New shelf layout design/build thread

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by richalex2010, Feb 27, 2006.

  1. richalex2010

    richalex2010 New Member

    I'm just finishing the reapinting of my bedroom (and I'm getting a new desk in there, later to be turned into a train table), and I want to get to building a layout before I'd be able to start on my full-sized one (I need that table to build my R/C plane on ;) ), so I decided to build a shelf layout. I just finished reading the thread on single-industry layouts (in the Track Planning For The Future forum), and I like the idea... so I'm thinking about doing an aircraft manufacturing area (mostly military, maybe some civilian planes, if I can find the models). The area of the shelf would probably be 16-20" deep, by 4-5' long. I'll probably be able to make it longer, about 7-8' long. Now to the questions...

    What type of buildings should I buy? I know I'll have to scratch some, and kitbash most of the rest... I'm not even sure what they should look like... if you have photos, or links for me to see, that would be a great help :)

    What types of rolling stock would I buy? I'll probably need to bash/mod these, too. Same question for locomotives... but road names, as well.

    I'll definately have desert scenery, but how much greenery is there in that area? I can only speak for the desert in Arizona (I used to live in Chandler)...

    I'll try to get an idea for a possible trackplan posted later today.

    Thanks! :)
  2. richalex2010

    richalex2010 New Member

    trackplan descriptions...

    well... I've got a trackplan made, and the screenshot sized for posting... but the browser won't let me attach it (either not letting me click on the "attach" image in Safari (closer to Firefox than IE), or showing a pull-down menu in IE).

    Basically, it's a simple switching layout with an open space in the back (the mass parking ramp, taxiway, and runway), some industrial-looking buildings with loading docks on the sides, and a mainline along the front.

    I'll also make another plan, but with indoor loading areas on the right side (avionics, final assy., and wing fabrication).
  3. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    How much greenery is there in WHAT area?

    Aircraft manufacturing centers can vary widely in greenery--the plains of Kansas, the damp lands near Seattle, and the deserts of southern California are all sites of aircraft building companies.

    Hangars tend to be big things--probably bigger than your available layout space--but the fronts of hangars would make excellent backdrop buildings.
  4. richalex2010

    richalex2010 New Member

    Sorry--I thought I'd said that :oops:
    It's the Mojave Desert area, which is where I read about most with experimental military planes (which I like more than most in-production ones, along with the newer in-production ones (B-1Bs, F/A-22s, F-35s, etc))

    Well, I'm figuring that I'll just paint the hangars, and put my planes in the mass parking ramp that I mentioned earlier for display. I did some hard work to get thos planes looking like that... I should be able to display them, too! :D
  5. tverskaya

    tverskaya Member

    If you're locating the planes and especially hangars in the background, you could try modeling them in a slightly smaller scale, to a. save space and b. create the illusion of (more) depth. If you'd be very adventurous, you could even build the hangars with some degree of perspective in them if you know what I mean - be warned, however, as they will look very strange if seen from another angle than the one they were intended to be seen from (or which one they were built from in respect of getting the extra depth effect). It's a bit like with the nmm painting technique - only one angle is optimal and the rest will look strange.
  6. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    The Mojave Desert is pretty stark--aside from a couple weeks in spring, when there are torrential rains followed by a brief flowering of the native flora, there is NO greenery there. Not too different from Arizona, but with mountains in the background.
    I think the location you are thinking of is Edwards Air Force Base, not an aircraft factory.

    Air Force bases often have railroad connections--the only one I am even remotely familiar with is the former McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento. The railroad serves as a way to bring in supplies, normally the outside railroad drops off cars to be spotted by a switcher owned by the Air Force. Ideal for a small layout, really--operations would be based on picking up cars with a switcher and spotting them at one of several warehouses.

    The base you're thinking about is HUGE--painting a hangar on the backdrop would be a good way to model it. While the rail terminal would probably be fairly far from the runway, it's certainly conceivable that aircraft could be parked nearby--there are some structures near the railroad tracks that are part of the base, like radar towers, radio antennae, and pads where some aircraft are stored.
  7. richalex2010

    richalex2010 New Member

    Cool, thanks.

