Atlas ho/36 Oregon Pass Line layout

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Jim Lawler, Dec 31, 2007.

  1. Jim Lawler

    Jim Lawler New Member

    Any one familiar with Atlas ho-36 orengon pass line layout. How would you rate it as to building it. Is it too far out of date? can it be converted to dcc. thanks for any info.
    Just retired and looking for a layout to start. Im not much on designing one. but am looking for a preplaned package to go with.

    thanks in anvance.
    Jim in Delaware
  2. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    Jim I cant find any info on it. Do you have a link for it?
  3. CNJ999

    CNJ999 Member

    Quite honestly, I'd consider that trackplan a horrible throwback to the days of spaghetti-bowl layouts of the 1950's! There's way too much trackage for the layout's dimensions.

    The Atlas web-listed trackplans are all more-or-less from a much earlier time in the hobby's history, a period when simply gaining the maximum running time and having a minimum of scenery and purpose was the norm.

    Today, most hobbyists' layouts attempt to depict a more realistic situation and a purpose to running their trains. As such, I think that you'd be much better off purchasing one of Kalmbach's trackplan books ("48 Top Notch Trackplans From Model Railroader" is a good one) from your local hobby shop and considering the designs illustrated therein. The trackplans are relatively up-to-date in design concept and result in fine looking an operating layouts that you are likely to be happy with for some time to come.

  4. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Another thing to consider is that the manufactures trackplans are designed to sell the most merchandise without consideration for operations or scenery. If you do a web search for trackplans, you will find ones that are lots better.

  5. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    As others have said, it's not a very useful design. You can't place any side against a wall without having access issues. The curves are 18" and 22" radius - not very well suited for modeling modern prototype equipment. Those are sharp curves for what is a relatively large layout in terms of space, time to build, and complexity.

    My 1st recommendation to somebody looking for a track plan is to get a hold of their vision of what their layout should be. What do they want to see, and how do they want to operate? Those are the key questions that should drive the layout design. A good primer (5 minute read) is here: Space Mouse Rail Systems.

    If you are unwilling or unable to define your vision and design a layout based on the vision, than the best all-purpose design I have seen is this: Starter Layout 511 - Complete.jpg
    The Heart of Georgia is the best "starter" layout for learning what you want from your next layout. Compared to any 4x8, it has more reasonable train lengths and curve radius, just as good operating potential, and not much more difficult build or costly than the 4x8. And you will soon know whether you can tolerate a duckunder, liftout, or hinged bridge. :twisted:

    yours in layout design
  6. tomustang

    tomustang Has Entered.

  7. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    I have a feeling one could make a much better plan that looked a lot like that by changing which tracks connected to which. Still, any HO layout on that shape of benchwork will have tight curves.

    How much space do you have? Not in terms of table area, but what are the dimensions of (the usable area of) the room you're putting it in?
  8. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    oh my indeed
  9. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    If you just want to run trains...and scenery is of no interest...then it is fine.

    22"R is really the practical minimum. Many models will "run" on an 18"R...but the cars following them might in locomotives which toss cars off of the curves.

    22"R is fine for any just might not like the way 85' cars overhang.

    What types of railroads do you like? The wild west? 1950's with steam locomotives & early diesels? Modern stuff? In between eras such as the 1970s or the 1920s? A general railroad for 4-4-0s, 4-8-4s, and Dash 8s?

    Do you prefer plains or mountains? Coastal or inland? Urban or rural?

    I prefer either rural mountains of the wild west...or 1940's diesels at all and plenty of passenger service.
  10. gbbari

    gbbari New Member

    Oregon Pass Lines

    I built the Oregon Pass Lines in 1989 along with my 12 yr old son at the time. He is now in his own home and has the layout in his basement although it has not been re-assembled and made operational since he moved in a few years ago.

    I found that the layout was moderately easy to construct but we had the assistance of a close relative who had a wood shop (I did not) to cut the intricate framing members and the plywood surface components for the cookie cutter layout.

