newbie HO shelf layout ??

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by Otony, Apr 12, 2005.

  1. Otony

    Otony New Member

    Good morning all,

    I am a complete and utter amateur in model railroading, especially if you consider that my last set was around 1958 or '59. Now, being close to retirement, my wife and I have decided to build a free standing office in our backyard to house my collection of books and memorabilia. This will be 12' by 16', and must serve triple duty as an office, reading room, and private TV room for the wife and I (our family was started late:) ). This room will have a door and window at one 12' end, with a couple of skylights for additional natural light. It will also house a small layout for my amusment, and that of the kids (under supervision).

    My thought is to build a shelf, perhaps 8" to 12" wide, running around the entire room, and therein lies the problem. Knowing very little about trains at this point, I would like the track/shelf to run over the door (12' side, remember), and yet come down low enough along the 16' walls to allow for easy viewing. Obviously, running over the door is for nothing other than the sake of convinience, but I am worried about the grade that will be created trying to come back down to a reasonable viewing level.

    I would also like a bridge at some point, and wondered if a gap in the shelving could be successfully spanned? Again, I know very little about trains at this point, but have at least determined that a short line would be in my best interest. I would also like to incorporate a siding, if that is the correct terminology, to allow for a second train to be utilized.

    Most of you are likely rolling in the aisles at this point, as I am probably asking for the moon. For that, I am sorry. I just don't know enough yet to ask for things in a proper manner, but I know what I would like it to do! For the record, I am interested in steam engines, and the background along the walls will be a pine forest. I doubt that helps a whole lot, but it seemed like a start.

    Thank you all, for any help,

  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Hi Otony,

    Welcome to The Gauge!

    What you are asking about is a great way (and fairly common too) to incorporate a layout into a room that has other uses. There are many ways to accomplish this type of layout, so I expect you'll get a bunch of "right answers" that are all different suggestions!

    In any case, answering some specific questions - you can create a bridge anywhere you like - in fact it might be easiest to cross the door with a removable bridge. Just remember to lock the door so those entering the room do not do so at an "inopportune" time...! ;) That way, you do not have to worry about the grade to go up over the door and back down.

    I would put the shelf at about 4 1/2 to 5 feet off the floor. This will allow a desk or other furniture underneath. A single track is easily accomodated on a 12" wide shelf. You could widen it to 18" or 24" to house a siding or even a small industry/town scene for interest.

    If you only plan on running two trains, you would need two sidings that can be turned off. This will let you park one train before taking out the other. The wiring for this is very simple.

    Hope this is helpful. Please keep asking questions! And as far as steamers rolling through the pine forest - well you can't go wrong with that! :D

  3. VunderBob

    VunderBob Member

    You didn't mention scale (edit-yes you did; Doh!). This is important in the respect that there's commercially available components to run G scale suspended from the ceiling. I haven't researched any of them (just seen then in action), but it may be possible to adapt to smaller scales.

    Regarding doors, you're probably not going to go up and over, and bring the track down to an eye level because the grades will be too steep. One possible solution would be a liftout segment across the dooway, which would be a natural location for your bridge. There are other ideas, too.

    In HO and N, you could run 1' wide shelves around the room on commercial shelf track hardware, and not have to widen the corners to hold up the curve (18" to 20" radius, assuming single track curves for HO). With larger radius curves, you'll have to widen the shelves in the corners.

    Anywhere from shoulder to nose high makes for a great viewing angle. Near the ceiling keeps them out of the rugrat's reach, but can cause a neckstrain when watching ;)
  4. Otony

    Otony New Member

    Ah, thank you both! Actually, VunderBob, you addressed an issue that I had intended to inquire about as well, but totally forgot (think CRS and you've hit it on the head). That issue was corner radius, and it is now answered.

    I think that door placement will be a sensitive issue. Not only does there need to be a corner radius, but some means of transistioning to a liftout segment. This sounds as though I don't want the door on the 12' wall pushed over into the corner too far. We may well center the door, and have two smaller windows bracketing the door, rather than a single larger window to one side.

