HO shelf/switching layout

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by whitemills, Feb 19, 2006.

  1. whitemills

    whitemills New Member

    Hello all - looking to start my first layout in our new home. There is some existing shelfwork which will be perfect for a switching layout: 7 feet wide, 18" deep (could easily be expanded to 24").

    Would anybody like to contribute some ideas? I'm going to be targeting a late 1940's era urban layout (new england theme, but no specific prototype). I'd like to use this as a good learning experience... plenty of motorized turnouts, etc. and hopefully DCC.

    Thanks for the help.
  2. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    :wave: welcome to the gauge :wave: what scale do you plan to use ?
  3. whitemills

    whitemills New Member


    Plan on modeling in HO... would prefer to also use code 70 or 83 track
  4. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    I've found with any shelf layouts that I've built 8' is alot better that 7' my first was 8' X24" and I've incorportated it into my current layout (didn't have the heart to dismantle it)
    But in my experience it's best just to sit down with a pencil and ruller and start sketching possible trackplans that you could use.
  5. whitemills

    whitemills New Member

    Thanks Glen -

    I would have preferred 8' too, but there are some existing shelves that I can use in place of having to build my own benchwork, and they are only 7' long (and sort of set into an alcove in the wall).
  6. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Is there anything restricting you from going 8 feet other than the existing shelf being 7 feet long? There is no reason that you couldn't build a layout bench that overhung the shelf on one or both ends. As far as a track plan, I'm goiing to build a model of the Los Angeles Junction Railway in Vernon and City of Commerce, California. I discovered that a Thomas Guide map book show all of L A J's tracks in Vernon and Commerce. A map of a favorite area of New England may also give you the railroad tracks.
  7. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Take a look at http://www.carendt.us/ for some ideas in shelf switching layouts. I'm particularly partial to the Gum Stump & Snowshoe design myself. The original was built in 12" x 72" with 16" switchbacks. The short switchbacks required very small locomotives - less than 4" actual length to accommodate 2 40ft cars. If you expand to 7 ft, the switchback tails would expand to 18", which would provide for 6" long locomotives - still a small switcher but more common.

    yours in switching shelves
  8. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    Fred, you mean this:

    This was based on the Gum Stump and Snowshoe track plan but I stretched it to 8' X 2' that took some of the harshness out of the switchback grades and added a bit more room in storage sidings. This is also the beginning of my current layout, I just continues the track out both ends.
  9. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Also look at www.hotrak.ca - check out the module gallery. It is a work in progress, but it will give you an idea of what can be done in 2x4 foot increments.

  10. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member


    Very, very nice. Also very interesting the changes you made. Did you make the changes before trying the original configuration? I ask to see if you had a comparison of operations between the 2 configurations. Also, how long are your trail tracks?

    Some other questions:

    Do you normally operate as a shelf layout or do you normally have access to both sides?

    Do you find the buildings in the "town" on the lower level restrict your vision or reach while switching, coupling, and uncoupling?

    Thanks in advance for any answers. I'm always interested in learning new planning considerations from what works and doesn't work for others.

    yours in switching layouts
  11. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    Fred, Thanks for the compliments
    I made the changes before since I wouldn't be able to change the benchwork after. The trailing trackas are 18" long which makes enough room for an emd switcher, two ore or logging cars and a caboose (shorty caboose)
    The buildings don't restrict me because the layout is about 42" off the ground and I'm 6'9". Reaching over isn't a problem!

    The layout was originaly a shelf layout but as I mentioned earlier its now part of a 15' X 6 1/2' layout in my rec room
    Here's a few pictures of what I did after the first picture posted was taken (2 1/2 years ago!


    This is the one end. I just put a 18" radius curve in on this side. This is now covered by a mountain and my narrow guage logging area.


    This is the other side with the track wraping around the back. There is now a backdrop/ scenic divider separting these two areas .


    As I said the curve is under a mountain.


    Feel free to ask any questions.
  12. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member


    I am impressed. Chuck Yungkurth (sp?), the original creator of the Gum Stump and Snowshoe, expanded it just the way you did - with a loop that ran behind. He added a passing track in back for staging a 2nd train.

    I like your HOn3 addition, too. For myself, I am likely moving this summer so am holding off on layout construction until job/move resolve itself. My plan had been to build the Gum Stump and Snowshoe in HOn3, using an 18in x 8ft shelf. The bottom terminal was going to be either a standard gauge interchange or a pier with transfers to schooners (1900 era in Oregon).

    The choice of lower terminals would depend on whether I would have room for a more substantial standard gauge section. If there is more space, then I would expand from the upper level to a standard gauge interchange, and the narrow gauge would, among other things, link a small port to the standard gauge. If less than another shelf is available, I will just build a standard gauge terminal with a spur to the narrow gauge transfer.

    Can't wait to get started!

    yours in Gum Stumping
  13. billwv

    billwv Member


    I have been working on a 8 ft. by 18 in. layout.

    My only comment, in addition to what others have said, is:

    Definately consider DCC. It becomes even more important on small layouts. Otherwise there is almost no way to run more than one Loco.

    I have DCC, with DCC controlled turnouts, and permanent magnet uncouplers. This setup allows me to operate the layout 'hands off" from my easy chair--my kind of operation.

    Good Luck, Enjoy.

  14. webmaster

    webmaster Member

    That's a cracking little layout.
    I have been wondering whether to continue with my O-16.5 layout which sits on a 2' x 6' board, now that I'm starting an HO layout with my son, and after looking at this I think I won't bother. I haven't got much O-16.5 rolling stock at the moment & this Gum Stump layout will be ideal for that gauge.

    Are there any other websites with photo's of the same layout that you have links for?

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