layout "contest"

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by sgtcarl, Nov 3, 2008.

  1. sgtcarl

    sgtcarl Member

    Okay, everybody!! Here's a new challenge for you!
    I have a 12' x 24' building. I need a good layout design. I would like to have at least two islands extending out from the wall. The rest is open to suggestions.

    Here are some guidelines to be considered:
    From one end wall to the other is 24' :eek: (give or take a few inches)
    The total allowable width is 31" - 36"
    One outlet is at one end of the building, and another is 57" from the window.
    The window sills are 28" above the floor.
    There are two windows on the wall, each one being 56" from the ends of the wall.
    The windows are 24 1/2" wide.
    The preferred heightof the layout is 36"
    The era is sometime after the demise of steam, and just a bit shy of the current decade. :confused:
    I have an idea for a switching yard, and my wife will need room for her mountain resort. (Complete with Swiss Chalet type bldgs.) :mrgreen:

    This "contest" will end in about 30 days. Or whenever I say so.:p
    Good luck, and thanks!!!
  2. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Does this refer to aisles?

    Also, what sort of Givens & Druthers have you in mind? (Era, Scale & Gauge, etc.)
  3. sgtcarl

    sgtcarl Member


    Galen: 31" -36" is the width of the shelves and/or bench tops.
    I am modeling in HO and no particular era. I have some vintage rolling stock, 30's , 40's era, and some later stuff. So, no particular era. This is just for fun.
    I am thinking a small industrial area and maybe some prairie, leading into the mountain scene. I do not intend to take up the entire floor space of the bldg., as my wife and I need to reserve some of the space for temporary storage.
  4. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Temp storage under the layout... ;-)

    Sure that a 60" or so shelf isn't kosher? Can make a bit more layout if it is...

    Also, will this be a mainline with 4-8-4s of a branch with nothing larger than a 2-8-0? A branch may be able to get away with 18"R...while a mainline might be nice with curves greater than 22R
  5. sgtcarl

    sgtcarl Member

    more specs...

    Actually, the storage area needs to be fairly large, about half the bldgs width and all of it's length. We will be emptying out our garage, and tearing it down, before it falls down on its own. Then we will have to rebuild it elsewhere on the property. So...
    To use some of the Givens and Druthers info, the layout that is against the wall cannot be over 36" wide, because I may have "ape" arms, but I'm not very tall. And I'm getting shorter.
    I thought I had posted the dimensions on this forum earlier today, but I don't see it. :confused::confused:
    The largest radius track I have is 18". Anything larger, I will use flex track. I have right and left hand turnouts, but I'm not sure how many of each are operable. The longest loco I have is a Susquehanna GE Dash 8 40B. I also have numerous bridges and trestles. I can incorporate a 90 degree and/or a 30 degree crossover. One of my plans includes a passenger main line, a tourist train (steam powered) up into the mountains, and regular freight operations. I have several locos, and plan to run at least two of them simultaneously.
  6. sgtcarl

    sgtcarl Member

    more details, etc

    track plan guidelines.jpg
  7. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    18" curves are tight. While many locomotives will supposedly go around them, it isn't easy. It is especially bad with full length passenger cars.

    With the space you have, I'd scrap the modern theme entirely and switch to an early 20th century theme. I'd use 15" curves and have a roster of Athearn/MDC 34' passenger cars and 36' freight cars. I'd use various small steam (such as Spectrum's 4-6-0) and if you want diesels, MDC's old boxcab. With tight curves, normal length cars and trains are problematic. The real advantage here isn't in steam vs. diesels, but rather in the super short cars. Short trains with SW-7s and 40' boxcars would be fine...but it'll look really odd.

    Importantly, you're going to have a nearly impossible task of building a decent layout for post-steam trains...especially with islands...since it is tough to turn trains with your space limitations.

    I would recommend something like this layout.

    The mainline is for continuous running. Along the side of the room there are always two tracks with a loop at the top and a loop on the island at the bottom. The weave back and forth a little. On the top island is where the mainline runs out with a scenic divider in between to make it appear to be by itself. Where this connects up with the rest of the layout is a grand trestle over the lower track(s). The middle island is a branch line, including a switch back into the mountain. A small yards would be on the bottom peninsula. There would be small towns at each loop, on the top island, and along the branch line. The branch could be to either serve a town or a special industry (mining, logging, etc).

    A trip over the main would be like this:
    Train #1 pulls out of town 1 moving clockwise around the loop. It heads up grade and crosses the other track coming out of the town (either with one of your diamonds or a bridge). It heads out on the peninsula to town 2. While there, it weights in the hole for train 2. It then continues on up grade and crosses the railroads most fantastic trestle over some other tracks and enters a tunnel. It then begins its downhill journey past an industry and into town 3. The engine is serviced in the yard and receives an additional car. It then continues out of town to the junction. It then begins an uphill climb to town 1. Train 3 leaves town 3 after train 1. It turns at the junction and heads out on the branch. It negotiates the switchback and visits town 4/or the industry. It then returns to town 3, but has to wait for train 2 before it can enter the main.

