armchair dilemma

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by steveNSimes, Oct 12, 2005.

  1. steveNSimes

    steveNSimes New Member

    Here’s my dilemma : I want an empire in a shoe box, or maybe a boot box. The area I have to work with is 12’ x 9’ in my basement , with my fuel oil tank taking up aprrox. 3’ x 5’ along the wall (the 5’ length runs from the upper left side of the 12” wall, as you look at it). I’m running N-scale, using Unitrack mainly, thinking about using peco turnouts or atlas (which I have already). Here’s my main problem : I want a design that will allow good operations (point to point?) but also allow continuous running, all this without a bowl of spaghetti or taking up too much room (is there such a thing in model railroading?). I have narrowed it down to the following designs/systems:

    1) bend track modular – two balloon (end loops) + 1 –4’ module + 1-corner module

    This one would allow me to get it up and running rather quickly. It does offer opportunity to add industries/ operational interest and a chance for a decent mainline run or as any layout I could run it as a point to point layout.Another advantage is that modules are meant to be setup and taken down, so that could me one big thing: expansion!!!

    2) The Appalachian Central.

    This is an old Model Railroader L shaped design, that does offer god operational interest, but doesn't give much of a run.

    3) The Atlantic Long Haul Lines form the atlas track planning book.

    This give me a long mainline in a rather small space (4’ x 8’) but I would have to adapt it to my unitrack. It offers a long mainline, but is it too much in too tight a space?

    I’m probally going to go with the bend track system, but just wanted to get some input from others (ie not my wife who doesn’t care what I build as long as I keep the cost down and don’t take over the entire basement). So there it is, let me know what you would do in the space I have. I have thought about a shelf layout along two walls of my basement, but that wouldn’t alow a continuous run for the times when I just want to see’em roll.
  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    You could build shelving above the oil tank and run shelves around the walls. You didn't mention if one end was open or if it has walls all the way around with a door, or if you could but in a wall with a door opening. If you can put in/have a wall with a door opening, you could run one track over a lift or swing away bridge at the doorway to allow entrance without a duck under. If it doesn't have a wall all the way around, you could make a permanent shelf layout around three sides, and build portable modules to close in the other side. The modules could be taken down and stored under the permanent part of the layout when not in use.
  3. steveNSimes

    steveNSimes New Member

    My basement is pretty open, except for trackaga rights. LOL. That is a thought though, to build a shelf style layout. The Oil tank is a little high however. (i could build around it no problem)But if I use the 12' wall, I could strecth that to about 17-18' and if I then run along the other wall, I have to get around my water softener piping, but that could go up to say 40'. That wouldn't be to bad at all. But could I somehow create return loop or still create a continous run? I know that the "loops" would have to be stored away, when not in use. Maybe I could create a island in my "useable area" then only have to create 1 return loop, who knows maybe I'll like a point to point layout well enough, that it won't be an issue.

    So I guess I'm back to the lazyboy..anybody got any links or ideas for good shelf layouts, They can be small, I will link them together. Actually that might be the best for me. I may start with Lin Wescotts L shaped yard ( from 101 trackplans), chicago and something or other... then build off of that.

    By the way I should add that 98% of the time I would be the only operator and I am using Digitrax, so wiring isn't going to be a hassle (like one of my old cab control layouts.)
  4. shortliner

    shortliner Member

    Is there any reason why the part of the loops that project out from the shelf, can't be made to fold up, or down, out of the way when not in use?
    Shortliner(Jack)away up here in the Highlands
  5. steveNSimes

    steveNSimes New Member

    I was thinking of storing them under the layout (the part near the oil tank) when not in use.

    I was wondering about shelf a style layout. I was planning on building a frame from plywood and then using insulation foam as my platform to lay track. My question is do I still need to be that elaborate? I guessing that at the most my “shelf" may reach out at 15-16”. My turnarounds will still be build with a good frame. I guess I need to do some research. I am liking the shelf layout idea, because I could build it in a modular or phase or add-on 0r expansion or you name it fashion, thus reducing cost (haha) in the beginning and still leave plenty of room for the family. My only hesitation at this time is will I miss that old continuous run option? The only other point to point layout I built was in HO and I had some serious electrical problems, which I haven’t had in my last two layouts using digitrax and unitrack. But one reason I switched to n scale was to get longer trains on my layouts, which one my last one I was running 15-18 car trains, something I never reached in HO.

    Or do I just go with the bend track system, build the first four modules and then look at ways to expand, either with more modules or perhaps a very long branch line, which I could build off the layout? using shelves? This could be used to add staging also.

    So what do you guys think?
  6. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I just thought of a couple more things to throw into the mix. If your modules used to close in the ends were mounted on casters, they could be rolled out of the way for storage. Perhaps drop down panels at each end going towards the middle with a short "bridge" module on casters bridging the gap would make it easy to set up and take down. If the oil tank is high enough to make the layout too high for comfort in that area, how about putting in a step up platform the length of the tank to get you up to the correct height?
  7. steveNSimes

    steveNSimes New Member

    OK, Im back....
    I'm thinking of making the layout 8' x 9' and basically running it around "the walls" of which there is only one. the benchwork will be 18" wide or I may go 24", not sure yet.But I would run the layout from the inside. with this arangement Im thinking I should get a good bang for the buck. I'm thinking of a two lap main line, with some staging running along the three "open sides", perhaps I can add a branch line to add some more operating interest. I'm going to again build it in sections, that I may then modify for an around the walls layout later on. I model both NS and C&NW, so the duel mains may even look better. I'm basing this layout on I belive #74 nickle plate road in the 101 layouts by linn westcott, so that will give you an idea of what I'm planning in my head at the moment. I guess I should get busy doing some xtrk CAD work. Should I try to keep my benchwork around 18" or is 24" fine, even if I plan on furture wall mounting?
  8. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    I plan on putting my 2x4 foot modules on shelf brackets when not using them at the modular club (

    Take a look at the link in my signature to the Modular Forum. There are lots of resources and ideas there.

  9. steveNSimes

    steveNSimes New Member

    OK, I'm back. After working up a couple of plans, that I wasn't really happy with. I was given an early christmas present: I have wall (air?) rights around the entire basement. Sweet!! Now I just have to stretch out some ideas I have. Here is what I have to work with: 38' 6" x 24' 3" I work on posting a drawing.
  10. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I don't know what else is going to be in the basement, but if you can make everything at a 4 foot height, then you can run the layout around the walls without interfering with book shelves, entertainment units, etc.
  11. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    I'm working on a very similar thing right now (around-the-walls in 1/2 my basement - 20x30) and posted a design earlier.

    I'm actually very close to deciding to use nearly 5' height, to ensure easy access to the underside, as well as preserve a good amount of under-layout storage. Of course, I'm 6'1" and have the luxury of buidling the layout to "my" height (no club involvment, no particularly short guys in the ops group I hang with). Any my wife would actually like to see it about 5'4" tall (she's 5'3") so she can just walk under it...

    I mention it because if you're able to put it high enough to avoid the oil tank, etc. etc. you'll gain major "clear space" for the layout... not to mention that the conventional wisdom says the trains look best when viewed between chest and eye level anyhow...
  12. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    Steve, your area is similar to mine, have a look at the track plan on my website.

    Continuous run, return loop, and room for 5 or 6 distinct "scenes".

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