4X8 Layout

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Mike 86, Dec 20, 2000.

  1. Mike 86

    Mike 86 New Member

    I have space for a 4X8 layout and I would like some ideas and opinions. For example I heard that the Atlas HO10, the yardmaster is a good 4X8 layout. Please tell me if indeed this is a good 4X8 layout, if not please feel free to give me other suggestions. I have also heard it is better to start out smaller than a 4X8 (such as the Atlas HO30, Morgan Valley) and then expand upon it. So I kind of need your input, should I start out small and expand it or just start at a 4X8 layout? Any advice will be appreciated, Thanks. [​IMG]

  2. I'm not familiar with the plans that you mention. I can offer the suggestion that you drop into the NMRA website and look over the Beginner's Page Project for some good ideas on what you can do and may run into.

    Just go to http://www.nmra.org/ and follow the Beginner's Page link.


    Roger Hensley - rhensley@anderson.cioe.com
    == http://cid.railfan.net/eci_new.html ==
    == East Central Indiana (ECI) HO Scale Railroad ==
  3. George

    George Member


    I always thought that the Atlas track plans with the exception of #24 (The Big Panhandle) looked too toy like. That is, they just don't have that prototypical look everyone wants in some form. Want a nifty yard? Look at plan #24 and forget the mainline of the plan.

    What do you want to build? What do you envision? If you want loop-de-loops and more track than scenery, than the book of Atlas track plans is the way to go. For something more credible to the eye, start with the Kalmbach book on Track Planning for Realistic Operation, or some title like that. It will make you aware of things you always saw on the prototype, but never considered when working in scale.

    Start with the room, go into your mind, get Atlas flex track, a rail nipper and recreate something you want instead of a SNAP configuration bound by 22" radius curves. Go around the wall if you can, make broad radius curves. You're not bound by the symetery of a wooden rectangle. How large is the room you have to work with?

    If you freelance, you'll be happier with the result.

  4. Trainguy

    Trainguy New Member

    I nice 4x8 layout can be found in the Kalambach "Set to Scenery" book. If your new to model railroading this book will walk you through the basics of building benchwork, laying track, building mountains and lakes. It's well done and I have to admit that I used it as the basis for my layout. I especially liked the shopping list it provides for the various stages. You can probable find a copy at your local library which is where I got mine.

  5. FA-2

    FA-2 New Member

    Where do you find this #24 layout? I am assuming that Atlas has a layout book, is that right??

  6. Railery

    Railery Member

    U could try the Atlas Right Track software and design a few 4x8 of your own. The 5.0 software is very easy to use.

  7. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Mike,
    Have you tried the Dave Frary books on railroads, he has built a few for 4' by 8'

    [This message has been edited by shamus (edited 01-09-2001).]
  8. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    When I first started in the hobby, the 4x8 was the standard building block that everybody started from. From there, you would expand into these "spagetti bowl" configurations, & we would crawl around on the floor, & pop up through holes like gophers to run the trains, or work on the layout. I filled up half of a basement with one of these monsters one time, & it was one of the biggest wastes of time & money I've ever been involved in.
    Thank God for people like John Armstrong, David Barrows, & others who brought layout design out of the dark ages. We can now build layouts cheaper, easier, more efficient, & much more interesting to operate.
    There are so many great ideas out there now. George is right, we don't need to keep using those Atlas plans.
    Remember, you don't have to build a carbon copy of a published plan. You can incorporate ideas from several plans to fit your space & theme. If you've got room for a 4x8 (which, by the way, takes quite a bit of space), then you've got room for an even more interesting layout.
    There's a new Kalmbach book out by Iain Rice, called Small, Smart, & Practical Track Plans. He's got some interesting ideas in it.

    [This message has been edited by Charlie (edited 02-03-2001).]
  9. wt&c

    wt&c Guest

    I had an HO scale 4x8 layout. May I suggest N scale?? with HO scale, yes U can get more realistic trains, but in N scale Better realistic train length, more trains being released, and even better operations if you put work into it. With HO scale if you don't mind running 15 car trains with 4 axel locos, then go with HO, if you want realistic operations on a 4x8, you have to be crazy unless U want a Switching layout.

    NARA Member #8
    The Appalachian & Atlantic Railroad
  10. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    wt&c has the a good point going here. If you take an HO 4x8 track plan, & simply use N scale track, components, elevations, & spacing, you'd have a nice sized layout with wide curves & long sidings.
    But I still maintain that the "island" style design is an inefficient use of space. It's like having an elephant in the room. It's always going to be in somebody's way.

    [This message has been edited by Charlie (edited 02-04-2001).]
  11. Railery

    Railery Member

    Here is the plan Mike was talking about.
  12. George

    George Member

    Hello FA-2!

    Sorry for the delay. The "Panhandle" plan I mentioned can be seen in an ATLAS pamphlet (now I'm dating myself) called "Blueprints for Snap Track" and it's also in the Snap Track layout book.

    Even if you don't use Snap Track, (I stopped 27 years ago) ATLAS has lots of versatile and interesting track plans for limited space. Have a look. [​IMG]

  13. justind

    justind Member

    I like the Atlas 4x8 "Plywood Summits" but this is as a beginner and I have as yet not even built a layout. I like the multiple levels, and the turntable and turn-around wye, but the fact that it is basicly a figure 8 with some inlets is a little toy-like. However, I feel that if you can model scenery well you can make any layout realistic...I sometimes wonder in looking at the prototype just what they were thinking, and after reading the Kalmbach "Track planning for realistic operation" he makes the point that you build a lot of new atop old and wind up w/some less-than-standard looking arrangements. My philosophy is to have fun, and if it doesn't look exactly like the prototype I don't care. I haven't decided if the island or the outer-edge layout design is better. In the outer edge design you have to ends that are 4' to allow a decent curve and you can't get easy to the back of it or to upper-level track etc. And if you loop it around the whole room you need a removable section to allow access to the middle of the layout, or you need some method of duck-under. However the island is in reality the sheer king of wasted space from an architectural stand point.


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