Is 4' by 8' large enough?

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by WalterJ, Jan 15, 2008.

  1. WalterJ

    WalterJ Member

    Hi everyone!

    My name is Walterj and I have loved trains all my life. So did my Father and my grandfather. We all had model train layouts, mine built in the late 50's when HO was just starting to get a foothold against 'Lionel' and ' American Flyer' little space was our problem then so HO seemed the way to go. it still is, but the lack of space continues.... the last twenty years I have been collecting HO scale Brass Steam & Electric Locomotives from only the NYC. I deplay them each on a section of Micro-engineering weathered track on cork bedding with the light NYC ballast added. under a glass case in a large lighted display. They always get the most attention of anything in my home!

    I also have a 12 foot section of the same track in my office (I am a creative Director/ Designer for a international home accessories company) on which i run one of the first 'Broadway Limited Hybrids (NYC Hudson J1e 5344) back and forth (morning and afternoon) for sanity reasons!

    All that said, I am just starting to look at my home to see if I can 'steal some permanent space to build the most detailed HO scale layout I can create.

    Simple put - Knowing that I want to somehow combine a mainline section (NYC - 1930's-1940's) and a reginal freight scheme, how large does my layout have to be? I have two extra bedrooms to ponder, the first 10' x 13', the second 14' x 17'. When family visits the later bedroom gets used alot, so 10 x 13 would be better for my health.

    Would appreciate any and all thoughts on general size.
  2. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    Welcome Walterj, Do you have a drawing with doors/windows of the 10 by 13 room .That would help for figuring the best use of the room
  3. WalterJ

    WalterJ Member

    I will measure the room tonight and show windows (1) and door on my drawing. As this Forum is all new to me, where should I go to post this info?

    And thanks again for the quick reply!

  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Hi Walter,


    You can post wherever you like really, but we do have a Track Planning forum that has a good response rate. You'll likely get some good feedback once you add a diagram.

    If you want, I can move this entire thread there to continue the discussion.

  5. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    Track planning for the future might be the best. Drawings would help. And you will be getting lots of help from the people here. Thanks
  6. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    Andrew you beat me buy - that much.:mrgreen:
  7. WalterJ

    WalterJ Member

    Thanks everyone.

    I'll reply tomorrow on Track Planning Forum. In my mind I always had a vision of a layout with a section of mainline (village of Cold Spring NY and Breakneck Mountain) on one side and a freight line (West Point/ Storm King Mountain) on the other.
  8. WalterJ

    WalterJ Member

    I forgot to add......In between these two sides would be the Hudson river (Where viewers would stand).
  9. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    I'll move this thread to the Track Planning forum for you so the replies and thoughts to date are not lost. There will be a link to where it has gone... ;) :D

  10. WalterJ

    WalterJ Member

    Thanks Andrew.
  11. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Walter: I built a layout that was about 10x13. I think you've realized that you get more space with a walk-in. Mine started as point-to-point with a lower level fiddle yard going out and around the room then into a peninsula with a loop and grade to the upper level where I had a station and loco yard. My wife persuaded me to join it up to get a continuous loop.
    Depending on the radius you choose, you'll find that a 10 foot wall may not give you much variety (with a 36" radius curve at each end you are down to a <4' straight.) (SWMBO had required that a 4 1/2' long bridge be included.)
  12. Chaparral

    Chaparral Member

    If I had 10 x 13 feet to work with:

    I have often thought that a square or oval doughnut shaped layout would be the best for the operator and for viewers. It would be in the middle of a space or room to allow viewers and the operators to walk around and see the railroad from different perspectives.

    Build your railroad to model the essence of railroads - carrying goods from Hometown industries.

    Unseen scores of LPBs are cleaning, repairing and refurbishing at Hometown’s large yards, where hundreds of rail cars, containers and locomotives sit in long lines, that stretch almost out of sight.

