minimum roof height to build a model railroad?

i don't have room for my future railroad model in my basement, then i
was thinking about building it at the top of my house, just under the
roof. i have a 5x8 meters (16'8"x26'8") unused area just under the
house roof. the roof isn't flat, however; it is about 2 meters (6'8")
high over the door and a little more than 40cm (1'4") all along the
other 3 walls.
i have 2 questions:
1. what's the average clearance *under* a model railroad? can as
little as 50/60cm (2') of free air underneath the model be enough? can
you think about "playing" sat on a (low) chair?
2. what about the minimum roof height above the model?
i'm not thinking about doing something covering the whole floor (thing
that i could never build and finish in a lifetime), but the biggest i
can think of it, the longer the rails will be: i'd like to do
something "U"-shaped to let long "intercities" run for many seconds
before reaching the opposite end.
i know these questions sound silly for you experienced modelers, but i
live in a place where almost nobody does model railroading and i don't
know who to ask to...
as always, thanks in advance.
Reply to
Gianni Rondinini
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Gianni, It is really a compromise in this case. Technically there is nothing to prevent you from running a layout 20cm above the floor.Th problem comes from 2 fronts: 1) it is a royal pain in the ass to build something that low and 2) the lower the layout the more toy-like it looks. I model in n-scale and my layout height is 55" (about 140cm), which is just below eye level and gives (for me) the best appearance. Sitting down while operating would allow one to lower this height. Try this: sit on a low chair (preferably one you can roll about like a desk chair) and measure how far your shoulders are off the ground. About 5 cm less than that would be your ideal height for best appearance. At about 50/60cm you would have to be sitting on the floor to get that effect. If the layout is at waist level, you will lose a lot of realism, especially in n-scale. On the other hand, the trains will still run... Hope that helps,
Franz T.
Reply to
Franz T
it does, indeed.
Reply to
Gianni Rondinini
Gianni Rondinini schrieb am 29.01.2007 17:11:
How much space do you need to do a soldering job overhead? That would be the bare minimum for me.
You will need at least a minimum back drop after the last track to have something to catch the eye. Such back drop should be at least 2/3" (20 cm) heigh.
Reply to
Reinhard Peters
You questions are intriguing and by no means easy to answer. I guess it all comes down to what aspect of model railroading is of most interest to you. I remember reading in a very old MR of a person who was into operation and gave no thought to scenicing at all. He built his railroad virtually on the floor. His name IIRC was Watson House and his scale was O. Would I do it that way? No! But that's because I enjoy building scenery.
Franz has given you several pieces of good advice. However, the matter of personal preference in still the prime consideration. He suggests a height below shoulder level. I would prefer a few inches below eye level. (Because I have a multilevel system obvious compromises are necessary. Heights on my system range from a mid-thigh hidden staging yard to an above eye level area on my highest tier.) Neither of us is right per se. Only you can decide how you want to view your railroad. Two additional points before leaving this area: Remember to consider width. Effective reach to rear areas diminishes with height. Will you be sharing your railroad with others? Even my main operational level is too high for my grandchildren to observe without the aid of stools. Oh well, they'll grow.
HTH. Best of luck in the design of your system. Thank you.
Reply to
I don't think it's a matter of air flow under the models. If you have whatever track you plan to use tacked down to plywood, there is little to no air space under the track itself. The minimum would be the height of the rails. I'm running Lionel FasTrack on the carpeted floor of my living room right now with no problems.
I'm actually kind of partial to laying on the floor while watching the trains run. I guess I'm a kid that way. But I like watching the light of the loco come at me and see it whiz by.
Assuming you'll be using plywood, or whatever other surface, to build the layout upon, how low you can go depends only on how low it can be while still making it easy for you to get underneath to deal with the wiring.
You can do it on the floor if you like. But then hiding all the wiring for a large layout will be a hassle. With a platform of some sort, you can drill through and run the wiring underneath.
Rule of thumb: If a hi-cube box car crashes into a low overhang, it's too low. ;) If your highest car fits, you're good to go.
Otherwise, you can run them through a long tunnel with barely enough room for them to fit without a problem. I've never heard of model trains overheating to be a problem.
Of course if you have a smoking locomotive (which I happen to love) in a very tight area, you may find you'll need to clean the smoke residue off the cars as well as the engine.
I haven't been here long, but I've found there is no such thing as a silly question. The most experienced people here understand that each person starts as a beginner.
I envy the room you have. I live in a two bedroom apartment right now and am only beginning to look at houses. At least a partially finished basement is going to be a must for me.
Reply to
Lots of useful responses to your question so far! If it were my space I'd use the outer low edges of the space for staging tracks and then utilize the much narrower area at a better height for the scenicked area, with climbing tracks between the two heights. Perhaps the minimum height would be to have the trains at eye height while sitting on the floor, and to operate the railway from sitting on an office chair. The other height constraint with this scheme would be to have comfortable access to the rear tracks while crawling under the front scenic sections.
Important point! Insulate the loft ceiling and provide ventilation BEFORE you start layout building. This is the part of the house that collects all the hot air from the house below and all the heat from the sun shining on the roof. It also gets very cold in cold weather.
Reply to
Greg Procter
Greg Procter spake thus:
Not to mention dust. You could add an inch or so to your scenery in no time.
Reply to
David Nebenzahl
I forgot about the wiring in my previous post. On my current layout I tried something different: I used hollow-core flush doors for a base on a simplified L-girder frame. Next I used Woodland Scenics risers (4" minimum) and inclines for my roadbed. Then I put the wiring ON TOP of the hollow core doors (the layout is U-shaped, using 4 24"x80" door panels, giving me 4'x6'8" on each side of the "U" with 1 3'x6"8" door connecting them) Having made sure that the plan was what I really wanted, and that my wiring was virtually bomb-proof and everything ran for several months without a glitch, I took a deep breath and proceeded to cover my wiring with hardshell scenery. ( I figured that the wiring for my house is hidden in the walls, so why the hell not??) So far, I have not had ANY problems with that. I also made all my connections using crimp-on butt splices and spade connectors. I hate soldering, especially overhead.. I know that if I ever decide to make any changes, it will be a minor PITA, but I'll cross that bridge if and when I get to it.
Franz T.
Reply to
Franz T
Depending on the humidity in the room you may want to leave enough room for air circulation under the layout or you may get mold. 6" should be enough? Do some cardboard mockups and 'play' a little to see what is comfortable. at the 1'4" level you may be banging your head on the ceiling just to get in there.
Reply to
J Barnstorf
Don't forget the option of hinging the layout so you could wire without getting under it.
Reply to
Larry Blanchard
i wanted to thank everybody for your precious suggestions and hints.
i'll let you know what i think i may do and, perhaps, i'll take some photos of the whole area so that you can have a look at it.
thanks once more.
Reply to
Gianni Rondinini
IIRC Watty House's railroad was operated from a control pit on a landing, as a lot of old houses have, partway up the attic stairs. I read that somewhere.
Reply to

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