    The layout was operationally very fun for my son who used it's sidings and small yard extensively. We could have cared less whether it realistically modeled any prototype operations - the fact that I went from zero experience in building HO pikes to this in one step is a testament to Atlas' design, instructions and products.

    We ran steam and diesel engines on the layout up to a Uintah mallet locomotive. The layout had no tracking issues except for a somewhat steep climb coming around the left end (clockwise) to get up to the upper level. Some engines could not pull more than 4 or 5 cars up that grade.

    We had tons of scenery on the layout and it received many compliments from visitors so I don't understand some of the comments in this thread. Yes there may be a better design now for a novice, but - at the time - since the internet did not exist as a viable resource - it was a great design.

  11. dwiese42

    dwiese42 New Member

    I built this from a book back in high school - that was the mid 70's, which dates me pretty well. I found it to be an enjoyable pike to build and operate as a beginner.

    If you have the book that details the construction and are not in too big a hurry to get trains running, I might be a good first layout choice. why?:

    1) the book details every aspect of the cookie cutter construction. Every riser is detailed out, and the plywood sheets have templates, showing where to make the cuts. So this is a great way to get the feel for constructing bench work more complicated that a flat plywood table.

    2) The electrical work is also detailed very well. It uses the atlas controls (since it was an Atlas book), which are far from the best, but they work, and in using them you gain knowledge of how DC cab control worked, and a little bit of DC electrical knowledge. Of course today you could use a DCC booster and one or two auto-reversers and simplify the operation. But as a High Schooler, I enjoyed flipping all those switches with my buddy, as we tried to run 2 trains around independantly.

    3) it is small enough to scenic without taking forever - again, as a _first_ layout, or a second layout if your first was a loop on a plywood sheet, it lets you learn and practice a lot of important modeling skills. I still use all the skills I gained, even though the layout is long gone. And if you want a small pike with grades and don't mind the spaghetti, it has 3 levels and good visual interest.

    It is true it flies totally in the face of todays Koester-ized "between the fences" layout philosophy. And really you should stick with small engines and cars on those 18" curves. But for HO, in an 8x12 space, it is a LOT of railroad. If I were building it again today, I might do a few things differently:

    a) use flex for most of the track, particularly for where the plan mixes 2 different radius curves to get parallel curve in between the available commercial curve sizes.

    b) skip the turntable, which burns a lot of space, and put some additional industry in there.

    c) skip the hump yard, just put in flat switching

    d) build the legs long, so the layout starts at least 40", or even 46" off the ground. That would make getting into the access hatch much easier.

    e) go DCC, and wire it appropriately for DCC, rather than the 2 cab control

    In summary, it really is not a bad pike for a beginner, if you have reasonable skill with a saw and hammer, and are actually looking for the "lots of tracks = lots of action" traditional style of layout. The fact it has 3 levels makes it not quite as crowded as the flat plan looks. IF you want the construction experience, and mostly want a space to run your trains around (and around and around) while you work on the scenery, with a little bit of switching thrown in, then consider it.
  12. Trainiac77

    Trainiac77 Member

    Jim - if it makes you happy, build it!
  13. pumpdude

    pumpdude New Member

    Looking for pics

    Does any one have any pics of this layout. Ive been trying to get a new HO layout started in my basement and this one may have some potential. I have the plans in the old ATLAS book but after reading some of the other post I think this puppy can be tweaked into something interesting.
  14. Doug vV

    Doug vV Guest

    Penn Dixie - Atlas Oregon Pass Lines


    I have been dealing with my Penn Dixie layout. This is an outgrowth based on the Oregon Pass Lines.

    I was planning on building this in a 2.5 car garage with a +9 foot ceiling, but
    a job might be available in Colorado and this Penn Dixie might not be build.

    If you are interested, please see my web site.

    I'm always interested in comments.

    Doug vV
  15. 66hopkins

    66hopkins New Member

    I built this layout with my son, but he lost interest,(camaro). All i have completed at this time is the wood portion of the layout. He had started installing track, but removed the track. I live in Fort Worth Texas and ur intested in it I would love to get it out of my garage.

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