Confused over track plans...

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Wildcatfootball, Jun 6, 2006.

  1. I've recently tore out my old layout, and now planning a new one. I'm sooooo confused about new plans though. I don't know what to do. I've made 2 plans so far but there on microsoft paint... Are there any programs I can download online?

    Part 2... I'd like to see what some of you think I should do by making a plan. The room is 14.5x11 ft. 2 main lines are a must, lots of switching and lots of main line action. Scenic details (mtns, rivers, etc.) The era is modern, lots of long Amtrak Superliner, UP, BNSF NS stuff like that. Thanks for anyone who makes a plan.:wave:
  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Can you give us a drawing of the room locating any doors (do they open in or out of the room), windows, closets, or any other obstructions?
  3. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Oops! double post
  4. This is a VERY VERY basic pic. But it gets the point across. The only real obstruction is the door that opens into the room... windows and closets don't matter... I literally have the whole room except for that door. Thanks again guys.

    Attached Files:

  5. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Closets might matter! If you have one or more closets in there that aren't otherwise needed, you could remove the closet doors and increase the size of your layout! If the closets need to be used, but the rest of the room is available for railroad, then you need to think about a design that allows access to the closets when needed. Another thing to think about is, do you need the door on the room? If you need the door there to keep pets out of the room, then you will need to make some sort of swing gate on the door or somehow create clearance for the door to open.
  6. Nope, closets dont matter, The space left for the door is enough to get what ever cloths (REALLY old clothes btw) out. And removing closet door won't make to much extra space... To much storage in there as it is.
  7. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Just a few more questions to get an idea of what sort of minimum radius we need to consider. What era do you intend to model? If you are going to model big steam, full length passenger cars, or the latest big diesel power, you will need a 30 inch minimum radius. If you can get by with smaller steam, say early 20's era, or 50's & 60's with 4 axle locomotives and no 85 foot long cars, you can run a 22-24 inch minimum radius. In fact, the 6 axle diesels of the early 60's will work well on 22 inch radius. You don't need to go with a bigger minimum radius unless you are running 89 foot freight cars or 85 foot passenger cars. I haven't run any models of the new super power diesels to see what minimum radius thay will work on.
  8. Modern era diesel, AC4400, C44-9W, AMD103 & F59PHI will be my most commen main line engines. Cars are big auto box cars, lots of intermodel, tri-level car carriers, bombardier passenger cars, Superliner II passenger cars... So ya, a lot of big stuff. Switchers will be GP35, 38, 40 etc. I was thinking of 30in main line with 22in everywhere else for smooth operation. I'd like to make it as proto as possible. Thanks for your help. Lots of things to consider in this...
  9. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I'm not knowledgeable enough to draw on the computer to give you a track plan, but I have some ideas that may give you some ideas or a starting point for someone else on here to come up with a plan. With a 30 inch minimum radius you would need a minimum of 64" x 68" for a turnback or balloon track at each end of the layout to have continuous running. That would allow for a 4 inch set back from the edge of the benchwork all the way around the curve except for right up against the wall. So that gives us @ 5.5' x 5.5' bench on each side of the door way for 2 balloon tracks. You will need to have access hatches in both because I think some of the track might be out of reach otherwise. A 90 degree turn with a 30" radius will tak approximately 4' in each corner. If the mainline starts close to the wall and goes close to the wall around the corner, it will come out about 1' or so from the corner in the center of the turn. You could put some industries in front of the mainline in the corners for switching, just make sure you can easily reach the mainline to rerail trains if needed. I'm presuming a 30'" door entering the room. On the 11 foot side to the left of your drawing, you need 30" for the door, 5.5' for the balloon track, and 4 feet for the 90 degree curve through the corner which equals 12 feet! If the door is a 24" door, you only need 11.5' in the 11' side! All is not lost. If you have some of the large equipment, you need to build a test board with room for your 30" radius, but with smaller radius curves inside of the 30". The preference may be for a 30 inch, but your biggest engine with the longest car might be able to make a 28 inch radius. If 28 will work, you can get a 28" radius balloon track and a 28" radius 90 degree corner with a 30" door on the 11' side. On the 14.5' side, if I remember my geometry correctly, a right triangle drawn from the edge of the door when open to the center of the 14.5' wall will be @17' long. If my calculations are correct, you could go 1 foot out of the corner down that wall, and then come out in a 30" x 60" long "S" curve near the center of the long wall to increase the mainline run. Spaced correctly, you would still have over 3 feet of clearance between where the balloon track table jutted into the room and where the center peninsula came into the room. The other alternative might be to run the mainline parrallel to the 14.5 foot wall and bring a 2.5'-3' peninsula "T"ing out of the center of the 14.5 foot wall that would feature a branch line or industrial switching area with your 22" radius curves on it. Now you need 4' more for the corner opposite the door, that leaves you room for about 1.5' of straight track on the 14.5' wall. You could increase the straight slightly, if you only make the "S" curve 20" x 50" so that it is a connection of say 2 opposite 40 degree curves instead of a 90-90-& 90. You could also come out with a branch line off a narrow penninsula off the middle of the "S" curve again with the 22" radius on the branch. If you put another 4 foot 90 degree corner on the other end of the opposite 11' wall to bring the mainline toward the other side of the door, you will have 3' between the 2 corners on the 11' side. Presuming again a 30" door you have almost 12 feet between the corner of the room and the doorway on the last remaining side, which is plenty of room to make a second balloon track on the other side of the door.

