Need suggestions and help with new HO track plan for a noob!

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by GTW, Mar 2, 2008.

  1. GTW

    GTW New Member

    Hello all! Well it has come time for me to start planning my layout! I just graduated from college and landed myself a job so now I finally have the financial freedom to try my hands at the best hobby on the planet :thumb:. Well after I pay off a few debts of course haha. Anyways I have never built a layout before but most of my family worked for the Grand Trunk in Port Huron, MI. so I figured I should base my layout on it. My basement is huge and the space I mentioned is not even half of it but I didnt want to start to big and get overwhelmed so I felt this size is plenty big to begin with. I have some books coming my way to read up on. I was planning on modeling the auto industry but it would be a real shame not to model a lumber dependent layout since I already have the Walthers lumber mill, superior paper mill, hardwood furniture factory, and all of the expansion buildings for the lumber mill to make it more modern. I also have the Walthers magic pan bakeries, lakeside shipping, the prarie star flour mill, and a bunch of other buildings. So I am not quite sure if I should go wasting more money on trying to find the auto industry buildings when I could use all of these. Ive been slowly collecting them and buying them here and there. I wouldnt be against having it multi level for staging but really dont think I could completely model multiple decks yet. If I came up with a good enough track plan I could definitely build it with expansion in mind. I was thinking it also might be fun to come up with my own shortline but I dont know dont want to get too ahead of myself. I was thinking some type of around the room layout might work but I dont want it to seem like Im just running trains around in a circle.

    Givens and Druthers(Railroad Name) In the making
    Scale: Gauge: HO
    Prototype: Would like to model a part of the Port Huron main line that leads to Chicago.
    Era: modern
    Region: Midwest
    Railroad: GTW/CN

    The layout will be in basement. Current space is a 19ft. by 10ft. room with a 6ft. by 11ft. room intersecting it. Basically makes A T shape.

    Governing Rolling Stock: GTW dominated. Would be mostly cars carrying supplies for the paper mill and other lumber products if I did go with the lumber industry.Relative

    Track/Operation |______________________V_______________________| Scenic realism

    Mainline running|______________________V_______________________| Switching

    Operation Priorities:
    1. 2 main lines
    2. continuous running of some sorts
    3. Long Freight Train Operations
    4. Main-Line Passenger Train Operation
    5. Local Freight Operations
    Typical operating Crew: __1___ Eye Level (Owner) _68__In

    Here is a picture of the space I am currently planning on using. If I was to expand it would be to the left of this picture.
  2. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Howdy GTW, and welcome to The Gauge.:wave:
    I am not very good at track planning, but some body will be along to help.

  3. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Hi...Sounds like you're pretty much ready to go at it..!! I'm not much of a track-planning expert but there are several folks here who know all the ins & outs of that. There are some questions they'll be asking, so to save them the trouble and time, I'll pose a couple myself.
    1.- Do you picture having the layout up against some/all of the walls..? Access to certain parts of the layout might be compromised if so.
    2.- Are there any obstructions such as doors, windows, stairs, water heaters, furnace, etc. in this area..?
    3.- Would you consider duck-unders or liftout sections to gain access to the layout..? Or would you want a walk-in sort of arrangement...
    These are just a few of the issues that need to be considered before going ahead with any sort of planning.

    Good luck..!! And keep us posted..!! :thumb:
  4. GTW

    GTW New Member

    Hey im back... Nice to meet you Loren. I have seen your threads before about designing the yard for your layout and I definitely learned a lot from that thread. I also like your overall trackplan:mrgreen:. Nice to meet ya Gus and thanks for the questions!

    1.- Do you picture having the layout up against some/all of the walls..? Access to certain parts of the layout might be compromised if so.
    Honestly it doesnt matter if it would be along the walls or not. My basement walls are not finished just concrete walls so Im going to have to build some sturdy benchwork independent of the walls. My biggest concern is accessibility and being able to reach everything.
    2.- Are there any obstructions such as doors, windows, stairs, water heaters, furnace, etc. in this area..? The picture I tried to draw excludes the stairs, furnace, and water heater which are also to the left of this picture. Ill try and get a full scale drawing of the basement done. Just to give everyone the big scheme of things.
    3.- Would you consider duck-unders or liftout sections to gain access to the layout..? Or would you want a walk-in sort of arrangement... Any of these are fine. I was already doing a little research on lift gates and all that so they are for sure a possibility.

    Ok gonna go make a sketch of the basement and try and get it to scale. Talk to you all soon! :cool:

    EDIT! I forgot 2 questions I had.....1. I know theres advantages and disadvantages of how high to build the layout but wouldnt mind some insight about preferences to different heights. Being 6' 3" Im guessing a taller layout wouldnt be so bad. Especially if there was a duckunder.
    2. The basement floor is nowhere close to level so I was thinking that maybe L-girder type benchwork might be best to get the tracks exactly level, would this be the best option? I would level the benchwork the best I could but I thought that if I built an L girder frame I could raise and lower the track with the risers to get it precise. Ok back to basement schematic!
  5. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    My biggest concern is accessibility and being able to reach everything.

