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This tutorial was originally created using version 074b of Templot. If you have since upgraded to a later version you may find that some of the menu locations now differ. There are many additional features in later versions of Templot which simplify some of the operations shown here. For this reason you may find it helpful to watch this introductory video (for Templot version 082d and later) before working through this tutorial:

Click to watch this video

Watch this video from Templot to see how easy it is to create a track plan. This one is just a small part of a larger layout and uses a rough sketch as a background guide. Here below is the result with the tracks aligned over the sketch.

Click to watch this video

Click track plan video to watch this track plan being created. Click to see the full list of Templot videos.


Page 1. Click here to skip this page : next page

track plan :  a  step-by-step  tutorial  sequence

Track planning on-screen :

 Creating a complete track plan on-screen requires close attention and is quite demanding. Be prepared to work methodically and unhurriedly. Coffee?

If you print out the text-only version of these pages you can tick off each stage as you complete it. Alternatively, this tutorial is also available as a PDF file for easier printing. Click PDF File (2MB).

You may find it more relaxing and enjoyable to create a trackplan by trimming and fitting together paper templates directly on the railway baseboard. Templot can quickly print all the templates you need in infinite variety.

If your printer is an inkjet you can also do this on tracing paper or OHP film transparencies, which can then be combined and overlaid to produce the more complex formations.

This tutorial sequence takes you step by step through the on-screen design of this simple track plan in P4:

This design is for a simple branch line terminus, with the buffer stops on the left. This plan has many imperfections and is not intended for actual construction, but working through the design process will help you to get started with Templot's on-screen design methods.

The data file for this finished track plan is included with Templot (versions 0.65.c on). You will find it in your BOX-FILES folder, the file name is .  This file is not needed for the tutorial itself, but is a "here's one I made earlier" example for you to compare with your own results after working through the sequence.

I am assuming that you are already familiar with using the mouse actions to adjust the current template - if not please click mouse actions and follow the step-by-step instructions. Likewise if you are unsure how to zoom and adjust the view of the drawing pad area, please click drawing pad and read the notes. If you have not yet printed a function key chart to place behind your keyboard, now is the time to do it ( help > print F key chart menu item).

This sequence builds a track plan comprising a collection of background templates. If you are not sure what is meant by this, please click about templates and read through the notes.

 If you are familiar with other computer drawing software please at least read utterly baffled before proceeding, because Templot is significantly different.

This tutorial sequence leaves the timbering in the "raw" state, the process of shoving timbers as necessary to avoid conflicts will be covered in a future tutorial sequence. The plan in the data file has had the timbers shoved for comparison.

Handy Hints:

The full-screen shots on the following pages are at 1024x768 resolution, so will need to be scrolled sideways on lower resolution systems. If you can possibly change to 1024x768 you will find this sequence much easier to follow.

I have used the "sky-blue" startup colour scheme for these screenshots, but you can of course use any other colours you prefer. This is a good way to avoid any confusion between your running version of Templot and the static screenshots. ( pad > pad drawing colours >  menu items).

You can quickly minimize the whole of Templot to the taskbar by pressing the PAUSE key on the keyboard, leaving your browser running full-screen behind it showing this tutorial.

Printing these tutorial pages on an inkjet printer is not recommended as it will use a large amount of coloured ink. There is however a text-only copy page which can be usefully printed out and referred to, possibly reducing the amount of screen swapping you will need to do. Click text-only to open the text copy page in a separate window.

 In preparing these screenshots I have frequently adjusted the zoom and view settings to try to keep as much visible as possible, and moved the various windows about for the same reason. You will not need to do this to the same extent.

 Likewise I have frequently moved the template name labels where they obstruct a clear view.

I have intentionally set a large font size for the menus to help make things clear.

Off we go:

Unless you have just launched Templot, before beginning this sequence please click the control > clear all templates menu item (or press CTRL-DEL) and then the track > hand > B-6 left-hand reset menu item.

screen 1:

This first screen is the Templot startup screen, and the first thing to do is to set the required model scale and track gauge. I am clicking the control > gauge and scale > 18.83  S4 / P4 menu item.

You can follow this sequence in a different gauge if you wish, but I recommend that you try it first in P4 or EM. If the scale you are using is other than 4mm/ft you will need to adjust all the given dimensions accordingly. For example, for 7mm scale multiply all dimensions by 7 and then divide by 4.

In addition to the common gauges shown here in the menu, there is a full list of gauge/scale combinations available by clicking the other gauges... menu item, including the options to enter your own custom settings, or use an exact scale setting.

screen 2:

In screen 2 you can see that the information panel is now showing S4/P4 as the gauge instead of the T-55 fictional startup gauge. This is a B-6 turnout on the startup radius in the main road of 10 chains (scale), which is 2640 mm or approximately 8ft 8ins radius in 4mm scale. The result is that the radius in the turnout road is only 809 mm (approx 32ins) which is a little tight for P4 and is therefore showing in the information panel in red.

We can either ease the radius, or change to a longer turnout. The latter seems preferable, and a quick way to make the change is to click the track > quick set... menu item.

screen 3:

This brings up the quick set window like this (screen 3). If you have not previously done so, click the what? button to read the help notes for this function, or click quick-set here. Because the original template was on its datum point (the green dot at the bottom left), the new one will be also.

