Small Layout for Teen

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by trainwhiz20, Aug 9, 2004.

  1. trainwhiz20

    trainwhiz20 Member

    Hey guys!

    I came to the gauge because I've seen how helpful you people are here at the boards and I could really use your help!

    Here's my story:

    I'm a 14 year old (freshman in HS) in Tampa, FL. I'm nuts for trains, and I've been my whole life. I guarantee no one in crazier about trains! I belong to the Largo Central RR in Largo, FL, which is a 7 1/2" live steam railroad with a mile and a half of track, a 150 ft. tunnel and a bridge! Anyway, model railroading. I have a collection of some HO stuff... mostly steamers and passenger cars. I used to be big into Lionel, but too much money and too much space for a teenager. HO, luckily, is a little smaller (And a lot cheaper!:D ) without getting too small (i.e. N scale). I can't go to N scale anyway, due to the fact I have a lot of HO items. I'm mostly into 1950's era railroading (steam/diesel), especially passenger operations.

    For me, being a teenager, space is at a premium, not to mention the low budget I have. One option for a layout is to have is a 6'x4' rollaway I could store under my bed... (expanding the 4' a few inches to allow for 24" radius curves.) I could also possibly do a 1'x4' extension that would connect to the layout and hold a "Union Station" with platforms and would squeeze in the closet for storage. The layout would obviously be on wheels, and luckily, not much benchwork. Any ideas?

    I know you guys will complain that the space is too small, but it's all I've got.:p My trains have just been sitting in boxes, and I want them to stretch their legs!

    Get creative! And feel free to ask any questions. I've pondered this, but alas, I'm not a good person at making the most out of space!

    Yours Truly,

  2. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    No law says you have to stay in HO just because that happens to be what you already have! :) I have seen people give up the hobby because the equipment they had wouldn't work in the space they had. In the space you have I would sell the HO and switch to N. You could do HO in that space but passenger cars either won't go around the curves you will end up with or look reallyyyy bad getting around those curves. However if you went with freight only...................

    BTW, Welcome to the Gauge :wave: :thumb: :D
  3. trainwhiz20

    trainwhiz20 Member



    I know there is no law... but for some reason I like HO. I don't know why, I just do! N is more expensive, and I like the trains I have in my HO collection. I've pondered the idea, but it just doesn't seem to work for me. Besides, my parents would get agitated if I went through another scale change! :p

    So, let's assume the layout's HO....

    Thanks Tyson! I know the passenger curves would be EXTREMELY tight, but a small layout is better than no layout.

  4. siderod

    siderod Member

    I beg to differ...some N scale is more expensive, BUT most of the stuff is less then HO and some is the same as HO.

    I'm bias as i model N, but i prefer it to HO.

    From 1 teen to another... (i'm 15) welcome!
  5. OK, sme ideas

    I'll assume you want to stay in HO with a 4x6 or 4.5x6 layout you can slide under your bed.

    Who makes your passenger cars? MOST peoples cars, except Walthers, will negotiate a 22" curve. Walthers needs 24" Walthers cars are also more expensive. The Lifelike passenger cars will even squeeze around an 18" curve, but the overhang is horiffic.

    here Is a 4.5x6 I just threw together in about 30 minutes, based vaguely on the Richmond passenger terminal, where all trains back in.

    you have a small inside yard that should hold 5 passenger cars and an engine. (say 1 diner, 1 sleeper, 1 dome/lounge, 1 coach, and 1 observation or 1 boxcar for baggage and a shorty caboose). the passenger station can hold two other similar lenth trains. (best to have one train in the station and one circling)

    All curves are 22", all turnouts are Atlas #6

    Attached Files:

  6. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    You might also check into the possibility of a local modular club. The layout space you have at home is a bit small, but if you were to build a portable 2' x 4' module to hook up to other modules you can be a part of a large model railroad whenever the club sets up. You might find a small switching layout to be fine for use at home, if you have a club setting to run your passenger equipment in.
  7. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Well,a 4'x6' is workable..The main thing is to use your space wisely..I would suggest your basic loop and some industries to switch as well as a interchange track plus the hint of a small town..Forget about unrealistic grades and space eating mountains go for operation with mini scenes around your industries.Use a view block(if possible) to divide the layout..You can also run your passenger trains or a through freight if you don't feel like running a local freight and switching the industries. :thumb:
  8. jwmurrayjr

    jwmurrayjr Member


    As you can see from the plan, the left end of my layout is a 4X6 module. It's connected to the other end by a 9' X 18" "shelf. I too was working with space limitations (which have now relaxed after construction is almost complete. :rolleyes: ).

    Anyway it supports some short-line activity with 3 industries, a station and an engine service facility. Even some light passenger traffic. Realistic? I dunno. And I'm not recommending the layout, but you can get some HO action into 4X6 if necessary.

  9. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Hi Devon,

    I would second Russ' suggestion of a modular approach - with a club if possible. You should check out September's Model Railroader. There is an article on a modular home/club layout that features one of the guys from my local modular club (

    The modular approach is really great, and it is doable in a small space.

  10. Papa Bear

    Papa Bear Member

    Welcome to The Gauge, Devon! Like you, I started out with a "under the bed" layout. It was built on wheels so it could be rolled in and out. Building under the bed does limit how high your structures and scenery can be, although you might be able to raise your bed or have the buildings be removable.

    Here's a link to a very nicely done 4X6 HO layout.

    You may also want to check this site out as well. It has plans for micro-layouts and some very creative ideas for modelling in a small space.

  11. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    John,That is indeed a great looking layout and a prime example of using space one has wisely.. :thumb: Thanks for posting the link.. :thumb: :D
  12. trainwhiz20

    trainwhiz20 Member


    Sorry I haven't been very responisive. Lots going on, especially with school starting.

    Thanks for all the ideas. Right now I'm negotiating with a totalitarian dictatorship (a.k.a. my parents) for space in our upstairs bonus room. Hopefully, as I previously stated a 4'x6' or 4'x8'. I'd probably add a few inches to each end to accomodate 24" radius curves for my passenger cars.


  13. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Welcome Devon. I had to give up on a home layout for my passenger fleet as it consumed way too much real estate. That is my number one reason for joining a modular club---I can run all my big stuff on 36" radius curves were it just looks better. As for a home layout, I have my sights set on this one from the book, "HO Railroad that Grows" by Linn Westcott. I'll just do it complete from the start and use the latest in foam construction techniques. If you're ever out on the Panhandle, drop in to the clubhouse...

    Attached Files:

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