    The key is the tighter radius allows for both continuous running and a substantially longer mainline. Small power, small cars, and short trains make the mainline seem substantially longer than it is.

    As for the tighter curves, you can either purchase them as sectional track or use flex track.

    I get the impression that you haven't really built a layout before. I'd suggest just building a small, stand alone portion...such as a branch line or a learning layout. There are a number of lessons you'll learn along the way to make it far, far easier. I say this because your description was of a layout to watch trains run...and you listed a few specific sectional pieces as your track work (such as 18"R curves). That is fine...and I encourage you to think about a long term project such as this, but it is also important to make sure that you know that it isn't a fast process. Further, there are many mistakes that everyone of us makes and then wishes we'd learned them on small projects rather than on a full layout.

    You may find that if you want continuous running with Dash 8s and 4-8-4s, N scale might make a better choice.

    Note: 18" curves require more than 36" of width. 22"R became standard because it would fit on a 4'x8' sheet of plywood.

    Attached Files:

  8. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    What about this:

    The bulk of the layout is along one long side, as you described. Built in to your shelving on the other side of the room is a staging area the full length of the room. At each end there's a removable bridge. It can be just a single track on a plank with some lath on the sides to prevent trains from tumbling to the floor.

    This will allow the mainline curves to be quite broad, and trains with long equipment almost always look better from the inside of the curve. Your long equipment can run laps while on the peninsulas or bumps you wanted into the room there can several options.

    One would be major industries with multiple sidings for switching. There was a Model Railroad Planning a few years back that featured several, and there are three books out there (by Kalmbach I think) all about modeling various industries, giving you the history & technical know-how to model them well.

    Another bump could be for a roundhouse and turntable. These take up alot of space but make a great place to display equipment.

    And don't worry about mixing eras or trying to rationalize steam and diesel together. It's your layout and you create the reality or fantasy world they live in. 3-railers do it all the time. They get accused of 'playing with trains' and rightly so, IMO because their track is hideous. There was a Classic Toy Trains mag recently that had an article on how to make your layout more realistic. I said the first thing to do is switch to two-rail track!

    Even so, those guys have alot of fun running those long engines around the tightest curves ever and they don't worry about era. They know what they like and enjoy what they have. I know The Gauge is full of HO gaugers who play with trains the same way and that's the beauty of this forum. I am glad to see that acceptance here, with folks who play with trains and others who model scale worlds shoulder to shoulder. I'm more into the scale side than the toy side but that's just me.

    Anyway, if the staging along the opposite wall idea sounds good, maybe I'll pull out the old planning file and sketch something for you.
  9. sgtcarl

    sgtcarl Member


    Thanks for all the great ideas. General comments, pick what applies to your ideas:
    1: I'm not too keen on roundhouses and turntables. An engine repair facility would be nice.
    2: A grand trestle would be grand, but I have no skills to build one, and cannot afford to purchase one.
    3: I lke, (prefer,) long locos. But I suppose I could be persuaded to use shorter ones. :mrgreen:
    4: I have billboard box cars, and 70's era passenger cars.
    5: Some passenger cars will, (can,) be used as diners.
    6: Some cabeese wil be used to construct a motel.
    7: A few light industries are essential. (I like switching trains around.)
    8: I'm thinking three or four different sections, each representing a different season, but not of the same scene.
    9: I have promised my wife a mountain for her Swiss Chalets.
    To avoid taking up excess forum space, my pm is
  10. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Can you go all the way around the room? Ocalicreek is right that gradual curves are fine if you can go all the way around the room...but only on the outside.

    You mentioned that you like billboard reefers...these are typically the 36' Athearn/MDC cars I mentioned.

    70s era passenger cars were amfleet and older cars. If you stick with Athearn 72' cars, it would be easier. Do you plan on having scenery? Also, you could easily eliminate the grades and just use crossings or have small bridges.

    I have regularly (in the past) mixed eras with my trains...but it really looks tacky to mix eras with your scenery (a new corrugated steel factory in an otherwise old time western town).

    When you say that you prefer longer locomotives, what do you mean by long? I consider a Dash 8 to be a medium locomotive. The Dash 8 would probably be fine for 18"R...but an SD45 might not be...and a 2-10-4 wouldn't be.
  11. sgtcarl

    sgtcarl Member

    No, I can't go around the room.:sad: The loft area, as shown in the photos is too high to reach. The measurements on the illustration shown on the previous thread are the maximums. The reason for there being only 31" at the ends of the walls, is that's where the double doors are located. I have a vague idea of what I want, but can't put it into words. I'm lousy at drawing, so that's not an option. I have XTrk cad installed, but can't figure it out quite. I may try Atlas' trackplan system, which I also have. But keep the suggestions comming, please. I really do appreciate them.:wave::wave::wave:
  12. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Then broad curves are absolutely out.

    You're going to be limited to 15"-18" curves. Keeping a section limited to 18" would be good for medium length stuff, and have 15" curves elsewhere would allow for a more interesting track plan.

