new modules was one of the reasons I chose to build it modular in the first place, so I wouldn't need a larger layout to fit everything I wanted.

This weekend I did some of the framework, finished one wall and got started on another:

[Image: 3601_w1200.jpg]

[Image: 3603_w1200.jpg]

To the left is one of my old layout sections, built without any modular standard. These sections will be raised about 10cm (4") to fit the height of the FREMO modules, so they can be connected as part of the new layout.

Svein
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#30
A quick update of the train room progress. The framework with shelves around the room is finished, and I'm working on a station module in the corner. The corner section of the station will only be used at home, but the two end sections will be built according to the FREMO standard, and can be taken to meetings (with extra sections inbetween, to make up a station of proper lenght). Here are some pics:

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I've also experimented with handlaying code 55 rails on wooden ties, and finished a little test piece today. On this test piece I tried out different types of ballast to see which one I liked best, I have used two ready made and two that I sifted myself from soil from our backyard:

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Svein
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