Help with layout

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Floyd, Sep 22, 2007.

  1. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    I hope that I am posting this in the right spot. If not, please let me know.
    As stated in my introduction, I am a novice at building a RR Layout. I am wanting to set up an HO layout for my grandson and I will also enjoy with him. I have read many books and have received much information on the internet and have purchased a train set for him. so know how to set that up which came with very clear instructions.
    To begin with, I have a room 12 feet wide by 16 feet long. The layout will be U shaped. It will start sixteen inches from what I will call the east wall. The first bench which is at this location is 4x8 feet and will make the first leg of the U (the east side). Next to this table whi I will call the west edge, I have a bench that is thirty eight inches wide and thirty inches deep and will make up the middle part of the U. On what I will refer to as the sest edge of this center bench, I have a bench that is thirty inches wide and 7 feet long. This bench makes the other (west side of the U). All of the benches are butt up against the south wall and the west wall. I left the 16 inch walkway on the east side of the layout since four feet is to long to reach across.

    I would like to have two tracks on the bench tables..... guess it would be called the lower level, and if possible, perhaps one or two elevated tracks placed on the layout. I would appreciate any input from anyone about thoughts for a track design which I could use and which is not too complicated...Is there such a thing?? I have often been told that I have bit off more than I could chew but I like the challanges.:thumb:

    Wish I could submit a photo of the room and benchwork but I do not have any at this timel
  2. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member


    Can you use the "paint" program on your computer to post a diagram of the room and proposed benchwork? From your description, I am not sure exactly what you mean.
  3. TCH

    TCH Member


    as I understand it you have 2 benches- 1 4x8 and 1 2'6 x 7' with a joining bench 38" x 30" between them.
    this means the benches are 38" apart. is this right?

    any simple 4x8 plan could be done on the east side with perhaps a branch line elevated to the west side.

    if you could put a blob on the west bench to allow room for a turn back loop you would have the space to make a really good layout.

    I will leave it to better planners than me to come up with better suggestions
  4. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    TCH....Thanks for your input. Yes, the space between the two benches if 38". Excuse my ignorance, but what is a blob??hamr

    This is a very rough line drawing of my area.

  5. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Hi Floyd and welcome. I think what TCH is saying is that if you were able to increase the width of the bench on the right, maybe in a roundish shape to accommodate at least an 18 inch radius curve (but still allowing you walking access in between the benches) you could run a train out to that bench and back.
  6. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    "Blob" noun, 1) scary monster from 1950s horror films; 2) wider area of benchwork that allows track to turn around in a loop.

    Floyd, there are 2 basic approaches to a model railroad. A continuous loop or point to point. Some layouts combine both.

    A continuous loop is fairly self-explanatory: the trains go around and around. This can be good if you just want to watch them run.

    In a Point to point layout the trains go from one end to the other. Many shelf layouts are like this due to their narrow width. The focus here is on operations: switching various sidings.

    Many layouts combine both. This allows you to do some switching or to just kick back and watch the trains run.

    Back to the "blob". Most engines require a minimum radius of 18" to turn. That means to go around the curve and head back the way they came you need a 36" diameter curve, although that's pretty tight. More is better. The blob is where the benchwork gets wider to accomodate the curve. Most people will use 48", since that's a convenient size, and fit their turn within it.

    I'm not sure where your doorway is, but if you set up your benchwork as below, you can use what's called a "folded dogbone" layout. That is basically a loop on either end, connected by a narrower section. You can run sidings off at any point for switching operations, which gives you the best of both worlds.

    There are numerous folded dogbone trackplans, as it's a very popular configuration. Atlas has a bunch on their site.

    Here's a couple of diagrams to show you what I mean.

    Attached Files:

  7. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Floyd, some questions for you: What exactly do you want with the layout? Is it pretty much strictly for the enjoyment of the kids, with the trains running around in circles, Thomas the Tank Engine cruising around, stuff like that? Or do you envision more of an "operating" layout where you drop off cars to industries like a real railroad, and with realistic scenery and background?
  8. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Here ya go! Throw in some turn-outs for industries and run-arounds and you got it!

    Attached Files:

    • 1.jpg
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  9. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Floyd, once you have the basic dogbone, you can do lots of things inside the loops. Here's another possibility that incorporates a small yard and a roundhouse and turntable.

