Ok, so thanks to the valuable input from the fine people on this group, I've
decided to have a go at a larger layout. I've been tinkering with layout
plans and I just can't seem to come up with something I like. As such, I've
provided a link to my bench size/shape and ask anyone here that are
interested in helping me with a layout design that will fit into it. I'm
going to try mt hand at using HO Code 83 flextrak and will primarily run
freight. I'm working on a list of industries I'd like to use and so far
they include Coal and Lumber but feel free to add any others you feel
appropriate. I'd like to have some over/under and a tunnel or two if
possible as my 3 year old son really likes that. You can email me at
jason@nosp_am.gcftech.com removing nosp_am to talk more or to send ideas.
Here is the link to the bench size/shape:
Thanks for any help.
The 4 foot width of the lower left part of the dogbone restricts you to 22"
or smaller radius for a return loop in that area. If you could spare
another foot, you could increase that to as much as 27", with a great
improvement in appearance and ability to operate larger rolling stock and
And speaking of which sort of cars and locos, you need to identify the
other constraints in terms of era (30s - 50s, mainly 40 foot or smaller
cars, or modern with increasingly large feight cars), class (main line,
branch line) and locomotives (large or small steam; diesels of which
generation) - that sort of thing. Do you want a minimal classification
yard, will you want a turntable [and roundhouse?], etc.?
I'll have to check to see if I can make it 5 feet. Being pretty new, I'm
not really sure about which era or anything like that. I really like model
railroads, but not a history buff at all when it comes to replicating
anything real. I know I'd like to do some freight using mostly modern locos
with maybe one steamer. I'd like a decent yard in there somewhere for
switching and a roundhouse would be nice if possible. Given my space
available, I'm not really sure what I'm limited to.
Thanks for the input.
Both would be tough - a turntable and roundhouse can take up a lot of
room. A big driver in planning for them is how long does the turntable
need to be? 13"? 14"? 14.5"? 15"? You'd need 14 or larger to handle
any articulateds - the Bachmann 2-6-6-2 will fit on a 14" I believe, but
it's one of the smallest articulateds; Proto 2000 2-8-8-2 would need a bit
more, and a Big Boy would probably need over 15. The new Walthers
turntable is 18" - should handle anything, but, man, that's a HUGE
PS: what's the possibility of extending classification / staging tracks
OVER the computer / workbench area? (Possibly enclosed, to keep falling
tools or books off the trains.)
Which brings to mind another variable: layout height. Your three year old
will need a tall stool to sit on for a while, anyway, so you might make it
tall enough to look good from a standing position and to clear that
workbench (something around 54" or so).
Can you update your room/bench plan with it's relation to the (rest of
the) room? A clearer image of what the room/space restrictions are will
lead to a better plan.
Eg. is this the bench space with walkaround on all sides? Or is it part
of a room that's available to you? Are the restrictions due to things
like the furnace or the washing machine? etc.
If you give us a complete map of the room with all obstacles and
indicate on this map where you think the layout will go it will help us
to 'think out of the box'.
If the sides labelled "...wall" are up against the wall, then the left
and right end of the layout are too deep for comfortable working. You
can reach 2ft reasonably easily, 2-1/2 feet if you have to, and up to
3ft if you use a step stool and are really, really careful. And have
something to lean on. Don't ask how I know! :-) If there is space
between the layout benchwork and the wall, you should have at least a
2-foot aisles (aisles eat up sapce...)
To help you out better, we need a plan of the room as a whole, with
off-limits areas marked clearly, as well obstructions like furniture,
appliances, and such. Also, where are the doors and windows, and the
If the layout space as drwan is roughly what you have available, then a
twice-around oval that crosses over itself will fit nicely, with about
20-22" design radius. You have space for a yard, and a couple of towns
(with passing sidings and industries.) But that's about all.
If you have already built the benchwork, I'm sorry to have to tell you
that you jumped the gun. First, you design a layout to fit the available
space. Then you design the benchwork. Then you revise the layout. Then
you redesign the benchwork. <Repeat as necessary> Then you start
building. And you will revise some of the track plan details as you
Since you have 3 year old son who likes to watch trains, you need to get
trains running pretty quickly, I think. Keep in mind the following when
designing/choosing a track plan:
a) Can the layout be built in stages, so that you get an oval built
quickly, and build the rest of the layout at a slower pace?
b) Is the layout simple enough that it won't be a maintenance burden?
