Some help for noobie please?

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by tetters, Dec 20, 2006.

  1. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    O.K. I could really, desperately use some help here.

    To start I would like to design an HO scale switching layout. Point to Point. It is shelf style of a layout. About chest height (I'm 5'9") so roughly at 4 1/2 ft. The dimensions of the layout are 11 ft long x 6ft at a width of about 1' 9". Needless to say on the inside corner there will be a slight 45 degree for curves.

    I finally figured out how to upload a pic of the benchwork. See below.

    So my inexperience at laying track in general is quite obvious. I've been humbled by a simple CAD program as I've attempted to laydown ideas, however lack the vision to "see it in my head". I'm not at all sure about the spatial relationships I should consider, ie structures. I understand that there some fexibility as hey, it's my railroad, however a sense of realism and functionality would be nice. So I'm getting a wee bit frustrated and like to get things "right" the first time with some room for improvement. :curse:

    I'd like to have a small yard to keep some rolling stock to play with. The type of industries I'd like to service are something like a grain terminal and maybe a couple of milling plants (for flour or other food processing). There could also be a company like Casco which makes ethynol (I think) out of corn oil. Is this too much?

    I'd like to keep it sometime between the late 40' & 50' with maybe a couple of small locos to do the switching. The possibility of expansion is there in the distant furture as the room currently being used as a toy room for the kiddies is 12x12 and as they get older, the toys will start to disappear...:D So there is a possibility that it could include a couple of "penninsulas" and even wrap around the room with a gate or duck under. The possibilities are there. At the present height a 2nd lower level could be added in the furture as well, I'm guessing.

    Lastly because I'm Canadian eh, I'd be primarily running CN or CP locos.

    My apologizies, as I realize this is a tall order and a long post. I've seen the incredible help other have received and could really use a kick in the pants to get the idea juices flowing.



    Yep not much to look at that is for sure. I hope I can change that with a bit of help.

  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    What is the location for this layout? If southern Ontario, you can get a lot of ideas from Ian Wilson's "Steam..." series about Canadian National. Fantastic references with track plans and lots of photos. You can also get some really good ideas from his website at

    If you are more into CP (although the differences are negligible in terms of operations) look at Richard Wakefield's model of the Bruce Subdivision at

  3. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    If this is going to remain a switching layout, you can use short switch engines and 18 inch radius or even some 15 inch. If you are looking to add benchwork around the walls to make a continuous run mainline you want to think about what sort of equipment you will want in the future. I don't know Canadian roads equipment, so I can't help with what sort of equipment you will be running to advise on minimum radius. I'm just trying to help you clarify what to build. I'm sure others will chime in in the next few days with some ideas for you.
  4. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    Thanks gents.

    I am looking at running some desiels such as GP7's or 9's. Depending on what is available. No plans for steam at this time. Sorry guys. I really like the classic green CP locos. They are sharp. Was checking out one at a LHS yesterday with DCC and sound effects. It was really sweet, but for 300+ bones it was a little to rich for my blood. I'd rather spend the money on the track and a decent DCC system before blowing the bank on expensive movers. Those will come later with a bigger layout and some experience in the hobby. As recommended to me for trackwork, I'm looking at running Peco #83. I'm planning on using a cork roadbed, on 1" foam and a 1/4" plywood base.

    The location would definately be Southern Ontario. I work right across the street from the small yard where the GO trains park close to Toronto's Union Station in-between commuter rush hour traffic. A whole variety of trains goes by on a daily basis. So the idea of having some variety appeals to me a lot.

    In the distant future, as I mentioned I may eventually have a full run of the room. There is spare bedroom door in the top right corner of the diagram plus a double wide opening on the right leads to the T.V. Room/Den. I'll have to figure out how to work around those when I get there eventually. For now. I'll just concentrate on my "little" corner and expand in "fits & spurts" as the layout constantly evolves. In the end I'd love to have a double main in a loop so I can do some continous running.

