Layout Expansion

I finally have a bit of room to start my first layout ever. I am looking into doing smaller layout ~4x3ft in that area. My question pertains to that train 'kits' that Loblaws and Atlantic Superstore were selling a few years back.

Would the power supply in that kit be good for any expansion or would I need a new power supply to handle my small layout?


And looking forward to getting started!!

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I am assuming by 'kits' you mean HO scale train sets, with (usually) a circle or

36" x 45" oval of track. Your 3 x 4 foot layout would be pretty simple, I imagine, just the oval with maybe two stub-ended sidings, and the ability to run one train at a time. The power pack in the set should be fine. If in the future you want to buy one with a better speed control and more power, you can always do that when you need to.

I think you're smart to start with a small layout, though I'd suggest a

4' x 4' -- it's a more standard size for plywood, and you'll have more room around the tracks for trains to fall onto if they derail. Put the oval diagonally if you like - it gives you a longer run and looks less stiff.

Cordially yours, Gerard P.

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The power pack in those sets is good for running one loco, sometimes two, depending on the quality of the locos. The p/p will supply about

1/2amp. But wire the structure lighting (if any) on its own independent circuit. Basic rule for conventional DC cab-control: one power pack per train.

If you use remote control turnouts, you should use a third power source for them, but you're unlikely to have enough of them on your small layout to make much difference. You will notice a stutter in the loco's motion every time you throw a turnout, though.

Since you are starting from scratch, you might want to look into DCC. You will likely have one-cab control, so you will have at most a few sidings with on-off switches for storing locos. Conversion to DCC would then take very little change in wiring. But decide now: you will want to go beyond 4x3 pretty soon, and conversion to DCC will look daunting when you have a half dozen or more locos to convert.

BTW, if you put that 4x3 layout in the middle of the room, and allow a comfortable 3ft of access space on all four sides, it will actually occupy a space of 10x9 - the size of small bedroom. A round-the-wall shelf layout in such a room would use the space much more efficiently. Think about it.


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Wolf Kirchmeir


I was wondering how long it would take for somebody to jump in with this. A shelf layout has much more work involved to get it going, and furthermore must either totally encircle a room or have sections at least 3' wide for turnback curves, if continuous running is to be possible. I have found I just can't do without the possibility of letting the trains run, if only for breaking in and testing purposes. A 3 x 4 foot table wouldn't have to take up 9 x

10 feet of space, either - you could easily shove it into a corner or against a wall. There's no difficulty in reaching across a 3 foot table if you must retrieve a derailed train from the other side.

A free-standing table, especially if it has a solid, flat top, is probably the easiest way to get going. Start small and you don't get discouraged early on. If the layout is designed right, you can always work it into a shelf-type one later as a turnback loop.

Cordially yours, Gerard P.

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