    I think this would give you an idea of your maximum "foot print" for the bench work in this room. Just remember to shift any penninsulas you may want to build around so that you have at least 24" aisles and 30" would be better. I would suggest a single track folded dogbone style mainline which would mean a single track through the balloon at each end of the layout, but the appearance of double track the rest of the way between the balloons. Get the "footprint" of your mainline down, and then think of the other things you want in the layout, and see where they will fit.
  10. Iron Horse

    Iron Horse Member

    Yeah......Atlas software is free and so is Xtrac Cad. There is a pay one but I don't know the name of it. Atlas was easier to use for me, Xtrac appeared more advanced and I went through all the tutorials and i didn't get it. If you have ever used CAD software, maybe you will understand it. I think Atlas you have to register, and they send you an email like once a month with new products, in case that bothers you. I guess you could unsubscribe.They have all the pieces of atlas track in there, and you can use flextrack also. You can also just play around and see what track will fit, then just build it. Links below..

    Atlas SW - go to RTS download portion of site-- Here
    Xtrac CAD - Here
  11. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I just thought of something else, could you replace the existing entry door with a folding door? As the room stands now, the area behind the door is not available for the model railroad because of the need to provide clearance for the door to open. If the door folds to open, you might pick up a bit of extra space for the railroad.
  12. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Some points, in no particular order.

    - The other software is 3rd-Plan-it. It also enables three-dimensional views, which is pretty cool. Gauge member "Trainclown" is an advanced user, and may be able to help you.

    - Please post your previous MSPaint track plans. Even though they may not be to scale, they will help people understand a bit more about what you are trying to achieve.

    - Please post a better room plan. Even one from MSPaint, showing all doors (and where they open), windows, closets, etc. They are important, even if you "have the whole room". I doubt you are interested in major renovations...! ;) If you can undertake renovations to the train room, then... :cool: more power to you! :D

    - If you go with Atlas RTS or XTrkCAD, you will need to learn how to use the flextrack tool, due to the large radii you want to use (which is great, BTW).

    - Russ mentions space needed for turnbacks - is around the room a possibility, or does the dorway have to remain clear with no duckunder or liftgate?

    - What else will have to go in the room? Is this a bedroom, office, or what? Even if it is a dedicated train room, will you have a workbench, storage, crew lounge, TV, etc, etc?

    - I think you have pretty much thought about the trains that you want to run, and indicated a few of the industries you might model. What else do you want to feature on the layout? Look for the "Givens and Druthers" thread in the Track Planning Forum - there is a good set of questions to help you further refine your thoughts.

    Hope that helps.

  13. Mike Hamer

    Mike Hamer New Member

    Surround Staging as a possible plan


    I've just come across your thread and it seems to me that what you want to create is a model railroad that operates and feels like the one I have already perhaps my ideas could be of some help if you wish to consider a "unique" option.