    But for now, just baby steps.
  5. cnw1961

    cnw1961 Member

    Hello cyclingshane, your layout has the same size as mine before I had to remove the shorter leg of the L. Here is the trackplan for the layout I wanted to build. Perhaps it might act as a starting point for you to develop some ideas.

    View attachment 33247

    Attached Files:

  6. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    I really like that. There is a lot going on, and lots to do. I'll see what I can come up with. Maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way.
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    CNR and CPR both operated steam in Southern Ontario well into the 1950s. However, I am not one for 100% accuracy, and besides, if you're going to have diesels - the green and gold paint is fantastic. ;) Take a look at for some interesting locos and at least one freelanced but entirely believable paint scheme for a switcher. The site belongs to Gauge member "Spitfire" who does some excellent work..!

    I still recommend those links for track plan ideas, as that would not have changed very much over the years.

    It is interesting to note that CN was one of the first and last to dieselize. Kinda strange but true...! They experimented with the diesel-electric box cab set of 9000-9001 in the late 1920s, but it was considered a bit of a novelty, so they stuck with steam. They were among the last of the major roads to run steam in "busy" areas such as southern Ontario. The majority of steamers there hung around a lot longer than their counterparts out west or down east. There were still servicable units around in the very early 1960s.

  8. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    It's CN that was olive/gold/black. CP was maroon/silver.
    I'm also pretty sure that both CN and CP ran their last steam in 1960.
  9. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Would you believe the very very early 60's? ;) :D

  10. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    cnw1961 - If you don't mind I'm going to "borrow" that track plan. Everything I come up with is close but not as neat looking or stinks like road kill on a hot day in July. I may vary it some when I start to lay down track, however I see all the elements I could want in a switching layout. Did you do that yourself? Thanks for posting it up.

    As far as prototypical accuracy goes. I just want to run trains. Heck I might even call my layout "Anywhere, Canada". I hope I'm not being too disrespectful to those who work really hard to depict the real deal. So some steam my show up one day and even some more modern desiels as the layout grows. Who knows.
  11. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Most important - have fun...! I started out not thinking too much about the accuracy of the whole thing, but discovered that research was part of the hobby I very much enjoyed (I am a bit of a history nut). So as my focus changed, I came to realize that I wanted things to be reasonably accurate. However, they are still not prototypical - my plans and models are all based around a fictional southern Ontario town called "Marlpost". However, models and other features will be derived from real structures and so on from the 1930s.

    You never know, that layout could morph into part of the Toronto rail lands circa 1945 quite easily...! ;)

  12. cnw1961

    cnw1961 Member

    Feel free to do what you want with my track plan. I only hope that you post some pics of what you are doing. :wave: I made this plan myself. It took some time – it must be version #62533215 :D . I think a track plan for a small switching layout is a real challenge. I was inpsired by this web site on Chicago North Side switching operations: .

    I am building a modified version of this layout without the short leg of the L using Peco code 75 track. All turnouts are #4s. My biggest engines are a P2K GP9 and a Trix Mikado. Both can handle these turnouts without any problems.
  13. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!


    It will be sometime well into the New Year before I start. Needless to say I've bitten by the bug and decided I'd start planning now. I've already bought some blue foam and plywood some lumber for the framing and wall supports for the bench work. So the wheels are in motion. I just have to find the time between family, work, and the cycling season starts up again in the spring. That's when I work off all that holiday turkey.

    But thanks for the help everyone. I'll be in touch. :thumb:
  14. cnw1961

    cnw1961 Member

    Hey, another cyclist on the Gauge. Shane, what are you doing – mountain biking or road? I used to do triathlions until some years ago and I am still cycling (road) about 5000 miles a year. I love to do mountain passes in the Alps. Cycling is my favorite sport/hobby. Model railroading only comes in second (and I must admit, it’s not even close second compared to cycling). I hope I won’t be expelled from the Gauge after this confession :D .
  15. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    I put on a few thousand clicks every year too. Mostly off road. I feel like I get a better workout that way. I do ride some road and commute primarily by my bike most of the year. My current ride is a '05 Cannondale Prophet 600.

    Apologizies to the mods for the non-train-content.


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