Using the dropdown lists and option buttons, click REA B-7 to generate a new left-hand mint template of this size, having a positive radius of 10 chains (scale) in the main road, and then click OK.

screen 4:

In screen 4 we now have a B-7 turnout on 2640 mm radius, and by clicking the expand button on the information panel we can see all the dimensional info for it. The minimum radius within it is now 1016 mm or 40ins, which exceeds the set limit of 1000 mm. So the "warning lamp" now shows green, and we decide to accept this for the present (with reservations - it will need some gauge widening during construction).

The next job is to give this turnout a name. Click the rename button on the panel and enter a suitable name in the window which appears. This turnout will form half of the engine release crossover for running-round in the platform, so I have called it "engine release crossover - main".

screen 5:

Now in screen 5 I have reduced the size of the information panel (dragging the bottom-right corner) to see more of the turnout. Then press the F3 function key to create and adjust an approach track length for this turnout by mouse action. Notice that the peg indicator is showing 0 (in red in the top left corner). This is important. It means that this template's fixing peg is in the reset (CTRL-0) position, fixing it to the drawing at the outer datum end of the template (on the left here). Consequently, as the approach track length is increased by mouse action, the toe of the turnout moves to the right, and the space is filled with plain approach track.

 If the fixing peg had been in any other position, the turnout part of the template would have been fixed to the drawing, and the approach track would have extended off-screen to the left.

 The approach track length cannot be less than zero, so when F3 is used initially, the mouse action works in one direction only. If you move the mouse the wrong way, you will need to move it back by the same amount before anything happens.

Set an approach length sufficient for a locomotive to clear the switch blade tips when running up to the platform buffers on the left - I have set approximately 65ft scale (260 mm). This dimension is showing in the mouse action panel and also in the caption bar at the top of the pad.

  For this tutorial sequence you are unlikely to be able to get the exact dimensions shown in these screens when using the mouse actions on your computer. No matter, simply get as close as you can. Templot will take care of keeping everything adjusted accordingly.

It is not easy to add the actual mouse action pointers to these screenshots, so I have used a double-ended red arrow instead to signify that a mouse action is taking place.

Because of the way the mouse works it is not usually possible to set an exact figure directly. You can get a more precise setting by performing the adjustment while zoomed in close. If it is important to have an exact dimension for the approach length (it isn't in this case), click on the figure showing in the lower line of text in the mouse action panel. The data-entry form then appears and you can enter the exact dimension required.

Now that you have a turnout with some approach track, you can see the difference between the CTRL-0 (zero) datum position for the fixing peg and the CTRL-1 rail-joint position. Try each of these now. When there is no approach track these two positions are co-incident, but the response to the mouse actions may be very different for each.

When working with plain track lengths in Templot, you are in effect working with the approach track to an invisible dummy turnout, so the two ends of a length of plain track are also peg positions CTRL-0 and CTRL-1. Notice that the rail-lengths and sleeper spacings originate from the CTRL-1 joint end. When the time comes later to get the sleepering tidied up this point is important. To read some further notes about this topic click snap lengths . For now though we shall leave all timbering in its "raw" state and concentrate solely on the rail alignments.

screen 6:

We can't now see all of the template, so click the pad > pad view options > fit current template only menu item to zoom the drawing pad sufficient to see all of it (screen 6). It is usually much quicker to use the keyboard shortcut for this (SHIFT-F11), or even quicker to simply press the single-key alternative, which in this case is the FULL-STOP (PERIOD) key on the main part of the keyboard. You will use this function often.

screen 7:

Next we want to form the other half of the release crossover, but first we need to consider the track spacing. The pre-set turnout-side adjacent track centre-to-centre spacing for S4/P4 is dead-scale 11ft 2ins (44.67 mm), giving an exact scale 6ft way between the inner rails. You can see this dimension showing in the information panel. For a run-round loop in a station area it is advisable to increase this dimension to allow room for ground signals, point-rodding, etc. So click the geometry > adjacent centres... menu item (screen 7).

screen 8:

The data-entry form appears (screen 8). Click the help flag (or press F2) to read the notes about track spacing. This is the way to find a great deal of help information within Templot. When in doubt click the relevant menu item which has an ellipsis (3 dots ... ) to bring up this data-entry form.

Add an extra 2ft scale (8 mm) to the turnout-side spacing, increasing it from 44.67 mm to 52.67 mm, then click the enter button or just press the ENTER key. The distance between the inner rails will now be 8ft scale (32 mm), and this dimension can be checked during construction.

If you have not previously used Templot's data-entry form, click the what? button and read the help notes about it. If you wish to enter data in units other than millimetres, read the notes about input conversion factors.

screen 9:

Press ENTER again to leave the main-side spacing unchanged, as we shall not need to use it. The OK button will then appear. Click it or press ENTER again (screen 9).

screen 10:

We are now ready to make the engine release crossover. Click the tools > make crossover menu item (screen 10).

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©  revised 13-Jun-2003