Visualising My Layout – Peeling the Onion

In my previous blog, I have showed how the prototype benchwork will look once it has been constructed. While waiting for comments and the quotation, I will explain how the layout will be built on top of the base frame. Remember that I am adopting and adapting Oliver Bachmeier’s Neustadt H0-scale layout in N-scale. Oliver’s original layout is 3.3m x 1.5m. My original intention was to scale that to 70%, to fit to the IKEA IVAR frames which when combined, will be 2.3m x 1.0m. If I follow truly to the scaling from HO- to N-scale, the same 3.3m x 1.5m HO-scale layout would only need 1.8m x 0.8m in N-scale. Hence, by adopting 2.4m x 1.2m, I have added 2 times more area for modelling in N-scale; or 25% more area that I originally planned for. Having the new dimension 2.4m x 1.2m, I could now have at least 0.5m radius for the inner most mainline curve and reduce the overhang on my longest car – ICE car. Furthermore, with a 8-car configuration, ICE takes about 1.35m of platform length – not including the buffer zones between the head/tail ends and the signals at end of each platform. We are probably looking at about 1.4m of platform length. With 2.4m, there will be ample space for switches and transition curves/easements.

I reread the magazine, where Oliver describes how he built the whole layout. He has a max 0.5m at the back of the layout while the front is about 0.35m. The top level – station level – is 1.0m from the floor and so the base of this layout should be 0.65m from the floor. On the other hand, my base frame is 1.0m from the floor which makes the front part of the layout 1.27m from the floor – at a comfortable eye level.

Let’s take a look at the internal structure of the layout.

The invisible layers that make up Oliver’s layout (measurements are my guestimates)

The plan is to use build a base frame using 8cm x 4cm wood. In my opinion, this would provide better support for the layout and withstand the constant turning between “operating mode” and “save mode”. On top of the base frame will be the lowest level – staging yard. The level and every other level is about 14mm thick, which makes up of 8mm plywood as base, 3mm cork for noise damper and 3mm which is the thickness of PECO code55 track. The distance between levels is 10cm top of rail-to-top of rail (SO1 – SO2 – SO3, where SO stands for Schienenoberkante (top of rail in Deutsch)).

With this 10cm distance, I would need between 500cm run (for 2% gradient) and 333cm run (for 3% gradient). I am not sure the effective gradient that Oliver has but given my calculation, I have an effective 2.8% gradient for my helix with only 2/3 turn needed to reach the next level. I know many would advise not to go beyond 3% gradient especially running long trains. I could consider lowering the gradient to 2% by reducing the distance to 6cm or to 2.5% by reducing to 8cm.

Cross-section of helix with 10cm top of rail-to-top of rail distance. Centreline – CL – represents the midpoint on the helix to the centrepoint of the radius (50cm)

IMG_4096 IMG_4097
Outer and inner dotter lines represent the borders of the helix respective while centreline is 50cm radius from the centrepoint of the frame (marked “X”)

This part of the layout would be the most challenging part since it will be embedded inside the layout and in the event of any derailments, I must be able to put my hand inside and remove the derailed train. Turning the layout with other trains on and inside the layout would not be an option.


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