    I might try a few plans in the atlas software for you as well...
  13. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    Sgt Carl,

    I'm inclined to agree with NKP. With the restrictions you've set on size and space use, you're either looking at a switching layout, or going N scale.

    Most long locos and passenger cars are only happy on 24" radius curves, 22" if you use easements. They also need #6 turnouts. These things take a lot of real-estate. For a 24" radius loop, figure a square of about 51". Double that for a turnaround at each end. They take a big bite out of your available space.
  14. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    OK, I've laid your room out in XtrkCad, and I have some questions.

    1) Do you really need to access both doors? Is this some local ordinance, or you're driving your ride'em lawnmower through, or it's the grandkids right-of-way or something?

    2) Why are you putting the layout on the window side instead of the blank wall under the loft?

    3) What are you using the loft for, and how often do you expect to need access to it?

    4) In your "Rome is room enough" thread, you said this was going to be a dedicated layout room. Sounds like the layout's taking a back seat to something else. What gives?

    *edit* I put two 22" radius circles in the corners to give you some perspective on what you can expect to squeeze in.

    Attached Files:

  15. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Do those doors open inward or outward?
  16. sgtcarl

    sgtcarl Member

    The doors!

    Galen, The doors open outward. Squidbait, We thought having the doors on each end would be more convenient. Also, as the bldg has since been "shoved around," to square it with the rest of the world, the end closest to our deck, and ultimately the one that will likely be used most often, sits about 18" to 24" above ground level. We are not building steps, yet, so that it will be easier to stack things at this level. The bldg is a dedicated train bldg., but because the garage is in deplorable shape, we may have to use part of it for temporary storage.
    And, as for not bldg on the opposite wall, well, we may need to stack things pretty high along that wall. The loft will have seasonal things, decorations, etc. stored on it. Hopefully, when we get to emptying the garage, we can get rid of some the stuff we'll probably never use, or need.
    But, eventually, the bldg will be mine, all mine!!! :twisted: Ooops, sorry about that! :oops:
  17. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic


    If that's the case, if at some point, the building will be all yours, I'd suggest that you thing about building a switching layout along the one wall, and once you have clear title to the rest of the space, think about expanding into a longer mainline with areas for turning around. I just can't see doing much in the space you have with the restrictions you've set.

    Not that I'm giving up... I've got a couple of ideas, and I'm thinking as long as you have access to the loft, since it's only going to be occasionally needed, I can swing something useable for you.
  18. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I would agree with Squidbait, design your layout for what you will have when the garage is finished, and build what will fit in the space that you have available now. If your steam locomotives are small enough to fit on an Atlas turntable, buy a couple turntables and put one at each end of the long switching layout to turn your engines around on. For your diesels, run at least two back to back on all trains and put a run around at each end long enough to swap the diesels to the other end of the train to go back to the other end. You may even need to pack away your longest locomotives until the entire room is available for the layout, and just do some switching with the smaller stuff. I think a compromise you make to try to get an oval into the tight space you have with the attendant tight radius curves will result in the layout needing to be torn down and rebuilt when more space is available. I would suggest it is better to build a long switching layout and get it well decorated with scenery and structures, and then add to it when the rest of the building is available.
  19. sgtcarl

    sgtcarl Member

    tracking...the big game

    What you all have suggested, so far, makes sense! I am looking forward to "possessing" the entire building. It should be a few years down the road, but trust me, it will happen! That's why I am thinking so far ahead. What I do now, will be the basis for the whole layout. I've been inspired by your suggestions! Thanks, and keep the ideas flowing!
  20. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Yes, by all means, as much as is possible, plan for the future space and build part of that plan in the space you have. Look at it this way: You build a compromise layout you may not be all that happy with, only to tear it out once the space becomes available.

    But let's say you build part of the big future dream layout and the day arrives when the room clears and you say, "I'm not happy with it". What then? Then you tear it out and rebuild anyway. But if you like it then you're ahead of the game and can continue with the new section.

    Working a smaller segment also gives you time to fully develop the scene and enjoy a little bit of everything.

    I have idea...maybe I sketch for you. First I describe. Lower level is switching district. Elevated tracks are the main line (go two track at least) along the middle to rear of the scene. The upper tracks become basically display tracks for your longer trains. The lower tracks loop back under the upper for hidden sequential staging, if you'd like some. That is, the trains are staged in one long line and as one leaves the others must advance and take its place to make room. That would suit your space (vs. yard type staging which is wide, and little switchers with short trains don't need very long tracks)

    The upper level scenery must be removable, of course, whether it be buildings or countryside. And some sort of system for locating the trains in the staging would be handy (doesn't have to be complex or even electronic - little mirrors or lights the trains block out.)

    This gives you some continuous running now, and eventually the upper tracks can loop around the room. I'd think about wedding cake layers. Building the lower first gets you up and running with switching and continuous running. The next is for the future and if you never get to it, then hey, you're still running trains. Anything above that might be a logging line or that steam train to the Xmas village idea.

    Just dreaming a bit...

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