HO in cramped apartment

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by custom1106, Dec 22, 2004.

  1. custom1106

    custom1106 Member

    I need some assistance here...I would like to build a continuous loop HO scale layout...but heres the problem- I live an a very small appartment. So what I'm thinking about is constructing a layout that would slide under a queen size bed. What do I do about scenery? What do I construct the layout out of? The 36" circle with a yard hooked to it isn't doing it for me. I need something a tad bigger. Any ideas are welcome. I am definately staying with HO scale.


  2. Dragon

    Dragon Member

    Why not a 4x8 sheet of plywood with a small "canopy" of plexiglass? That will protect the layout from dirt and bedding.
    Kind of like an under-bed coffee-table layout?
  3. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Or you could always stick your bed under the layout!!!

  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    How about a high-on-the-wall shelf type layout around the living room or bedroom? You could also try a modular layout that could be packed away when not operating. M2x4 foot modules might be easier to work on in a confined space too.

  5. I've always been a fan of designing your layout for the space that you have and not vice-versa. I know this may deflate some of your plans, but it can head off operational problems down the line. If you have a small room, build a small layout! Instead of focusing in on running trains aroound in an oval or trying to run huge locos and long trains around 18'' radius curves, build a railroad operation that can give you realistic operation and a challenge at the same time. A shelf layout can become a real project giving you room grow later on. You can build a switching layout with small yards at either end and industries in the center. It could incorporate 45 degree crossings and crossover switching. This can also include great looking building 'flats', buildings that are only a couple of inches deep designed to be put up against a backdrop wall. With DCC, you can run two switchers at the same time if it's long enough! Even if it's 18' wide and 6' long, you can build a first-class, well detailed layout. One of THE best layouts I've ever seen featured in a magazine is an O scale shelf switching layout. It was shown at the huge Springfield, MA train show last year, the Pioneer Valley RR. There's no end to what you can do with a shelf layout...you can handlay your track and switches, add working signals, scratch-bash or scratch build all of the buildings, have mini 'scenes' like guys with a truck backed up to a boxcar for unloading, have tracks in the street, etc. You can also do a mining or logging layout and change over to something else when you get more room. You'll also be under less financial pressure because your loco and rolling stock roster won't be as large. And the locos and cars that you do have can be as detailed as you want! Just a thought...a model railroad doesn't have to be 4X8 and oval! ;)
  6. 2slim

    2slim Member

    I agree with what's been said, there are tons of published plans for 4 X 8 layouts. The tough part is deciding which one to build, (if you don't want to design your own that is). As far as construction and scenery let me recommend this: World's greatest hobby I'm giving this to a friend for Christmas, decided I'd better look at it in case the tape was messed up.. :thumb: My opinion is that this is a great tape (or DVD) for anyone getting started in Model Railroading they don't cover everything but I was impressed with what I saw.

  7. Mike Desira

    Mike Desira New Member

    if you want to have a go and design the layout yourself, you can do that without buying a single piece of track, and for free.

    ATLAS have a cool layout designer download which lets you build your dream layout on http://www.atlasrr.com Give it a try.
  8. joe ramirez

    joe ramirez Member

    Say man I live in a very small apartment and I chose N scale over ho for this reason and you can cover more ground with N as opposed to Ho. I cut a 4x8 sheet in half and made a loop with a father loop. I now wish I would have made an L shaped layout but this works good.
    Choose wisly
    Joe in Houston[​IMG]

    Attached Files:

  9. shortliner

    shortliner Member

    If you are really looking at something to go under a bed see <http://www.gatewaynmra.org/project.htm> for some good ideas

    Remember - that is one of the greatest "dust-traps" in any house! If you can manage a shelf-style layout I think you will be a lot happier.
    Shortliner(Jack) away up here in the Highlands
    Have a great Christmas
  10. Wyomingite

    Wyomingite Member

    If room is the problem I would go with N-scale. As you can see Joe has a nice railroad in the making in a small space. You can even go micro like Tyson did. Check out his beautiful 1x2 layout in the N&Z scale forum.

