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Howdy-

My name's John and I'm new on this site-- first post here! My son was born last year and this past Christmas was his first. Naturally, being my kid, he had to have a train. After considering many inputs (mostly from my wife who was strongly pushing HO or O gauge, even though she doesn't know anything about them) I chose G, which of course annoyed her because she was rooting for HO or O. Since this is my kid's first train and he'll have lots of years of little fingers, I figured the best thing to do was get him one of those Bachmann starter sets-- the Pennsylvanian-- even though I myself was busy droolings over the G-scale versions of GG1's, K4's, full-length heavyweight passenger cars, and generally wishing I was a gazillionaire so I could actually afford all that stuff... So I bought the Bachmann starter kit as (I hope) a good compromise, and if it breaks-- eh, wasn't that expensive really.

So Christmas came and went, and to my relief (I had been slightly worried, he's only 8-months old) he loves watching the train go round and my wife admitted that she liked the scale once she actually saw it set up, so all's well in tinsel-town. Then I got on ebay to see what other G-scale stuff I could get-- especially track. I know Bachmann track isn't the greatest or the best-looking, but again, I'm letting myself be guided by the "little fingers" principle and looking at stuff that will get my family solidly entrenched into G-scale, let my kid grow up playing with trains-- and then when he's old enough, start upgrading to better stuff. Cheaper that way too. So I bought some more track on ebay. That allowed me to alter the course a little to make it slightly more interesting than watching it go round-and-round in circles. I figured my wife would have something to say-- but she was surprisingly cool about it. All she said was "if you get to spend money on your hobby, I want to buy a $3500 Bernina sewing machine". (Gulp! ... Okay, seems fair...) Fortunately I'm not certain if she actually meant it.

So the new trackage was nice. Its fun to watch the train undulate its way around the Christmas tree (by official decree, "when it comes down, the trains get put away"... I'm thinking of having the tree bronzed...) and I got to thinking-- you know I wish I had a few more cars so the train would be a bit longer-- wonder if I could get away with that...? So I combed ebay and secretly got some more cars-- a couple of hopper cars and a boxcar. That's all I need. Really. I can quit this at any time. Meanwhile I spotted a number of other "good deals" on ebay and you know, it would be a real shame to pass all of those up. I'm going to be getting more track and rolling-stock eventually anyway... So I got another boxcar-- then another-- then a caboose and another locomotive, and some more boxcars and yet another locomotive-- and while I was sitting there winning the auctions-- my wife comes over to see what I'm doing (Yikes!) However, to my puzzlement and relief, she didn't say anything and even remarked that some of the trains I was looking at were "pretty"-- I'm no fool, I made sure to purchase those too -- Then she looked at me and said "All this is getting put away next weekend, right?" (Yeah, sure dear, whatever you say...) We're getting ready to buy a new house soon-- I'm already thinking ahead about big rooms, dimensions, track plans, etc. I'm pretty sure she's not enthusiastic about the trains and all, but so far she's been surprisingly cool about it. I'm gonna have to do something nice for that girl.

Anyway-- all this has gotten my railroading juices going and I've been mulling over ideas for building the layout. It will almost certainly be an indoor layout and in a relatively large space. I anticipate something in the neighborhood of at least 24x16 or thereabouts. More if I can figure out a way to commandeer the garage as well-- if not for actual train running, then I'm thinking at least for staging and storage. So after I negotiate with my wife and get all the track warrants and such ironed-out... I've been thinking about possibly building something like an indoor "flower bed" and using real 1:1 scale dirt and minature plants for foliage. I know that's not exactly new in this scale, but I haven't seen many indoor examples combining trains and live plants. Immediately my "murphey meter" is going off and I'm wondering what the various problems and issues would be with that.

1. Would it actually look good? Or would it be better to just use traditional scenery modelling methods instead?

2. What sort of problems might I encounter with that? Off the cuff I'm thinking weight, the possibility of moisture/fungus/whatever from the plants? Dirt in general (after all there is at least one kid already involved-- two if you count me as well :) Drainage--?

3. How to build it and lay track?

4. When it comes time to actually build the layout, I think I'd like to hand-lay the track, even though the thought of this sounds really tedious and I've never done it before. Where can I get the actual rails? I know about flex-track, but where can I get just the rails? Does anybody recommend or not recommend this?

5. My thought is to try to "build-up" the contours a bit-- build it more like a traditional layout with risers and such and just enclose it in a box for the dirt and plants. Perhaps use sheet insulation to add bulk and cut down on the amount of actual dirt needed and the weight.

6. Are there any issues involved in working with dirt and trains (aside from being careful not to get the dirt into the working parts)? What about erosion from watering the plants? What plants work well for ground cover-- moss? Something else?


What other issues or considerations might there be that I'm not thinking of? I'd sure love to hear from anybody that has an opinion or experience with any of this.
 

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John;

Seems like an awful lot of work to me to build your layout indoors and then bring in all that stuff that should be outdoors (dirt, plants, etc.).
Is there a reason you don't want to build outdoors?  A 24x16 layout in N or HO is pretty good size but in G, not so big.  As a matter of fact, if you are operating in 1:20.3, it becomes the equivalent of a 6x4 layout in HO (if I did my math right).  If you have the space outdoors, you really should put your primary layout outside.  That way you can use real plants where they were designed to be used, along with real rocks, real wooden or metal bridges, real water, etc.

That's not to say you shouldn't have something indoors, but if you dedicate a portion of that area to your wife and her soon to be new Bernina (mine's was a Viking), she'd be much more in tune with your needs outdoors.  Besides, if you use that reduced area as a staging area which eventually goes outdoors, you'll have the best of both worlds.  A nice (and probably more expansive) layout in the yard and a small indoor layout area for you and your son to enjoy during times when it is a little less than hospitable outside.  Plus, you get a climate controlled area to do maintenance on your trains while spending time with the missus and little one.  Seems like a win-win to me.

