New HO layout

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by SAZ, Jan 15, 2006.

  1. SAZ

    SAZ New Member

    Hello all,

    I've been lurking here for a bit, reading and learning. Thank you for all the inspiration and advise! :)

    I need some help with designing a new HO layout. I want to have something I will enjoy for the long run. HO is the scale... I know I could get much more operational interest by switching to N gauge. I have considered it but decided to stick with HO for various reasons.

    I have a small bedroom to work with that is slightly larger than a 9x10 foot room with a door in the corner on the 10 foot wall - the door must open into the room. The room has a 4x2 closet that extends off the 9 foot wall opposite the door.

    Layout will be set in the Northwest US. I like both steam and diesel, so the layout will be set in the early 50s to allow everything to look plausible. I model the Spokane, Portland and Seattle railroad, as well as the Great Northern, and my son also likes the Western Pacific. I'm not set on a specific prototype or specific location. Historic plausibility is not as important as running trains and having fun.

    I would like to be able to run just about anything. An Athearn 4-6-6-4 challenger pulling a passenger train would probably be about the longest equipment I would consider. I'm thinking mostly freight operations with an occasional passenger train. To me train length is determined more by layout size than anything else. For passenger trains, 4 or 5 cars is fine. For freight trains I would like to run up to 12 cars or so (with maybe a longer freight now and then). To fit that type of equipment I'm hoping to maintain at least a 30" minimum radius for the mainline. For other tracks a slight smaller minimum radius (nothing less than 25") might be okay. I want to over estimate requirements so everything operates as expected even if I need to squeeze a little during construction. For operation I want continuous running capability - I like to run trains while I work on something else. I also like to leave 1 train running while doing some switching with another. Normally there will be 1 operator, sometimes 2. If more than that we can take turns.

    --I shall be modeling a small engine terminal. I have a scale 90' turntable that will be incorporated into the new layout. After the engine service facility scene its a mater of what else fits. Some other scenes I would like to model include:

    --A small town - some place to display model structures. I think a team track & freight house would be great for a siding. I'd like to have a grain elevator along another siding. A small platform along the mainline for passenger service would be more than enough.

    --Lumber facility of some sort - just a NW thing more than a family history thing. I really like the look of logging shays. I am considering a logging oriented branch line on a second level (with much smaller minimum radius and steep grades).

    --Icing platform - I think this type of model would help establish the era. I also think a re-icing facility would help establish a reason for the town being such a hub of rail activity.

    I know this is small layout to fit all that into...

    I'm looking to make sure I design a layout that will keep my interest. I also want a layout that will be both fun and intuitive to operate. I want enough complexity to be interesting while still being simple enough to get working. I have looked at Mike Hammer's layout schematic at length. I am intrigued by the concept of surround staging, but I'm concerned about the complexity and amount of space that type of staging would take. The last thing I want is to have it so complex that its no fun. I want to be able to walk in, turn on a train and enjoy.

    I'm going to try to attach a diagram of the room. I'm working on several of my own layout schematics at this point, that hopefully I post soon. Thank you in advance for your comments. :)

    slightly larger than 9x10
  2. zedob

    zedob Member

    Courteousy of Masonjar (I believe);

    This is a great layout. If I hadn't seen the trackplan before the pics, I would have sworn it was a much larger layout. The continuous holding track loops behind the backdrop is a great idea IMHO.

    It might be more than what you are looking for, for starters, but it shows what can be achieved both operationally and visually in a typical layout room space.
  3. SAZ

    SAZ New Member

    Thanks Zedob, yah that looks like a great layout, and certainly a concept worth considering! I'be been struggling with XTrkCad, here are the 2 different layout concepts I'm currently considering.

    You can see how much surround staging digs into the size of the room. It leaves space above the surround staging for more scenery. I was thinking maybe putting a separate point to point logging branch up there.


  4. Mike Hamer

    Mike Hamer New Member

    Hi Saz, Mike Hamer here. It's great that you are considering the surround staging concept for your room. I know that your available space is somewhat smaller than my 11x13 room. If you have no other place for staging outside your room and you want to create the illusion that trains are coming and going "to and from somewhere" then the surround concept is a pretty good idea.

    My layout has hosted over two hundred operating sessions over the past nine years and the staging concept has worked flawlessly since day one. There are two important things to note here...all turnouts (in staging) are located either at the duckunder entrance to the room or near the corner access areas for ease of reach for possible maintenance...and I took great care laying the staging tracks with my buddy, Trevor Marshall, to help ensure flawless operation.

    All staged trains are visible from the doorway to the room so it is easy for a crew member to track train movements before entering the modelled portion of the layout.

    Finally, the width of the surround staging is determined by how many staging tracks you desire. I'm able to run three hour sessions with trains staged on the few staging tracks I do have.

    All the best in your model railroading endeavours!
    Cheers, Mike Hamer
  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Hiya Mike!

    Welcome to The Gauge!

    I have referenced your layout numerous times here, especially to people considering a "smaller" around the walls layout. It is an interesting way to get staging in without worrying about a grade, multiple levels, or the restrictions of staging "yards". Plus you get operations to boot (if so desired)...

  6. SAZ

    SAZ New Member

    Thanks for the comments Mike!
    Right now I'm planning to provide access to all tracks in order to avoid a nasty run in with murphy's law. I plan on using tall open top hills around the edge of the layout where I otherwise would not be able to reach the staging tracks from the back. The plan is that the height of the hills will be such that it will be hard to notice the open top without standing on a chair. I do intend to be able to reach all turnouts and crossovers without reaching over the hills.

    I figure 2 tracks and a couple locations to store trains will be adequate. It will be possible to stage trains sequentially as long as I'm careful. But generally I plan to leave the surround tracks open so I can move a train in each direction at the same time. A third track would be nice, but I want to leave plenty of room for scenery.

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