HO shelf layout...need advice

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by cpr_boy, Oct 26, 2005.

  1. cpr_boy

    cpr_boy Member

    Hi all. I'm building a HO shelf layout in my bedroom. I have 18" by 72" to work with.
    I got the following layout idea from thortrains.net and I was wondering if you guys had any suggestions on the layout and ways to make it better. I wish I had more room but you do what you can with what you got



    Attached Files:

  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    What do you want to do with it? It reminds me of switchbacks used to gain elevation in logging railroads. Is that your intent? If you want an industrial switching area, there are other plans available...

    One thing I would add in either case is a run-around.

  3. cpr_boy

    cpr_boy Member

    Thanks MasonJar.

    I was thinking of an industrial switching plan or grain elevator off a main line. Can you share some plans with me? I want something that will give me some interesting switching opportunities. I plan to run modern 6 axial desiel units on the layout. I'm also looking towards going DCC rather than DC.

    Any other advice would be appreciated.
  4. shortliner

    shortliner Member

    Third track down left hand side - extend to meet the fourth track down and join with a LH switch - that way you have a runround and can switch into the facing point spurs

    Take a look on the Small Layout Design group on Yahoo also
    Shortliner(Jack)away up here in the Highlands
  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

  6. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    in all honesty, I really suggest you consider N scale. there is no way you could have any kind of layout with 6 axle modern diesels ina lay out that size unless you build a module to be connected to others. it wouldn't give you lots of space to run, or even to switch for that matter. owning and AC4400 and SD75M, i can tell you they take up so much space, and looke weird with a little train. SD40-2s aren't going to be much smaller. i think if you do do this, get an MP 15, or at the largest a SD-7/9 (not modern but good looking anyway)

    in fact, in any scale it could be hard to make a layout that turns around in that space. your best bet would be an N scale point to point railroad, or an HO scale Module/diorama. if you make the module, don't even bother with DCC. you won't be needing it.
  7. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    First I would add a runaround track..Secondly I would fore go 6 axles units and use a 44 or 70 tonner and 40' cars in that small space.Better would be to look into N Scale...Also..DCC is not really needed on that small layout..But,that is your choice.
  8. cpr_boy

    cpr_boy Member

    Thanks everyone...you've given me alot to think about. Back to the drawing board and more planning

    Due to my shelf construction, I think I'll only have room for a 2x4 base, instead of a 2x6 one. N scale might be the better way to go. Then again, I wasn't planning on a HO layout with continuous running in that space. I though a nice switching layout would be fun.

    I'll keep ya posted
  9. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    well see thats what i'm saying. sure the tracks could fit on that 2x6 or 4, but you won't get many buildings in that spavce. i seriously suggest a module, and if you decide to go with N, see of there is an N-trak club near you, and build a n scale module that will be part of a massive n layout.
  10. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    The modular suggestion is good. HOTrak standard modules are also 2x4.

    From an operating point of view, do the big 6-axel modern units really belong on a switching layout? (I honestly haven't thought about it as I run steamers). The smaller cars and locos - 44 or 70-tonners, with 40' boxcars and 10,000 gal tanks, etc - set in the 1940s would make an interesting layout.

    With one set of buildings as a "flat" you'd be able to fit some interesting switching opportunities in even only 18" deep.

  11. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    I feel as though larger locomotives carry the bigger or faster trainsacross country to large yards, and then smaller road switchers do the work. while i'm sure some 6 axles road switchers do switching, i'm more than positive these locomotives bring the long trains in to sorting yards to be sent by GP40-2s, GP38-2s, GP15-1s, GP9s, that sort of thing. thats why i suppose a module would be best for him, because its a long track and he can have his long locomotives sit there. i think he should stick to medium road-swithers (GP40s or similar) and switchers (SW series) for switching. that would make him happier with the end result.
  12. stuart_canada

    stuart_canada Member

    well guys i have seen some strange stuff at the local co-op when I lived in Iowa.
    switching was done by track mobile, up the road it was done by geep 7.
    when the railroad came to pick up or drop off cars it was done by various powers.
    dash 9s, sd 40-2s, sd 70s, dash 8-40cw units.
    I lived near a Co-op that stored beans and corn. sidings helds up to 70 cars i would guess. the one up the highway held in one siding a lone 100 to 110 cars, plus the rest of the sidings.

    it was on the CN former IC line in Iowa

    the 100 car siding was serviced by BNSF usually by dash 9 units, 3 was normal.
    the smaller co-op the train would come and drop and pick up cars anything could pull a train was used. Usually sd 40s or sd 70s if CN/IC was providing the power. Once I saw the new to them CN/IC dash 8-40cw teamed with IC sd 70 units.

    so if the main railraod is doing the switching 6 axle units are more then possibile, if the local co-op is going the switching gp 40 and smaller GM units, anything in switchers is possibile. so run what you want to use.

    now in the model word. 4 axle units are smaller and take up less space on the layout. so making use of one or 2 of them would make switching easier, more room to back up and operate such a smaller unit, nothing like a power unit taking the whole siding up when moving one car.

    But i have been known to use my DD 40 as a switcher because I was having fun.
    so each to their own
  13. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Serving a 100 car siding is a little different than serving 1-2 car sidings in an industrial district, though--in my neck of the woods, local switching is done by older Geeps and MP-15s, although occasionally I see older SDs on the local turn.

