Planning first HO major layout

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by onceler, Aug 13, 2005.

  1. onceler

    onceler Member

    First a little background on what I am attempting to do. I have been brought up with the hobby by both my father, uncle, and grandfather. Through college and what not, I have lost touch with model railroading and finally find a time in my life where I can get back into the hobby. I am 29 now and looking to build my first major layout.

    Area: I have basically a 10ft x 10ft spare bedroom to work with.

    Type: My interrests are more for scenery than realistic opperation. I would like to see my big boy taking the turns next to some of my modern diesal. I have also been a fan of hills and mountains.

    After lurking around here for the past couple weeks, I believe I have come up with a plan that will both maximize the room as well as not embarking on an immense maiden voyage. Below is a rough estimate using Atlas' RTS software. All turns are 24" radius, but would like to use something greater. I figure (please correct me if I am wrong) that I could have at least a double tracked main with 26" & 22" radius curves. In the image below, the 3 levels of track are designated by blue (0 - 3.5"), green (4" - 7.5"), and orange (7.5" - 10.5"). The blue allong the bottom of the picture is base track. All grades are between 1.5% & 1.9%. Also, most of the base level is left open, I was planning on putting some industry, switching, small yard, town, etc.. in this area. I think that If I can get my mainline trackplan finalized, and atleast the blue level 100% confirmed, I could possibly start smaller with the base track other than the main.

    Any feedback is much appreciated.


  2. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    Hi Mike, Welcome to the gauge.

    You are modeling in HO.

    The Plan shows no access where is the door? Does it open outward?

    I noted the centre is marked out three ft from the wall.
    That is a big reach for modelling ( for this old guy anyway :D )

    I would have to allow pop ups(access) on each corner , not only to assist in building the L/O but to allow photo opportunities

    The turns then can be a little longer for the Big Boy.

    Plenty of guys here that will help re track plans for you as I am mainly Traction.
    Those are my thoughts . :thumb:
  3. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    For what you want, your plan will work. I would, as interurban mentioned, look to shorten the reach from the open area in the middle. You could enlarge the open area wherever possible. If possible, align the narrowest part to where your room entrance is.
  4. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Welcome to the Gauge Mike. You will have your hands full with this one.
  5. onceler

    onceler Member

    Thanks for your suggestions. I was thinking of enlarging the opening as much as possible. I want to keep room for a small yard and industry around the base level. As soon as I had that basically designed, I was going to enlarge the opening as much as possible.

    As for the door, the room has its own doorway area (which is just below the lower-left-most portion of the layout).
  6. onceler

    onceler Member

    Here is a more detailed plan I came up with. The minimum radius on the mainlines is 24". Most of the places, it is in the 26 - 30 range (I believe 1 turn is 24). The turnouts are Peco Large (code 100). As with some suggestions above, I have moved as much as I could down to a 2' reach. I plan on putting a plywood top on the front 1' of the 2' deep parts, and 2' of the 3' deep parts for yard/industry. Also, the part of the layout that is on the base level is where the 2 double slips are in the right & lower right of this picture.

  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Mike -

    I think that even for a "scenery" type layout, you have too much track. Double track three times around will take a lot of space. And you still want to have a yard and industry(-ies) as well...

    Consider reducing some or all of the double main to single to start. Here is a link to a twice around layout in a slightly larger room. It also employs "surround staging", which lets operators stand in the doorway (outside the room), operating the staging as a yard.

    Click Here

    The other thing to consider, if you really want the double main and scenery, is a switch to Nscale. You can fit a lot of landscape and trains in 10x10 when you are 1:160.

  8. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    I think you will come to realize how beneficial it is to cut the reach down, when you are leaning over scenery to fix something, or, to add some detail. Looks good! :thumb: :thumb:
    I'll give you some years to learn that wide duckunders are only for the young of body! :D :D :D
  9. onceler

    onceler Member

    Thanks for all the helpful pointers, I did end up cutting down the reach (and the overall layout size to have better access to a closet in the room). Hopefully I will have a newer trackplan with all the suggestions up soon. When that is done, I will be able to better explain my thinkings on this.

    And sumpter250 - thanks for your guidance in the store this afternoon.
  10. KCS

    KCS Member

    Personally to me that look's like a control block nightmare! And without DCC you may as well take the plan out in the front yard and set it on fire because if you are running train's on multiple power supplies in different directions and you want to switch them to different tracks, well...... Short! On top with all those double slip's and cross overs it look's like a major wiring headache. On our club layout we don't duck under the layout. We simply walk over it by means of a portable set of stares we built with safety rails made from iron pipe and fittings. Make's it so much easier. The stares are built to slide right underneath a bridge bench work and you simply step over the track. I'll try to get some pictures at our next show.
  11. onceler

    onceler Member

    Here is the updated track plan. I took away the double mains and shortened the overall layout area a tad bit. I also divided the track plan up into levels to make it easer to see what I am trying to accomplish. The basic goal of this layout is to have one where I can run multiple trains and have a hilly-mountainous region. The reason there is so much track is to get the train high enough for the 24" difference between table level track and highest point. I am planning on having the outter 6" to 1' of the layout be a surrounding hill/mountain that hides the hidden track that enables me to get the 24" difference in height. On the table level where there is nothing, I plan on putting some light switching items in here (maybe a couple industries, small yard, etc. Also, this layout will be DCC with blocks (as discussed with sumpter250 at the store today.

    Again, I am not going for authenticity, rather I am going for something where I can learn and hone my modeling skills while having fun. I plan on being in this residence where this is being constructed for max of 5 years. I feel I can deal with a duck-under layout for that time.

