Is this enough mainline?

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by lars, Jun 21, 2005.

  1. lars

    lars New Member

    After spending years keeping up on model railroading I'm ready to take the plunge and do a layout again. I'll most likely go back to HO (though my stepfather's interest in O may inspire me yet.) I want to do a free lance layout based in central Illinois leaning to NS or CNW. I really just like the fell of rural Illinois and wanted to replicate it. Oh yea, I love grain elevators too.

    I have about a 15 X 20 room in my basement that can be finisihed with minimal work. I am pretty much settled on a twisted U shaped layout with 22" shelves and is fully walkaround with decent room for staging.

    By the looks of it this design will allow for about 90' of mainline. I know it is not alot but is it enough? I would like to keep a couple of operators busy following their trains but don't want the trip to be too short. I could stretch the layout to 105' but it would include a few duckunders and lots of curves. The cieling is too low for a mushroom and a double deck is out of the question.

    So what should I do? Go with 90' and have a short (but hopefully ample) mainline? Should I make it more of a long branch line? Is looping the layout back around a good idea?

    Thanks for the help.
  2. emt49

    emt49 Member

    with this u shape your hole front and middle are open right ?

    if that is the case and you want more main line how about a peninsula in the middle if the layout and bring it flush with the front of your layout so the layout looks more like a "W" and leave some room in the back for a duck under for cleaning track if you cant reach it
  3. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    A peninsula would be a good way to up running times--but a hidden layover (letting the engine pause out of sight) might be a good way to pretend to extend the mainline run. Central Illinois isn't famous for its hills, so a tunnel is probably out of the question.

    90 feet is about a mile and a quarter in HO, which means about a minute and a half on the mainline if you average 50-60 MPH. Cut down this average speed with frequent way-station stops, pausing for clear signals, slow orders and cows on the track. Use a fast clock to turn that 1.5 scale miles of track into fifteen on a timetable, and you'll ramp up the apparent time to get from Point A to Point B.

    Me, I have twelve feet of mainline, half of which serves as a yard lead and the other half is occasionally pressed into service as yard storage...
  4. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    I have a u shaped layout in a 20 X 13 foot space. I doubled my mainline by creating a long dogbone styled plan with the end loops superimposed on top of each other. About a fifth of the layout is hidden track. It takes about five minutes for a train to circuit the layout. As much as I like the long run I sometimes wish I'd simplified the plan as the hidden track created some sceneary dilemnas. I guess for you it might come down to how you wish to operate the layout. If reaching a town and doing switching is most important then a long run isn't that necessary. If getting a sense of really traveling and following a train is the goal then keep working on extending the line. As always it seems we need to compromise...unless we have a pole barn as a layout room! :)
    Best wishes!
  5. Ronny

    Ronny New Member


    Is this the beer tour lars of Q-Jet fame?
    If it is, Trains is a lot more fun (at times):wave:
  6. Zman

    Zman Member

    If you go N or Z scale, you'll get a lot more mileage! If not, then staging areas are definetely the way to go.
  7. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Or, maybe On30? If you're going to freelance, why not a narrow gauge grain hauler?
    OK so there would be a lot of scratch building of rolling stock! That's the challenge!
  8. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Welcome to The Gauge!

    I think that 90' of main is plenty, unless you are more of a "railfanner" who likes to watch trains rolling through scenery. If you are more of an "operations" guy then the interesting stuff is all in the sidings and switches. Mainline is just to get your train somewhere interesting... ;)

    Here is a link to a layout that has virtually no main, compared with the amount of sidings and industries, but nevertheless is a great layout to operate: Hamer/Hamer.htm

    You might recognize this layout from Model Railroad Planning 2001 and Great Model Railroads 2004. I have seen it a few times in person, and it is lots of fun. The other interesting thing is that Mike has "framed" each of the scenes on the layout so that you do not really see the others. This means that you can pull a fairly big train into "North Dover" and you don't really notice that you haven't moved very far.

  9. lars

    lars New Member

    Well I am a bit of a railfannner myself but the room allows what it will allow. I can add more track but not more scenery. I have to say that one of the only reasons I want more mainline is to cater to the display side. If I'm showing off to the uneducated public I just want to sit back and run a train or two. I guess I'll have to pass. I think I'll stick with 90 ft. However, I'll most likely go with a regional line over a class 1.

    I have seen Mike's layout in GMR and I thought it was incredible. The surround staging idea really is a great concept. I will try to apply some of it. However at my room size it almost seems that I'm too big for a switching layout and too small for a big main line.
  10. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Don Janes has done some interesting work in a space about your size (which I wish I had, BTW ;)). One of his layouts featured in MR/GMR/MRP (can't remember) was a "three-times around", but not double or triple decked.. He avoided running directly through each scene more than once by using scenic dividers (hills, buildings) and elevation changes. Very effective.


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