I decided on the option 4 track plan but I changed the inner oval to be raised versus the outer making the overpass a bit more complex. I made a “mockup” of the layout pinning the tracks to the foam board and created “elevated track support” out of cardboard. This is a great way to literally see the mechanics of the layout.
The gradient is steep but I am not so concerned about that. I can see how the raised curve may bank a bit and that can potentially be a real issue. The magnetic wheels will help in both cases though. I need a short straight track to connect the elevated curve with the 60mm straight track. Not ideal but I will try to hide that section.
I did also decided on the layout theme. I will build something ultra modern with a “sun powered tram” serving a multi story shopping/transport center. I will incorporate the tracks into the structure with 4 stops. Modern architecture with a lot of straight lines, rectangle and “squarish” elements looks like a perfect fit for 1/450 scale (or not).
Time to figure out the track layout. Step one; build a foam board “replica” of the IKEA frame I am using. I fixed copy paper to the “baseboard” with pins so I can draw outlines on the paper vs directly on the foam board. That way I can reuse the foam board template over and over. The foam board allows me to fix track sections to the baseboard using pins.
Paper pinned to foam
IKEA Ribba Frame
Foam board replica
The workable area inside the frame is 21.8 x 21.8mm (≈ 8.3 x 8.3in) with a height of 30mm (≈1.18in).
16M Chassis = 6.6mm
Fine Track = 2mm
Track Base (cork?) = 2mm
Total = 10.6mm (≈0.42in)
I am choosing 15mm because its half the height of the 30mm I have to work with. 4mm headroom does not sound like much but in this case it is “plenty”. For the second level I will also have 15mm (0.6in) of available space. If I replace the track base with a bridge foundation I will have 2mm (0.08in) to work with which is 90cm (35in) IRL.
The magnetic wheels allows me to be fairly aggressive with the track grade and I am using that to the fullest in my designs. I came up with 4 options I like. At this point I am not really considering the theme of the layout, just trying to get an interesting track plan. The numbers indicates height of track; 0 = 0mm from ground,+1 = 7.5mm, +2 = 15mm.
Layout option 1: Twice around oval with a circle and an overpass (A), one straight track for a platform/station (B). Simple and straight forward.
Layout option 2: Twice around ovals with a curved overpass (A), two straight tracks for platforms/stations (B), a section of track (C) that require trimming a 60mm straight track. This layout is a bit more challenging, more track, and allows for two stops.
Layout option 3: Twice around squarish loop combined with a circle. Has a curved overpass (A), one straight track for a platform/station (B), one section of trimmed track (C). The overpass can probably be more challenging than it looks.
Layout Option 4: Twice around squarish loop combined with an oval. Has the simplest overpass (A), potentially room for three platforms/stations (B). Will require two more 60mm straight tracks (C) and maybe some shorter trimmed straight track sections in some places. At the moment this is the layout I am leaning towards. Plan would be to keep the tracks from the overpass at 15mm heigh through the straight track to the right (C). That should give me three stops. For a small “go around” layout it is a bit more interesting if you can have multiple stops (with some way overkill automation just for the fun of it).
I have been running circles (literally) with my Fine Track Set, and some ovals as well. Been testing how the 16m (35.5mm) chassis is running on the tracks and to understand the ins and outs of using the Fine Tracks. Previously I have only been running the DB ICE 3 set on the standard tracks with the raised bed and it worked perfectly.
With the Fine Tracks it becomes more tricky because they don’t have a perfect fit. It illustrated to me how the smallest miss alignment or “bump” can cause an issue on this scale. My test runs have not been under ideal conditions in any way, the tracks were not flat, they flex as the engine drives around etc. I had some derailments and stalling but it was always an issue with a gap in the track joint, or some misaligned track. If I carefully reconnected and adjusted the tracks, did some “polishing” (abrasive paper) and/or temporarily fix the track I could make the operation smooth.
It is impressive that despite the less than ideal set-up it worked fairly well, the magnetic wheels is a great “feature” in this case. The bottom line is that I am confident it will work but I need to be very meticulous when I lay the track and respect the size of the scale.
I have decided to build my “micro layout” in an IKEA frame. Ribba is a square frame 25 x 25 cm, 9 ¾ x 9 ¾. The workable area inside the frame is 21.8 x 21.8mm ≈8.3 x 8.3″ and a height of 3 cm ≈ 1.18“.
I will use two sets of fine track with 60 and 70 cm radius curves respectively so I can make something a little bit more interesting than just an oval. The frame height allows me to run two levels of track. I created fine track templates and printed them to test out some layout ideas while I wait for my order to arrive. You can download the template if you want to print out your own.