Since Colin has brought up the inevitable argument against the 4 x 8,
let me present
my argument for it:
For a beginning layout the 4x8 has several advantages:
It is wide enough for a reasonably large 22" radius turnback curve. If
this 4x8 layout can become a turnback or loop for a later, shelf plan.
The wide table allows plenty of interesting scenery to be built; it is
wide enough for
a plausible town scene.
The building of a sturdy 4x8 table is easier engineering than a shelf
when plywood comes in 4x8 sheets and lumber in 8 foot lengths.
There are many, many track plans available for this size.
The disadvantages (which Colin is right about) can be dealt with in
The layout can be pushed against a wall or into a corner, thereby
taking up only
6 x 12 or 6 x 10 feet. Reaching the back track will be hard, so design
in a pop-out
section, and avoid putting switches at the table back.
Many old houses have basements or attics that are not very useful as
but are fine for a model railroad. Space isn't always hard to find;
Round-and-round plans are only dull when they are designed wrong.
a lot of them are. The best plans are those which allow either
running and point-to-point or out-and-back operation. Often a bad plan
good with only a simple change, often as simple as turning a switch
I have had 'island' layouts, shelf plans, and a British style switching
layout, and I think
the island type is the best to start from.