Layout advice

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by HoosierDaddy, Jan 12, 2005.

  1. HoosierDaddy

    HoosierDaddy Member

    Hi everyone,

    I'm new to the hobby and I'm working on putting together my first HO scale layout. Well it's my first if you don't count the oval in the "plywood desert" on a 4x8 that the trains run around now. I've been studying up, reading The Gauge, reading books, attending train shows, visiting the LHS, visiting numerous websites, reading The Gauge, oh, and reading The Guage, (I'm hooked).

    I have a decent size space for modeling in the basement (15x19) and the encouragement of my wife!! At least until the numbers start to add up. I've got two boys, 5 and 3 who will team up with me against Mom if necessary to keep the modeling funds available. I'm going to model early diesel era primarily but if some GP-38s and 40s find themselves in the 1950s well we'll chalk it up to a time warp. Besides, for the most part this will be about spending time with the boys and watching trains go around.

    What I have for a layout so far is a waterwings type design with a double loop for a lot of continuous running. The outer part of the loop at the right end and the back will rise at about a 2% grade and cross over the other part of the loop which will be in a tunnel (blue) at the left end. The left end of the layout will be mostly a mountainous area with a stream passing under both tracks. I'm not sure if I want any additional tracks in this area.

    The right side of the layout is where I would like to put a town and be able to do some switching at industrial sidings. My problem is, I'm having a hard time figuring out how to configure things and what works well. Any help that you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Anything you see that looks unworkable please let me know.

    This is to be wired as DC with common rail, using Atlas code 100 flex track on cork roadbed over foam. Minimum radius is 22" on the mainline (sidings could be tighter) and maximum grade is 2% climbing and 3% descending.

    Be warned, any encouragement and aid you give me will likely be repaid with numerous questions. I'm excited about all the possibilities that await me in this hobby.


    oops: Forgot some info. The long dimension of the layout is 14'. the righthand peninsula is 5' at its widest and 9' deep. the lefthand side is 5x6.

    Attached Files:

  2. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Hi there HD,

    I have a very similar design for my existing layout. If you were to extend the right side farther along the wall to create a U shaped layout and you'd have a match for mine! I went with the folded dogbone water wings for the continuous running too. It provides a nice long run; almost 5 full minutes to make one circuit.

    Our plans have some dilemnas, most particularly in the middle section where you'll have four tracks at various elevations and one in a valley of sorts between two tracks of higher elevations. It creates a scenic challenge. I solved that problem by having the tracks leading to the top loop converge closer to each other and create an apparent double track main...and then I hid the lower track directly underneath these. I provided access to this long section of hidden track by butting a long cement plant industry scene up against the shelf carrying the upper level tracks. This hides the lower ones but I can get to them easily by removing the buildings, which I made of sturdy materials to endure lots of moving.

    That loop on the right is a good place for some industrial switching. If you can't fit a passing siding in some where at least you can lead spurs off where you designated but also coming off the opposite end of the loop too so trains running in either direction could easily drop off or pick up cars from one side or the other.

    best wishes with the plan and the layout!
  3. HoosierDaddy

    HoosierDaddy Member

    Thanks for your input Ralph. It took me a little bit of time to visualize what you were talking about with the converging lines, but I understand now. I will keep that in mind.

    As I was playing around with the layout a little more I added a passing siding and some industrial spurs in the town area. Not sure what I think about the long siding running to the other side. It really seems to make the center area too congested, would it be better to take a spur off of the mainline right before it goes into the tunnel?


    Attached Files:

  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Do you have access from the right side of the right-hand loop? If not, it will be a long reach over to those sidings!

  5. HoosierDaddy

    HoosierDaddy Member

    Only the back of the layout, the longest dimension, will be against a wall. I did that for exactly the reason you mention.

  6. Shlitz

    Shlitz New Member

    Hi HoosierDaddy,

    I thought I would share some of my experience since we have similar room sizes for a layout. I built a double level dogbone similar to yours in a 11 x 24 room. I did all the benchwork and first level of my two level plan. I ran trains on it without scenery for about three months and got very bored with it. Such a large space and such a simple track plan, two loops and a few switches. I've attached the layout plan for you.

