Creative track plan suggestions needed

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by pomperaugrr, Nov 25, 2003.

  1. pomperaugrr

    pomperaugrr Member

    I am having difficulty in developing an interesting plan for my shelf layout. I am hoping that the members here can offer some ideas.

    I am building an N scale layout around three walls. This will be a "U" shaped layout, with the height of the railhead set at about 54" high. I am limited to 24" wide shelves, although I can go to 30" wide for return loops. The layout will run 12 feet by 21 feet by 12 feet. I am planning to model the late 1990's and have a freelanced New England influence railroad. I would like to have continuous operation, single track main with a possible branch line to a cement plant. I am hoping for a continuous loop plan that can be run as a point to point, but I do like to railfan and watch the trains run.

    This will be a good size for n scale. I'll be using my Lenz Set 100 DCC for control, so reversing loops will not be a problem. I am having a real problem coming up with something that will provide operational and switching interest and allow for running.

    I have had little success using Atlas RTS, so most of my attempts at developing a plan are on paper. I don't have a scanner either. Any ideas you can come up with would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, in advance!

  2. Urban

    Urban New Member

  3. ddavidv

    ddavidv Member

    You're not the only one who couldn't get RTS to work for him. :oops:
    My local hobby shop owner gave me a copy of Track Plans 2003 or something, it has several articles in it that are shelf layouts. I don't recall specifics, but if you want the magazine I'd be happy to send it to you.
  4. pomperaugrr

    pomperaugrr Member

    Thanks Urban:
    You are onto something with the hidden staging. I will have a staging yard hidden in a 6'x10' adjoining room.

    thanks for the offer. That is probably Model railroad Planning 2003. I get those each year. I've gone through back issues, and I've read the John Armstrong book on realistic track planning. I just can't seem to get a track plan that will work in a 42 linear foot, 2' wide shelf shelf layout. I'll have to go back through that issue, you're right, there were some shelf layouts in it.

    I am resisting the urge to put in too much track, but I would love to fit in a small branch line with a junction.

    I really appreciate your responses so far. Please keep the good ideas coming!

  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Late 1990s, with New England. Point to point, but maybe with return loops for viewing enjoyment...

    How about an intermodal facility at one end, where trucks arrive/deprt, and a port at the other end where containers can be loaded/unloaded from ocan-going ships. Does New England have such a port (if you want a prototype)?

    Your branch line could be anywhere between the two, or you could put your cement plant at the port as well. There is a huge St Lawrence Cement plant on the shore of Lake Ontario west of Toronto (Oakville). It definitely gets boat traffic, but I do not know if there is a rail connection. I do know the rail line is not too far away as I believe it serves the Ford plant in Oakville.

    Hope that helps!

  6. grlakeslogger

    grlakeslogger Member

    Hello Eric. Have you seen Iain Rice's recent book published by Kalmbach? The title is "Mid-sized and Manageable Trackplans." Were I in your shoes, I would be trying to piece together a pleasing plan from the various parts of different plans that intrigued me. They can be sketched freehand on a grid and slid around under tracing paper to put them in their proper places. The tracing paper would have a drawing of your room on it. Or, alternatively, you could use a CAD program to draw it up. I started as described and then finalized my HO scale plan using Cadrail. I am building it now in a 13 ft. X 12 ft den.

    Anyway, back to Rice's book ... The plan on page 34 has a great coal prep plant that could be built in an end loop. Just use a cement plant instead of a coal plant. Keep the tracks the same.
    On page 67-72 is the story of "Collingwood and the Meaford Sub" on the CNR. It includes some harbor ideas. Finally "Portland, Me., to the Notch" begins on page 73, It contains a great rendition of Rigby Yard on the Maine Central. The plan does not have much water, but I've always thought of Portland as being a lot more believeable in model form than some of the larger ports. I am a retired Navy officer who served some time in New England.
    Believe me when I say that even a small working port is a VERY large model if done well. I'm sure other plans for a port based on Portland do exist.

    Good luck on your efforts--keep us up to date.
  7. pomperaugrr

    pomperaugrr Member

    Thanks again for the suggestions. My real mental block is in coming up with a interesting schematic that is more than a folded or twisted dogbone. I have lots of ideas for specific scenes and industry trackage, but having a fun run, in between the scenes, is where I have the most difficulty. Any interesting long shelf layout plans out there?

  8. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    If you are looking for long scenes, the best inspiration can be the prototype itself. Real railways take up huge distances, and are very narrow. Ian Wilson's books (see ) are full of plans for CN in the 1950s in southern Ontario. Maybe there is some inspiration in them for you. They are excellent books, but not inexpensive. If you don't want to pick them up, maybe try the library...

  9. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    How about looking at pics of New England railroad scenes you like, and then model the scene. You can build a town, or run along a river, whatever scene you fancy. A good way to model on a shelf is to build a couple switching industrys, and then just run a track to connect them. Nice long "S" curves with scenery and view blocks like trees, hills, or a river to cross look best to me. It has been almost 40 years since I was stationed in the Coast Guard at the training school in Groton, Conn., but I remember taking a train or bus to Springfield, Mass; and we passed some very picturesque rivers with towns built on steep cliffs. I was not a model railroader at the time, but it is an area that begs to be modeled.
  10. billk

    billk Active Member

    For what is basically a 42 X 2 ft layout, I'd just go with a loop-to-loop to keep things simple.

    Another, more complex, alternative might be to stack things up, i.e one shelf over another (just on the 21 ft section?). You should have enough length available to avoid too steep of grades to get from one level to another.
  11. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    If I was designing a layout to fit your space I would first sit down and decide on what I wanted..For me I would be sure to include a working yard,engine service area,industries to switch and maybe a staging yard.I would avoid a layout that did not have rhyme and reason for being and one that would hold my interest in years to come as far as operation or even just running trains.I would also do my best to avoid the spaghetti bowl look of track design.

    While I do not recommend any layout books I do highly recommend that one designs his/her own layout to fit their givens and druthers and not some layout designers thoughts on layout planing which 9 out of 10 times lacks long term interest once the layout is built.
  12. pomperaugrr

    pomperaugrr Member

    Thanks again for the feedback. Thanks to your great suggestions, I have been able to focus back on my goal of keeping a high scenery to track ratio. I was really falling back into the trap of trying to cram too much into this layout.

    The two specific scenes I have in mind are an engine service area adjacent to an industrial switching area on one 12' end, then a large cement plant complex on the other 12' end with a lot of switching potential. The 21' side will be mostly rural scenery, with a small passenger station and a river scene. I am planning on having a 2" elevation change for scenic interest, but utilizing no more than a 2% grade. I do have a staging yard already planned for a 6' x 10' walk-in closet, adjacent to this room. I'll be able to have a total of five 8' storage tracks, plus a switching lead in the staging area. I plan for the staging to eventually be a classification yard that will also serve as a staging area, since it is not visible from the main layout area.

    I want to preserve a single main line feel for the layout. Thanks for the information and the push I needed to maintain focus. I almost fell into the spaghetti bowl trap.

    Once I am able to draw up a final plan, I'll try to get it scanned and posted.

    Thanks again!


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