I'm about to start my first Z build; I've spent the past several months acquiring DCC, rolling stock, locos, etc.
Other than the use of linear micro servos, the electrical system I have already purchased and mostly configured will be very standard all-DCC (Super Chief, PR3, HFJ, PS1, ESU SPS). Interaction will be via throttle and/ or iDevice over JMRI. Power will be provided by 15v@3a benchtop regulated linear power supplies. Voltages have been dropped, trip thresholds adjusted, etc. for Z-scale where appropriate.
I'm going to use fast tracks jigs (which I've already purchased too) - code 40 ME rail with #6 turnouts. I plan on laying it on 1/32 basswood ties over 1/16 cork roadbed before ballasting.
For the "experimental portion" of the layout, I have decided to use some non-traditional building materials for the base of the layout, 5mm CAP (composite aluminum panel) with rather than 1/2" MDF or plywood. I'm not sure about the landscape materials yet, probably some resin+carbon fiber combo and a touch of tinted ultracal for structures/roads. The cork roadbed will have to be bonded to the base with epoxy.
Thematically, I wanted to do some modeling on the lighter side - baseball as an industry - a nice balance of a couple of key smallish buildings with nice formal parks and informal open green spaces... which imply spring as a season. Daytime/nightime cycles are important to me as well, and I will want to install an audio system of sorts for ambient sound and effects. I will be adding lighting and signaling too, right from the beginning.
With all of that now known, the last question was the layout itself. After one or two tragically flawed ideas, I've decided to NOT try and do my own, and to defer to the experience of others who have spent many hours operating trains before; therefore the question remains, which layout?
The Centralia & Western by David K. Smith (
) caught my eye because it would allow for 2 continuous trains, while still providing a small yard outside and some switching inside. I'm totally open to changing or modifying this. In particular, I'd love feedback from someone who has experience with this layout.
Final notes: I'm going to install Digitrax transponding and am familiar with the clearance & routing issues that I will have to address before starting the build. I'm probably going to roll my own 0805 smt led signaling system with an arduino or two over loconet since I want A LOT of lights (on separate power bus).
There are a few more things I'm sure I've forgotten... Does anyone have any final advice before I start?
Wowseers. You got it worked out. Which Centralia? There are a quite a few and the one I am familier with is in south central Illinois (or north sourthen Illinois) It was quite the railroad town in its day, had major rail facilities and several different railroads ran though it and connected to it. It also had seveal industries there, one of those was the Hollywood Candy Company. So this brings me to next question, what road?
I've been trying to stay kinda generic with motive pieces, since I really haven't had an idea about layout until recently... But the things that make the layout come to life - such as roadnames - haven't been decided yet. I plan on acquiring several (baker's dozen) locos from various manufacturers over the next couple of months for testing, use, or just bashing up.
In only have an Amtrak MoW (MTL geep) in possession today, and I've generally like MoW stuff since you can put it anywhere, and looks oddly appropriate on my unpracticed handlaid track.
I have W.Md. F7/A/B/A (on order) for testing a triple loco setup, but I was thinking of putting something new together last night --- a "USA" train, if you will. I have always wanted a GG-1, and the bicentennial one by Marklin came up as the natural "switcher" for this layout, so I'm looking for one of those now. That give me a pantograph option too, which would be interesting over a dense track section (such as WSY<->Interlock A in Manhattan today) but potentially stupid too. There's also the MTL States-Series/Army locos... so until I can research the _real_ Centrailia's (i.e. learn real history), I'll use a generic roadname.
I'll check out the Hollywood Candy Co.
Some other buildings I've been to that I though might work together aesthetically:
- Baseball Stadium (just about any large college)
- Louisville slugger factory, Louisville KY
- Hall of Fame, Cooperstown NY
- Pencil Factory, Brooklyn NY