Modular track plan... planning...

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by BrianK, May 12, 2006.

  1. BrianK

    BrianK Member

    Hey all. I am planning my layout which has to be in my room (don't have anywhere else to put it). Due to space constraints and personal preferences I am going to attempt a modular N scale layout. I've put a lot of thought into it and don't plan to follow any standard. My plan is to have four 5x2 foot modules that fit in a 10x4 space along one wall. The two outer modules can be removed and placed under the two modules against the wall to reduce the overall size to 10x2 feet. This way the layout won't take up as much room when I'm not working on it, but I can expand it when I want to, or even work on one module at a time without taking up half of my room.

    I'm not a big fan of the spaghetti bowl layouts where the track loops through the layout several times... I like a slightly more prototypical layout, but then again, space constraints limit that. So my plan is to have these four modules that fit together and allow a single loop, and I will model the scenery as to make the loop not that obvious. There will also be an outer track that breaks off from the loop, goes to a small staging yard behind the layout (about six inches deep) allowing 'main line' traffic.

    I am going to design the layout around some of the small towns down here in Texas, but toss in a railroad :p. If you look at the image I attached, there will be a engine house in the upper left module with room for two trains, a repair shed and a track for coal and water. In the upper right module, I'll have a creek in a valley and a wooden trestle bridge. There will be part of a small town in these two upper modules and a little train station (nothing much because this little town isn't big on travel) but a passenger train will come through here and stop on occasion.

    A coal mine will be located in the bottom left module, with the tracks extending to the bottom right module. I am going to try to do something with the scenery to make it look like this isn't just a big loop, but more linear... like the mine isn't right next to the engine house, but to get from the engine house, you have to pass through the town (kind of like I am folding the layout in half).

    I've gone through several revisions and so far this is what I have. I just wanted to throw this out here and see what you all think.

    Also, this town will be in the early 1950's... but the town isn't really caught up with the rest of the world, much like some of the small towns around here. Gravel/dirt roads, antique shops, an old mill down by the river converted into a restaurant (Grist Mill in Gruene, TX is my inspiration), steam trains, etc. I'm not trying to be historically correct or anything though, I just have a good feel for what I want.

    Attached Files:

  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

  3. BrianK

    BrianK Member

    No I haven't. Thanks for the link!

    Looks like they will be in my town next month, I'll have to check them out.
  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Some thoughts...

    If it is going to be modular, why not construct it to some standard, in the event you wish to take them out of the house to a meet?

    If continuous running is not a "need", why not create a "round the walls" or some other more open form? That would give you a more realistic "linear" layout. If the main focus is the coal mine (and its associated destination/customer), then a point to point linear might work.

    How will you operate the tracks at the back if the long side is against the wall?

    With the staging/yard at the top/back, you have already exceeded your maximum stated size of 10x4. Is this (going to be) a concern?

    Hope that helps.

  5. BrianK

    BrianK Member

    I really considered using the N-Trak standard but I have a visual goal for my layout that wouldn't fit with the standard. I'll probably build a separate module that follows the N-trak standards that I can take to shows but right now my main goal is home enjoyment. My main reasons for going modular is so I can compress the size when I need the room, and so it is easier to move when I move out of this house in a couple years. I also wanted to be able to work on one module at a time rather than an entire layout all at once.

    I really wanted a layout that I could operate (but I don't know much about operating aside from what I have researched in the past couple weeks so if you see any flaws let me know). I also wanted to be able to sit back and just watch the train run by itself so I want a combination of continuous running and some operating. My main focus is a small town with an industry, but I didn't want to just have some dinky mine. It will still be a small mine compared to the real deal, but I wanted it to be big enough to be somewhat realistic.

    I also thought about having an around-the-walls layout, but as I said, I want to have continuous running and that would be hard when I have a bed, desk, file cabinet and aquarium. I run a computer business out of my room so I need to make sure I have room for that.

    A passenger train will be sitting on the tracks in the back and come through the town every once and a while. That back yard will also be used as holding for the coal train when it has left the town and 'gone off to the real world.'

