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AM I DOING SOMETHING WRONG?
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 Posted: Tue Mar 31st, 2015 10:58 am
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W C Greene
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I have been building train layouts, narrow gauge in particular, for many years and it has never occured to me that I need a track plan before I lay any rail! Lately, I have seen a great many threads (not just here on FR) that start out with track plans showing locations of proposed scenic and structural elements and even wiring diagrams (not needed in my world)...sometimes wonderful artistic sketches of what it will look like when "finished". And then...nothing! Maybe some modelers get their satisfaction planning and the execution of the plans is way down the list. It could be that changing circumstances force "well laid plans" to disappear. Of course the wife or "significant other" nixes the plan when they discover the living room will be filled with tracks and junk. Whatever it is, I may be immune to the malady. Is it really important to have a design or designs as a guide before ties are cut?

Oh yes, I have an "idea" in mind for whatever space I am thinking of wasting on a layout but track designing is something that I never seem to get done. I have "painted myself into a corner" before with some grand thought that won't translate into real rail and spikes but mostly things just seem to work out better for me if I just start laying track and see what happens! Am I alone in this? Do I need counciling? Does it really matter?

OK then...am I wrong for doing things this way or are there others out there who, like me, just jump in and hope the water is deep enough?

                               Woodie-planning ain't my thing 



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 Posted: Tue Mar 31st, 2015 11:45 am
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mwiz64
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Some people like to draw. Some people like to build. Some people, like me, get divorced and no longer have a place to do much of either.... I'm thinking about just building a small diorama just for something to do. I wont sketch much beyond the building templates.



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 Posted: Tue Mar 31st, 2015 12:35 pm
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slateworks
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I'm with you Woodie, dive in with just an overall theme, start laying track, see where it goes to and the rest just seems "to happen". Of course, I end up having to add extensions, change the layout of buildings and scenery and often upset the rivet counters and purists but that's all part of the appeal. Something unexpected round every corner, some of it works, some of it doesn't but it's all fun. I think that in this controlled life we're expected to live in, a little bit more of the unknown doesn't do any harm.


Doug



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 Posted: Tue Mar 31st, 2015 01:26 pm
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George W
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I don't think either method is wrong, but I'm a beginer so what do I know.

For me at least a sketch helps me see if what's in my head will look like something in the real world, maybe even a loose mock up.

But even as a beginer I know 50 feet of track isn't going to fit in a two foot space, so if I had the option, I'd likely start building first and sketch an idea or two as I went.



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 Posted: Tue Mar 31st, 2015 01:37 pm
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Lee B
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I did an amazing amout of planning on my layout before I finally started sawing lumber and getting nails.
I could never come up with a track plan which suited me, which of course prevented me from going much of anywhere. Then, a pal of mine took notes on what I had in mind, and in two hours made more progress than i had in two years:

The problem was, he was thinking of HO sctructures and clearnaces. Once I built the benchwork and laid it on the ground, I realized we'd made a horrible mistake. One aisle was incredibly tight. I'd built it in sections so I didn't realize it until it was too late. My wife had an idea to cut one end out of the 'U' shaped section in the middle and rotate that a few degrees. It worked okay:

The problem then was the track plan we'd had went out the window for the center section. So, with the track plan as a guide, we proceeded until I got what I still feel was a good balance between the original dream and the reality:

Still lacking scenery, but this is almost a complete shot of the layout overall:

My point is that without the original track plan, I really doubt I'd have gotten a good balance.
The biggest problem I had with going with a open table, I didn't built in any potential for a creek to cross with any bridges. If I had any regrets for the build, that's the biggest one.
But without the flexibility during the track laying, I doubt I'd have a plan that suits me as much as this one now does...



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 Posted: Tue Mar 31st, 2015 01:55 pm
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W C Greene
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I'm not knocking track planners, it is a much needed skill that I don't have! I will relate one story. A good friend has been planning his dream layout for several years, he has CAD drawings of the track plan, benchwork, even the stud locations within the room he intends to use. Years it has been. I do feel sorry for him since he is getting older and that "dream" may be just that. A dream on paper and computer bytes.
And I did use a "plan" of sorts for my new layout. Duane Ericson (author of the Silver City NG book) sent me some drawings of what the track plan at the smelter seemed to be and I was able to get an idea of what the real thing could have been. I drew the track plan in full size on the flat styrofoam sheets and then laid ties & rail pretty much on the lines. But this seems to be the exception to what I have done for so long.
Oh well, back to "work"...

Woodie



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 Posted: Tue Mar 31st, 2015 02:19 pm
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Lee B
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W C Greene wrote:
I will relate one story. A good friend has been planning his dream layout for several years, he has CAD drawings of the track plan, benchwork, even the stud locations within the room he intends to use. Years it has been. I do feel sorry for him since he is getting older and that "dream" may be just that. A dream on paper and computer bytes. I'll do you one better; I met a guy when I was 14, who had a track plan for his dream layout and he's been tweaking it ever since on paper, only willing to start the build until it's "exactly" what he has in mind.
Did I mention that I'm 45 years old now? :sad:
That's right, it's been over 30 years and it's never progressed beyond paper.
Now, I took a crazy amount of time myself between dedicating myself to a On30 layout and cutting lumber. But I was never able to get a track plan I liked on my own. Once I had one, I was cutting lumber within a few months. My layout consisted of a track plan, stacks of lumber and boxes of rolling stock at the end of July of last year, and you see how far I've gotten as the photo in my last post here was taken last week. I'm only lacking scenery and the skirts now. The guy who created the first track plan and helped me with all the track and wiring reminded me recently that I've gotten further in 6 months than many people get in that many years (or more).
Like you, I have no idea how someone can have a plan they like and not proceed with the build. It'd kill me to get that part figured out and then do nothing with it.
:sad:



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 Posted: Tue Mar 31st, 2015 03:47 pm
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Salada
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W C Greene wrote:
OK then...am I wrong for doing things this way or are there others out there who, like me, just jump in and hope the water is deep enough?

                               Woodie-planning ain't my thing 


I am currently hand laying switches for a model railroad that doesn't even exist yet, let alone have one of those fangled 'track plan' things. They will fit in, somewhere, probably, hopefully.
I also think there is an argument to be made for planning the topography first, then thinking up something to fit - exactly like the real thing.
You ain't alone Mr Greene !.

Regards,                           Michael

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 Posted: Wed Apr 1st, 2015 11:10 am
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pipopak
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Whatever floats your boat, but keep in mind that whatever you do some "expert" will find fualt... Jose.



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 Posted: Wed Apr 1st, 2015 04:46 pm
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jtrain
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Woodie, I often find myself in that club of people with big dreams, a good sketching hand, but terrible work ethic. Thankfully I broke the vicious cycle with a little N scale layout. Now I just need to update my thread.

I will say that I find conceptual drawings to be more helpful rather than true track-plans. I do a lot of "track planning" on Microsoft Paint, but it's rarely to scale or even proportional to itself. Drawing it out helps me visualize what might work, and what probably won't work. However, a track plan is hardly set in stone, Lee's story is a perfect example of that. I found out the hard way last summer that when you go in with an air-tight plan, you end up suffocating the dream, hence why my C&S project fell apart.

In other words, don't be like this: :brill: when planning a project, be like this: :mex: (if you know what I mean ;) )

If it works for music, painting, sculpture, and pottery, it's good enough for model railroading.

--James:java:

Last edited on Wed Apr 1st, 2015 04:49 pm by jtrain



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