    Not sure how helpful it will be, but here is a shot of my switching layout...if you eliminate the switch that leads to an L-shaped protrusion the whole thing fits on a 1x6 foot table. I wouldn't try using this plan with modern full-sized units, but with something the size of a Geep or MP-15 it works just fine (I use Athearn GP-7 and SW-7 for switching when not running my 44-tonners.)

    The basic idea for a six-foot HO switching layout is a runaround track/mainline portion and a couple of spurs to spot cars. In the photo above, you can see the runaround in the middle, a pair of spurs (one on either side of the mainline) in the foreground, each of which holds two cars, and a small three-track yard in the background (capacity 7 cars.)

    The runaround track is there so you can spot facing or trailing point spurs, and makes things much more flexible. A couple of spurs gives your trains a reason to stop, and the yard, while too small to represent a big division point, is enough room to shuffle cars and also represents another "industry" destination that can receive any sort of car.

    About DCC: While DCC is nice, it hardly seems necessary on a six-foot switching layout which probably won't have room for more than one locomotive. I mean, it can't hurt, especially if you plan to later expand this switcher into a full-sized layout, but it won't really help for that incarnation of the layout.

    About the sample track plan provided: I am generally unimpressed by a lot of the Thor Trains plans--they don't really seem that logical. Trains are there for a reason, they do useful work, and it's more fun if our model trains can pretend to do useful work too. Aside from the no-runaround problem, there is no room on that layout for the industries that this railroad supposedly serves, and the layout of track doesn't really make sense for a yard. It just seems like an exercise in how difficult one can make it to move cars from one end of the switching layout to the other.

    This kind of layout is called a "switching puzzle," and there are lots of reasons not to build a switching puzzle layout that I won't go into. Instead, I'll tell you the good things about building a shelf layout that ISN'T a switching puzzle!

    My layout was built with the following givens: I like operation, I like urban railroading in cramped quarters, I like city scenery, and I don't care much about running trains around in a circle. My layout is small, and while I certainly could have filled every square inch with track I also wanted room for industries and buildings. You can't see them in this photo but there are actually two other industrial buildings on that layout, and another spur off to one side for a building I haven't built yet.
    Same layout, different camera location. The stairs in the foreground are for the loading dock where the reefers are parked in the above shot.
    Overhead shot, showing the things I haven't done yet...

    Now, I'm probably spending more time on my layout that is really necessary, but the point is this. The module is only six feet long (although there is a second yard module that can attach to it, and eventually it will be part of an around-the-room layout) but it accomplishes the following goals:

    It is not a puzzle. Every point on the layout is easily accessible to a switcher. Aside from maybe having to move a car out of the way of the "Cal-Hi Beverages" warehouse, no unnecessary car-shuffling--and that sort of respotting is prototypical.

    It can be operated like the prototype to do Useful Work: trains come in under the bridge from a yard or a removable cassette, switch out old cars for new, and proceed down the mainline or back to the yard. I'm not just shuffling random cars for fun--unless I'm just in a mood to do that...

    It has scenery. While it is not complete (I still need to do a backdrop, add a few more structures, add trees, and the bridge) I wanted enough room for industries, buildings, trees, homes, street details like stop signs and fireplugs, and those wonderful piles of railyard junk. The buildings that should be there as a reason for the railroad to stop by and drop off cars are present. While flats are an acceptabe option for an industry, you can only use flats against the back edge of a layout! "Off-screen" industries on the foreground edge are also possible, but you can't really model 'em and so it's somehow unsatisfying....

    And finally, it's fun to run! It's not a frustrating puzzle, but trying to shuffle a bunch of cars in and out can result in some serious head-scratchum.
  14. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    Whilst I love and use N scale, you don't need to go there with that size of switching layout. But you do need a better layout. The switchback and lack of runaround will bore you senseless. And, as has also been said, it'll be daft unless you use tiny steam or diesel switchers...

    You need to go to www.carendt.us and stay there until you've read the lot. It'll take a whole evening. Then you'll have the layout you really want...
  15. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Lots of good advice here!

    Jetrock - that's nice work... :)

  16. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Jetrock,Could you take a picture of your complete layout? I am searching for ideas for my layout that I am current building but,running out of ideas and need some fresh ideas..BTW..My layout will be in 3 sections of 1' x10' making a U shape around the walls switching layout.. :D ..
  17. shortliner

    shortliner Member

  18. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Thanks Jack!Great site. :thumb: My biggest problem is I haven't design a12" wide round the wall layout in many years..I am going for that urban look if I can..A lot of building flats and small buildings will be used..And there lays the problem designing the track work in a prototypical manner.
  19. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    brakie: Most of the switching portion is shown in the photos I already posted. Here's the yard:
    It's a four-track ladder yard with an escape track, and the fourth track has a facing-point switch that I use as a RIP track.

    I have also added a 3'8" extension at the far end which will feature a large cannery served by two spurs, but it's still at the wood-on-wood stage.

    A lot of my trackwork was inspired by looking at the real-world track maps in the areas I am modeling. That, and lots of doodling during staff meetings at work...
  20. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Jetrock,Thanks for posting the picture..I like the way you have the industrial area designed with residential streets.Like I said its been many years since I design a 12" wide around the walls layout..Each section is 10 foot long.No switching puzzle or time saver design for me..It must follow prototypical track work designs for such areas.

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