    Actually, Arizona is rather covered with greenery, with many types of cacti, and trees as well (probably not natural... but we had a rather well-covered area in our backyard, when we lived there), with most of the rest covered in smaller bushes... At least, in the central part of the state :)

    I suppose I could model Nellis AFB (from the direction of Las Vegas, so I don't have to paint that in the background--that'd be a bit much), at least something that looks and *feels* like Nellis, during a bombing competition, or another competition or training event.

    Let me make a new list of questions, then...
    What types of cars would be used to carry ordinance?
    What else would be carried to an Air Force base using a railroad, and what rolling stock would I need for that?
    Does the Air Force have their own locos and such, or do they get a commercial railroad to deliver? (what road names?) I realize that some of this has to do with the region...
  8. shortliner

    shortliner Member

    Jake - If you haven't already been there I really think you should take a look at,2274.0.html
    - don't do it unless you have some spare time - you have been warned - the thread is currently up to 34 pages - but I think it is what you are looking for, and will answer a lot of your questions. In the first post you will also find a link to the previous layout which may give you even more to digest (Burp! oops, sorry).
    Oh BTW, Yes The USAF, Army and Navy do have their own locos, for on base switching, but deliveries are normally made by the local road.
    Shortliner(jack) away up here in the Highlands
  9. richalex2010

    richalex2010 New Member


    I'll look at that thread...

    What railroad would serve...
    Any other bases in that area, both Navy and Air Foce

    Thanks again,
  10. Sunburn

    Sunburn Member

    Desert scenery

    A little late in the game, sorry. Pelle Soeeborg is the undisputed master of scenery. He did a jaw-dropping layout in MR last year here is a link to his site with the stated scenes.
  11. Sunburn

    Sunburn Member


    I remember when I was little, we had family friends who OWNED an entire little town, Ludlow, out in the middle of the Mojave. It was right in the middle of Edwards AFB, Twenty Nine Palms MCS and other...ahem...bases. Lots of great activity. Broncos buzzing by at 200 ft, LAVs and M1s trundling through town on manuevers. After dark was even better.
    Behind the town there was a great, long, sweeping stretch of track, that almost served as a shadow box. Great long UP and ATSF consists would go rumbling by, a couple of times a day. Occasionally we would see a special load go by, but that was rare.:thumb:
  12. richalex2010

    richalex2010 New Member

    Shortliner: That's a great thread, I've read the original and gotten 2/3 of the way though the newer one (the one you directly linked to). It's a great resourse, thanks!

    Sunburn: I have both of the articles about that layout (the Big Desils in the Desert one, and the scenery how-to one), and I'll have to look at that site... I really did like his layout :)

    Thanks again :)
  13. shortliner

    shortliner Member

    Jake - I had a feeling it might answer a few of your questions - Steve is a great modeller (and a nice guy!)and has some interesting ideas. Good luck with your layout
    Shortliner(Jack)away up here in the Highlands
  14. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    I'm pretty sure that any air force base in the Southwest would be served by either BNSF or UP--or AT&SF and SP if you're modeling pre-1996.

    Considering that an Air Force base is a city unto itself, lots of things would be carted in--in addition to ordnance (probably carried in boxcars) they would receive fuel in tank cars, vehicles most likely on flatcars (including various hummers, light trucks and other service vehicles, including those specialty vehicles one only sees at airports--fuel trucks, airplane tractors, etcetera) and all the necessities of life like construction material and food and clothes and so on. Boxcars, flatcars and the occasional reefer would do the job, although an occasional inbound gondola to carry away the blasted-to-bits chunks of whatever obsolete tank was used as a target for bombing practice might add some variety!

    As Shortliner mentioned, the regional railroad delivers things to the edge of the base, and the base would have its own local switcher to move things from the "interchange" to spurs in the base where cargo can be unloaded and delivered. Thus, why it's such an ideal small layout--the "mainline" section is a staging area where big diesels can strut by, dropping off cars and then exiting the scene, and the local Air Force switcher (probably something fairly lightweight--any four-axle switcher is suitable, but something like a SW1500 is likely) picks up the cars and spots them.

    Trying to capture the *feel* of an airbase is going to be difficult--they tend to be characterized by massive expanses of space, spaces that would be difficult to model accurately even if you turned your entire house into a model railroad layout! Since your layout plan is a shelf, most of that space will have to be presented on the backdrop--the backs of huge hangars and warehouses against the backdrop itself, with perhaps some misty and distant desert mountains painted on the background.

