Help Me Dream

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by RobL, Apr 29, 2008.

  1. RobL

    RobL New Member

    My wife and I are in the process of putting an addition on our house... we live in a raised ranch and are making a master suite / larger bathroom on the second floor... that means there is going to be a nice, unfinished room directly below the bedroom, yup, you guessed it... a new train (hobby) room!

    The dimensions of the room will be approx. 19x14.

    The layout of the room with the door opening (and I am thinking pocket door as to maximize space) will look like this:

    | |
    | z x|
    +--------- ---+

    x = Wifes scrapbooking desk / work area
    z = Proposed workbench for me

    My initial thought is to run around the perimeter of the room. I would like the trains to run in a loop. I would like a double track run so I can run two or more trains at the same time running in opposite directions. I am thinking the loops will be in the upper right hand corner and lower left hand corner with a run down the 19' section and a run down left hand 14' section... this should give me ample room to model a small town/city, yard (a must!), a gorge possibly and who knows what else! My thought is that the runs down the walls would be between 18-30" (what is optimal?)...

    I have had numerous layouts in my life, and I hate to admit it, but I am *horrible* at track planning, so I am hoping some of you talented guys and gals out there can help me maximize my space!

  2. RobL

    RobL New Member

    ... and of course I failed to realize that the HTML text would mess up my "drawing"... the z x and | should shift all the way to the right of the room.

  3. ed acosta

    ed acosta Member

    You will have plenty of room! Perhaps we could help with your planning if you can give us some idea what type of equipment you will be running. 85' passenger cars and large steam locos will require max radii. I like the idea of continuous running, but do you plan a yard or two? Industrial trackage? A large passenger terminal? Perhaps some grades so that not all of the trackage is in one level.

    I've purchased the third edition of Track Planning for Realistic Operation written by John Armstrong and printed by Model Railroader and find it to be a comprehensive compilation of real railroad situations and proven modeling techniques. I, too, am planning another layout although not nearly as large as yours.
  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    RobL: I have a layout around a 16' square room. It varies from 8" to 30" deep but I find the 30" section a bit of a reach. The 24" sections are quite convenient. Of course, mine is a bit high which may affect things.
  5. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    That's a nice room Rob. There's lots of folks here that love to create track plans so I think you'll get some good ideas. I just built a wall between the family room and layout in my basement and went with a pocket door like you're thinking. I went with the big 36" to help facilitate the movement of materials into the layout room and the removal of layout some day when we prepare to sell.
  6. RobL

    RobL New Member

    Ed: I will be running diesels-- geeps, u-boats and the like... 50' boxcars as the longest freight car... industrial sidings, yes!, and I must have a yard or two... with this much space, I definitely want grades... at some point on the runs I would like a gorge scene with either a trestle or simple bridges.

    My basic theme would be "New England in Autumn", so older, quaint towns with some industry weaving out into natural beauty.

    Ralph: That pocket door is perfect, nice easy access to the layout! I think the 36" size is what I need to ask of my contractor... you make great points about moving material in and out... I also love the fact you have the track lighting... I have asked my contractor to wire up boxes so I can configure custom lighting for the layout once I start building.

    The idea of this addition is so we don't have to move, rather expand what we already own in the hopes of retiring early (I am only 37 so I have a ways to go!), so one of the prerequisites was to get a nice sized train room... and I want to have the space for my wife's hobby too so we can enjoy our hobbies together!

    I was thinking 30" deep would be quite a stretch, and seeing I am only 5' 6" tall, it might not be the best thing for my back (or the poor scenery in the front)!, so maybe the plans should be based on a 24" depth... I need to be aware of my tendency for using the most space possible, and thus creating a plywood monster rather than focusing on using the space effectively.
  7. RobL

    RobL New Member

    Quick Drawing

    Here is a quick, better drawing of the room concept...

    Attached Files:

  8. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    How do you plan to reach the back of the turnaround curves?
  9. RobL

    RobL New Member

    Not really sure :)

    Hence one of my classic planning issues / problems... use all available square footage to create the plywood jungle...