    Suddenly, with a heart stopping thump, a mile long trail of dull colored, sooty and rusty rail cars moves off into the night, the ground trembling as tens of thousands of horsepower is transferred from steel to steel.

    The culprit, loud and throbbing, gains momentum, passing near the scenic rail tour passenger station at Thatburg where large conglomerate manufacturing plants straddle a spider’s web of sidings and spurs. Heavy industry and lush welcoming countryside clash on the outskirts of Thatburg, where affluence and poverty define it as a company town.

    Hometown’s bedroom community, Farburg, struggles with building code restrictions to retain it’s early American period homes, shops and buildings. The main line tracks of the Long Ago & Forgotten Rail Road were torn up 30 years ago, leaving a creosote and oil stained scar visible at the foot of a pastoral hillside. Like a schoolyard bully making off with someone’s lunch money, the powerful locomotives pass by on a more profitable route, oblivious to the plight of a small community.

    High Falls, a thundering inaccessible waterfall, is the quintessential backdrop to a long, towering, wooden trestle bridge spanning the Flowing River gorge. Like a primped, preened but elderly movie star, it’s fastidiously maintained exterior camouflages a century old life.

    While a hanging valley watches them, mustachioed, spectacled steam era savvy engineers in striped bib overalls, "Stormy" Kromer caps and elbow length leather gloves, pull their Shays onto sidings leased from the Gargantuan and Devouring Rail Road Company. There, the heritage coach Scenic Valley rail tour waits for the monster to greedily take the right of way.

    Near Anothertown, the comic antics of Lilliputian switchers, scuttling about in the marshalling yards, goes on day and night, with or without spectators or, it seems, direction. It’s here that the durable and consumable goods of a nation are sorted for the continued journey to an as yet unknown destination.
  13. WalterJ

    WalterJ Member

    Here is the room in question

    As you can see from my attached Jpg, the room is smaller than I orginally thought! Is there hope for a 'walk-in' layout as I envisioned?


    Attached Files:

  14. RonP

    RonP Member of the WMRC

    I have recently started my own layout in Nov of '06 I am at the point of redoing my design as i have made some crucial design mistakes.

    Tight compressed scenes like the ones found in Model Railroader are what i am striving for these days.

    I started with a4' x 8' section and added sections to that into a horseshoe or C type of design in a room much like your own.

    I am now considering giving the 4 x 8 section to my brother and starting again this time with the 3 ' shelf layout around the outer walls. This way if i decide to do a peninnsula up the middle there is room to go from a C to a E design.

    A helix (5' circle type elevator) will allow my to run on 2 levels that is also set for the future.
  15. WalterJ

    WalterJ Member

    Thanks RonP.

    This is exactly what i don't want to happen. I would much rather work out all the problems and logistics for the layout before I start. A master plan that I can look forward to spending a lot of time, money and effect, without all the 'should have', 'could haves' that temper less thought out endeavers...

    I will work on a concept and drawing that gives maximum layout space with an abllity to walk-in on one level. Maybe it's impossible....but I'll try!

    Question: What would be the smallest working track radius for a mailine running say, a 4-8-4 Northern(Niagara)? What is the total space needed in diameter to turn around?

    Thanks for any and all replys,
  16. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    What else has to happen in the room? Is it dedicated railroad space? Will you need a workbench in there too? Crew lounge? Can you use the closet space too, or is that off-limits?

    Based on your first message about the two rooms, I would make a bid for the larger room (used all year round for hobby) and give the guests (occasional/seasonal use) the other room. ;) :D I don't know if this will fly at your house...!

    Anyway, room choice aside, I would see some sort of shelf layout as being the best use of space.

    A biggish steamer like the Niagara would likely be happier on say ~24 inch radius. Depending on the manufacturer, it is likely that you can get it down to 18" (industry's "standard minimum"), but it will look better on bigger curves. So if you assume 24" radius, you need double that, plus a few inches, to turn. So say 50 to 52". That's 4'2" to 4'4"...

