Mallory sent in this request for advice…
I’m coming into model railroading as a builder of miniature Christmas villages (Department 56, Lemax etc). I’ve purchased a couple of ON30 Bachmann train sets and fully anticipate that this will draw my husband into the hobby!
I’d appreciate any advice or cautions you can give me.
To provide you with the particular challenge I have:
I build a display in the local museum, to go with their Festival of Trees. The space I have to work with is a counter top 4 ft x 20 ft, with 3 square columns in the middle. At this point I need to lay out a train that just runs mostly unattended (no switching, reversing etc) with minimal problems. And, the village is the main feature – a Victorian High Street at Christmas.
I do my base and elevations in Styrofoam insulation. The main base is raised on 2 x 2″ “joists” so I can run wiring underneath. Here are a couple of shots…
This is a section of last year’s village (Currier & Ives, no train)…
With ON30, I know that the train doesn’t really like to climb & descend any hills. It would be best (for my purposes) to keep the track level and let the landscape elevations do the ups & downs.
Gotta keep the track clean – watch out for bits of styro or glitter, etc.
I think plain track would look better than E-Z Track, do you have any advice, pros or cons?
I know it will need multiple power supplies and re-railer sections.
With 18″ radius, the train needs 39″ diameter to make a U-turn; and that is available with 48″ wide surface.
The train should disappear from view periodically. Any tunnels would be best on a straight piece of track, and need to be accessible in case the train stalls or derails inside! If I keep the train on the main platform level and raise the “High Street” with the buildings up in the middle, the train won’t be visible from one side to the other (at least, not in places).
Any suggestions for the layout?
I’d like to do something more interesting than just a very long oval. Maybe a lopsided dog-bone … two tracks parallel down one long edge, with the loop ends around the end columns.
I could try the long oval with an interior loop around the middle column, but I’m concerned about how that would interact with the street layout. Also, I don’t know if 48″ is quite wide enough to accommodate it.
Maybe in future we’ll become more sophisticated with the layout, but for the first time doing this village with a train I want to keep it simple.
Mallory Allen in North Carolina, USA
Please scroll down and leave your comments below… Mallory would appreciate any advice, comments or help. Thank-you!