Newbie Question

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by tooot, May 22, 2005.

  1. tooot

    tooot New Member

    Greetings All,

    Can anyone kindly help me design a 3 x 6 foot HO layout, i only have enough space for a 3 x 6 foot layout. My wife gifted me the Grand Valley layout from woodland scenics and even though it pained me to do it i had to return it as we did not have room for a 4 x 8. I really like the grand valley layout and the fact that it had the two eights with tunnels and bridges and of course the hill.

    could any of you kindly help me design a layout that could incorporate most of the features of the grand valley but in a 3X6 layout i could go to 4 x 6 if needed.

  2. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    Using a 3X6 layout you would be hard pressed to make a loop that the trian could travel around convincingly, usually it would take a 4X8 or at the bare minimum a 4X6 to run contunuously. a 3X6 would however make a good switching layout. A friend is building one now using a track plan that I found in a book 'building an HO model railroad with personality' by John Olsen. we used his 2X6' expansion for the main layout and built it into the switching layout.
    There are plenty of guys here on the guage that could help you with a track plan. trainclown is the first that comes to mind.
  3. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    What sort of equipment do you want to run. What era? If you run freight only with either a G.E. 44 tonner or a sw switcher and 40 foot cars with perhaps a maximum of 50 footers, you could get by with a 15 inch radius which would owrk on a 3 x 6 foot table.
  4. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member


    A 3 X 6 layout in HO won't get you much more than a single track that runs around right up against the edges. And by the time the curve has gone around the ends, it'll leave you only about 2'6" of straight track to put a station area, or siding. The curves at each end will be too sharp to run any long carraiges too. Long carraiges need a larger curve than you can fit into a 3 foot wide layout. Some carraiges may run around curves that sharp, but others won't. And that includes some long wheelbased locos. Might i suggest you sit some track on the floor, or table that matches a 3 foot wide curve, and put some rollingstock on it, just to test and see if that is what you want to do.
  5. tooot

    tooot New Member

    Thank you all for replying, Now i understand that the required width for the loop has to be around 4 feet so i figured out a way to be able to have 4 feet x 6 feet with a little negotiation.

    What are the possibilities now?
  6. stuart_canada

    stuart_canada Member

    well there are various books and sites that are for just small spaces.
    this site offers super small ho layouts
    there are some i found quick
    there are some books out for small places, you can always go to the atlas web site and down load the track planning program they have and see what you can fit into your desired space.

    good luck and see the track planning group here they might have more input for your space
  7. Alan B

    Alan B Member

    Please describe your space. Do you have room along the walls? If so, you have room for a very nice around the walls layout or at least an "L" shaped switching layout.
  8. babydot94513

    babydot94513 Member in training

    Does it have to be HO or can you go with N scale? The latter gives you far more creative freedom.
  9. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    If you do not need continuous running, there are a number of switching layouts you could do. You can also do a trolley layout, which uses much tighter curves, since it runs through city streets - of course, no "Big Boy" steamers on this type of layout... ;)

    If you don't mind more compromises to a "realistic" layout, you might like the layouts you can find here -> These are more for the fun of model making, etc, than for operations.

    Good luck!

  10. Hoghead

    Hoghead Member

    Think about N Scale.

    The Scenic Ridge layout package from Woodland Scenics in 3x6
  11. elwood

    elwood New Member

    I'm in the process of building a 3x5 1/2' HO layout. I have all the track work done using 15" radius atlas track. I use GP40's and F units with 40-50' rolling stock. Everything works fine. I have a little yard, and some random spurs to keep me busy, and I'm running DCC to boot. It can be done, you just have to use short equipment.
  12. cruikshank

    cruikshank New Member

    If your not already invested in HO equipment I second the suggestion to look at "N". I'm in a 2 bedroom apt so I felt pressed to go with "N". Now that I did I really like it. I have an "L" 10' x 10' wall hugger 24 " wide with (2) 36" dogbones for return. I run a double main. If you really like what your wife got you, trade it for the "N" scale version. Dave
  13. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    Well, either N, or if you're really that pushed, you should look at switching layouts. There are some wonderful detailed interesting layouts more like 2x6 in HO, and that's an enormous space in N for switching. Going round and round and round is obvious, but not interesting. Search google for switching layouts and see if you get the bug... I know I wish I'd done that before I started. I'm currently on 8x4 in N scale, but planning a 120 x 1.5' in preference... Remember that real trains go from A to B and back again. They very rarely go round...
  14. Big_Al73

    Big_Al73 New Member

    You could always could go to N scales, 3x6 layout in N scale would be a big setup, but if you want to stay with ho, go with 15 radius turns, you can't run the big stuff, but it would be continuous run, but you find a switching design or an industrial scene at They have great track plans to work of, and get some ideas.
  15. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Possibilities for 4x6 (assuming continuous run is wanted) depend upon whether you need 18 or 15 in radius curves, which in turn depends upon equipment your are running.

    I've designed an HO/HOn3 plan featuring a transfer platform on one side and some HOn3 switching on the other. The HO portion is very simple - a passing siding on the HOn3 switching side, and a spur to the transfer platform on the other. For HO, features 2 short trains (about 32" long or 4 freight cars plus engine), 1 passenger and 1 freight. HOn3 needs 1-2 locomotives plus maybe eight cars max, uses 15in curves for HOn3.

    Another 4x6 plan I've built is the Tidewater Central in the Dec 1954 Model Railroader. A simplified version is shown in 4x5 in 101 Track Plans. One side has a short passing siding plus spur; other side has 10-12 in bridge - could be swing, bascule, lift, or fixed and a spur to wharf. By handlaying track, I was able to squeeze in a steep branch that passed over the main in a corner and a turntable on the passing siding side to make a liitle terminal. Also added 2 other spurs (again by hand-laying curved turnouts) near the wharf scene.

    Other neat 4x6 plans include the Morgan Valley, featured both in Model Railroader and Atlas - however, the sectional track indications and lists are wrong! Lots of neat switching in this one, but uses 15 in radius spurs.

    Opportunities created by being limited to 4x6:
    1) max practical radius is 18in - use short locos and cars. Shortline, branch line, turn-of-century (or earlier), narrow guage all become practical themes.
    2) max practical train length is about 4ft for one train and about 2.5 to 3ft for 2nd (biggest practical passing siding). Even with short locos and cars, you only need limited amounts of rolling stock - saves lots of $$.
    3) you can build 2-3 interesting "scenes" in the space.
    4) you don't get bored because no one facet of the hobby is overwhelming. Track laying, benchwork, wiring, scenery, structures, detailing rolling stock - whatever is your least favorite can still be accomplished in a reasonable time frame. Leaves plenty of time to spend on your favorite aspect.
    5) you don't need lots of friends to help you build, maintain, or operate the layout - but there is space for a friend to help.

    If you want pictures of a particular track plan(s), e-mail me separately.

    Go for it!

    Fred Wright
  16. shortliner

    shortliner Member

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