1st layout recommendations for a newbie

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by dannyceralde, Jan 25, 2002.

  1. dannyceralde

    dannyceralde New Member

    As I'm planning on using a hollow core door for a base, any recommendations for a layout in a 30" by 78" space?

    I'd like to have the ability to run multiple trains at once and would like to do something more elaborate than just a simple loop with turnouts.

    I checked out 'Mike's Small Trackplan Page' (http://www.naisp.net/users/mfischer/m_train2.htm) and noted that the interesting layouts have grades, tunnels and bridges. Are layouts with these features too much for a beginner?

    In addition, thanks for the feedback on Life Like trains. I've ordered a LL SD7 to start with, but after reading posts across your message board, my next loco just might be a Kato or Atlas.

  2. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member


    In my opinion, you can tackle as much as you want. But keeping it simple is usually a good idea if you're not very experienced with the process of building a layout. There's A LOT to do! And the more complex the layout, the more frustrating it might be to get it up and going. With practice and experience, though, I suppose it becomes easier. I'm still a newbie myself, and I'm amazed at how fast other more experienced people (like Shamus) can assemble a layout.

    I chose a layout plan from a book published by Atlas. The plan is called N-11, Unhinged and Horizontal, and is built on a hollow core door. I made a few minor modifications to the original plan, the most significant being that I raised the mainline loop up 1/2" from the yard. That gave me an approximately 1% incline from the yard to the loop. It's amazing how such a seemingly small incline makes my engines work so hard! I can actually overpower the smaller ones...something that I didn't really expect to happen.

    Anyway, my main point is that it seems wise to start simpler so that you can master the basics, then make a more complicated layout later... It all depends on how comfortable you are with your present knowledge, skills and abilities.

    Good luck!

  3. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member


    As far as recommending a layout design is concerned... The Unhinged and Horizontal has a few interesting features which I think make it a good design. Refer to the trackplan from this link:


    1. It has a decent-sized yard for such a small space.
    2. Trains can be run in a continuous loop. Many people just like to sit back and watch the trains run. But while a train is running on the loop, you can also be working with another in the yard.
    3. Trains can run in a pseudo point-to-point fashion. Shortly after leaving the yard, a train can enter the reversing section, which will turn the train to face INTO the yard. So when you bring the train back it, it's sorta like a completely different train has arrived. Part of the fun (for me) is breaking down the train with a switcher after I bring it back into the yard.
    4. All that fun and excitement can be had in 30"x80"!

    One more thing... Here is a link to an excellent tutorial on building your first layout. The author starts out with a basic design and adds onto it, introducing new concepts and explaining the terminology along the way. In the end he gives the plan for a nice hollow core door layout. It has a lot of track, but looks like it could provide a lot of operational interest!


  4. billk

    billk Active Member

    Dan -
    Back in the old days (no no keep reading!) when people used to grind their own mirrors for telescopes (do they still do that, beats me) there was a saying that it was faster to make a 6in mirror and then a 10in mirror than it was to just make a 10in mirror. In other words, start small, learn to walk before you run, etc., etc.

    Keep you first layout simple, have fun making it and running it, don't worry too much about mistakes but make sure to learn from them, and plan on eventually starting all over. For some of us the same applies to the second and third and ... layout as well.
  5. Catt

    Catt Guest

    You will most likely keep making mistakes(most of us do :D ). The important thing is to make new mistakes :D :D not the same OLD ones over and over.

    Having been at this hobby for over 20 years now I would reccomend that you start out with a simple plan to get trains running .You can always add on to your layout (track,sidings etc).Having running trains is a great ego boost to the newbie.In turn this will get your juices flowing to expand?change your track plan.Thats another thing,don't be afraid to change things in midstrideor even once you've finished a project.

    One more bit of advice to you.If it stops being fun,stop doing it for awhile.Step back and get a fresh look at what you are doing,and don't be bashful about asking questions.
  6. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    Totally have to agree. I model in HO, but just started in September, and have a 1' x 7' (very small for HO) layout in my home office. I've learned a lot, and am ready to start tackling my next layout in the spring (even though the current one is far from finished).
  7. nmtexman

    nmtexman Member

    Double Tracking

    One thing you might want to consider is double tracking with some crossover's at strategic spots. With a 78" door, you can put a nice little yard in part of it, also.

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