    Does that mean you plan on 24 to 30" wide tables?

    2. The basement floor is nowhere close to level so I was thinking that maybe L-girder type benchwork might be best to get the tracks exactly level, would this be the best option? I would level the benchwork the best I could but I thought that if I built an L girder frame I could raise and lower the track with the risers to get it precise.

    One thing you can do. Drill holes centered in the bottom of your table legs, screw in 1/2 lag bolts(assuming your using 2x2" legs) and use them to leveling your tables.

  6. GTW

    GTW New Member

    Honestly Im not sure what width of tables to use. I just read that basically the easier it is to reach everything on the layout the more enjoyable it is because everything is manageable then and I wouldnt have to kill myself to reach when doing scenery, laying track, etc. Plus I dont know about you but if I was really uncomfortable trying to lay track I probably wouldnt do as good as a job because I rushed so I wouldnt be uncomfortable anymore haha. I like the idea of the lag bolts that would probably work because that floor is so uneven its not even funny. I really wish the other part of the basement was heated. The floors are so much smoother and I could have a monster of a layout. The dimensions for the other side of the basement would something like 50ft. by 20ft. and then another room at the end which is 24ft. by 16ft. Would make a huge L shape. I really should debate on whether or not to try using that section of the basement. Its 61 degrees in there right now so I guess it could be worse. Let me know what you all think about the bigger space:cool:. (I could always bundle up a little.) The only bad thing is I would have to do some cleaning. I dont even have 1 layout built and Im already looking to go bigger lol.
  7. scubadude

    scubadude Member

    FOR SALE: Central Air/Heating system, ideal for cold basements used for train layout rooms....make offer or will trade for 1:1 scale caboose suited for same...sign1
  8. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Man, that must be a huge basement!
    My 2 cents. I would go for the bigger section. You don't have to build a huge layout now. Build a beginner to cut your teeth on. You can add it to the big layout later if you want to. For heat, can you add a baseboard heater? If you don't get the big area for yourself now, you will regret it later. This I know from experience.

  9. GTW

    GTW New Member

    ya lol its a pretty big basement. My house used to be a store way back when and rather than rebuilding the basement they kept it. Ya its too bad I dont have 1:1 scale caboose laying around lol. Its not terribly cold back there but its definitely not as warm as the part I was planning on putting it in. My only problem with the bigger section is you really feel like your in a dungeon down there and the fact that my daughter probably wont like it that much on that side. Theres also a ton of my parents junk that their storing on that side I would have to move/clean up. So I would like to do the layout in the bigger room but theres a few uncertainties. Another problem is sometimes during the spring water sometimes runs down the outer wall. I could build it on the inner wall though and negate this problem. Its kind of a hard decision but Im 100% sure youre right Loren that Im gonna kick myself for not going with the bigger room.
  10. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    This looks like a good exercise in priorities. (1) Eliminate the moisture problem. (2) Lighting--to correct the " dungeon feeling. (3) Make sure you can get in and out with big boxes ie. that stuff that is in the area that you don't use. (4) Painting of walls and any other areas that will become inaccesable. This will also reduce the dungeon effect.
    Now that we have all of the above out of the way, the females in the house will want to take over and make a rec room and you will not have any money left to build a layout. Maybe you will find a place in the corner for a recliner. My two cents worth.:wave::wave:
  11. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    If it's that big a hassle I would go with the area you have now and start building. The area you have is big enough to keep you busy for a long time.
    If you spend all your time getting the other area ready and not seeing trains run you might get frustrated and quit.

  12. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Double track, or 2 separate lines?
  13. GTW

    GTW New Member

    Ya Jim that sounds about right lol. Be broke and be left with nothing but a bunch of kiddie fun rooms. Well after the debate I think I have a solution to the problem. For now the area I have Ill start the layout there. While I build the layout I will also work on the other area so that maybe when its all cleaned and fixed up Ill have a good grasp on railroading and move the layout to that space. Im just thinking that with my limited time for trains it would be forever until I could ever get anything done working on the other room. So if I could work on the layout and work on the room together then Ill be satisfying my railroading interest and still be improving that room for the future. Triplex what I had in mind was having an inner and outer main so that I can run a train continuously. Especially when the little one loves to watch the train go around and around. Then I would also have the freedom to do the things I like a little more like switching and stuff. Alright got to run I have a bunch of stuff I gotta get done before bed time so I will talk to you all tomorrow...nite!
  14. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Build the L girders level, varying the legs as required. If you plan to move the layout, you will need adjustable legs.
    I built my layout so that the top is about underarm height. One bit is 30" wide, most of the rest 24" or less. I find that I knock things over reaching across; I keep a couple of plastic step-stools around. It's about my wife's eye level, so she has a very different perspective on it.
  15. GTW