    Finding aircraft models to use shouldn't be too difficult if you mind some scale difference--just use 1/144 kits, which is a bit large for 1/160 N scale but close enough to work.
  15. shortliner

    shortliner Member

    Jake - a layout suggestion for you - go to
    just above the layouts you will see a row of "click-ons". Click on smaller layouts and then go to the 7th down. This is N gauge but would be ideal (scaled up to HO if required, or extended for N gauge to fill your space) with a suitable "airbase/ hangars/ aircraft" background. In fact "hangar tops" as flats, behind suitable buildings and perhaps a C-130 tail showing over them and some military vehicles going about their buisiness, will immediately suggest an airbase - you could even include a platform for troop movements if you wished, Your mainline will drop off wagons, as suggested by Jetrock, and the military switcher
    will deliver the freight to the various warehouses/Fuel Depot/PX etc. I know the USAF used GE 44 Tonners as well - it really depends on the era of your layout. Some Army locos can be found at
    Have fun
    Shortliner(Jack)away up here in the Snowy Highlands of ScotlandJack
  16. shortliner

    shortliner Member

    Jake - I found this on the net - Might help with your Airbase
    Shortliner(Jack)away up here in the Highlands

    Attached Files:

  17. richalex2010

    richalex2010 New Member

    Jetrock: I've got a 1/144 scale F-16XL built, and an F-35 JSF still in the box, and I'd planned on using those on a layout (not sure how, but I'd planned on it ;) )

    Shortliner: thanks yet again for all the info!

    Actually, I'm now thinking that making this idea my full-sized layout would be better... I'd thought it would be a lot easier than this!

    I'm open to ideas for the general shelf layout now... Maybe I could model CSX/NS/Conrail in Richmond, VA... It's not like I'd have to travel too far to get prototype pictures ;)

    Yet again, thanks
  18. DavidB-AU

    DavidB-AU Member

    Family and friends in the military tell me it's not always easy to work out the location of a military base just by looking at the buildings. The shade of grass around the runways may help, but the absence of grass doesn't necessarily tell you which country you're in!

    In other words, if you concentrate on buildings, roads and runways between the rail track the setting could be almost anywhere in the world and the only real giveaway would be the trains.

    If you have darker hues, an SW8 could bring in some 40' flats or box cars and you're somewhere in the eastern USA. A 6 wheel centre cab diesel hydraulic could push in some 4 wheel flats and box cars and you could just as easily be in Germany.

    With lighter hues and a general dusty/sandy finish, you could be in the south west, Turkey or one of the Gulf states.

    Same layout, different location depending on your mood.

  19. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    The only aircraft I could think of that would be parked next to rails, would more than likely be transport planes. Rail sevice would be for a transloading facillity.Aircraft would be C47's for the 40's. C119's for the 50's. C126's and C130s for the 60's. C141s and C5's for the 70's, 80's and 90's. C5's and C10's for today.Though, an occasional fighter/bomber maybe parked nearby.Ordinance would go right to an ASP(Armament Supply Point). Usually underground or hardened bunkers covered with earth above ground, far way enough from the base that a direct hit wouldn't take the base out of action, and be unloaded immediatly upon arrival.
    Would make for an interesting single industry layout.
  20. shortliner

    shortliner Member

    C130's are still being used, both the stubby and the stretched versions - You could use the standard NATO Camo pattern and the Desert Camo colours. If you haven't the room to model one, (and it probably wouldn't be right next to the tracks - there would be a fence betweenthe rails and the hardstanding anyway) the tail painted on the backscene, and showing above buildings will give the "airbase" look. A hangar-flat against the back-scene will help, with a Radar aerial on a mast, painted in silhouette on the distant background - remember, it won't be close to buildings or hills because of "ground shadow". Ordnance may well be off-loaded from train to truck for delivery to "storage bunkers" and there will be a HUGE requirement for aviation fuel + domestic heating and vehicle fuel. No reason why stuff for the PX couldn't come in by rail, together with all the stores items, from uniforms to camo nets to military vehicles, paticularly if it is a forward staging area. A hurricane fence with guard-post and a "USAF HARDBALL - home of the 69th Air Division" notice visible beside it will set the scene. An alternative might be a military hospital base with ambulances and Red Cross casevac flights.
    Shortliner(Jack)away up here in the Highlands

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