    Like you, I have a small room (11'x13') and I wanted to run many and varied trains of considerable lengths from short locals to lengthy mainline drags...but how to go about it in a limited space? Oh, yeah...there's a caveat wife wanted all tracks to stay within the four walls of the train room!

    My good friend, Trevor Marshall, and I came up with the notion of "surrounding" the layout with the staging tracks within the confines of the room. In the nine years my model railroad has been operational, I have hosted over 250 operating sessions and the concept has withstood the test of time.

    I've incorporated a minimum radius of 31" as I wanted to run passenger equipment and perhaps a steam excursion train at times. To create the surround staging concept, there is one compromise that must be considered...yes, the dreaded duckunder! At a height of 48" is navigable. You may even wish to go higher. I've incorporated a sliding pocket door at the entranceway to the room...a creative solution to keeping dust away when the layout is not in use. Note that my entrance is nearer the midpoint of one of the 13' walls...I believe yours is nearer the corner.

    I easily run 30 and 40-car trains, although a train length of 20+ cars is sufficient to give the "feel" of, as the Doobie Bros. wrote...a "Long Train Runnin!" Feel free to check out my plan which I've included...thanks to Rick Johnson's artwork at Model Railroader Magazine. To read more about my layout, check out my weblog in my signature line.

    Best of luck as you begin your new layout. This is always an exciting time for a modeller!

    Attached Files:

  14. Soul Embrace

    Soul Embrace New Member

    while looking at the requirements for this i notice it don't support windows XP, is anyone here using this on windows XP?
  15. Ok, for starters... I do have the WHOLE room.. The layout is below the windows, so now renovations needed. No lounges or seating or nothing, because I'll be the only one using the room. No beds, no chairs, no nothing. Just trains. The track plans... Well, please don't laugh to hard.. lol

    Attached Files:

  16. Ok, a little key for my plans... The purple track is my main line. Neon green is my spurs/yard. Blue is my regional track that would be filled up by a SOUNDER train. The red tracks are my Amtrak yard and machine station, and round house. and the 2 lines on the outside repersent 1 track that is a steam engine that runs in my town for recreation. Gray lines are roads, Green rectangles are train stations, light blue is downtown district, brown is random industries, and oragne squares are houses. Thanks again guys.
  17. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    There's nothing wrong with what you drew up as starting points. But before you go further, you might want to seriously consider some issues. Most of these are explored a little in the "Givens and Druthers" thread Andrew mentioned.

    - access. If you are building against the walls, the shelves cannot be more than 30" deep without having to build access hatches. In HO, minimum parallel track spacing is 2". So any place you have more than 13 parallel tracks between you and the wall, you know it's not going to fit, even if there were no scenery at all.

    - aisles and duckunders. You didn't mention your age or how adverse you were to ducking under a 30" section of layout. You mentioned building below the windows, which in most cases means a relatively low layout (how high is the bottom of your window, and can the backdrop block the window?). Typically, the bottom of the benchwork might be 8-12" below the window to allow space for scenery on top. That's probably going to make your duckunder a crawl-under. It also means you will probably not want to operate the layout from a standing position, but rather from a rolling chair. How well do such chairs roll on the floor of that room? Chairs require wider aisles than standing people. 30" is considered an adequate aisle for people standing, 36" is better, 24" is minimum unless you are a wide-body or Clydesdale build (then you need more).

    - number of operators normally expected. The layout designs favor multiple trains running simultaneously. How many operators will you normally have to run these trains? Most of us, unless we have automated or very large model railroads, can, at best, have one train running unattended while all the operators have one train each. This will also affect amount of aisle space needed.

    - time constraints. How long will you allow yourself (in months or years) to get the benchwork built, and most of the track and wiring in place (minimum to begin reasonable operations)? How many hours a week do you devote to the hobby? How long before you are likely to have to move? Do these numbers match up, or are you biting off too much? Cutting back the amount of track can help with this significantly.

