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New Model Train Test Layout!

By Jacques M March 17, 2016

So you're wanting to build a layout but don't know where to start?
Or you're in the process of building one but stuck at certain stage, not sure what to do next or how to do it?

Well have decided that our shop needs a new Test Layout.
So we are going to build it layout, and document the processes we go through in building it.

After many years of Service, our old Test Track is in need a bit of a face lift.

As you can see it's not overly attractive, but it does the job.

So we're going to replace it with a longer and Wider one.

This layout will be fully sceniced using products available in store.

So the first thing we need to do, is to figure out what space we have available.

We have an area of 1600mm x 650mm available, with a decent amount of head room for a back scene to be added as well.

So we've decided to make it 1500mm Long and 600mm wide

Here's a very rough plan of what we are going to make.

As you can see it's been designed so the Railway is on an Embankment.
We feel this will be a nice element of the layout as it will show off the items we run on it nicer than if they were on the flat.

First thing to do after we've worked out a plan is to then get some wood for the Baseboard.

We used what ever wood we had lying around out the back of the shop, which happened to be part of an old Shelf made out of Chipboard.

So we cut that to the length & width we wanted.

I then proceed to lay the track out on the board to see what it would look like and so I could work out how much wood we would need for the raised section.

We are using Peco Code 100 & Code 80

On the subject of track, I feel one of the best tools to use for cutting track are the Xuron Track Cutters. As opposed to Track Saws, which don't give as a much of a clean finish on the rail heads.


 Now that we've got an idea of how the track layout will look, we will cut the wood for the track bed.

I transferred the track onto some old Chipboard and drew an outline of the track on the boards. Then Cut out the outline using a Jigsaw.

Once I was happy with the shape I then got some 42mm x 19mm Pine for the risers and cut those to the width of the track bed.

I then Glued and Screwed the risers to the baseboard, then the track bed to the risers.

Looking good so far.

Now we'll add our backscene.

Again, we just used whatever wood we had lying around.
Which happened to be a sheet of MDF.
I would suggest using Plywood for the back board to reduce weight but if have other suitable wood feel free to use that.

Anyway MDF is what we had so we'll use that.

I cut the board to 270mm in width as the available vertical space we have is around 330mm.
I then decided to add some vertical strength to it by gluing and screwing some more pieces of pine to the Baseboard and backboard as seen below.
I also added some Angled pieces of MDF to the end of the layout to provide more vertical strength to the back board as well as keeps the scene a bit more enclosed.

Now that the main structure is finished we'll draw a basic plan of some of the main scenic features on the layout, including a Road, Dam/Pond, a small town scene and maybe a small station.

Next we move on to track laying.

After placing our track on the trackbed we then trace around it so we know where to place our underlay.

For this layout we are going to be using both Foam underlay and traditional Cork.

We'll start with the foam underlay.
We're going to be using the 'Trackrite H505A' Track underlay.

I had never used this product before, and I found it very easy to work with.
You don't need to cut sections out of it to make it go round corners like you do with cork; and if you do need to cut it for points it cuts very nicely with very little effort and a sharp knife.

Once it's been all glued down we can then place the track on it.
The trackrite underlay has been designed with a locating shoulder so you can place your track in it and it will hold the track on top of the foam without needing to fix it down to double check if it will all flow smoothly.

While waiting for the glue to dry we will move on to the N Scale track.

We will be using Cork for the N scale underlay.
There are different methods of cutting cork, I decided to lay the cork loosely on the Track Bed and then grab a pencil & draw along the edge of the Track bed.

I then grabbed a sharp knife and cut along the line I drew.
With that done I place it on the track bed and tidied up a few of the edges.
Once happy I then glue it down.

Now we move on to fixing down the track.

Most people still use Track Pins to fix their track down.
I will also be using this method.

To start off we want to drill through the sleepers and into the wood slightly. As this will allow the pins to go in easier and won't distort the sleepers as much.

You want to use a Drill bit slightly smaller than the thickness of the pins you are using so the pins will have something to bite on to when they go in.

You want to be careful when you hit the pins in so as you don't go too far and bend the sleepers, like I did...

As you can see I've started putting the pins in the middle of the track.

Now this is the traditional method of Tacking track, but I prefer putting the Pins in a criss-cross fashion.
The reason for this being that your eye will tend to look down the middle of the track and you will notice the track pins.
Where as if you put them off centre they won't be as noticeable.

I then did the following steps for the N Scale Track.

While also putting the Pins off centre.

These are the pins we used for the for the N scale Track.


So this what our layout is looking like so far...

We'll leave it there for today. 

Next update will be our very basic & easy wiring and the start of our landscaping.


Till then.


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