Anyone know where I can download some layout plans for an N Scale
layout Approx: 4"x8" (1 Standard Plywood sheet). I've downloaded a few
demo-wares to design my own but they're a pain in the arse to use so I
sure ain't buying them! LOL Unless anyone knows of software that is
easy to use as well as uses the imperial system of measurement (Inch/
Foot) and not metric system.
What I need is a few track plans and materials lists only to give me a
few ideas and an idea how much track I'll need to make them work. I'll
be doing my own environment once I get the rails laid out. Anything in
PDF or any image format would be fine. But keep in mind I'm not
looking to copy anyone else's terrain and/or building layouts just the
rails and only the rails.
I've been a rail fan all of my life, but until know I've only been
interested in Life size scales, AKA The Real Thing... So this will be
my first attempt at putting together a model layout and I'd like to
see whats to be expected.
I'll toss the cat amongst the pigeons for you!
Almost any 4'x8' plan you're going to find will be an expanded trainset
with toy trains going round and round and round ... If as you say you
have experience of 1:1 scale then you're going to want to _model_ trains
in a reasonably realistic setting.
Step 1. decide what sort of trains you want to represent.
Step 2. decide how much you're prepared to forshorten those trains.
Step 3. decide what you want the trains to do on your layout.
Step 4. decide how much in the way of station facilities you will want.
You might decide that trains going round and round is what you want, or
you might want a piece of mainline, or a preservation society or ...
The problem here is that you might have different requirements in a
couple of years when this layout is well on the way to completion.
As to track length, the edge of your 4'x8' board is 24' so 16 yards of
track is a start. (double track around plus a siding)
IMO the area you can see in a single glance is the base measurement for
a realistic scene - if that includes a 180 degree turn you've got a toy
train rather than a model of a railway. That's and area of (say) 3'wide
x 2'6" when you're sitting close.
Consider OO layout plans and space the tracks closer together for more
OK, digest that, reject the bits you don't like and then ask some more
Also IMO CAD track designing at this stage won't help you as much as
throwing some yard lengths of track, some turnouts and set-track on a
table and playing.
I'll most likely be tailoring it to freight activity. A small switch
yard, thru-line, a little roundy round and a bypass or two. Might
maybe someday decide to put a station or two. I'll be building on
mostly flat land, with a few hills but no mountains. (As of yet) I've
also not left out the possibility of making it possible to expand in
the future. So too many mountains and jagged terrain would make that
harder to do since I'd have to break stuff to relocate track so it can
connect to the future expansions. Or maybe I'm wrong..
But thanks for the layout ideas!
Armstrong's "Track Planning for Realistic Operation" would be a good
resource for you. Goes at the 'layout' problem from the viewpoint of
'what needs to be there' to create 'this' particular impression.
The 4 x 8 (2 1/2 x 5) takes a lot of flak, but points were made to be
so allow me to do just that.
Our present-day layouts are geared toward railfans, and for that a
isn't very good. I think, in fact, that the typical Kalmbach Central
with two towns
and a scenic divider is well-suited to the railfan modeler, but I
can't say I like that
style, and it exacerbates one problem of the 4 x 8 - you absolutely,
access to both long sides, for everyday operation, not just occasional
Now, the railfan-type layout is designed to produce a parade of trains
have large staging yards) through realistic scenes, a continuous
hoochie-koochie for the tableside observer. Passing through a scene
once, therefore, has become unpopular, and this is hard on a small
loop plan. Note, however, that the staging of trains is as contrived
in the hobby -- we accept that strain on the brain, with good reason,
considering the sort of railroad we are running. The gigantic staging-
pikes like the Allegheny Midland and the fiddle-yard dependent single-
switching layouts named Tupping Ramsbottom are very different, but
both belong to the realm of railfan layouts.
Another type of layout, very popular in the past, does not emulate a
scene except superficially. The railroad may look very realistic, but
you see is not necessarily what is modeled - an elevated track of
railroad" in the back of Pikesville is actually the same railroad in
of the scene, but somewhere down the simulated line. In fact, this
of railroad, when done well, is a sort of mechanical virtual railroad
simulation. Old magazines and old books such as 101 TRACK PLANS
are full of such layouts, and I think we do somewhat ill if we neglect
consider them. I like this kind of railroad very much, and I think
has come again. With all the interest in virtual simulation games, it
would seem a logical extension!