    - $$ constraints. Best estimates I have seen is that most layouts cost somewhere between $50 and $100 per square foot, spread over time. Benchwork tends to be a big, upfront expense; most of the rest can be spread to fit your building pace. Does the scope of your planned layout fit within your modeling budget?

    Take a look at the B&M plan Mike Hamer submitted. That's about as much track as you can reasonably fit into your space while still meeting access and other issues. Then decide what portions of your proposed plans are most important to you, and feature those.

    my thoughts, your choices
    Fred W
  18. There is one access hatch. The way I used to access hard to reach sections of the layout was standing on stepstools or a large stool I have.

    I'm only 17 and athletic build, so skinny aisles and duckunders won't be a problem. The bottom of the window is chest high to me, and I'm 5'10", so no problem with building it below the window. The old layout in the room was also that high.

    Only I'll be operating it. If I have more then one train rolling at a time, I'd be a long freight at a very low speed. Usally I'd just be switching or running a passenger train, not much multipul trains.

    During the summer, I'll have as much time as needed really. A weekend job at a local hobby store is the only job I have. My parents want to live in this house for a long time, so no problem with moving. My dad also enjoys trains, so after I move out, he'll keep up the layout.

    My girlfriends grandpa owns a local lumber yard, so plywood will come readily and easily.

    Thanks for all the considerations guys, this is really a lot more complicated then I thought it was at first...
  19. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Couple of points:

    You have already identified one other operator - your dad. How does he feel about duckunders, long reaches, and narrow aisles?

    The cost - benchwork is not your only cost. The track plan(s) that you posted contain a huge number of turnouts. At $15 to $20 each, you are looking at a significant cost (double it if you plan to add Tortoise switch machines).

    The track plans also seem to indicate that you want a lot of operations. This will eventually require a lot of rolling stock - also not an inexpensive proposition.

    I would urge you to take a closer look at Mike's layout. Follow his boston&maine blog link. (You can also see more at by following the member layouts link.) I have operated at Mike's a number of times now. Initially I saw the layout and thought - there's not much to it. But running the trains and doing the switch jobs can occupy several people for several hours - and not everything gets done! It is also a lot of fun. The surround staging concept requires that your track is perfect, but Mike's done it, as I have never seen a derailment there.

    I think the basic message I am trying to convey is to keep it simple, and focussed, and "do-able" so that you don't get frustrated with it.

  20. Mike Hamer

    Mike Hamer New Member

    What is so good about a forum is it offers you the opportunity to share your ideas and seek advice. I was fortunate when I got into the hobby (before the time of Internet forum groups) to have met some very experienced modellers and to be given the opportunity to operate on their layouts. It was through these experiences that I learned what I wanted to incorporate in my model railroad, but more importantly...particular features I did not want to include.

    I see that you have many deep areas as well as a very large number of turnouts (switches) planned. Initially I, too wanted to put tons more track and sidings in my plan which would lead to the need for many switches. Some of my buddies kept slapping my hands when I showed them potential layout drawings I had designed. Their argument was...did the real railroad put extra switches there for their crews to operate more? No, the railroads were economically driven and always did the most with the least expense.

    Scaling this argument down to the model railroad, as Andrew mentioned...switches are an expense, especially when they need to be motorized...and, yes...over time, they require maintenance. (I see that you are 17 years of age...I still consider the expense of items I place on my model railroad...and I've been in the workforce as a teacher for 26 years now!)

    I have visited layouts with an inordinate amount of track and have come home thankful for the fact that my model railroad runs like a Swiss watch with the simple maintenance of 16 turnouts...and, as Andrew can's a blast to operate!

    If you can, try to get out and visit as many layouts in your region as possible. How...ask at the local hobby shop or train club to see if there are any modellers who would open up their layout to offer advice for a young modeller. You'd be surprised to see all the differences and similarities in how model railroads are constructed!

    Finally, we all have to make compromises depending on the space available. There are some items I wish I could have included but did not at the risk of my layout containing too much track and detracting from the overall scenes. These are decisions we all have to make...tough ones, for sure...but sometimes "less is best"!

    I can't wait to see how your plan develops! :) :)

Share This Page