    I then found myself searching for a better track plan that fit in the space. I found a book of track plans by John Armstrong who was a professional railroad designer (models and real) I guess. I am now building one of the plans I found in his book.

    I'm posting this info for you to help see some of the possibilities you can do with your space before you get started. When I see your plan I suspect that you might be like me and have a hard time imagining the possibilities when sitting in front of the PC creating track plans. Please use this information how ever you see fit. I hope I am able to inspire you to search for more complexity in your layout design before you move to the construction phase.

    Attached Files:

  7. daboonk

    daboonk Member

    i don't have a track plan but your layout is very similar to mine, i'll send some pics for you
  8. daboonk

    daboonk Member

    ok here you go, the viaduct worked great for the top level as you can still see the bottom level where the port will be placed, the mountain with the bottom track also has a tunnel in the back, i'll send some pictures when the actual rocks are put in

    Attached Files:

  9. HoosierDaddy

    HoosierDaddy Member

    Thanks for the pictures daboonk. They give me even more to think about.

    I've really been taking to heart the suggestions to add some complexity to the layout. I've streched things a little and added, a yard to the middle of the layout that connects to the passing track and spurs on the right side. I will probably continue moving things around for awhile before I start construction. I'll post the most recent design if anyone wants to see it and comment, otherwise I won't take up board space posting every change I make.

  10. kchronister

    kchronister Member


    We're fighting nearly the identical issue. I too have an L-shaped space similar to yours (10x14 usable). I've got a current setup that grew out of a 4x8 original, and is proving very inadequate, so it's time to tear down and restart, fully utilizing the available space. I too have been leaning toward a double-loop waterwings design, as I lean toward mainline running. But I'm frustrated at inability to get much siding/town/switching type action into this design. When I get home I'll try to post some of my plans under consideration, but let's by all means keep this dialog going.

  11. Shlitz

    Shlitz New Member

    Nice Pics! I'm curious to know what the grade of the partial helix or curved ramp from the upper to lower level is.
  12. daboonk

    daboonk Member

    haha, good question, the grade is pretty steep, i think its would be someting like 3.5%, kind of steep eh?, but it works good, i have almost finished laying the track, i'll send some more pics in a day or two:thumb:
  13. sams

    sams Member

    that second plan is incredible!
    i love the way the yard is layed out!
  14. daboonk

    daboonk Member

    here is a nice bridge my dad made...

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  15. HoosierDaddy

    HoosierDaddy Member

    Final Design?

    I think I've finalized my layout design. Not only that, but I think I've decided on going with DCC instead of DC control. I'm trying to decide between the Digitrax Zephyr, Atlas Commander and the MRC Prodigy Advance. Here is the final(?) layout design and the plan for the open grid benchwork. The darker the color, the higher the elevation on the plan. What do you all think?


    Attached Files:

  16. daboonk

    daboonk Member

    lookin good, i am also planing on getting the prodigy advance
  17. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer

    Hi HoosierDaddy
    The layout looks great. :thumb: My only concern is accessing those back corners. If it must be that deep be sure to cut some access holes that could either be covered or hidden with scenery or buildings. Mock up a table that will be the highth of your layout and see how far you can reach over it without bracing a hand on the layout. That will give you your "comfort zone."
  18. HoosierDaddy

    HoosierDaddy Member

    Thanks for the compliment Pitchwife, it's come a long way from the first design I scratched out on paper. I have listened to the voices of experience about the maximum reach distance and only the back of the layout will be against the wall with access around the sides. As a matter of fact, if it weren't for all the information and advice I've gotten from everyone here, I doubt I'd be undertaking anything this size for a first layout.

  19. Shlitz

    Shlitz New Member


    One thing I don't see that I tried to watch out for in my first track plan is some sort of reversing loop on the upper level to avoid backing down the ramp.

    If you are like me and have to have another "another" loco when you visit the LHS, eventually you will run out of room on the layout. I am seriously considering how I can add a second level storage yard below the main table while building my new main layout. The thing to watch out for is how to get a ramp down into a helix or acceptable grade slope outside of the main layout. Passing under the L-Girder table and avoiding a 5% grade is somewhat challenging.

    Otherwise it looks great!


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