Layout Design

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 removing nosp_am to talk more or to send ideas.

Here is the link to the bench size/shape:

formatting link
Thanks for any help.


Reply to
Loading thread data ...

Jason, there is a layout design group on Yahoo that loves problems like this. Join the group and ask there - you'll get a lot of help.

Reply to
Larry Blanchard

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 locomotives.

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.?

Reply to
Steve Caple


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'.



Reply to
Colin 't Hart

Thanks, do you know the name of the group?


Reply to

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.


Reply to

It is the Layout Design Special Interest Group, or ldsig. Search in Yahoo Groups for ldsig and you will find it.

Peter Gross

Reply to
Peter J. Gross

Jason, the two I'm involved with are the Layout Construction and small layout design groups. I think there are others that are applicable, but I already get more than enough email :-).

Reply to
Larry Blanchard

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 stairs? Etc.

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. Then you start building. And you will revise some of the track plan details as you build.... :-)

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... :-)

Have Fun!

Reply to
Wolf Kirchmeir

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:

formatting link
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?)

Thanks again


Reply to

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 footprint.

Reply to
Steve Caple

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).

Reply to
Steve Caple

Jason wrote: [...] 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 operators.

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 trackplan) requires.

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 terminal", etc.


Reply to
Wolf Kirchmeir

PolyTech Forum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.