Take a very simple plan, an oval of track with a single town, two
passing tracks, with a couple of industrial spurs, and an interchange
spur to a one-track "fiddle yard". Every bit of track is in sight,
obscured by some trees or buildings here and there.
Two operators are at work. One is
running a passenger train clockwise, stopping at the town, perhaps
setting out a milk car or something. The other is running a local
switching the industries and taking cars to and from the interchange.
On the surface, it seems limited, but I've had a lot of fun with such
plans. The "round and round" becomes a strength. That one town
represents many, with some set number of laps between each. The
railroad isn't limited, it's infinitely long! Variety comes from the
"gameplay". Even the passenger engineer isn't bored - the situation
when meeting the freight is always different. As far as appearance
goes, if your train board is as high as it should be (unless you have
junior railfans in frequent attendance, in which case seated eye
level may be a good alternative) you shouldn't be able to see much
of the background unless you're looking for it.
Think of the "Inglenook Sidings" plan. It's so simple, and not really
realistic per se, but there's so much fun in it, and in a way it's
realistic indeed. The decisions you make, shuffling cars in limited
space, as quickly as possible, may be presented in condensed form,
but they are problems that most certainly do exist in real life.
Such railroads as Inglenook Sidings and the Great South Pass
are railroads of the "simulation" type.
Finally, to get out of operational concerns, a loop plan has
other great strengths. A little continuous running is good for
any locomotive, and great for breaking in. These plans also
encourage train running, which keeps the track clean.
Most of all: sometimes I just want to be the
trackside observer, and the superficial realism of the scene
that I mentioned is great for this. Bend down and watch that
train clatter across the diamonds in the middle of your figure
8 and for that instant, it's not running laps, it's crossing the
prairie, at one of those rare instances when one road meets
another. It's not too hard to hear the rattle of the big wheels
and imagine the endless countryside flash by. Sure, I could
do this with my point-to-point road, but the price of that brief
inattention wasn't that I'd see the train pass by again...it was
that my MDC 2-6-0 was going to play GG1 and go through the
Furthermore, I found that the narrow shelves were great for
reaching stuff, but unsatisfying...I missed the chance to have
a four-foot deep scene, big enough to feel as if there was a
real town there, not just a trackside scene, even if the tracks
did cross in the back of it.
I do definitely agree that the best way to plan is to build a
table and start puttering away. I have found Atlas' Right
Track Software to be a good (free) way of doing that
virtually, but of course there's nothing like the real thing.
That's what I'm doing right now, puttering out a track plan,
and for the reasons above, I'm definitely going with a loop,
as traditional as I can make it. Why not, I say!
President, a legless 4 x 8 table.
LRX Railfan wrote in
Have you tried Right Track Freeware from Atlas? Like all CAD
systems it is a pain to use at first untill you get the hang
of it. As for track plans you can find some on the Atlas web site
as well as some other sites (Google "Track plans").
Since you want to use a 4x8 layout (not my first choice) you can
do a few things. Any HO scale 4x8 can be converted to N scale in
the same space with a few adjustments to the track plan. You can
also make improvments by increasing the distance between the track
and the edge of the layout.
A few years ago MRP had a concept plan for a railroad based on a
4x8 that could be later cut in half lengthwise to create two linear
scenes that could be part of a larger layout. Somthing you might
want to think about.
If you ask me, the best thing you can do with a 4x8 sheet of plywood
is cut it. Create a longish thin oblong shape 12 or 16 feet long
One of the Kalbach track planning books had such a thing for an
HO railroad project. But as I pointed out, you can adapt that
to N quite easily.
If you are going for small. Consider that a 28" hollow core door
is the equivelent of the 4x8 HO layout, but with 50% more length.
I have adapted several MRR 4x8 layout plans to 6'8"x28" N scale
When I sit here at my computer desk and look out my window on the local
branchline beside the pub, I see a train enter stage right and depart
stage left. (or vice versa) The staging yard - scene - staging yard
makes sense to me. =8^)
The problem for me is that the "interchange" (track) is a foreign
concept. I model European and (seperately) New Zealand Railways. In
Europe the train change engines at borders, but the trains themselves
In New Zealand the nearest might be private lines meeting the Government
Railways. A few wagons get dropped off and a few loads get picked up at
a mainline station, just like a bigger industry.
Err, I kept my posting short in the expectation that further questions
would develop! =8^)
The great thing about model railways is that there are so many variables
that no two layouts ever need look the same nor operate the same.
Anyway, your points are all good and worth stating.