# Running 2 trains on 1 small layout

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Heidi, Feb 6, 2002.

1. ### HeidiNew Member

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I'm trying to run 2 separate trains on my 4'X 8 "L" shaped layout. Can I use 2 radius curves at the points where the tracks will cross each other? Any suggestions for my second power pack? I can use all suggestions and help in doing this. Not sure where to put the second track. The first one goes up a riser and through a tunnel along the outer edge of the layout.Just starting and know nothing about power packs except the one that came with my set. Thanks for your time and help.
2. ### Tyson RaylesActive Member

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Heidi need more info. Could you post a drawing of your track plan? Most any MRC power pack is good if you are in HO or N-Scale. If you have the tracks cross each other you won't be able to leave the trains running cause sooner or later they will hit each other. You need to have one track go over or under the other track, or run beside each other.
3. ### billkActive Member

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Welcome to the Gauge, Heidi!

Tyson's right - a diagram would help a bunch. It doesn't have to be anything fancy or to scale, just a sketch showing where the tracks go.

Do the tracks cross each other at the same level or does one go above the other? If they're at different levels, then having curves where they cross is no problem. If they're are at the same level, as far as I know you can only get crossings that have straight tracks, not curved.

As far as running two trains at once -- you need a power pack for each train you want to control, so you're on the right track there. (Unless you use a thing known as DCC, but that's too involved to get into here.) But you also need to make sure that the track that one train is on is isolated electrically from the track the other train is on. This can be done by having two completely separate loops, but is more commonly done by breaking the track into "blocks", with each block insulated from the others with special rail joiners. Each block has power wired to it, and switches (electical switches, not turn outs!) are used to control what controller/power pack is connected to what block. If you are interested in this sort of thing, there are pretty good books available on wiring your model railroad. (And a lot of help right here at the Gauge.)

I second Tyson's recommendation about MRC's power packs. Even if you end up just using one, I'd get one to replace the one that came with your train set.

Good luck
Bill K
4. ### WoodieActive Member

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Hi Heidi!

Yeah.... need a little for info on what you want to do, Heidi. Do you want to run completely separate tracks? That is, take the train off one track, and re-rail it on the other? Do you want to be able to switch your trains from one track to the other? Perhaps even run two trains on the one track?
To have one track cross another (ie, up a rise and over a bridge) could be a little difficult on a 4' * 8' HO layout, as the incline needed to get the height to cross the other track, may be a bit steep for your trains to handle.

Let us know, and we should be able to help.
5. ### HeidiNew Member

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I don't know how to post a picture or diagram on here. I'll try to do it. I want 2 seperate trains on 2 seperate tracks. I have a Southern Pacific ho track and train running all along and around the outer edge of my 4'x8' "L" shaped layout / up a riser and into a tunnel. I ordered an Am trak fleet and I want to put it inside the original track but I'm having problems getting the curves to fit. I hope I've made myself clear enough. I have a problem putting images down into words. Please have patience with me guys. I really want to do this. It's always been my dream. Seems to be getting complicated though. Thanks to all of you.

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6. ### WoodieActive Member

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Hi Heidi!

Heidi,
Photo's can be deceiving, but that pic doesn't look like HO scale. With a 4' * 8' layout, you would just be able to fit a sensible curve around the ends. With HO your curves should be no less than 20", otherwise lengthy cars (passengers etc) will derail, and look unrealistic. Or is it you wish to run HO scale and N scale together? HO scale is 1/87th. N scale is half (or double) that (ie 1/160th).
You mention a Southern Pacific ho track, but the track/trains look more like N scale. Am I correct in this?
7. ### billkActive Member

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Heidi -
It looks like what you have (or want to have) are two totally separate loops, the rails from one loop are not connected in any way to the rails of the other loop, right? Then you would connect your second power pack to the second loop just like you connected the first power pack to the first loop. As long as the loop is electrically continuous, you can probably connect to anywhere in the loop.

As far as getting the curves to fit, that is a problem almost all of us have! You have to be careful that you don't use too small of a radius curve, or you will have derailing problems, besides having the train look funny.

