How do you plan your layout? In your head? Or on 'paper'?

Post your design ideas for any layout that you are planning to build in the future. Keep members up-to-date with your designs and future plans for your layout.

How do you plan your layout?

In your head
23
23%
On 'paper' (ie your computer)
60
61%
No plan whatsoever, I just dump down whatever track I have and hope for the best :-D
15
15%
 
Total votes: 98

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PD.
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How do you plan your layout? In your head? Or on 'paper'?

Postby PD. » Sun Jan 30, 2011 10:46 pm

I've noticed the majority of us always seem to start with a track plan on paper/on the PC, but how many of you actually then follow that?

I know when I first started out with the idea of creating a model railway I was feverishly planning this that and the other with trackplans, and then when push came to shove all I have ever done is try out a few layouts with a VERY basic idea in my head trying to use all the track we have and then cross my fingers that it works :lol:

I ask because I find it hard to visualise what a track plan actually will look like in reality, despite all these computer programs which I personally feel don't give you the full feeling, so to speak

So... a poll... How do you plan your layout? In your head? Or on 'paper'? Or just as it happens to come together hoping for the best :P
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Dale_the_noob
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Re: How do you plan your layout? In your head? Or on 'paper'?

Postby Dale_the_noob » Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:06 pm

Idea is in the head. The first part is always in my head.

Then I move to the pc to rationalise my idea and realise how much space it will actually take up. This is a very long stage if you are trying to squeeze stuff in.

Next is printing it out and laying it out and placing stock on. You can then see if bits will fit, train lengths, visualize routes and check space for scenery etc.

The pc part is essential for seeing if your idea will work.

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raistlin295
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Re: How do you plan your layout? In your head? Or on 'paper'?

Postby raistlin295 » Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:11 pm

I had a basic idea then searched for track plans on the 'net or in books for inspiration which I save, scale and add to an overall jpg file which gives me an overview, a bit like a collage.

I then produce a track drawing in Coreldraw and print out as many PECO point templates as required and see how it all fits on the empty baseboard, using 1" masking tape to represent track between the points templates.
Last edited by raistlin295 on Mon Jan 31, 2011 12:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
Paul

Finsbury Road My Layout

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Zunnan
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Re: How do you plan your layout? In your head? Or on 'paper'?

Postby Zunnan » Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:15 pm

I'll start with ideas for a specific portion of track, then I'll draw those ideas out with a pencil...on whatever comes to hand! Canon Street started as two junctions which didn't even make it to paper, the trackplan was drawn directly on to chipboard laid out to represent the baseboards. The Dog Bone was also drawn out directly on what would eventually be the baseboard, but the 00 layoput started life as an A4 drawing. Its very seldom that I'll commit a plan to the computer first (XtrkCad) as I can calculate and lay out gradients far more accurately with paper and pencil, I only really use the computer when I want to show a trackplan online.

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PD.
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Re: How do you plan your layout? In your head? Or on 'paper'?

Postby PD. » Mon Jan 31, 2011 12:25 am

A few interesting responses there...

I also wanted to ask to what percent you folks build layouts for authenticity and looks as opposed to playability, but it seemed a tad daft to create a new thread just for that so hopefully that question can merge in with this thread, it's pretty much on topic I think

For me it has to be playability all the way, it can look like the mother in law for all I care so long as it's fun and useable, two traits the mother in law lacks. She also lacks the looks as well :now I come to think of it o :o :o I try hard NOT to think of her else I have a Reggie Perrin moment :lol:

I'm now just reminding myself of that old saying, if you want to see what your wife will look like in 20 years time.... :roll:
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poliss
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Re: How do you plan your layout? In your head? Or on 'paper'?

Postby poliss » Mon Jan 31, 2011 2:24 am

I tried using a track plan from a book. The track geometry in the book didn't match the real track. I tried XtrkCad. The track geometry in the program didn't match the real track. So with all the track I'd bought I just put it on my baseboard and moved it around till it looked good, then changed it a bit...and a bit more....changed makes of track. After about five years I think I finally have everything sorted. :D

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Dale_the_noob
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Re: How do you plan your layout? In your head? Or on 'paper'?

Postby Dale_the_noob » Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:01 am

The most important thing to me is features/operational interest. A bog standard loop doesn't hold much interest (at the moment anyway), but a diesel depot, DMU yard, station (with passing loops), branchline ending in a terminus with option to access bay/branch from the mainline just about fills all my operational interest needs.

Then I try and fit these in, but hopefully so it doesn't look likes I've squeezed it all in. I then try and make it flow so it looks better. I also try to add in different levels which adds another level of interest.

Ideally I'd like my station to look like a real station, ie practice, where things are etc. So i'd then I check if thats how it would work in real practice etc.

You need to ask yourself what you want from your layout, do you want to collect locos and show them off in a yard? Do you want loops, do you want a freight yard, do you want a large mainline station, a terminus?

If you are going to use set track, just buy a some pieces and play around placing them on the baseboard, its simple and this is all you are doing in the software.

Flexitrack is a different matter and its best IMO to plan out properly first with software so you can check it all works with the curves etc.