Mark
 

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Welcome

A forum member here, Torby, or is it now TomTheBrat, tried this; indoors, real dirt, live plants, looked like one heckovalota work. biggest issue is water, drainage, moisture issues and keeping the plants alive when the lights are out. All I can say I would attempt what he did for all the tea in China.

I'm indoors, but I'm building a traditional layout, just like HO only on steroids. Less hastles for me.

I hope Tom can chime in here and provide his experiences building it, might give you a good idea of what to expect.
 

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If that wife doesn't get the Bernina, she should get the Viking. NO TWO WAYS ABOUT IT! You would not be wrong to get one of each! I ain't joking, either. I would also advise against stooping so low as to get a Sears or Singer as a "token"... BERNIA or VIKING (my wife had ALL four of those brands at the same time once, I know whereof I speak!). Personally, my prefs would be the Viking, but it should be up to her. Find where the Viking store is in your area and then tell her you want to take her for a ride! Go to the Viking dealer first and then if you leave there empty handed, know where the Bernina dealer is for the next stop.
 

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L.O.L./DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/hehe.gifWhen you can high five the conductor or rear brakeman in the caboose from the headend of you train (ENGINE. LOCO)  you know that your train is WAYYYYYYYYYYY TOOOOOOOOOOOOOO LONGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:D:D:D:D:DWhat Like some haven't tried or done it.
 

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I was just havin some fun... on my old layout I coupled the caboose to the lead engine and had a complete circle...
Required a helper loco in the middle to keep from pulling it off the track at startup... but I got it to work...

OH YEAH... Like you guys have never done it...

I usually keep the trains below 14 or so cars cause it looks ridiculous...

Philip
 

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I've spent about 7 years indoors with my layout.

Absolutely NO dirt in here.   www.wvrr.ca 


Just use conventional scenery techniques.  There are lots of possibilities.

Oh yes!  Nice video.  Fourteen cars is my indoor limit as well.  :D

Dave


 


 
 

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You are right about the Bachman track. It cannot be used outdoors. There is a group that uses modular sections to build their indoor layout. It can be taken down and moved for instance if you move to a new house, or if you want to set up a display at a show or hall. Check out their web site at www.SundanceCentral.org. They use conventional indoor modeling techniques for sceinery. No Real Dirt Or Plants.

John
 

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Yup I did it. You can see it all at http://www.outsidetrains.com/facillity/facillity.html


What I'd do different:
  1. Don't have the bank change its mind and take back 3/4 of your startup capital before you can use it. At least I hadn't spent it yet. 
  2. I'd make the tables narrower, maybe 2 or 3 ft instead of 4ft wide. Of course, I'd have to figure the track plan more closely.
  3. Don't fill it all with dirt. Leave most of it landscaped like a more traditional indoor layout and just put real plants for highlights. Unless you have a glass roof. I'd planned to put grow lights. A greenhouse lady told me to put 1 "Natural white" tube in a fixture of 4 florescent tubes.
  4. Locate the water feature away from the power supplies.
  5. The #6 switches were an awful long reach, so murphy says that's where they'll get jammed.

Things that worked well:


The bridge was cool, but maybe a little wide.
The stream was cool.
Stainless track took almost no maintenance. The only place I had to clean it was where I'd spill water on it replenishing the stream.

(Shad, the numbering feature is a little confusing. It didn't want to make the second set of numbers without including the header in the middle.)
 

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If  you are going to build a indoor layout off the floor   look at what Richard Smith has done.   His is outside but I don't see why it can't be adapted to indoors.  There are several post by Richard here on MLS.

Your Profile does not indicate what state your are in.  Two big events are comming up.   The Garden railway convention in Arizona this year  and  THE BIG TRAIN SHOW in Onterio CA.

THE BIG TRAIN SHOW  The Del oro  layout  could give you ideas on how to make a modular layout.   

I for got something


WELCOME TO  MLS.
 

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Posted By John J on 01/26/2008 10:12 AM
If  you are going to build a indoor layout off the floor   look at what Richard Smith has done. 
If you're going to build ANY kind of layout, look at what Richard Smith has done. His work really stands out in its usability / serviceability, attractiveness, economy, workmanship and overall uniqueness. Richard Smith's Port Orford line IS a must-see.
 

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Hi John and Welcome to MLS:)
As Big John mentioned the Sundance Central Modular Railroad is an indoor railroad that was designed in sections to be transported to different train shows and other events. We will also be set-up at The Big Train Show in Ontario, CA in June this year.
Here are a couple photos of the modular to give you an idea of what can be accomplished with a modular indoor layout. 
Richard
Sundance Central Modular Railroad







 

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It can be done. The perfect way to do an outdoor layout, indoors, would be to have a greenhouse style enclosue on the back of the house, like over a deck or patio. You would have the warmth of being indoors all the time, with the ablity of having live plants and water features. I have also thought about this as we have long winters where we live and operating outdoors is difficult the majority of the year. Mike
 

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Cool to have the steps come down in the middle of the room.
 

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I beg to differ...  When my wife and I looked at our house, I layed claim to a certain space for trains... we agreed on a certian area... 


I think I ended up with a well thought out track plan... Extra Storage Under the layout to avoid the clutter... and I still have some space to expand in the future...

I think it depends on the person who is doing the layout... But tonite at 10pm when its 20 degrees and dark outside... I'll be in the basement running trains...


Philip
 
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