Railroad in the garage?

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Gary S., Oct 20, 2005.

  1. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I am considering building a shelf type layout in my garage. It is an attached garage, approximately 25 feet by 20 feet. It is not climate controlled. I live in Houston, Texas. It doesn't get all that hot in the summer inside the garage, not that cold in the winter, but the area would definitely see some fairly large temperature variations through the year. I'm guessing it could get down to the mid 40s in the winter and maybe 90 degrees in the summer.

    does anyone have experience with something like this? Would there be problems with the temperatur range? Humidity? Any other thoughts?
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Is the garage going to be turned over to trains exclusively, or are you going to try to share with standard garage activities? Is it insulated? Finished? There will be issues with temp, humidity, and dirt if you are sharing.

  3. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Would be sharing.... a little bit of miscelaneous storage in one corner and two vehicles, that would be about it. There wouldn't be any other activities going on in the garage.

    On the one hand, this seems like the perfect soultion for me, lots of distance available for a point-to-point layout, and it wouldn't be taking up space in the house. On the other hand, the environmental considerations are a concern.

    Anyone else?
  4. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    Gary my layout is being builty in a 16 by 24 room inside my garage thought in its own room it shares the same air as the rest of the garage 120+ in summer down to 40 in winter havn't had many problems with the temp. most of the problems have been from airborne dust and vapors but i'm in the prosses of putting a/c in room. you might want to have a cover on the layout when not in use.
  5. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    Gary my layout is being built in a 16 by 24 room inside my garage thought in its own room it shares the same air as the rest of the garage 120+ in summer down to 40 in winter haven't had many problems with the temp. most of the problems have been from airborne dust and vapors, but i'm in the prosses of putting a/c in room. you might want to have a cover on the layout when not in use.
  6. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Appreciate the advice. The layout is still a bit off in the future, but am thinking of the possibilities at this point.

    I'm researching shelf layouts right now. Will have a lot of questions soon I am sure!
  7. KCS

    KCS Member

    Well, need to keep in mind when laying track which I've seen a few people do this is allowing expancanion and contraction space between joints. Cold contracts therefore if the room and rail is cold then it will have to have a gap in the joint. If it's hot then the rail will need to be butted together as it will pull apart as it cools later on. I've seen the oppisite done and the results leaded to relaying new track as the old track forced and buckled. Best thing I would do is enclose the area the layout will be in with enough room for you and whom ever else and seal it up tight. It's bad enough I don't like takeing my trains out to the car just to load them up to go to a show.
  8. santafewillie

    santafewillie Member

    My model RR is in a non-climate controlled room attached to my barn. Temperature ranges from 20 - 110 degrees here in North Texas. I learned from a previous layout to only lay track when temperatures were between 60 and 85 degrees. Track layed at lower temperatures always buckled in the summer. Seems to be less of a problem once it's ballasted though. There are still gaps in winter but I don't usually run trains when temperatures are too low anyway. Greater problems are spiderwebs, dust and "dirt dauber" nests in railcars and elsewhere. I keep a vacuum handy for the first two.
  9. rch

    rch New Member

    Listen to Willie, Gary! I'm in Fort Worth and the garage is not really a very easy place to build a layout even here, let alone down in Houston. I'd definitely heed Willie's advice on the temperature of track laying. Joints on curves get pretty squirrelly if you don't lay them at the right temperature and with the right reinforcement (i.e., soldering).

    The same bug problems Willie mentions are the problems I deal with, although I store locos and rolling stock in the garage in plastic bins with lids, so no worries about dirt daubers getting in them. Dust is a track killer, though. You need to clean it every time you use it.

    One thing you might consider doing is making your layout modular so that you can bring sections of it into a more comfortable space to work on it. I don't necessarily mean NMRA triple-track raceway modular, unless that's your thing, but really more just portable. My layout is designed to conform to FreeMo modular standards, which offer much more leeway in module shape, length, width and number of tracks. That way I am able to duplicate prototypical track arrangements without having to model places where three tracks run side-by-side.

    I say go for it, but definitely heed the warnings of folks with experience in garage layouts. Houston is a great place, but it can get downright uncomfortable there when it's hot! The heat here was my undoing on the last "permanent" layout I built in the garage. A mental block was formed pretty early on which made it quite undesirable to "head to the garage" to do much of anything after too many times of sweating and swearing through the layout repairs necessary just to run the trains.
  10. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I was thinking about the "modular" type of lay-out. Would be great to be able to work on the sections in the comfort of the house. I would guess that the modular design creates more headaches with track alignment and such. Will be researching this on the net.

    At the moment, my plan is to build a section with some oil-loading platforms for tank cars. Since I am new to model RR, I need to start small and go from there. But still, the grandiose plans are in the back of my mind. Thanks for the input!
  11. rch

    rch New Member

    Gary, have a look at this website for more information about Free-Mo. It might help allay your fears of dealing with misaligned track, as well as show you examples, illustrate the standards, etc.


    I hear you on the "grandiose" plans! I'm going to need a bigger house because of my addiction, er, hobby....
  12. rhtastro

    rhtastro Member

    Using a garage for a train layout and sharing it with autos and other junk that garages usually contain is a tough proposition. The dust alone from a garage is enough to put a damper on a train layout. I thought about it for my HO layout, but went for a builtup storage room instead, complete with insulation, sheetrock, plaster, electrical outlets, etc. If I had gone with the garage setup, I'd have walled off the space for the trains using 2x4's, insulaton, sheetrock, plaster and a separate door. That way you have a nice clean isolated room just for trains. Then control the temperature with a cooling unit and heater. Put in a TV and stereo and you have a nice hideaway. Of course the stereo is only for train sounds, naturally. I find with my isolated train room there is no need to dust anything, especially the track. I haven't dusted anything in a year and a half. I do, however, keep a small shop vac in there to get rid of spiders and other small creatures that get past the door. The moral to this story is to completely isolate and enclose your train layout from other items no matter where you put it. Everything just works better that way.
  13. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    You mentioned sharing the garage with cars as well as the model railroad. How big a space do you have for the layout and does the layout need to move out of the way to put cars in the garage? If the garage is bigger than what you need for a car or two, You might be able to build a stud wall with a door to isolate the layout from the rest of the garage. Put in a "window shaker" air conditioning/ heating unit with some insulation in the walls, and you could make the layout room quite comfortable year round.
  14. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    It is the wood more that the track that will expand and shrink.

    Put a window AC in and a propane stove for comfort and keep your engines in the house I would suggest.

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