To build a new layout or rebuild the old one?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Maineiac, Apr 3, 2007.

  1. Maineiac

    Maineiac New Model Railroader

    Okay, here's my dilemma:
    I have a 4x8 layout that is partially completed. The track is laid but there is no scenery. I built it with my Dad when I was around 7 or 8 (actually he built it and I tried to help). We never took the time to complete it and now I want to get back into model railroading on my own and I want to build a larger layout. My question is, should I build a layout on the 4x8 table that I have now and gain some skills, or jump right into the larger layout?
    The layout on the 4x8 table will need to be torn down and rebuilt, because of poor construction (sub-standard radius, etc). We just didn't know any better when we built it.
    The larger layout that I want to build will need to wait until we can clean out the room in our basement, which may be a while. I don't think I'll have space for two layouts, so I would need to tear down the 4x8 eventually anyway. What do you think I should do?
    The layout I want to build is John Armstrong's Union Terminal RR from his book "18 Tailor-Made Model Railroad Track Plans".
    Any thoughts would be appreciated.
  2. rfmicro

    rfmicro Member

    Phil, while I do not have that particular book, I would recommend from experience that you start small. This is not meant to demean any inherent skills you may possess, but you can try out a lot of ideas you may read about and make your mistakes on a smaller layout. A larger layout requires a lot of planning and familiarity with model railroad construction before you start for real. Even then you will make some mistakes, but they will be fewer and not try your patience.

    You may not want to start with a 4' X 8' for the track plan you have in mind. Perhaps something else will grab your imagination. Perhaps there is a section of that layout you could start with and then add-on when that portion becomes complete.

    Just a few thoughts.

  3. Maineiac

    Maineiac New Model Railroader

    Yes, I'm thinking I should gain some experience before I tackle such a large project.

    I'd like to keep the 4x8 shape on the layout I have now because the table is already built. Does anyone have links to a 4x8 plan that has a lot of operational possibilities?
  4. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    If I recall, the Union Terminal isn't large, but it is complicated. Also, its access is poor, unless you have open space around somewhere that was against a wall in the space it was designed for.
  5. Maineiac

    Maineiac New Model Railroader

    You're right, it is small and complicated, but that's why I like it. It has an open island in the center accessable by a lift-out section, and since I'm only 20 I don't expect to be bothered by that for quite some time.:) I expect to have it against a wall on two sides. But I might just shelve plans for that layout for now and concentrate on gaining some experience on a smaller one. Since I don't have space for the big layout right now I guess I had better build something quick before I get burnt out.:cry:
  6. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    Can you add the existing layout and make a new one?

    Making it with your dad may mean much more in years to come.

    Not knowing how old you are let me say time passes fast and you may have kids and grand kids before you know it. They will enjoy this lay out too.
  7. Maineiac

    Maineiac New Model Railroader

    Thanks everyone for your replies. I've thought of integrating the 4x8 into the larger one later, but that would take up even more space later that I don't have.
    I'd like it to be a father-son project, but dad at this point doesn't have the spare time.
    Although I'm 20 and don't have a family of my own yet, I may have some kids down the road a ways that would enjoy the layout. Who knows...

    I like the Black River Junction plan in the January 07 Model Railroader. (link) I think that might be what I'm looking for to sharpen my skills.
  8. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    First off, chuck the 4x8 and start fresh. You've already learned some important lessons from it, and it's given you 12 years of... well, whatever you got from it. You've outgrown it.

    John Armstrong's trackplans, while great for realistic operation, also tend to be fairly complex, and if you're not going DCC, will be a wiring nightmare for an inexperienced modeler.

    7x12 is not so huge that you wouldn't be able to do it given your level of expertise, but I think you'd be well advised to check out Iain Rice's book Small, Smart and Practical track plans. Unfortunately it's out of print, but you can sometimes find copies on Amazon or in hobby shops. He has several track plans that are designed around your space, but are much simpler than JA's - meaning you stand a better chance of a) operating successfully, and b) actually completing (or as much as any MRR is "complete".
  9. Maineiac

    Maineiac New Model Railroader

    I am definitely going to be using DCC on anything that I do. And I did manage to pick up Ian's book at a train show last year.
    Thanks everyone for the advice, I appreciate it! I'll post some pictures as soon as I start.

Share This Page