i'm a firm beleiver in the 4x8

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by alexander, Dec 17, 2006.



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  2. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    4x8 layouts have their place, but in the modern world of longer cars they are a straight jacket. Many longer freight cars and passenger cars need 22 or 24 inch curves, so you really need a 5x9 as a new standward IMHO.
  3. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Now that's an interesting thought...my wife and I were talking last night about, well, I was talking and she was politely listening, gee I love that woman, anyway, we were talking about getting the next generation into the hobby and one suggestion I had heard was to feature more contemporary railroading in the hobby press. But very few, if any, of the starter layouts in MR and other publications allow that for the reasons you mentioned.

    Either a compromise must be made to use modern 4-axle diesels or the layout must be set in that transition era. I think one such beginner layout was done by Andy Sperandeo in an around the walls setting with larger curves using foam board a few years back.

    SO...this raises the question...what would be the equivalent of the good 'ole 4x8 sheet of ply (or foam) today? I know pingpong tables are 5x9, but what else could be easily bought and used right away that would help beginners make that transition off the floor onto a table?

    Track shelving is a fairly easy but pricey way to set up around the room scenarios. I have used Gorilla Rack freestanding metal hammer-together shelving as benchwork for a freestanding switching layout, but had plans to use it for a larger 4x8ish plan before I moved. So there are good options including the good 'ole sawhorses for support...even saw some preassembled metal adjustable sawhorses at HD the other day that held my attention and imagination for a few minutes.

    And adding two 4x8's side by side creates an issue of managability and reach...there has to be a happy medium, especially since several 'train sets' by Bachmann including a Thomas set (Gordon with express coaches) now come with 22" radius EZ track. Sure, they'll fit on a 4x8 but scenically that's pushing pretty close to the edge.


  4. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member


    The 4x8 has endured because of the convenient size of plywood sheets. The curves are just too sharp in my opinion for much of what we operate today. Flex track, and some modular track comes allows larger radii than the traditional 18 and 22 inch curves. As far as platform, the ping pong table is a very convenient platforum, otherwise one could simply add extensions to the 4x8 sheet to enlarge it enought to allow say 24 and 26.5 inch radii. Just add 8-inches to the sides, and whatever length you need and you could run those size curves.

    Frankly the track plans for 4x8 were designed so that beginners could buy modular track and slap something together with a minimum off fuss. But with a piece of graph paper and compass and ruler, even a Jr High kid could draw up a track plan, then adapt in some sidings and turn outs for places to run extra cars or industries etc.
  5. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Agreed. I also believe extruded foam sheets have yet to be used to their full potential in building a freeform layout that goes beyond the basic 4x8. They can be utilized to construct a strong and light layout without major power tools needed for L Girder or even box frame construction.

  6. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    L girder is unnecessarily complicated IMHO but if anyone likes it, why not?

    Foam is certainly attractive for layouts, esp scenery. They allow for lightweight tables too. My only misgiving personally is that I still like to nail down the track and with foam you are forced to use glue.

    Well I'm off for the evening. Merry Christmas.
  7. custom1106

    custom1106 Member

    Here's my 5"10" X 33" setup...gotta love apartment living:rolleyes:

    I'm running 15" radius Atlas snap track, 40 to 50' rolling stock and 4 axle locomotives at most. Might have to hack up (shorten) some Bachmann coaches so I can run some passenger trains. Being 22, I haven't had space for a 4x8 since I was 12. The girlfriend is probably going to make curtains to hide all of the rubbish under the table:)

    DCC is coming soon!

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  8. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    There are basically three time periods where sharp curves wil allow you to run a realistic roster for freight, and only one of them also allows realistic passenger operation.

    Oldtime railroading, when locomotives were small and even passenger cars often short.

    The early 20th century. Steam locomotives still aren't very big, but passenger cars require broad curves.

    The early 1960s. Steam is gone, but most of the large freight diesels and 80'+ freight cars haven't yet been built. Only passenger traffic requires broader curves.
  9. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    But even passenger cars prior to the 1960's were still 85' long. So even older RR's aren't exempt from sharp curves. My California Zephyr cars started operating in 1949 and they are 85' long.
  10. Relic

    Relic Member

    I don't have anything against 4x8 setups but I think if I were confined to that space I would go to a smaller scale like N , I was very lucky that I got the expensive bit done while I could still work{you yanks might be surprised to learn that an Atlas snap switch is around 25.00$ in pretty money} since I bit off a big chunk and started with a 12x24 arround the walls empire. Now most stuff is free{ground foam used to be the back seat of my Olds 88}
    Some of this had to do with the topic?
  11. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    Well, in my case I have many boxes of HO trains and am not about to switch to N. Besides at 47 my eyes are finding N scale to be too small.

    My only point would be if people have room for a 4x8, then you might be able to squeeze in another 6-inches on the side and end and increase the radii so you aren't torturing your trains on such sharp curves.
  12. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Read my post more carefully. In any post-1900 time period, sharp curves are freight-only.

    The early 1960s setting assumes that the railroad in question doesn't have FM Trainmasters, Baldwin centercabs, or the other large early freight diesels.

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