James’ N Scale Train Layout Project– Episode #2

After I posted the first video episode to my YT channel, I got a few hits and some nice compliments. It made me feel good that people were interested enough to respond, even with a thumbs up!! I joined a few Facebook N Scale Train groups and posted a link to the video there. I got a ton of support from that community and I realized that while the audience was small, there were people all over the world who were interested in what I was doing with my layout.

In episode 2, I show more of the 4×8 layout as it was at the end of December 2021. Pretty much the whole “skeleton” of the layout was up by then, all Styrofoam and T-pins! I had followed the directions from my Complete Guide to Model Scenery closely, especially when it came to placing the risers. Woodland Scenics makes it very easy to add risers to your layout, if you provide the space needed to place the grades so they can rise appropriately. For example, a 4% grade riser needs 2 feet of track to elevate to 1 inch. That’s about as steep as you should go with model trains, and many modelers scoff at using grades that steeps since they wouldn’t occur prototypically (which is another way to say “as it would be in real life.”)

However, I am not very concerned about being prototypical with my layout, my goal is to have fun running my model trains any way I want to. My design required 4% grades and I was determined to have them. I did allow the correct length so the grades rose appropriately. While some of my single locomotives struggled with their loads going up the grades, others could manage it pretty well. Part of the fun for me was taking a loco and seeing how smooth its journey could be. Later, I learned about consists and teaming locomotives up to help share the load!

This episode shows off the track layout, with its 2 continuous mainlines connected via crossover to make one huge continuous track. I love this feature as I want my trains to run hours a day all over the track.

It was introduced in this episode that I have 32 feeders integrated into the layout design. I believe it’s actually only 31:

Final 4×8 Scenic Layout Track Plan — The “Reality” Version

I wanted to show you this version of the track plan. I modified it after the track was all laid down and committed… and I noticed that a couple pieces were left off. There should be an extra piece in the middle of the Viaduct and another small track piece (probably an S64) for the lower right inner track. Oof. They just didn’t get put back on. I had already laid out and glued the risers by the time I realized I needed a track plan that actually reflected “reality”. The track worked fine without the missing pieces, and I didn’t want to yank up and reposition the risers or the Viaduct… so I just left the missing pieces out. But it’s important to mention that in case you use this design. And keep track of your track!!

Another point to notice in the above plan is the location of the 32 feeders. “F62” is how I refer to the Kato S62F 62mm feeder, and “UJ” are UniJoiners. This document was VERY important to me in building this track, because it helped me keep track of where the Feeder wires were during the process. Once I started plastering, this document became CRITICAL. I found at least 2 feeders that I would have covered with plaster, had I not had this document!

Feeders were connected with 3-way connectors to the controller, like this:

16 Kato 3-way connectors (#24-827) are used to power 32 feeders

Of course, this is just one way to configure the connectors. Also introduced in this episode is my Kato North American Automatic Crossing Gate (#20-652-1), the most expensive accessory on my track and worth every penny of the over $200 I spent on it. EVERYBODY who sees my layout compliments this automatic crossing gate with its smooth gate action, lights and sounds!

Kato NA Automatic Crossing Gate #20-652-1

Lastly– this episode introduces two new locomotives in my collection, the Bachmann Class J 4-8-4 Steam DCC and my first Kato locos, the EMD E7 A and B 2-locomotive set. These locomotives deserve their own dedicated posts because they have been such great trains and each has taught me different stuff about the hobby. Without further ado, here’s Episode #2 (check out the end, where I have all 4 of my locos running simultaneously on the track!!)

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