Is 4' by 8' large enough?

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

  1. WalterJ

    WalterJ Member

    Thanks Roger!

    I think I have to revise the curved crossing............look for layout #5 or higher coming to the forum in a few days......

  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Is it possible to go right around the room, using a duckunder or lift/swing gate by the door?

  3. WalterJ

    WalterJ Member

    Andrew, good point. That had always been in the back of my head after seeing it used in layouts seen in old issues of MR. My only concern was how it effects the track connections at the points of a swing gate. Is it a problem? Is it time consuming and lead to derailments?

  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Like anything else, it requires attention to detail, but is definitely do-able. I have been to numerous layouts that empoy them. While not as trouble free as a duckunder, they are also easier to navigate!

    I think that going right around the room and eliminating the turnback loops will open many more possibilities for you.

  5. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic


    While everyone's being very encouraging here, I think there may be a lot of tongue-biting going on too.

    Never one to fear being labelled a bad-guy or wet-blanket, I'm going to dump some cold water on your plans... not because I want to be a fink, but because I think in the long run you're setting yourself up for frustration.

    I see three problems with trying to follow your modelling a section of the water-level route in the space you've got.

    1) Space. 4 tracks take up a lot of real-estate.
    2) Operations. You're going to be hard-pressed to make all 4 tracks functional, and that relates back to point 1), because all that space could be put (IMHO) to better use.
    3) Maintenance. The more you try to shoehorn in the more overlapping levels you're going to have, the more hidden trackage, the more headaches from derailments and repairs.

    Now, my reasoning:

    Your recollections/images of the water-level route are tied to wide vistas. No matter how you shoe-horn it into your space, you're going to have your mainline in a space you can span with your outstretched arms.
    What you'll wind up with is a short section of 4-track with some sort of view block on either end... it'll look like it's in a bowl. It won't remind you of the wide-open 4-track along the Hudson or Mohawk, but it will remind you of how small your layout is.

    Trying to make all 4 tracks "live" will eat up so much space that you're going to have nothing but a "slot-car" layout, where the trains just chase around and around. For some people that's all they're looking for, but I think most people with an interest in model railroading find this boring.

    What I think you should do is consider looking at other mainline operations of the NYC, like the B&A, for example, or the Auburn Route along the Finger Lakes, or the Massena division heading up to Montreal. You can justify running all your favourite NYC equipment, having a mountainous (or at least hilly) setting with small to medium-sized town scenery.

    While it's out of print, try to find a copy of Iain Rice's book "Small, Smart and Practical Track Plans. He has a very good (IMHO) philosophy about model railroad design, and how to implement that effectively in a small space.

    I hope you don't think I'm doing this just to drag you down, but I've been down the road of over-ambitious plans for limited space several times, and never finished a layout. I always reached the point where I realized the layouts' limitations and failings before I ever got close to getting it finished, and scrapped it.

    From an enjoyment perspective, I've found that simpler is better. I like watching the trains roll, but I like watching them roll through a good setting, with believable scenery, so those are the prejudices I carry around with me. I also like to have my trains behave like real trains - stop in towns and switch industries. I think the best model railroads manage to strike a balance between scenery, running and operation.
  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Here is one of my favourite small-room layouts. (Sorry - link not working properly, but you can find it at Ottawa Valley Associated Railroaders -> Member Layouts -> Mike Hamer.)

    It's Mike Hamer's Boston & Maine, and it is just about the same size as you have available. It is primarily an operations-focussed layout, but it offers some interesting scenes. None of the wide open vistas you want, but definitely some great "trackside" scenes. (However, there are tricks to overcoming this to a certain degree at least.)

    I have seen this layout in person several times, and the "museum diorama" approach that he uses to divide the scenes is effective. You can even run fairly long trains, and not have them feel like they are chasing their tails.

    You might want to sketch out the track requirements for your scene(s) to get a better idea of what is acutally possible... For example, if that bridge in your photo above is 600 feet long, at HO scale, it will need nearly 7 feet to be "full scale". You probably should start thinking about selective compression!

    This leads me to suggest that in combination with Squid's avdice above, that you think about scenes that suggest, rather than duplicate the era and locale you want to model.

  7. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    With a swing gate, you won't need the hugely space-consuming turnback curves. The usefulness of a room this size is practically doubled by such a gate. Still, a 4-track main seems a bit much for this size of layout. Simply, the 4 tracks themselves take up too much space in HO.
  8. WalterJ

    WalterJ Member

    I welcome all comments at this stage......I will look into this....Thanks Squid!


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