    I didn't think one could run a grade that steep, but would a raised section of say 6" to 8" higher be acceptable along one of the 18' sides? I would like to introduce a little more variety, level wise, especially as this is intended to give the feel of a mountain short line.
  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Real railroads kept to a grade of 2% or less at (almost) any cost. In the model world, about 4% is as steep as you'd want to go, unless you want to do a real loggin line, with geared locos and so on. Grades above 1% will really start to limit the length of trail you can pull. Spectacular scenery and tunnels will also give a real mountain line feel.

    If you keep it to (say) 2% (approx 2 inches in 8 feet), then you will need 24 feet of run to go up 6".

  6. VunderBob

    VunderBob Member

    Another consideration is fire codes. You cannot permanently occlude a window in a room where the primary purpose is sleeping. Most get by this with liftouts, but if the window is a double sash and the upper sash is permanently fixed in place, then a shelf permanently blocking the upper shelf is usually OK. Leave room for the bottom sash to travel up. The reason is fire exits...
  7. pomperaugrr

    pomperaugrr Member

    Here's what I did in a similar situation. I used double track metal shelving brackets and standards, mounted to the wall studs, 16" on center. I then added pieces of 1"x2" onto each bracket and glued 2" extruded foam to that wood. Each section is removable by taking out a few screws from the bottom of the bracket. The double hung windows are fully functional and the backdrop panels over the windows are also removable. You can put these at any height you want. I used 20" brackets with the wood and foam cantilevered over the edge. It holds my weight when leaning on it. This room is also used for an office, craft room and hanging laundry on the treadmill.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

  8. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Another option might be a "dog bone" track plan, where instead of going completely around the room, the track features a reverse loop at each end--instead of going around and around, the train goes back and forth across the same length of track.

    Limited changes in elevation, using 2-4% grades, are practical--but sometimes a better way to show the dramatic changes of perspective on a mountain line is to drop the table rather than the track! Instead of having the layout's base at a consistent 48" off the ground (or whatever), a portion could drop down to 24", providing two feet of space underneath the tracks for a big chasm!
  9. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Hi Otony, :wave:
    This is a very rough idea of the grade change
    you can get in that size space. You can get more
    elevation, of course, if you have less track at the
    zero level and start your climb sooner. :) :)

    Attached Files:

  10. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Otony: Check a thread I did on spline roadbed, in technical Q&A, summer/fall of 2003. I needed a J shaped removable section over the basement stairs and the laundry room door.
    Today we moved a couch upstairs and traded two pairs of chairs without removing the section. (Couch is IKEA and I dis-assembled it!) But it does come apart.
    My layout is around the walls too. If you need maximum curve radius, you have to put the track at the back of the shelf, or add a triangular piece into the corner. A little work with a compass will show you what is possible. It's amaxing how big a radius you can fit in.
  11. Otony

    Otony New Member

    Well, gentlemen, all the replies are very much appreciated. I took "mama" to the local hobby shop (in Mountain View) and we looked things over. she was quite keen on the idea, especially after she began telling stories of a German train set they had back in Russia (she is from Saint Petersburg).

    I have made also made a purchase, a Rivarossi Mcloud River 2 truck Heisler, so I guess I really am going to build a logging layout! I think a few "scenes" will be in order, besides a bridge crossing the door, I expect I will have a water tower, train shed, some sort of log loading area, and a fueling area (coal?). Mama seems to think that another bridge and a tunnel are in order as well, but we may be crowding things at that point, we shall see.

    Thanks to cidchase and MasonJar for the grading info, it is very much appreciated. As well, thanks go out to everyone else who has responded. Jetrock, I may try some elevation changes as you suggested, but I think cidchase has the idea for the moment. Now to start assembling some proper cars, and perhaps another engine for those sidings.


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