Would Love Comments on This Design

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by bearman, Feb 12, 2007.

  1. bearman

    bearman Member

    I have an HO layout which I am not particularly pleased with, primarily due to lack of design sense. Decided to expand the size and have come up with the following loosely based on the Atlas St Paul Central, and would appreciate anyone's critiques. I plan n running at least one train while switchin the industries.

    Attached Files:

  2. J. Steffen

    J. Steffen Member

    What are the dimensions?
  3. bearman

    bearman Member

    Dimensions are 8 ft X 7 ft. I know getting to the middle might be a reach, but it will be constructed in two 7 X 4 modules and then attached. Will take some careful planning, but I'm okay with that. Plenty of aisle space around the perimeter.
  4. 91rioja

    91rioja Member


    The reach to the center of the layout is going to be an issue. 30" is about what even the tallest of us would consider the maximum reach length. What is the size of the room it is going into? Would you have enough room or even consider going around the walls, or some sort of 2' deep shelf style layout?

    My layout is going to be in a room of about 97 square feet; for me, around the walls worked out much better.

    Something to consider.
  5. J. Steffen

    J. Steffen Member

    Chris is right. I'm definetly no expert on this but if you want to use these dimensions; you are going to have to cut an access hatch in the center of it. Even at a width of 48 inches, the center of my layout is a bear to reach. I have full access around the outside too.
  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Can you tell us a bit more about how you plan to run this? Is it for multiple operators? Industrial switching? What era are you planning (and what is your required rolling stock and engines?)? What location (i.e. mountains or prairie?)?

    Can you tell us about the room? Since this is 7x8, and you describe "generous aisles", I assume the room is at least 11x12. Can you (or are you willing to) go around the walls with a shelf type layout instead?

    Reach will be an issue, as pointed out above, even after construction for operations (coupling, uncoupling, rerailing, etc) and maintenance. Reach is generally limited to 24" to 30" for most of us.

    I am also unsure of the purpose of some of the trackage, and the spacing (especially of what looks like a yard at the bottom, except the tracks are very widely spaced).

    Give us some more info, and we can help with more specific advice.

    Welcome to The Gauge!

  7. bearman

    bearman Member

    Of course, Chris is right. I am trying to avoid the access issue, obviously, but there is a 4 foot square plus a little more slightly off center which can be cut out for access, and which will probably happen. An around the room shelf is not a possibiilty, at best an "L" (9 X 8) could be accommodated, but I would like to have at least one continuous loop because I like to run one train while switching another, I am not a big fan of just point-to-point operations.
  8. J. Steffen

    J. Steffen Member


    Just take a jigsaw and whack a hole where there's open space.
  9. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    I'll agree with the others, you're definately going to need access in there somewhere. I like the design of the track layout, though. Looks like it will provide a lot of interesting train running.
  10. Santa Fe Jack

    Santa Fe Jack Member

    It seems to me that the yard in the lower part of the picture will be exceeding difficult to operate, though I have seen this on other layout designs. How are you supposed to store anything more than a couple cars in the yard, and how do you get in and out of places?
  11. bearman

    bearman Member


    Right now I have 18" around three sides which is fine. I'm pretty tall and have no problems reaching the center of the existing 4 foot width, which is taken up with a ridgeline used as a scenic divider.

    I plan on using 4 axle diesels, with a desert motif. I live after all in Arizona. The N part of the layout will be agricutural products, loading live cattle and harvested fruits, and transporting them to the S side (Maricopa) where the cattle will meet their demise and dressed carcasses will be loaded onto reefers for transport to the big city (Phoenix). The fruits will also be processed and canned in Maricopa and then loaded onto box cars, loaded reefers and box cars will be picked up by another loco (which leaves empty reefers and box cars) which brings everything to Phoenix which is essentially the yard on the south. In effect, there is a short line, (Maricopa & Salt River, M&SR) which services the agricutural area/Maricopa, and then the mainline (ATSF) which picks up at Maricopa and transports to Phx. The M&SR also transports empty stock cars and full agrichemical tank cars to the agricultural area.

    I used Atlas 7.0 true track to do the design which is why there is some spacing, and my existing layout (which will be trashed) is using the TT. I have most most of the buidlings and the locos and the rolling stock and can salvage some of the scenery from my existing layout. Will just need to purchase more track and expand the bench work. I'm also considering jumping into DCC so the wiring will take this into acct.

    Thanks for all your help, guys.
  12. bearman

    bearman Member

    Santa Fe Jack,

    I agree about the yard on the south. A yard is something that I really want, though, no matter how small. I am definitely open to suggestions about the design and operation. No matter how much reading I do about yard design, I am still trying to get hte hang of it.