Maybe you should think about just adding a couple of sidings to your current layout. Make each siding long enough to hold a complete train. Then you can "park" one of the trains on a siding, run the other one around the loop, park it in the other siding, and run the other train around the loop. If this would be OK we can help you figure it out.

Bill
8. ### shamusRegistered Member

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Hello Heidi, and welcome to the gauge,
All the above remarks are spot on, need to know what gauge it is, (N-scale/H0) if it's N-scale you can turn two trains around on a 2' wide board, so in H0, you really need 4' wide although it can be done on 3'-6" at a pinch.
Shamus
9. ### HeidiNew Member

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Here's another view that may show it better. It definitely is ho. Thanks

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10. ### WoodieActive Member

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Heidi,
Are you using flexible track for your layout? Also, for your additional track, do you want the tracks to run next to each other? or doesn't it matter where the other track runs.
11. ### HeidiNew Member

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Yes, I'm using flexible track and no it doesn't matter where the track runs. Thanks again.
12. ### justindMember

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If that is HO it looks like you actually have more than just 4' x 8' of space to work with. As best as I can make out the image it looks like you have an 8' x 4' section, and then the bottom of the "L" looks like another 4' x 4' section. If that is the case you actually have a lot of room to work with for a starter HO layout. If you hadn't already laid the track I would have suggested looking at some beginner layout track plans form Atlas, or Model Railroader has some nice ones...but as is it looks like you could run parrallel to the track you have, or you have plenty of room to go up and run an overhead section of track above the track you have now. The tunnel section could pose a problem, the hole isn't large enough for a double mainline, but you could tweak it a little maybe to have the second line run over the first...but you are looking at building pretty high at that point...which means steep grades.
Most improtantly right now, before you make your descision is to consider the grades and like you said early, "pinching" track. No matter how nice the layout plan is, it won't be fun if you can't keep the trains running on it. Vice Versa the simplest can be the most fun if it runs well and reliably. My suggestion, before you think of running an entirely seperate mainline, think about where you may want some sidings, switches, etc...
13. ### HeidiNew Member

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Thanks for all ya'll help. Now I need to sit down with my books to see what I can learn from that and make a plan for the second train. You've really been helpful. Thanks again. I'm sure I'll be back bothering ya'll about something else before long meanwhile please take care and have a nice day.
14. ### sumpter250multiscale modelbuilder

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Heidi,
You're off to a great start! With Two engines on that freight I'd guess there's more than a "train set" there.
I will make the assumption that you have "three 4' squares " in an 'L' shape, and that you probably have 18" radius curves already laid down. I'm not sure your engines would like running on 15" curves, but to set up a second loop inside, that's what you'd need (no greater than 16").
You could start at the base of the mountain, at a level slightly above the existing track, and get enough height to cross the existing track in the area of the inside curve. This would be easier if you filled in the angle of the 'L' with a small triangle to help carry the new loop through the corner. This would give you the option of bringing sidings off the existing track, and also off the new loop, and possibly allow you to use a larger radius curve.
Welcome to the Gauge, and the hobby!
Have fun with it,
Pete
15. ### yellowlynnMember

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Heidi, it looks like most of your track now is out close to the edge, which means, even with flex track, the curves are about 22". If you lay another track just inside of it, an average 18-19" radius would do for what you want. One thing, all the others are right, it won't be prototypical, but it will work. I have done it many times. When you lay the track, be VERY careful that everything is nearly perfect, because the tighter turn will agravate any flaw.

You can check, by laying one curve, plus a little. Attach wires to it and try running a loco over it. If it works, fine. If not, THEN you know changes must be made.

I'm not contradicting anyone else, but I freelance, and Hey, if it work, go for it. Only one rule: you MUST enjoy yourself.

Lynn
16. ### kf4jqdActive Member

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My \$0.02 worth!

Heidi:

You have a nice start! I see most of the people are asking you what gauge are you using. I see it doesn't matter. You could go to D.C.C. (Digital Command Control), but that cost money.

I see in your picture that you have alot on inner space. Don't waste it! Add a second layout in there. Even add a yard in which the two line can share.

You will need 2 controlers or a control that has 2 cab controls.

Here is my picture of my layout. I have one control with 2 cabs controllers. Works great! I just forgot to add the yard! oops

Best of luck,
Andy

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