    I was thinking of maybe moving the run along the 19' wall out a couple feet to give access from both sides, and then giving myself a 1 1/2 - 2' walkway on the right hand side to get to the back without the need to "duck under" the benchwork.

    Moving the bench away from the wall could also afford me the opportunity to go 30" deep instead of 18" I would think... see, here I go again :)

  10. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    My layout is similar to your sketch except its U shaped along the walls with a turn around loop at each end. I've made pop up hatches in the middle of the loops. One is covered by an industry, the other is a lift out hill. Whatever you decide to do its great that you are thinking about issues of accessibility and COMFORT when it comes to being able to reach stuff. :)

  11. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Since you don't need to get to the back of the turn around curves except to rerail equipment, I would suggest you be very careful when you lay your track to minimize problems, and then put in a removable cutout about 3' x 3' in the center of each balloon track to allow you to get access in case of problems. The other possibility in a similar vein would be to leave an access hole big enough to crawl up through in each end and hide them with some tall scenery around them as view blocks.
  12. RobL

    RobL New Member

    One of the things I would like to minimize is the need to crawl under the layout... I have a wonky back and knees from playing hockey (and yet I still do it 3x a week :) )...

    In a best case / worst case scenario, what would be the "recommended" size for a walkway around the table for those cases where access to the far reaches of the board is necessary?

    I think I may pick up the Track Planning for Realistic Operations book... are there any other MR books that come highly recommended?

    Got the plans from the architect today and talked to my contractor and am closing on the home equity next week, so phase 1 is starting to feel real (along with the arguments with my wife about how to configure the new master bedroom!).

  13. RobL

    RobL New Member

    Updated drawing with an attempt to allocate space to walk around the benchwork.

    Attached Files:

  14. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Rob, having the 2' walkways behind the tables is definitely the best idea:thumb:.
    If I move my layout out to the garage that is what I plan on doing. And, you can widen the tables, the 30" one anyhow, since you can reach both sides now.

  15. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    You probably don't need the walkway behind the layout, especially if you could keep the layout width to 24 inches, but if it is low enough, 30 inches is not a bad reach. I think if you allow enough walkway space around each end to reach the back of the return curves, that will suffice and having the layout against the wall will give more usable space to the room.
  16. logicman

    logicman Greybeard

    Being of a somewhat mathematical turn of mind, I find that the total area allocated to the layout is in almost perfect proportion to the area allocated to the wife!

    Seriously, though, a sector plate can add a whole new dimension to a layout.
    My interest in this is from an old station - Sheerness Dockyard - long since demolished, which I remember seing as a child. Even the small locos used had no room to run around the passenger stock without a sector plate - there was no room for suitably sized switches in the terminus.

    There's some excellent sector plate info, layouts and good ideas here:

    hth :wave:
  17. RobL

    RobL New Member

    Lucky for me my wifes hobby only requires a desk versus as big of a room as possible :)

    I have never heard of sector plates before... that is a pretty cool idea to get a different look and feel on the same layout.

    Over the winter I challenged myself to make a "small layout". We have a 2' x 6' mantel over our fireplace, so I made a small N-scale layout to fit on top of that... because it was such a small space, I tried to minimize the track to allow for enough scenery, yet enough interest on the track... I think that is going to be my biggest challenge, having all of this space, it to not put track and benchwork in every square foot of available space!

  18. logicman

    logicman Greybeard

    Ah yes!

    Space. The final frontier!

    I'm working on a four-decker fantasy train to solve that problem -
    the "Kray-Z-Loco Pushme-Pullman" fantasy railbus.

    I'll post the plans somewhere on the forums when (if?) I get it finished.

    Mind you, tunnels might pose a few minor problems. sign1
  19. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    One way, access in the corners. Better viewing and easier access under table with the layout higher (IMO). If you're short like me, use a stool, it makes life easier :mrgreen:

    Those tables are 48 x 30

    Attached Files:

  20. logicman

    logicman Greybeard

    That layout is starting to look really good!

    ting hao! :thumb:

    There's a thread here with some other members designing a new layout,
    it may help you:

    Keep up the good work.

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