    I took into account the extra six inches for the read staging yard. The layout could be even bigger, but I set my limits based on comfort. My room is 15x11.5 feet and I could squeeze in a lot more, but I need room for my bed, computer, aquarium and I like to have room to walk too :p
  6. BrianK

    BrianK Member

    I would actually really like to have a long layout that follows the walls that doesn't loop on the layout itself, but loops through a hidden track. The only problem is I have too many large items in my room that need to be against a wall so I don't have room for a long layout that is still deep enough to allow a hidden track behind it allowing continuous running.
  7. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    I'm thinkin' you need a turntable right.......there!
  8. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    What is the height of the tallest furniture in your room? A shelf type layout around the walls can be placed high enough to clear a desk, bed, computer, etc. And there are relatively simple solutions to crossing windows and doors. A shlef type layout does not have to be deep in order to have staging - as little as 1 foot deep should be ok in Nscale.

    Can you draw up a scale room plan, with windows and doors, and any furniture you have?

  9. BrianK

    BrianK Member

    I'll draw up a scale room plan tomorrow. The reason for the depth of the layout is for continuous running though, and the staging just happens to be a part of that in my plan. I was trying to think of a way to have a less deep, longer layout with larger ends for turnarounds but it didn't work out on paper.

    You actually just gave me an idea though... maybe I could work something out where I pull my desk forward a little bit and have a track run behind it, and get a headboard for my bed and have the train run safely behind that so I can have modules in different areas of my room without having a huge block of a layout.

    I appreciate the help. :)

    I would talk more now but I knocked back a few tonight and don't feel totally up to it ;-)
  10. BrianK

    BrianK Member

    I wanted a turn table for a larger engine house but it takes up too much space (with my current plans).
  11. BrianK

    BrianK Member

    Ok, here is a layout of my room in its current state (will be rearranged for layout). I put small stuff like the computer and trashcan in because they need to be next to my desk so it makes the space required of my 'office' area a little larger. One concern of mine is having a comfortable space to work at my desk in because that is where I do my job. One of the nice things about working at home is you're not crammed into a tiny cubicle... I'd like to keep it that way train or no train :p

    I have some other furnature in here right now, but when I start setting up my layout, it will be gone.

    I'm trying to think of some other ways to have a train layout, by maybe having layout 'chunks' in different parts of my room connected by track that could run say, behind my desk or bed as I mentioned.

    A couple thoughts about my room... I have a cat that requires access to at least one window. I don't want her jumping on my layout to get to a window. It's really her room, not mine ;-) Also, I know some people will build their layout into their closet but I won't be able to do that.

    Attached Files:

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  12. BrianK

    BrianK Member

    The monitor on my desk and my aquarium are the tallest items in my room, reaching 4.5 feet. However, that is about a foot above than the bottom of the windows. I wouldn't want a layout that I would have to stand up to see, work on and operate though. It would be nice to sit back in my chair or on my bed to see it.
  13. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    How tall is the file cabinet? Could the aquarium be moved closer to the desk? What is your ideal level for your layout? What is the minimum radius for your mailine? I'm thinking that if you layout hieght was 4', you could put in a grade starting near the heatergoing up to the 5 feet needed to clear the monitor and aquarium, and then do a turn bck curve between the aquarium and door. If you are going to use diesel power, you could put in a runaround at the end just past the aquarium and drop your train, move the locomotives to the other end and come back. The other end of the layout would be just past the bed at the corner where the closet starts. If your drawing is close to scale it looks like the closet is about 1 foot from the corner. Make your headboard 8 inches wide, and put the railroad on top of itwith a shelf above at window height or make the headboard 8 inches wide with a tunnel through it. the headboard becomes a place for the cat to perch at the window while the train runs thrugh a tunnel or on a shelf underneath the cat. Another run around at the other end allows the locomotives to run around the train and hook up to go back the other way. Where the layout would tend to be in your way, narrow it down to 6 inches or even 4 inches so it doesn't intrude and run single track. Where you have room to do some switching and model some industries, make it 1 or 2 feet wide, and have fun.

    I just thought of a neat design for your headboard. How about making it wide enough for a cat perch at the bottom of the window, put a shelf in the headboard the same width as the cat perch but 10 inches or so below the cat perch. Frame in the shelf and put in sliding windows for access in case of a derailment. Maybe turn your headboard into a diorama frame?
  14. BrianK

    BrianK Member

    The file cabinet is 2' 5", but I keep my printer on top of that. Of course, I could find somewhere else for that to go if needed.

    Also, the bottom of the windows is 3' 8" above the floor.

    I like your headboard idea Russ. Might be cool to have glass doors in a nice oak frame to show off my engines. I could have a through-line to go to the other side of the bed and a little yard to park the engines in the headboard (trains may be too long though).