    GTW New Member

    Ya I will probably build mine relatively tall too. Im not quite sure on what width yet since I havent really started designing anything yet. Im waiting on a couple of books to arrive that I can read and get a better idea on track laying and how to plan out operation. Once those arrive and get some reading done I will probably then go ahead and try my luck at a trackplan. I am just itching to start the layout but I really dont want to rush anything. Anyways talk to you all soon I got some more stuff to do before bed.:cool:
  16. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    If you plan on moving they layout relatively soon, you might want to start with some module/sectional components that can be taken apart and reassembled in the other room when ready.

    Check out the Modular Forum for links and ideas of what can be done.

  17. GTW

    GTW New Member

    Well after finally getting some time to myself and finally getting my reading material and reading most of it I have finally begun work on a track plan!!! :thumb: I have been trying to figure out how to make my layout as interesting as possible and allow me to run the big diesels on the mains and also allow me some smaller diesels and older generations to still be of good use. So I tried to design the corner area with basically a simple loop hidden behind the backdrop that leads to an interchange and make it the western point of a local or branchline of another railroad! Then I can incorporate switching with some industries and such with the smaller railroad on the layout and Im thinking it may make for a fun time. As you can see I have a wye and a whole run of 2 foot island that could be all industrial switching. I think I may have some trouble with grades at the interchange but if I was to raise the local line and lower the branch off the main to the interchange then it may work...if not Im sure I could modify it but keep the same idea. I havent gotten much farther then that yet but before I get ahead of myself I figured I should post this and see what everyone thinks. I also found a couple of similar sized layouts on some websites so tried to incorporate some of their ideas into my layout as well.
    Ok here it is! EDIT**Nevermind already changing it....will post new pic when I get the kinks worked out**

    The main radius currently is 30" and the local for now is 22-24" radius since I figure it will run smaller equipment.
  18. GTW

    GTW New Member

    Ok well After really trying out figuring out a trackplan and failing I dont think I can make a double main work. I thought it would be better to have two but I just cant seem to squeeze everything in . So maybe Ill try it with only 1. Does a double main really make things better? I been looking around and a lot of layouts only have 1 main. Its just like most of the layout is taken up by huge half loops trying to maintain the largest radius I can and by the time I get 2 loops for 2 mains it leaves very little room for industries and switching. Even kills the yard size and makes creating that interchange more difficult than it should be. So not sure when Ill finally get this figured out but when I do Ill post it. Nite folks!
  19. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Whether a double main is right for you depends on your priorities. Some thoughts:
    • did your prototype have a double main?
    • Do you lean to the "railfan" or the "engineer" style of operations? The railfan likes to see trains roll, often sitting in a favorite spot, watching them roll through favorite scenery. The engineer prefers to do all the chores of a train crew from start to finish, including making up the train, bringing the engine out, switching industries along the way, breaking up the train at the end of the run, servicing the engine, etc. Double track favors the railfan so more trains can run through his favorite scenery in less time. And double track allows two trains to run continuously, or one run untouched while you switch with the other.
    • Do you prefer longer trains than your passing sidings will support? On small layouts, double track allows longer trains than would otherwise be practical.
    • Single track looks longer because it is narrower.
    • Single track leaves more room for other features.
    • Single track with multiple trains requires active participation while running, just like the prototype. But on some nights, you may not feel like actively coordinating sharing of the track, which then limits you to one train.
    just some thoughts, hopefully they helped a little in your decision
  20. GTW

    GTW New Member

    Thanks Fred you did help quite a bit! From looking on google maps at the prototype it appears to have a double main most of the way except for where the map gets blurry and cant make it out. I myself lean more towards engineer style of operations but Im sure some nights I will probably just wanna take it easy and just run some trains. Thats why I thought if I planned my layout with 2 mains I could have the flexibility to do just about anything. So I tried my hand at another track plan and I did find a few others who have a similar size room and incorporated a few ideas into the layout as well. I really hope keeping that 2nd railroad really works out. Even though its trackage will be an oval with some switching and I really think it will add to the layout. I hope my new trackplan is understandable I tried to describe as much as I could on it. I also tried my best on fitting that interchange in but if anyone feels it wont work let me know I can always go back to the drawing board.....again :cry: Not sure when Ill get the rest of it planned but at this point I got enough to plan in just what I have done so far. Plus Ive hardly touched the area with the paper mill, I just kinda threw it in there just to get an idea. Here it is:

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