    Attached Files:

  10. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Floyd, how old is your grandson? Younger kids like to run trains continuously, and a longer run is more interresting to them. As they get older, they may get more interrested in switching. Val's design shows some excellent possibilities; and if your grandson is young enough to just want to do continuous running, you could save money by just buying the switches that come off the mainline. Then you build the mainline and get trains running to start with. You can go back and add the yard, sidings, and scenery later. I would also suggest that if the 16 inches isn't needed between the 4 x 8 and the East wall, build out to the wall, but cut the table down to 24-30 inches wide. The width of the benchwork should depend on how far you can comfortably reach. If you put a 4 x 4 table at each end of the "U", you will have room to put in a 22 inch radius turn around track. If you run either 4 axle diesels or small steam engines, the 22 inch minimum radius will work fine. If your grandson likes Thomas, the Thomas equipment will run on extremely tight radius tracks.
  11. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    Gary, A little history....My grandson has been playing with the wooden Thomas the Train layout since he as 2-1/2 years old and he will be turning eight in December. He has many of the TTT engines, cars and lots of track that he sets up in our living room and some times extending into a bedroom. Also included in his items are a round house and Turntable, switch tracks, etc. He memorized all of the names of the engines and cars by heart at an early age. Now that he has a good handle on reading and a better underestanding of instruction, I think that we could incorporate some sort of "Operating" activity on the layout. We plan on doing a lot of work on the scenery as well.
  12. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Floyd, for me, I am partial to "around-the-room" shelf layouts. But Spitfire's plans above look really good too.

    I think one of the best things about asking questions here at The Gauge is that you will receive a variety of suggestions, which make YOU think about what YOU want and THAT is a good thing!

    Hope to see you here often, and hope to see some progress on the layout! If you don't already have a digital camera, time to get one!
  13. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    Spitfire I appreciate your input. The drawings are also helpful and I especially like the first one which shows the rounded table top....never gave a thought to that. My door is in the middle of the wall directly in front of where the layout would be. There is about seven feet between the door and the edge of where the rounded portion could be.
  14. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    Whew:razz:...What a great bunch of folks you are out there. I am overwhelmed at how soon you all have jumped on board to help. I do really appreciate it. Have a great day!!
  15. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member's a nice tip to save money....

    Many trainsets come with track such as "EZ-Track", "Power-Loc", or similar. These are designed so that you can set up a railroad on carpet...but they are expensive.

    Most model railroaders do not use those...and instead the purchase track from Atlas, Shinohara (Walthers), or similar. These types of track come in two options...sectional (snap-track) and flex track. Flex track is typically 3' sections of track which can be used either as straight or curved track. I'd highly recommend trying out Atlas's Code 83 flex track. I suggest getting a couple pieces of flex track and enough pieces of 22" or 24" curves to form an oval.

    Eventually you'll probably want to build your layout using Atlas's flex track and custom line turnouts. You first set up the track where you'd like it and mark the can use the sectional track to produce smooth curves. Shinohara and Micro Engineering's track are nicer than Atlas's, but also much more expensive.

    I used to purchase the atlas turnouts for $7-$8 a piece...and they work great.
  16. Floyd

    Floyd Member

    Hi nkp....thanks for the information and I will look into the different types of track. By the way, if you have the flex track can you use another type of track if you need to and still have a decent operating setup? Would the type of track that comes with a set match up without problems?
  17. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Floyd, flex track works just fine with other track...aside from the proprietary systems such as "EZ Track". You just need to purchase either a razor saw ($3?) or a dremel to saw the rail and remove the extra ties. The procedure for attaching flex track to anything else is to test fit it...remove unnecessary ties/rail...and connect like normal track.

    I also recommend getting some Woodland Scenics brand roadbed to put underneath it.

    If you combine the roadbed with the flex can probably mate it to the trainset track with a slight bit of surgery...
    Here's a little explanation on the different types of track...

    The old standard in HO was Code 100 track. Code 100 means that the rail was 0.100" tall. This generally didn't look very good because this was not to scale...the only railroad to use such heavy rail was the Pennsylvania...and even then the ties connected to the Code 100 track were also out of scale.

    So other rail sizes have become common...with Code 83...0.083" tall has become the most popular. Code 100 is still sold (it usually has black ties while code 83 usually has brown ties) as many people don't want to switch rail types.

    Now...if the trainset track is just simple Code 100 sectional mate it to the Code 83 and file the Code 100 rail until it matches the Code 83 rail. They'll then work just fine.

    If the trainset track is proprietary track such as EZ'll need to cut off the plastic roadbed connector and just butt it up to the code 83 which needs to be sitting on the Woodland scenic foam or on cork roadbed (to be the proper height). You may have to file the rail too.

    I would avoid using any of the trainset track if it is tighter than a 22" radius. Most locomotives can make it around 18" radius...but the cars behind them might not.

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