    Overall view:


    Small staging:

    Level 1 (Approx Height 0" - 8"):

    Level 2 (Approx Height 9" - 16"):

    Level 3 (Approx Height 17" - 24"):
  12. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Ouch. Big Boys in 10 x 8-1/2 - not easy at all. Do go to 30" curves. I would say 36", but the room isn't big enough for that. You will have to deal with a duckunder to get continuous running in that space with those curves, but you've accepted that. Your track is very crowded, though. That many tracks so close horizontally but at different elevations could cause problems, 'cause you seem to be a scenery guy. More than once around can work scenically, despite what some modern books say, if you leave enough space (whatever "enough" is.) What's the reason for needing tracks 24" apart vertically? Also, you seem to think you can fit a yard in 2 x 5 feet or less. That's not going to happen. I have a lot of plans on hand for slightly bigger spare bedrooms (10 x 11, 12 x 12), but I just can't see how to go about this in your space. HO in 85 square feet is a gargantuan nuisance. I'm not going to try to convince you to switch to N, though.
  13. onceler

    onceler Member

    Thanks for the reply. I have thrown out the yard idea. I wasn't thinking of a full blown yard, just a few switching tracks in a yard-like arrangement. Now I am just going to put a few spurs around the base level.

    Remember, I am not attempting to model something specifically, just the items which I really like in railroading. My reason for the extreme height variance is I like the way modeled trains look when there are magnified elevation differences as well as bridges. I am also looking at this layout as a primer of sorts for my future layout when I finally have a basement and room to do exactly what I want.

    As for the Big Boy, most of the curves are 30 - 32, I think there is one on the main that drops to 28. But again, with the space I have, there are a few corners I have to cut to get this to fit in the room. At least this is better than where I started with a 4x8 18" radius layout.

    Thanks for the comments and suggestions. With N scale, I look at this more of an investment than what I can do in an area. When I move out of my townhome in the next 5 years or so, I want to use the items I have invested in now on that layout. Plus, I have been with HO since I was 4 years old and have built up a little collection of items throughout the years that makes this a little easier on my pocketbook.

  14. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    When you have the basement, what will you try for? Let's just see if we can't get a little of that now. :)
  15. onceler

    onceler Member

    Well, when I do get my basement, I plan on doing some of the same things... just elongated. By that I mean I plan on having a mountainous regioun with a few towns/cities. I havent thought specifically about it too much as I dont have the area to plan in. In this layout, I am not trying to concern myself with operations, rather running trains and a little something extra. This layout basically is a little of what I want in a basement.. just that all smushed together.
  16. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Well, if you're not interested in operations-oriented design, I don't know if I'll be much more use. Maybe someone else can help you better; someone who knows scenery-based track planning. Your current design isn't that good for scenery, either. It can be fixed with a little "breathing room" - spreading the tracks farther apart. The basic idea of many loops (I'm not even sure how they connect!) can be useful for scenery-oriented (or display-oriented) modellers, but maybe this is one loop too many. :D
  17. onceler

    onceler Member

    To me it seems good for hilly/mountainous scenery which is one of my main focus'. That and bridges. As for op-oriented design, presently I am not into that. My goal is to be able to play around with this layout and learn a thing or 2 for the future rather than operate this layout as a prototype.

    I guess what I am trying to do is build a sort of thing that I have been pretty much thinking about since I got into this hobby when I was a kid. I can remember countless hours imagining what my layout would look like if it had mountains and trestle spans and what not. Now that I am in a position to do something like that, I would like to. I know I am limited as to what I can do in my space; however the other thing I instantly fell in love with was the UP Big Boys. What I envision for this is a Big Boy pulling its load over bridges and through mountainious tunnels.
  18. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    I can understand your focus, it's just not one I can identify with. :D

    I still say, why does there have to be that much vertical separation between tracks? Can't you just lower some of the scenery to produce valleys?
  19. onceler

    onceler Member

    Ya, I doubt many people can identify with it as it pretty much goes against what most people model with prototypcal authenticity being the main focal point in most people's models. As for the seperation, It seemed easier to me to create a helix-like area hidden by a mountainous/hilly area that goes around the outskirts of the layout. This would give me a place for the train to "hide" and make the overal layout seem bigger than it actually was. Plus, buy having it travel a lap up and then poke out, I wasn't hiding the train for as long of time as on my original trackplan that had the train moving up in the open and down in the outter-helix. I was having a hard time with bridges and clearance before I elevated the levels like I did.
  20. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Actually, if what I read on this forum and shows anything, prototypical authenticity isn't the biggest thing for most people. (Hey, it isn't for me either! I'm most likely to become a combination modeller, aka "protolancer".) Also note that operations-oriented doesn't mean prototypical. Bruce Chubb, one of the all-time great model railroaders, started a large freelance layout in the 50s. He didn't even give it a specific geographical setting, preferring to put different setting cues in each town so the railroad's locale couldn't be pinpointed. However, he was operation-oriented to the point of obsession. :D He didn't copy the operations of any railroad in particular, but just generic circa-1950 railroading, and the idea worked. The 60s and 70s saw the rise of very plausible freelance layouts, like W. Allen McClelland's Virginian & Ohio and Eric Brooman's Utah Belt. The first of those is considered a milestone in operations-oriented design. Since then, some modellers have become "great" for their skills at scenery - George Sellios, Malcolm Furlow and Mike Tylick come to mind. Even back in the 50s, John Allen was probably better known for his fanciful mountain scenery and detailed modelling than his operation techniques - those didn't make for good book covers. If I recall correctly, they're all freelancers too.

    So, do it your way if you want!

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