    Do you guys see any problems with m layout, or are you just trying to come up with some more ideas? I would like to have a better layout and thanks a bunch for the help, but I'd like to know where I need to improve if you all see any flaws.
  15. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Hi Brian:wave:
    The turntable I only mentioned because you have no way to turn a locomotive other than the Great Pink Hand From the Sky:)
    I think the layout design is fine, but you will not be able to reach the back. 30" is probably the longest reach most folks would find comfortable. And even then, remember, you are reaching over whatever trees, buildings, telephone poles, signals, etc. which you have installed, just to correct a minor de-railment. An access hole or hatch in the center would be desirable; otherwise, you will have to separate the modules to do any kind of layout work.
    This is one of the advantages of the "around the walls" approach. It does seem that you have enough space to have loops at the ends connected by a narrower table along the wall; I think you mentioned considering this configuration before. Also, you could do some checking around about layout height before you make your final decision. Higher seems to lend more realism to the view.
    And Good Luck!!!:thumb:
  16. BrianK

    BrianK Member

    Ah, well I actually saw a cool plan for an engine depot that used a turn table that I really wanted to do, but it would take up too much space. As for reaching the back for a derailment, you're right. I am probably tall enough to reach it, but it wouldn't be good if I lose my balance and drop an elbow on the mine or something.

    As for the layout height, I was planning on 3-4 feet. I know what you mean about it being more realistic the closer it is to eye level, but as I said I'm tall and I don't want the layout crossing in front of the window. I've got a nice comfy chair to sit it to bring me down to a better level :)

    I'm thinking maybe I should move out and get a place with an extra room for the layout, what do you think? :p (I wish... in time... in time...)
  17. BrianK

    BrianK Member

    I haven't been able to think of anything better yet and I've thought quite a bit. I might just make 2' x 4' modules one by one and make end modules that convert to the N-trak standard. I don't think I'm going to get everything I want into my room (continuous running, decent operations, hidden 'mainline'/staging yard while still looking somewhat realistic).

    My main must-have is the look/scenery, must be modular and have some operating ability. I would like it to be continuous running and a hidden 'mainline' but those I can do without for now.

    I'm still going to think about it for a while before I jump in though. Time for din-din though.. bbl!
  18. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Have you seen the "Givens 'n' Druthers" questions? Click here ->

    Sounds like you are starting to sort your priorities - the questions should help.

    I think that your best bet is to let the continuous running requirement drop. You can get everything else you want in its place - look/scenery. modular construction, operating. You should be able to get all that into an "L" shape running from the door, over where the desk currently is, and down the wall across the window. That leaves the closet and the other window unobstructed.

  19. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    If you don't want to lose the space that would be required to make a return loop at each end of the layout, you could put in a run around track (siding long enough to run all the way around the train) at each end. If you are running diesels, you could do like the Verde Canyon Railroad does on their tourist train through the Verde Canyon. The train runs a pair of f-units coupled back to back. When they get to the end of the line, the locomotives uncouple, run around the train, couple up and head back the way they came. If you run steam, put a turntable at each end to use as a turn around track in combination with a run around track. The train would reach the end of the line, the engine would uncouple, pull forward onto the turn table, be turned, run around the train, couple to the caboose, uncouple the caboose, take it back to the other end of the train and drop it between the run around track and the turntable, uncouple the caboose, go back to the front of the train, couple everything up and head out.

    I'm not sure what the part of Tx. you are modeling. Is it pretty flat or in the hills? If it is in hilly country, it might be interresting to use a switch back layout to get from the mainline to the coal mine.
  20. BrianK

    BrianK Member

    Andrew, that is almost exactly what I am now thinking. I can probably fit three to four modules in an L-shape. I can always have more modules and only take them out when I need to like I originally planned. I read about the Givens n' Druthers early on, but I was hoping I wouldn't have to sacrifice anything, now I know better.

    Russ, I'll be running steam. I’m not sure what I'll do yet, but the turntables are a good idea. I’ve got a diesel too, but I’m a sucker for articulated steam. I have a Bachmann 2-6-6-2 right now. I am trying my hardest to not spend more money on a Life-Like 2-8-8-2 and when the Athearn 4-6-6-4 comes out in October I’m going to be tempted once again (I’m doing all I can to not pre-order one). These things are expensive!

    I'm going to order the N-trak manual and build my modules around that. I'm not sure if I will completely follow the standard or deviate from it a bit and have transitional modules to connect to others.

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