What to shoot for in a layout design?

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by ddavidv, Oct 27, 2003.

  1. ddavidv

    ddavidv Member

    I'm pumping the board for it's input as I plan my layout. I'd rather make decisions now than after track is laid. :) This will be in N scale. I'm looking at doing something no larger than a typical hollow core door size. I found this site:
    Mike's Small Trackplans
    It has a lot of good ideas. One of my problems is probably pretty common with newbies; the idea to have continuous loops for the trains to just 'run' on. Originally, I thought I'd do two loops for two trains with a few sidings for switching. Heck, I'd even keep the loops seperate to keep wiring simple (at least for now, since I am no wiring genius). I wanted the two 'lines' to cross over each other with bridges.
    However, after reading a lot on this board and elsewhere, the concensus is the 'play value' of continuous loops is pretty low. Boredom may set in rather quickly.
    Also, trying to cram 2 independent train lines into that size layout would probably be difficult and look cluttered.
    I guess I'm looking for a happy medium. The ability to just let a train 'run' when people are over, and a layout that will give me something to do. Should I stick to one train? I am more into the scenery and structure part of railroading than I am on overly accurate train running, so want to allow adequate room for scenery with the tracks not stuck on a flat board, yet I don't need monster mountains or tunnels.
    I'm hoping some comments about your own experiences (especially with a smaller layout) will help me get direction before I connect any pieces of track together. ;)
  2. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Welcome to the Gauge. :) I would say you are on the right track (pun intended :D ). Stick with being able to let just one train run and you will have more room for scenery and broader curves, hence better performance. Model Railroader did a project layout on a hollow door (n-scale) called the Carolina Central (I think) that was really beautiful. I will look through my mags and see if I can find it, it was about 3-4 years ago I believe.
  3. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Model Railroader has published ho scale 4 x 8 plans every year, usually a layout to be built at the annual train show connected with the NMRA national convention. A 4 x 8 ho plan would be easily adapted to n scale on a hollow core door. One feature to consider would be a "back drop" running diagonally across the center of the layout dividing the layout into two scenery segments. One reason mountains are so popular in model railroads is for view blocks to make the railroad look bigger. The center backdrop will do the same thing without mountains. How big of a hollow core door are you contemplating. The standard height is 7', but width will run from 22" to 48". A 30" x 7' door would make a layout in n scale equivalent to about 5' x 12' in ho.
  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Ok, so www.gatewaynmra.org does small layouts in HO scale, but you should find plenty of interesting material there that's applicable to small Nscale too...

  5. penngg1

    penngg1 Member

    Carolinia Central

    The rr was published in the dec '96 issue of Model Railroder, pg 92
    and in following issue. Reprinted in"N Scale Model Railroading book pg 79, Published by Kalmbach. The layout is 22' X 7'. The article is complete from track plan to scenery.
    Happy railroading. :)
  6. penngg1

    penngg1 Member


    The size is 2' x 7'. :eek: :eek: :eek:
  7. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Welcome to the-gauge!

    If you sit there and watch trains run in circles, you will get bored. I think the benifit of the loop, is not to watch trains run in circles for entertainment, and not to show guests that they run in circles. I think your guests would like to see point to point operations more than the loop.

    To me, the benifit is to have trains running "in the background" while you are doing other things. This includes while you are working on (building) the layout, maintaining it, or doing switching operations. You can send one out, and have it come back on it's own.

    If you have room for a combonation, point to point and a loop, I think there are real benifits. Dogbone style loops don't have the looks of a toy train loop, and it gives you room for switching industries and yard between the ends.
  8. ddavidv

    ddavidv Member

  9. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    I support Jon's comments. Having a continuos run is very rewarding, especially in the construction stage. The layout is for your enjoyment but if you show it to guests most will expect to see continuous running. You'll be doing some education of folks in explaining point to point. Nothin' wrong with that. I have a long dog bone style layout that lets me run one train continuously while I switch cars with another. This seems ideal to me. I can run a local train switching cars independent of the main line or it can "foul" the main if needed while the continuously running train is far enough away to allow that. Its part of the fun for me to move cars around before the main line train rolls by. It takes about five minutes for the continously running train to make a full circuit on my layout so I have time, most of the time! :) Best wishes on your planning!
  10. my two cents

    Well, having designed a few and built a fun-running 'loop' railroad, I'll just say having a cntinuous loop is fine, but I have mine mixed with some switching operations. A Lot of the time I just want to 'watch em run' but I agree a basic oval is boring. So I make my train run around several curves .. meandering along a curve looks more interesting (to me) than long straight lines. Having a convoluted route helps hide the loop-de-loop of a circuit,
    My main trackplan is shown in the N-scale board, and its on a 30" x 80" hollow core door.
  11. ddavidv

    ddavidv Member

    (N Scale)
    I'm resurrecting the thread vs. repeating myself. :)
    I've completed the benchwork (door with legs) and have laid out the Carolina Central as suggested above. I spent tonight running trains on it and have some criticisms.
    1) I like the hidden staging yard at the rear, but accessing the turnouts may be difficult as that side will probably be against the wall.
    2) During continuous running, things seemed kinda dull. And then it hit me...no matter which turnouts I throw, it will still be an oval! :eek: :sleeping:
    3) With the exception of the branch line at the front, the sidings are fairly short, and switching multiple cars with some parked on the 'entry sidings' is tough due to space. This may make a bigger switching puzzle, but I can also see it becoming annoying.

