Transfer the track plan to the baseboard

I decided to transfer the track plan to the baseboard without actually printing it in full size. AnyRail is perfectly capable of doing that, but even if I leave out any empty pages it is still quite a stack of paper which will only be used once.

So I go the old fashioned way and replicate the the grid on the baseboard.

Then it is al about marking intersections of the track with the grid. I also made a simple tool to draw the centerline and side of the 422mm radius curved sections.

After drawing a few sections I will obviously have to check with real track before i start cutting the cork roadbed.

I also added aluminium u-profiles to the sides of the baseboard to make sure adjacent plywood sections are perfectly aligned. This is necessary because the overhang is up to 40cm and this will cause the plywood to bend slightly if weight is put on it.

These profiles are thin so they won't block the cabinet doors when they open. You can get these profiles from stores that sell parts to create flightcases.

Trackplan tweaks

 Now the baseboard is finalized, the track plan can be tweaked.

The yellow track is a passenger track that will operate on a shuttle schedule, leaving from the small station (nothing more than a rural stop really) an then going to the top right into a tunnel before it returns.

The orange track will be a programming track and the grey track the main goods track.

Everything is laid out on three levels. The uppermost level is the passenger track, the mid level is the switching yard for the goods track and the lower level is a small shadow track with a short parallel section so I can have trains running contineously in both directions.

On the right a part of the goods track branches off and goes up to a twin track that will be inside a removable diorama of a mine.

Some tweaks were necessary to make sure that the section with the double slip switch has enough clearance below the roof support that juts out upward through the baseboard (the white gap in the middle)

Next steps are to transfer the track plan to the baseboard and constructing the supports for the switching yard. The aim is to fully contruct the goods track before adding the passenger track. I am already looking at digital solutions, but for track testing purposes I can temporarily run an analog train.


Added the plywood baseboard. Used rubberized cork the acoustically decouple the board from the kitchen cabinets it rests on.

The baseboards are modular and fixed using m5 bolts and I made sure to add a piece of cork below the washers too, to prevent a contact bridge. Not sure how well it is going to work but it won't hurt either.

I also rounded the corners to prevent injuries and the layout also has an extra gap in the inside corner which allows me to reach the far end.

The final bit I need to take care of is to link some of the board edges, because even though I used fairly high quality 9mm hardwood plywood, there is some bending and the left part near the roof support has an unsupported 50cm wide overhang which may sag (this overhang is unsupported because I put the cabinet below it on wheels so it can be removed if I ever need to access the space behind).

Progress with room preparation: walls, carpet and sub-baseboard

A snapshot of the finished (but still empty) room:

There is a bit discoloration visible on the heater below the window: Apparently the radiator paint is not heat resistant enough to deal with a gas heater 😞

As soon as the room was ready, I put in the IKEA Metod kitchen cabinets that act as my sub-baseboard and convenient storage area.

Note that I have fitted the small cabinet to the left of the large roof joist with wheels so that later it can be moved easily if needed, for example, to get access  to the space beyond the cabinets if a train falls of or something.

The baseboard itself will be the next step.

Progress with the room preparation

 In the last couple of weeks I've been busy preparing the train room. I've made some nice progress and went from a bare, fairly dark room to a nicely painted, much lighter room. 

It isn't perfect, but for a hobby room it is more than adequate. There are still some details to fix here and there, like some lighting fixtures etc, but in principle I can start adding the kitchen cabinet bases that I will use as a sub baseboard.


While I started working on the rather boring preparation stuff for the room, like stripping old wallpaper, I looked around for decent and affordable track planning software.

I would have liked Open Source stuff running on Linux, but in the end, I decided to buy AnyRail, since I did not like xtrkcad much: at least for me xtrkcad's user interface did not feel natural and it has no options to export to other (3d) formats.

AnyRail on the other hand has a quite natural user interface and even though it is not free, it doesn't break the bank either (and you can download a fully functional trial version first, that is only limited in the number of track segments it allows you to add). 

It runs fine on Windows 10 with a modern, ribbon-based interface, and I run it inside a VirtualBox environment without any trouble. The only downside of this setup is that I cannot use the native 3D visualization since it requires a recent version of DirectX, something that VirtualBox does not support (*edit: it does work!, see at the end). It is however quite easy to export your layout as a 3d file (Collada, Stanford PLY, STL, OBJ, ...) and then render it in Blender and that is sufficient for me.

AnyRail has all the functionality you would ask for in a track layout program, including height, vertical clearance warnings, highlights of too sharp curves, etc. Out of the box it comes with a ton of track and object libraries and there are lots of user-defined objects too (for Faller, Kibri, ...) that can be downloaded with a simple mouse click.

I am going to work with Piko A track and setting up a sketch of the baseboard and a track plan took only a couple of hours. Below is my first attempt. Looks a bit crowded perhaps, but that's because I show also the hidden track (which runs on the lower level), to check if everything fits within the baseboard outline.

As you can see, the baseboard has to fit in a room with some peculiar constraints: for example, the backside is a slanted roof and therefore we cannot use the last 60 centimeters or so (the grid is 10x10cm). Also, the white gap at the top represents a roof beam.

Luckily AnyRail even offers some CAD functionality as well, including rounded corners, rulers, etc. And of course layers: here I only show the layers for the main track, baseboard, and rulers, but on other layers, I have defined the outlines of the cabinets the baseboard will be rested on, the room itself (including that roof beam) and I will add layers for wiring later, along with a layer for a second track that will be narrow-gauge (AnyRail can deal with mixed track).

All in all a pretty nice program, with swift support too by its creator. If anything negative can be said, it would be that flex track manipulation is rather limited (I am especially missing conversion from fixed-length track segments to a flex track curve which would make it easier to create a good fit layout while finally switching to flex to reduce joints.)


The following settings work (with an Nvidia 1080 at least, running a W10 guest):

VirtualBox 6.1.26_ubuntu + Guest Additions CD (very important, otherwise you won't have suitable drivers)

256Mb video ram


3d accelleration *dis*abled!

 Welcome to my second train project.

The idea is to document on this blog various aspects of my new model railway layout.

The first one was really small, just a large table with a simple oval and a siding, and largely scenery oriented, that is, I learned a lot about scratch building/ kit-bashing, 3d printing and all sorts of things really.

But I want a little bit more, so I decided to scrap the old layout (of course recycling all that is feasible) and start building a new, larger layout. 

In fact I am lucky that I can use (most of) the spare bedroom, which is still not very large, but will be large enough to create a more realistic track plan.

I use Blender to create some visualizations and the current plan is shown in the image (with a lot of scenery missing; it is mostly about track layout and heights). As you can see, the spare bedroom features a slanted roof with a very prominent roof beam but I plan to literally mould the terrain around it.

Almost everything is most likely to change as the planning progresses, but for the lower support part: I am actually going to use Ikea "Metod" kitchen cabinets for the base. This is fairly expensive, but has two major advantages: it provides lots of storage space while looking tidy and, even more important, makes for easy height adjustment, an essential feature in an old wooden frame house with a not completely even floor.

The top of those kitchen cabinets is just two wood composite strips so I can put any kind of baseboard on top (plywood, OSB, ...) and still reach any wiring if I don't put too much junk on the upper shelf of any cabinet, so it is practical too. I think I will mount the baseboard with wingnuts so that it (or sections of it) can be removed later.

Currently I have more or less cleared the room, so the next step is to redo the walls (remove old wall paper and give it a lick of paint) and lay some carpet.