    J Steffen,

    I have a jig saw which will probably be fired up for hacking away.
  13. bearman

    bearman Member

    One more thing, I get a certain amount of peaceful pleasure running trains alone, so it will be pretty much a one man operation although my neighbor sometimes brings over his kids and they assist with operations. My neigbor drinks beer and is the official uncoupler for the N agricultural spurs. I and the kids are the uncouplers in the S and will be in the yard as well.
  14. 91rioja

    91rioja Member


    If you haven't already, I would suggest you picking up a copy of John Armstrong's Track Planing for Realistic Operation. I got my copy this weekend, and it really helped me to put things into perspective.

    Have you decided on what length cars you are planning on running? How about your maximum train length?

    A quick calc, I make 26 50' cars that you can spot in the yard. Also, you will be limited to the 18" (if that is two 9" tracks on your plan) in the bottom right corner to make any movements in the yard; that would be one loco and one car.

    I also struggled with the yard on my layout. What I wanted and what I had room for were two different things entirely. I ended up creating a stub ended interchange yard; cars come onto the layout from "off-layout" via means of the 0-5-0 switcher. Not what I wanted, but in this case, it will have to work.

    Just some food for thought....
  15. bearman

    bearman Member


    I probably will invest in the book, hopefully I can get it at my LHS without having to wait to order it on-line. If necessary, I can use a smaller switcher for yard operations, but you are correct regarding the utility, or lack thereof, of the SE track. I haven't really thought of maximum train length. Right now I am content with a maximum of three plus a loco and caboose. I am hoping to be able to go at least another additional car on this layout. As for car length, I prefer the shorter ones, no more than 50', and probably 40' for most of them.

    I admit that I spent all of yesterday working on several different designs, based on every other book I have already accumulated, including Westcott's 101 Track Plans.

    The layout size is dictated by the room size, obviously, and quite frankly, if it weren't for the fact that I now have the model RR bug, this layout is taking up more room than I originally envisioned.
  16. Santa Fe Jack

    Santa Fe Jack Member

    I struggled a lot with the yard ideas, too. In my layout (link in the sig) I had these goals, which have a bearing on how the yard turned out:
    1. Make it reasonably portable. I did not want a permanent installation that I would have to abandon with the house some day. And, unlike many here, I intend to do this only once. HO is just one of many hobbies. I settled on a walkaround table layout.
    2. I like running trains around, as well as yard operations, so I need at least two main loops around the outside.
    3. From what I read about yard operations, a "yard lead" was needed to bring trains off the main loops. So that makes for 2 1/2 loops, the extra 1/2 being a yard lead. In order to keep the curves above 22" radius, that meant the table had to be at least 6 ft wide.
    4. With the loops around the outside, the only place for a yard is inside the loops. I want as much as possible, but a 10-ft table length is my upper practical limit to keep it portable.
    5. The hard part, then, is designing the yard. There are two competing aspects of maximizing room for rolling stock storage: the number of tracks and the length of the tracks. With only one entrance to the yard, all the yard tracks have to stem off that somehow, with many turnouts. But each turnout eats up space. It's an optimization problem. I also needed a runaround, which I combined with a lead to the turntable, but the runaround also meant fewer yard tracks.
    So, what I ended up with for a yard was a compromise of many competing interests, but I think it will work OK.

    As for recommendations, I think the major problem in your plan is that the yard lead runs throughthe middle of the yard. It needs to run from one end, predominantly. That means that the lead to the yard has to start somewhere further back around the curve -- not in the middle of the southern edge. I brought mine inside the inner loop using curved turnouts. You could do the same on the outside loop, except I don't think curved turnouts are available in the track you are using.

    You could try a turnout on the west curve, coming straight south. That could lead into the west end of the yard. A similar arrangement could gather up the yard on the east end, bringing it up to the east part of the outer loop. That would give you a ladder yard, which would be most excellent!

    Though I am not sure it will all fit...

    Does that make sense?
  17. bearman

    bearman Member

    "You could try a turnout on the west curve, coming straight south. That could lead into the west end of the yard. A similar arrangement could gather up the yard on the east end, bringing it up to the east part of the outer loop. That would give you a ladder yard, which would be most excellent!"

    I think I will play with this idea later on this evening. You are correct, curved turnouts are not possible with the track I am using. I feel the same way about this layout, it is going to be the last and final one. In reality there are three things that I just don't like, ballasting, hence the track, point-to-point operation soley, and massive amounts of soldering (although sometimes it has to be dealt with).
  18. 91rioja

    91rioja Member


    Check out the link in my sig. It is a small point-to-point with a continuous loop for the small children. It may give you a few more ideas.
  19. bearman

    bearman Member

    Yeah, I have already checked it out. I admit however, that your layout can hardly be described as a small point-to-point in my view.
  20. bearman

    bearman Member

    Revised Layout

    Here is my revised layout per what I think is Santa Fe Jack's recommendations on the yard. The different colors set off the three blocks. Thanks to all who have tried to help out. If you have anything additional to add, I would love to hear it.

    Attached Files:

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