Small layouts -- how small?

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by RobertInOntario, Aug 1, 2007.

  1. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    I've been recently inspired by a magazine article that describes a basic 4x4' HO layout.

    FYI, I currently have a small 4x6' HO (OO) layout of 1950s SW England. Because we have very little space in our bungalow, I'm limited to small layouts. I currently use our basement and, for the time being, I have to stow away my current 4x6' layout after use. A large layout that permanently takes up an entire basement is out of the question for now! :cry:

    So, because I run both British and Canadian stock, I'm thinking of building a small 4x4' layout to accommodate my Canadian stock -- this would portray landmarks from Toronto's Don Valley in the 1950s. On such a small layout, I obviously would not keep the distances to scale but would simply show a few landmarks representing this region.

    I'd also learn from my mistakes. I made a huge number of mistakes with my other/first layout that hopefully I'd avoid this time !!

    I guess I'm worried that I'd quickly get bored operating a 4x4' layout that really has nothing more than a loop on it with 1-2 sidings. Just wondering if it's worth all the effort to create another small layout? Does anyone else have a small "side project" layout?

    Thanks for putting up with another one of my "layout" questions again!

  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    It's scary how parallel our development plans are...! I face the same space issue in my current house, and had issues with the basement (i.e. "cellar") in our old place.

    I decided in the end (severl years ago) to adopt a modular approach. That way I can run trains with the modular club (a virtual empire with up to 14 scale miles of mainline), yet model what I want.

    You might want to forego the continous run (if you can) and try modelling a few key spots in the Don Valley on a few 2x4 modules. If you are desperate for continuous run, you can hook them up with bridges that just have track on them.

    The other alternative is to do a micro layout with continuous run (as small as 18" x 18") just for the modelling challenge, rather than the operations aspect.

  3. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks, Andrew! Actually, 2-3 2x4' modules sounds interesting ... yet I'd still like to have the continuous run. The modular club sounds good -- I've gone to their website but I believe it's based in the Ottawa area?

    At any rate, I'll consider 2-3 small modules or just going with one 4x4 layout. I have more than enough track and scenery materials to build another layout but I'd have to buy new switches/turnouts though. I'd also have to kitbash some buildings.

    As you can tell, I keep thinking about this!

  4. Santa Fe Jack

    Santa Fe Jack Member

    Rob -

    Have you considered a stowable layout? Would you have room for one that would hoist up to the ceiling? That was my approach to the space problem. I can provide details if this interests you (or you can see what I'm up to on the web site in my sig.)
  5. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks, Jack. I checked your website and that is pretty much what I need -- a hoist. But the ceilings are already low in the basement so I'm not sure if it would work -- plus, I think it would be a challenge for me to create this! I'm curious but not sure if it would work. Thanks, Rob
  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Rob: have you looked at Brian Fayle's layouts? As he moves into larger scales, his layouts are becoming smaller -- generally under 2 feet a side (24" x 18" I think for the last one) for G scale 15" gauge.
  7. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Just thinking of the modular approach that Andrew mentioned, you could easily get continuous running by cutting your corners out of plywood just 8 inches or so wider than your mainline tracks. Use a bit of bendable masonite on either edge to keep the trains from falling to the floor in the event of a derailment + the masonite could be used as a girder to strengthen the plywood so it doesn't sag. Put a lip at the end of the modules next to the curves so that the corners would rest on the ledges. Install a 90* angle bracket on each end of the corners so that you can screw them to the layout when in use so that bumping the layout won't cause the corner to fall off the ledge. Done right everything could be easily stacked out of the way when not being used. If the corners were done right, you could nest two together and then stack the other 2 nested corners on top of the first 2. If you are running a single track mainline through the corners and the equipment is short enough to use 18 inch radius, a 20 inch radius would nest next to the 18 in storage. If my math is correct, you could store a pair of "C" shaped corners that are only 6"-8" wide in a space about 30"x30". The masonite on the sides of the corners would keep the 2 corners stacked on top of the first 2 from touching the tracks. There would be no scenery on the corners. Plan any hills, valleys, etc so that 2 modules stacked top to top the hills on one would nest into the valleys of the other and they could take a minimum of space and still allow some nice scenery. You might even find some geography in Ontario, Canada that is not a lot different than scenery in Britain and allow you to run a Canadian operating session one time and a British operating session the next time just by changing buildings, scenery details, trains etc.
  8. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    That is how we do it at Welcome to the HOTRAK website, although our corner "bridges" have radii of about 40" or so.

    It is possible to make a corner from an "L" of two 2x4 modules, and still maintain a 40" radius curve. You can check them out at the site above, in either the gallery, or in the standards area.

    However, with a much reduced minimum radius, it would be possible to make a 4x8 layout of four 2x4 modules that could be packed away once operations are over. Assuming a 16" "carry plate" to join pairs of modules, four would occupy a space of 32x24x48 high (or even 16x24x96 high if your ceiling allows).

  9. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Thanks, Russ. This sounds interesting and feasible, although it might stretch my carpentry skills a little. :confused: I'll give this some thought over the next few months as I probably would not start anything new until January or February.

    I also like your idea of interchanging buildings & using the layout for both British & Canadian. I could even do that with my current 4x6' layout.

  10. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Rob: you could consider doing a 2 sided layout: one side Canadian and the other English. Either an Island with a divider down the middle or a circle where you stand inside and only see one side at a time. The "other" side can be used as a yard or storage or just a longer run.
  11. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Hmm, that's not a bad idea -- this kind of gets me thinking! I think a guy at a LHS has something a bit like that, where he has North American locos on one side and European on the other. Thanks, Rob
  12. Stu McGee

    Stu McGee Member

    Hey folks,
    After a false start and a real wet basement, I am getting back on track. Since I like to see trains run, love passenger equipment and have no space, I have opted for a shelf system style around the room pike. It is only 2 foot wide but as it runs about the room the curved are 30" and better
  13. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Stu: That's a lot like the layout I have -- I got a 16x18 foot basement room.
    Doing a bit of playing with my calculator and old Pythagoras, I figure that a 2 foot shelf corner can take a 6 foot radius curve if you leave 2" clear at the front and back. Now that's just single track; double might cut you down to 5 feet. And it means the track swings from the back wall right out to the inside corner. You can ease it a bit by putting a triangle of wood into the corner.
  14. Stu McGee

    Stu McGee Member

    Good point, six foot curves - sweet! my plan has to include large radii for passenger equipment to look good and move well. The other bonus is the abiltiy to take down a section at a time, work on it and put it back in place. I have just about eliminated the duck under problem by keeping the "platform" high and using rolling chairs
  15. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    RobertInOntario and MasonJar,
    Remember this one? This is what we accomplished in 2'4 square with N scale...
    My son is still playing with it. In fact, he had it out today. It's probably just a bit simpler than you were thinking though.

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