    If you want continuous run, then perhaps you need to look at the possibility of a duck under or lift out section, since two turnback loops that are 4+ feet square will eat up most of your space. Even if you stack them, that's still making the rest of the room very tight.

    Some ideas to make the room "bigger": Can you use the closet space? Can you reverse or eliminate the door, or put it in a pocket? Can you go for more than one level without a helix? (Grades would be fairly steep, but still do-able.)

    Hope that helps. Let's keep the discussion going.

  17. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    I like Andrews Idea about trying to get the bigger room and save smaller for guest. Dont forget to tell her before you ask that she is the most beautiful women in the world and how much you love her.:twisted:
  18. iis612

    iis612 Member

    It probably wouldn't hurt to get her a gift, something shiny, as well.
    What you are wanting to accomplish, what you want to have in the layout is going to be a major portion of the planning process, as I am learning. At the top of the Track Planning forum there is a thread called "Givens and Druthers", I would look at that, fill it in as appropriate. Also, there is another form, though the name escapes me, in the same thread. Fill them out and copy and paste them into your reply. That will help.
    You have asked the right people for help. The level of talent here is beyond comprehension.
  19. WalterJ

    WalterJ Member

    Andrew and all,

    Is is how this story is developing.......

    As my other daughter is getting married in August ( I had to sell my sailboat to pay for my first daughter's wedding). There will be lots of guests. Both extra bedrooms will be used a lot! (there are four bedrooms total with one used exclusively for computer and painting/ drawing/ hobby work like FSM kits). So after broaching the subject with my wife last night, It's understood that the smaller room is all I'll get without adding an extension on our home (Not), and that it will be after the wedding for sure. I need the time inbetween to figure out if this room will work, because if i am to devote what i know will be many many hours of work...I just don't want to be unpleasantly surprised if you know what I mean.

    To directly answer your well received questions Andrew-

    What else has to happen in the room? Nothing after August.

    Is it dedicated railroad space? It will be then.

    Will you need a workbench in there too? I will be able to work downstairs in the 'Studio'.

    Crew lounge? This bedroom is side-by-side (long wall with larger bedroom (Off limits) but both open to a good size TV room and full bath with a balcony overlooking Living & dining area. TV room is the Lounge!

    Can you use the closet space too, or is that off-limits? Yes, and I will need it and all the shelving for train stuff!

    As far as the wife is concerned, after 40 years of marriage I know that I must surprise her 'Slowly' and 'Methodically' while doing so many jobs around our home that she wan, that I always think twice before diving into any new endeaver! (I still have to break the news that i bought a new gun, which i have wanted since 1968 Army-VN) My birthdays coming up in March, I good time to break news!

    By the way, based on what all of you have told me already I roughed a quick possible layout during my lunch hour and have attached it here. Obviously, staging track will have to go under mainline, but there it is. Does it make any sense?


    Attached Files:

  20. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    That's som answer Walter!

    Take a look at the Givens 'n' Druthers as suggested above. It will help focus on what's important to you (e.g. trains running in scenery, or lots of switching opportunities).

    While that diagram you drew certainly uses much of the available space, I do not think you'll be happy with it even in the short term. The turnouts to switching are almost impossibly tight, and the grade to get them under the other track would be too steep. Also, besides running in (various) continuous loops, there's nothing for the trains to do.

    You might think about a shelf anywhere from 6 to 24 inches wide. Starting inside the closet (for staging), it would then come out through the wall by the window, cross the window heading "north".

    Turning the corner, it would take another right turn to become a loop on a penninsula in the middle of the room. I picture this as the main source of action - perhaps it's a gritty industrial area with lots of switching opportunities, or maybe its a huge floor to ceiling mountain with only a station stop (see Givens 'n' Druthers...!). Then it leaves the penninsula and heads down the righthand wall towards the door.

    Here there's a small yard and engine facility. (The door to the room has been reversed so it opens outwards, allowing more space for the yard.)

    Hope you can visualise this, and that it helps.


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