    Merry Christmas

    Ron :thumb: :thumb: :thumb: :wave:
  11. Jamison1

    Jamison1 New Member

    Joe, VERY nicely done using the space you have! Nice N scale model you have going.
  12. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Hi Custom, :wave: :wave:
    I'm with Val, my first thought was building it Above The Bed!
    Maybe telescoping legs or some such. Maybe fold-down from the
    wall? Can you post an plan view of the room? Maybe we can all come
    up with something to truly amaze and delight!! :D :D :D
    Somehow I just can't see haulin' it all out from under the bed :cry: :cry:
    Personally, I'd be too lazy for all that :) :)
  13. custom1106

    custom1106 Member

    let me snap a pic of the room and see what you guys think
  14. custom1106

    custom1106 Member

    camera's batteries are dead, anyway the max I have is about 3 feet wide by about 6-7 feet long. Whats the bare minimum radius I can run in HO? I might have to move to a switcher with some 40 foot rolling stock to have a loop. I really dont want to move to n scale...thats only if i have exhausted all of the HO possiblities.
  15. Papa Bear

    Papa Bear Member

    I think Atlas makes sectional track down to 15" radius in HO, but that's a very tight curve!
  16. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    custom1106: Again, have you considered putting the layout on a narrow shelf around the room? With a shelf 1 or 2 feet deep you can make a layout as big as your room and STILL HAVE A ROOM to use, rather than being limited by the size of your bed--you can also have nice broad 24-30" curves (well, I consider 24-30" broad, anyhow) with good access to everything. You don't even have to mount them to the wall, thus threatening your security deposit--just get a few short bookshelf units from your nearby home store and mount the layout on top!
  17. santafewillie

    santafewillie Member

    Just a point to ponder...A 4 x 8 that slides under the bed needs 4 x 8 when it slides out. That and access room. I'd re-consider and look at shelf layouts.
  18. custom1106

    custom1106 Member

    I think I'm gonna go with some atlas flex track and a couple of plymouth switchers to solve my problem. I think that will work. After the holidays I'll venture down to my local hobby shop and gather up the need supplies and post some pics of my progress.
  19. shortliner

    shortliner Member

    If you are going to go for an industrial switching, shelf layout, here is some advice. STAY AWAY FROM 4 WHEEL SWITCHERs SUCH AS PLYMOUTHS AND HUSTLERS! - they behave like jack-rabbits on speed - dead stop or flat out and don't like dead frog switches very much!! Go instead for SW1/7/9/1200 or RS11/S1/S2/S4. They are all around 6" in HO, a 40' car is the same length and a 50' car is about 7". That'll give you an idea of space needed. The Bachmann TWIN MOTOR 44 & 70-tonners are good too. Take a look at http://andrews-trains.fotopic.net/ for some ideas. Also come and have a look at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/small-layout-design/ , where we have items in the files that may help you. We also have two over-flow groups (addresses on the home page) specifically to hold all the excess files and photos
    Shortliner(Jack), co-moderator, away up here in the Highlands
  20. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Indeed...Proto 2000 S1's can handle 12" curves with ease, as can Athearn SW7's and even GP7/9's. The new Roundhouse "critter" might be worthwhile if you really like small four-wheel locomotives, but shortliner is correct in that the Plymouth and Hustler are really not worth your time.

    Another one to consider is the Bachmann 44 or 70 tonner switcher mentioned above--they are two-truck and just as small as the Plymouth but better runners, and the newest ones are single-motor rather than twin-motor, for easier DCC conversion and overall better reliability. These things won't blink at a 10" curve in HO, although I wouldn't recommend anything *that* sharp for you!

    Tp the left is a P2K S1, to the right a Bachmann 44-tonner. Both are excellent choices for a small layout with tight curves, and neither one will break the bank.

Share This Page