Confused over track plans...

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

  1. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member


    You are probably feeling pretty beat down right now. Don't be. As Andrew and Mike have said, take a serious look at what you are trying to do in your plans, and get rid of everything not absolutely essential. The second key suggestion is to build your layout in phases that are reasonably complete of themselves. I'll give several reasons for doing so.

    On the Model Railroader forums, a friend of mine quotes 50 hours per square foot to get a layout to a reasonable stage of completion, including scenery and some detailing. That jibes with what I have seen. Typically, to get a 4x8 to the point of scenery, structures, and detailing (in addition to benchwork, bug-free track, building rolling stock, etc) takes 2-3 years. You are proposing something about 3 times the size of a 4x8 in terms of square footage. It will have more complex benchwork.

    Now during the summer, you may have 40 hours a week to put into your layout - but that concentration of effort may burn you out on model railroading, too. What happens during the school year? What competing interests do you have for your time after studies, family life, girl friend, and any sports are subtracted from time available? I suspect the most amount of time you can devote to your trains during the school year is 8 hours/week (a pretty typical figure for most non-retired model railroaders).

    How many years do you have before you expect to leave home? You have stated you expect your father to take over the layout when you leave. To make this happen, I suggest you plan this layout together, giving as much priority to his interests as your own. If the layout does not reflect enough of his interests, he is unlikely to carry on where you left off.

    A couple of tips for modifying your plans:

    - Settle on a suitable train length in feet and inches - normally equal to or less than your shortest wall for appearance. This will drive your passing siding, staging, and longest yard track length. Extra length beyond the train gains you nothing, but each of those tracks needs to be able to handle the specified length.

    - On smaller layouts, you usually cannot afford the space to do anything twice. Two yards, or 2 engine servicing facilities, or 2 towns that feature the same type of switching difficulties means something else got left out.

    - Most "towns" where there are industries and switching should have a runaround track nearby. At least one spur should face the opposite direction of the others. Limit use of switchback spurs (remember don't duplicate!); not every town should have them.

    Again, a phased approach where you built a single circuit main line around the room first would let you begin operations early. If you don't get the whole thing built, it's not such a bad loss. The second phase might be to add a town on one side of the room, and incorporate your switching operations. Third, add staging. I usually suggest leaving the yard for last unless you particularly enjoy yard switching.

    my thoughts, your choices
  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I won't repeat the excellent advice you have received from other members of the gauge, but one thing that wasn't mentioned is the closet situation. My understanding from your original post is that there are closets in the room that do not need to be accessed very often, but they are used which means that they may need to be accessed once in a while. The plans that you drew I believe will effectively seal off the closets so that they couldn't even be opened once the benchwork is in place.
  3. The closet doors slide open, not out or in.. and I can access them from the spot where the main door opens... Thats how the layout before was, and there were no problems... Sorry for not explaining that earlier.
  4. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    I've heard $1 per square inch - that's $144 per square foot.
    I cannot emphasize this enough. Many lists of givens and druthers ignore it, but it can often drive the whole plan. Realize that the coupled length of a single coach or autorack will be greater than 12".
  5. Ok, so been looking at a lot of layouts, went to my local ho club, and also looked at the real thing and came up with this... It may not be "simple" enough for some of you on here, but this is what my dad and I have settled on. It includes all I want, but leaves more room, no skinny isles, still the duck under, but I think my dad wants to make it a swing up type of deal. We'll deal with that as it comes. Tell me what you think about it. Thanks again guys.

    Attached Files:

  6. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    I do believe you are off to a good start. Posting a plan for others to criticize takes a certain amount of maturity. Dealing with that criticism constructively takes even more. I hope you realize that our comments are based mostly on having learned lessons the hard way, and wanting to help you learn them an easier way. I recommend you keep a construction journal, with pictures if you can, so you can reflect on what went right and what when you build your next layout.

    The problem with your plan is that it's not drawn to scale. Because of that you can cram in a lot more in your drawing than will fit in real life. My 1st recommendation is to redraw the plan to scale on graph paper - a great practical math exercise - or use one of the free track planning software packages - XTrkCad is a good one.

    If you are not interested in doing a to-scale plan in advance, I strongly urge you to make a few full size templates and lay them on the floor BEFORE you build any benchwork. In particular, cut four 90 degree curves using 29" radius on the inside, and 33-1/4" radius on the outside. Tape pieces of paper together before cutting or use sheets of cardboard. The dimensions I gave represent the inside and outside clearance of double track 30 and 32-1/4 inch radius curves. Once you place these on the floor, and ignoring the door for now, you will see you have less than 6ft of straight left between the curves on the short wall.

    I agree with your choice of 30" minimum radius and a double track main, given the equipment you want to run. I would bump up the other areas to 24" minimum radius. Placement of the cross-overs on the double track is going to determine train length of your local freight. #6 cross-overs - minimum for your situation, #8s would be better - take at least 18" of length.

    So my recommendation would be using the full-size templates of the main line to determine your benchwork outline. Build your benchwork, and start laying the double track main. Use actual cars and engines to determine best locations for cross-overs. The lcoal freight engine has to be able to run-around the train to push or pull a car from a facing-point spur.

    When you start laying some of your other tracks, again play with actual track, turnouts, and cars, or use full size templates to lay it out in advance. Many of your switchback spurs (in particular the tourist steam line) have switchback tails that are way too short.

    I've said enough for now - get started and keep us posted on your progress. We care. Just be prepared to make many changes to the plan as you go. Drawing to scale or mocking things up full size in advance points out where those changes will have to be made.

    yours in training

Share This Page