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Bufferstop
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Re: How do you plan your layout? In your head? Or on 'paper'?

Postby Bufferstop » Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:29 am

I always start with the search for a site, as I prefer my layouts to be always available. Then it's think about what features I want. A bit of experimenting on paper, frequently full size on a roll of lining paper. When I am fairly certain that Ican fit what I want into the space available, it's lots more daydreaming. Then it's the big sheets of paper, point templates all worked out full size to avoid points over cross members, oblique crossings of joints etc. Finally drawn out on the surface of he baseboards with positions of scenic features and occasional card mockups.
Growing old, can't avoid it. Growing up, forget it!
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klaatu
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Re: How do you plan your layout? In your head? Or on 'paper'?

Postby klaatu » Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:46 am

PD. wrote:I ask because I find it hard to visualise what a track plan actually will look like in reality

I have the same problem, particularly as my plan is on three levels. I used a track planner with a 3D view option, and found it a great help.

Steve
Just playing trains - not a "proper modeller"

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Jim S-W
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Re: How do you plan your layout? In your head? Or on 'paper'?

Postby Jim S-W » Mon Jan 31, 2011 12:04 pm

My layout isnt designed at all. Not by me anyway. Its just a copy of the real place with a couple of compromises.

Cheers

Jim

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Bufferstop
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Re: How do you plan your layout? In your head? Or on 'paper'?

Postby Bufferstop » Mon Jan 31, 2011 12:24 pm

Jim S-W wrote:My layout isnt designed at all. Not by me anyway. Its just a copy of the real place with a couple of compromises.

Cheers

Jim

What are they then, building with plasticard, not concrete, and using 12V DC not 25KV AC?
Growing old, can't avoid it. Growing up, forget it!
My Layout, My Workbench Blog and My Opinions

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Jim S-W
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Re: How do you plan your layout? In your head? Or on 'paper'?

Postby Jim S-W » Mon Jan 31, 2011 2:17 pm

Losing 2 platforms and a through road.

If I had kept them in I wouldn't be able to reach the middles of the boards!

16v AC not 12vDC though. :wink:

Cheers

Jim

nathan9117
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Re: How do you plan your layout? In your head? Or on 'paper'?

Postby nathan9117 » Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:05 pm

okay so my vote was gona be pen and paper but my actual is pen a dn paper/pc and in my head lol i think up stuff and then draw it out to scale to se if it fits :)

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Kaledmutant
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Re: How do you plan your layout? In your head? Or on 'paper'?

Postby Kaledmutant » Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:06 am

Have to say I am with dale_the_noob as I agree with all he says. My first layout, Jaxn Junction, came about through working with the parts I had in my arsenal and adjusting the plan to fit when the geometry was a bit off, this involved a bit of extra track being purchased. I then drew the layout on paper marking each of the parts so I could relay it in the future. Typically I then bought more stock and had to amend geometry here and there to incorporate space for the extra train(s). As I have not had Jaxn Junction down for a while but have been increasing my rolling stock and locomotive stock I discovered that Jaxn Junction no longer has enough room for all the extra trains. I have designed The Water Belle Line layout using Rail Modeller, but, as mentioned in the relevant thread, it is way too big to build in the space I currently have available for the layout to be temporarily down, so I designed the Train Tryout Loop which was, again, designed on Rail Modeller (and used the current stock of track pieces), but even this will be insufficient for all the trains I can run. On it's first outing there was no room for my wife's Hogwarts Express, and the Bachmann EMUs (2EPB and 4CEP) were not operational as I wasn't sure about their coupling and uncoupling. I may tinker with this one to get all the trains up and running.

I have drawn up a few plans on Rail Modeller which are still under consideration (and all fit in the current space available) but I fear that to build a decent layout will need a bigger space! Whose doesn't?? :)

Playability is key for me as I want to have proper running and I realise that I may well need to have a massive fiddle yard to allow all the trains to be stored. I have no experience of scenic modelling but would be interested to give it a go someday.

In summary then, I think most layouts have to have a starting point in your head and the track plan programs help visualise the parts needed to construct it and how the geometry will work. Pen and paper could still be useful for jotting down the basic idea but having Rail Modeller has given me a much better indication of how the parts will fit together.
All change! All change! This train terminates here.

b308
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Re: How do you plan your layout? In your head? Or on 'paper'?

Postby b308 » Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:20 am

I start by looking at prototype track plans in books, then transfer to paper... Never the computer, I've found proper paper is more reliable! :wink:

Regards the second, it has to be authenticity, I find nothing worse when attending exhibitions than looking at a layout "pretending" to be real but with glaring track errors that just wouldn't be seen in real life... I don't have any issue with the "toy train" type of set, its not pretending to be anything else and there are some really good ones around, but one that purports to be authentic but isn't... :evil:

I'd also add a couple of comments, firstly that an authentic track layout can be just as entertaining to work and watch as a made up one and secondly each Railway Company and many countries had their own specific type of track layout... For instance using the typical "Ashburton" type British branch line terminus track plan just isn't realistic for most German and French branch terminii and looks wrong... Do your homework and your layout will look much better!


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