Need some ideas for my mini layout (pics!)

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by RealizE, Jun 6, 2008.

  1. RealizE

    RealizE New Member


    Before you look at my layout, you should probably understand why it looks like it does and why I've ended up where I am.

    A few weeks back I stumbled across a box containing the trains I played with as a kid some 15 years ago. I soon got the idea that I should set them up on the coffee table to see if they still worked. I promptly found that I had no track and that's where it all began.

    The next day I went to the LHS and bought a few packets of Atlas sectional track; enough to make a loop. To my surprise, the old locos ran perfectly. So, after a night of watching the trains do circles, I figured that I needed some more track. Off I went to get a few more packets and some switches. After making a figure 8, and some basic track designs, I noticed I was starting to scratch up the table. By this time, I'd started browsing the net and heard people talking about "pink foam" and decided it would be a good thing to protect the table for a few days before I got bored and packed it all away again.

    After cutting up my foam (it's blue over here) I had a nice cover for the table and some left over bits. I figured, hey - I should use the leftovers to make a mountain. I then wondered if I could make it look better with some spackle over the top - Yep. So with the mountain looking pretty good (but very white), I thought, I'd grab a few sample pots of brown paint and chuck some colour on there. This is about the time I should have stopped. The problem with driving past the local model train store on the way to work is that it's very easy to just stop in and have a browse.

    So, 2 weeks later I now had some cork road bed, some grass, foliage, trees etc and off I went. Since I was never intending this to be permanent, I didn't really put any planning into making a layout - I just wanted to get as much track into the small space that I had (2.5'x3'). I ended up using the two loops with a cross over so I could have two trains running, or one train running around both tracks.

    The result is what you see below - a basic mini roundy round layout with nothing in the middle. This is where you blokes come in. I've been trawling these forums reading just about every post back to 2004 trying to get some ideas, but I just can't find anything.

    Ideally I'd like to have something in the middle, whether it be a small factory with a couple of sidings, a town, a mine, I don't know. Every idea I come up with I discard as I think it would look silly perched in the middle of the donut shaped track.

    If anyone can offer a suggestion, or offer some inspirational images to get me going, I'd be very grateful.

    Thanks and regards,

    PS : I also have a question about my ballasting. I've used Woodland Scenics Fine Grey, but it looks out of place with the rest of the scenary. Do you think I could use a very light black wash to add a bit of texture to it?

    Attached Files:

  2. redmans

    redmans New Member

    That looks very good considering the time spent on it.

    What about a small town in the centre and a complimenting industry? You could have a road out to the left of your cross over.

    With the ballast, would it be worth trying some fine black cinders?

    How about some more photos?

    BTW, where is 'over here' ?
  3. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    Very nice for a first-layout-in-15-years!

    I think you've answered your own question:

    This is the main problem with small roundy-round layouts, more so with double-tracked ones. No matter what you do, since it's such a small space, anything that gets stuck in the middle is going to look like it's stuck in the middle of a doughnut. About the only way you can avoid that look is to have a uniform theme of scenery across the layout from corner to corner.

    Is the grey glued down already? If it isn't and you can pull it up again, try mixing it with some dark grey and cinders to dull it down a bit.

    Otherwise, yes, you can wash some darker colours on to it to dull it down a bit. Just use very thin washes, let them dry between applications, and built up the colour you want gradually.
  4. RealizE

    RealizE New Member

    This is actually my first layout with scenery ever. I used to just run the trains around on a flat piece of board when I was 12. I've been putting in a couple of hours each night after work for the past fortnight, so I guess the time adds up pretty quickly.

    What do you guys mean by black cinders? The grey is glued down so I guess I'll have to work with it in place.

    What about if I used the road idea (dirt road perhaps) in the bottom corner and took it into a timber/saw mill in the centre? I have hundreds of trees to make up, so I could potentially make some very low slopey hills in the centre and cover them in trees? Would this help create a uniform amount of scenery corner to corner?

    The little siding in the middle was just an after thought and can easily be removed.

    Here's a few more pics. It's very hard to photograph given the size and the current lack of scenery :)

    Oh, "Over here" is Sydney Australia :)

    Attached Files:

  5. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Well, since your scenery is already a little mountainous, I was going to suggest a mine or a sawmill. Perhaps a mine in the mountain
    (on the left side in your photo) with a conveyor to carry the mined material over the spur to a crusher/concenttrator in the center of the layout. If it is a coal or gravel mine, all you would need is some kind of crusher/tipple to load the cars. If it is a hard rock mine, you would have some kind of concentrator complete with smokestack, etc.

    Your progress sofar looks fantastic.

  6. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    You could try breaking up the edges with a little mix of medium and course WS turf. Try mixing different colors(light green, medium green, dark green. Some WS Clump Foliage here and there gives the illusion of a couple of tall bushes growing along the edge of the track.

    Here's a pic of one section of my track, with the WS turf and clump foliage.

    Attached Files:

  7. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

  8. logicman

    logicman Greybeard

    your layout reminded me of Sheerness steel works. The steel works has some very tight curves, and lots of sidings in a very small area. They convert scrap into rolls of wire, which is shipped out on special wagons.

    There's some pictures here:
    Sheerness Steel Works

    For the best view, use google earth and zoom in to the Thames estuary area, Sheerness, Isle of Sheppey, Kent.

    The steel works is just south of the dockyard, on the northwest tip of the island.

    I hope this gives you some useful ideas.

  9. Packers#1

    Packers#1 Ultimate Packers Fan

    I agree on the mine. With a mountain, I don't think it would be a stretch for a small coal mine or gold mine. BTW, looks great so far.
  10. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Looks pretty good for "it just sort of happened!" :thumb:

    If you want to dull down the ballast and give it a little detail, a wash is just the ticket. You might want to experiment on a small test patch, however, just in case you don't like the effect. A lot of folks use thinned down India ink, but I have used thinned down black modelling paint as well. Your preference, really.

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