    I'm starting to rethink my game plan. Perhaps a folded dog bone would be better...more opportunities for bridges (the Carolina Central design doesn't allow for much thanks to multiple tracks and curves).
    Additionally, my original idea was to model sort of an 'edge of town' scenario but that scenery would be fairly flat. The types of structures I'd want also aren't available in much variety, so I'm effectively wadding up the theoretical blueprint and mentally looking at other alternatives. What I thought I wanted doesn't look like it's going to make me smile. :cry:
  12. Agatheron

    Agatheron Member

    I read this with interest... I've been trying to come up with a number of designs for my first N-Scale layout. I've been collecting locomotives (I'm up to 4(!) now), looking at track plans trying to design my own, while at the same time negotiating for space.

    I have the book with the Carolina Central in it, and the loop provides me with the same puzzle. I'm new at this, but I don't want to get bored quickly. I've developed a 36"x80" door plan that I like, which includes a scenic divider... but it may take up too much room if it's not up against a wall. It has loops for continuous running, as well as a stub yard for some switching.

    Third option which takes up less room is a thinner but longer layout up against a wall, which could include an L shape at one end. I need trackplan ideas for that, but the folded Dogbone is appealing.
  13. ddavidv

    ddavidv Member

    I'm torn on the divider. (Could be a pun there).
    Dividers can serve a useful purpose, but I have this mental block that makes me think a) it's sort of cheating and b) how do I make a divider look like it belongs there and not detract from the appearance. Haven't ruled that out though.

    Space negotiation...I hear you. My huge basement has just been finished into a 'family room'. :rolleyes: It's probably a good thing, otherwise I'd be building the V&O or something. :eek:

    I like the hollow core door; it's very light and portable. Also, I don't want to start too big, as I've made that mistake in the past and never even come close to finishing scenery. I do plan on having a branch line for future expansion from this door though. ;)
  14. ddavidv

    ddavidv Member

    Here's a fairly simple one from Mike's Track Plans:
  15. ddavidv

    ddavidv Member

  16. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    Hey! "Cheating" is what model railroad scenery is all about! Well, almost. It's the taking of something unrealistic, and making it appear realistic that a lot of people (including me) find enjoyable about the hobby.

    I'm not really big on the divider idea, myself, but creatively installed, it could blend in very naturally with the scenery. For example, placing a hill on one end (with the track running through a tunnel, and placing one or more structures on the other end would help obscure the edges of the divider and break up the "running around in circles" effect.

    Here's an excellent example of how to use a divider, made by Kettlestack:

  17. pennsysdaddy

    pennsysdaddy New Member

    Hi Cory, if you would like to see some excellent examples of nice scenery, go check into http://groups.yahoo.com/group/modelrailroadsofna

    It's a new group centering on layouts, and their overall appearance. Membership is open, check it out, growing a nice photos section.

  18. ddavidv

    ddavidv Member

    Update: I spent most of yesterday mocking up layouts. I found that paper trackplans don't necessarily tell me what I'm going to wind up with, I need to see it laid out.
    I tried a folded dogbone, which certainly provided visual interest, but ultimately it was too much clutter. To properly landscape it I'd wind up with very little room for structures, which I can't live with. ;) Also, it had sort of a 'bowl' look, and also didn't look very prototypical in the space I have (door). Scratched that off.
    Point-to-point won't work for me in the small space I have. I need trains to run. :)
    Thus, the battle becomes making an oval not look like an oval. Put together with a mix of a couple trackplans plus my own genius, :rolleyes: I came up with something that could work. I took some pictures which I will try to post tomorrow. It's essentially a revised Carolina Central, ditching the branch line at the front and reworking the spurs to make them more user-friendly. My dilemma now is what to do in the backside. I liked the staging track (hidden, in their example), yet the mountain takes up valuable real estate. I could either break it up visually with structures, a mountain or use a divider. I've also currently got the back length containing a bridge (which adds visual interest as well as forces me to add more terrain fluctuation). It leaves decent room for structures and other scenery this way.
    I'd like to see some uses of dividers if anyone has photos.
  19. So what does your revised plan look like?

    show us the plan!!
  20. ddavidv

    ddavidv Member

    Will post a pic Monday evening. I have to use my computer at work to load the photo onto a disc, then bring it home to my pc. (Long story...don't ask). :(

Share This Page