By the way, there are several books on building complete layouts
available. I strongly suggest that you buy one or more of them. You
don't have to follow the track plan, but they will answer all your
questions, including the ones you haven't thought of yet. Most of the
layouts are small enough that stretching and bending them to fit your
space would give you a pretty good plan. So go to a real hobby shop (not
an on-line catalogue) already! And look at actual books, flipping
through their actual pages with your actual fingers and reading bits and
pieces here with your actual eyes... :-)
Thanks for the feedback. I went out and picked up a couple of trackplan
books to get some ideas. I've also put up a link to my entire room
available and what's nearby. You can see it at:
I haven't started any benchwork yet so no worries there. I'll be sure to
have a good plan laid out before I do anything else. Being fairly new I'm
at a loss as to some of the terminology so any references you can point me
to would be nice. I'm finding a lot of newbie help guides and sites but
most of them seem to lose me in translation :) (ie; Twice Around?)
removing nosp_am to talk more or to
[...] I'm finding a lot of newbie help guides and sites but
Here are a few terms used by layout planners. I'm sure others will add
to and comment on this list.
Twice around: the track goes round the available space twice. It has to
cross over itself at least once (whether on the level or via a bridge
depends whether there is room for a grade.) Also know as "folded oval."
A common scheme for a 4x8 table layout. Sometimes called "over and under."
Oval: a single round'n'round loop of track; may be multi-tracked.
Walk-in (layout): a layout arranged so that you don't have to "duck
under" any part of it to get to run it or work on it.
Peninsula: a chunk of walk-in layout projecting into the room, usually
to make room for a loop (see below). Sometimes called a lobe.
Shelf layout: a layout built on one shelves, which may or may not
encircle the room. Many walk-in layouts consist of a combination of
shelves and peninsulas.
Aisle: the space next to or between sections of layout used by the
Continuous run: the capability of just letting the train run round and
round the layout. The simplest version is the oval (see below.) Many
layouts are designed for non-continuous operation, but have a "sneak off
track" to allow for continuous running.
Point to point: operation between two terminals; layout designed for
this style of operation.
Out and back: operation from a single terminal to which the train
returns; layout designed for this style of operation.
Dogbone: an oval squeezed in the middle, so it looks like the
stereotypical bone as drawn in comic strips.
Folded dogbone: a dogbone with one end bent around and raised so that
it's above the other end.
Loop: aka turn-back loop, which describes it nicely.
Stacked loops: one loop above the other.
Staging: one or more tracks whose sole purpose is to hold trains "off
stage" until run. May be hidden or open, double ended or single ended.
Also called layover tracks.
Fiddle yard: A term coined by the Brits for a) staging; b) a yard used
to re-arrange trains by hand.
Operation: a) the mechanical/electrical functioning of the train and
layout; b) the scheme adopted for running trains, usually to simulate
real railroad practice, more or less.
Helix: a screw-shaped stack fo track to connect two levels of layout.
The train climbs (descends) round and round it to change levels.
Multi-level layout: a layout built on two or more levels, scenically and
in benchwork independent of each other, and connecteed with a helix or
long grade to get trains fron level to the othere.
Mushroom: a type of multi-level layout.
Grade: a) the elevation of track above some arbitrary zero level (sea
level in real life surveying); b) the trackbed and/or location of track;
c) a sloping stretch of track to raise (lower) it as terrain (or
At grade: on the same level
Siding: a piece of track connected at both ends to the main line.
Spur: a piece of track connected at one end only to the mainline, or to
a siding; used to reach isdustries, for example. A really long spur will
be called a:
Branch, branch line: a piece of mainline that leaves the main route at a
junction in order to reach some revenue producing place some distance away.
Yard: any siding or spur used to rearrange the order of cars in a train,
or for some other, usually specified, purpose, eg, storage yard,
intermodal yard, etc. Usually has two or more tracks, but single-track
yards exist in actuality as well as on layouts.
Station: a) the place where passengers get on and off the train; b) any
point named for timetabling purposes; c) a depot.
Team track: a spur or siding used to deliver cars to cutomers who don't
have a spur of their own. So-called because in the Olden Days, a wagon
drawn by a team of horses drew up alongside the car for un/loading.
Terminal: a) a place where a wire terminates, ie is connected to some
other wire or a power pack, etc; b) the end point of a branchline; c),
for timetabling purposes, any point where trains begin or end their
journeys; d) engine or other servicing facility, usually named "Engine
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