Small layouts

There's been a discussion going on in one of the Yahoo groups as to the definition of a "small" layout. The British members lean towards
something I'd call a micro or a diorama. The American members mention the proverbial 4x8. What's the opinions of folks here?
How can a small layout be made interesting? A bridge route between two interchanges comes to mind.
Should there be some provision for continuous running if size permits? I say yes. There's times I just want to sit and watch a train go by and there's always the need for breaking in a new piece of equipment.
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Larry Blanchard wrote:

"Small" can also be affected by scale - a 4x8 N scale layout (at least in my mind) would be "larger" than a 4x8 HO scale layout, though the physical size is the same. I tend to think much smaller than 4x8 in HO is too small (but then I'm fortunate enough to have more space available).
I tend to lean towards switching layouts, since I enjoy operations, but I agree about the continuous running aspect (and have such on my 12x18 around the room layout). I do think that any layout should have some interchange provision, either an interchange track or a barge or something similar, to at least give the impression of a larger size or a connection with the proverbial "outside world".
Matt Furze
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IMO a solid 4x8 is a mistake because you need maybe a couple of feet clear all the way round so you can't stick it in a corner.
You can use the same board to build 4 2x4 modules giving a 16x2 layout, either an American style switching layout of a British terminus to fiddle yard.

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A small layout is whatever size would fill the space available to you now.

Look at some of the layouts on Carl Aendt's Micro Layouts web site.

Absolutely. But not so that one can see both ends of the terrain and All of the scenery at the same time.
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I have a "small" model railway. It occupies a 12 x 16 foot room, "small" by North American standards. :-)
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Cheers.

Roger T.
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Gotcha beat. (Can you "win" by being smaller?) My train room's only 11 1/2 x 14.
I designed it with several goals in mind: the first being that the essential track plan was based on the east end of the Santa Fe's "Kite Line" branch that ran in a loop eastwards from the San Bernardino yards through Redlands and Mentone, then swung north to East Highlands, northwest to Patton and Del Rosa, and then due west to rejoin the Santa Fe mainline only about a mile north of where it departed for Redlands in the first place.
(Historical info for anyone who's interested at: http://www.highlandhistory.org/Kite%20Track%20Tour-Draft.pdf )
This gave me a prototype-based excuse to have a loop of track (with hidden staging) that could be used for engine break-ins or just simple "train watching" by non-railroader guests.
The second goal was to have as much operating potential packed into this small space as I could manage while still avoiding the "bowl of spaghetti" syndrome. I've got 19 different industries and a couple of "switching puzzles" included, which looks as if it ought to provide somewhere around a 3-hour operating cycle for a single engineer.
The third goal was to place the railroad at an indeterminate and selectively compressed location somewhere in southern California so that I could (A) look out the window to see what the scenery should look like, and (B) include as many typically southern California-based industries and scenes as I could.
An advantage I hadn't thought of beforehand turns out to be the fact that nothing on the layout is much more than 2 feet away from your eyeballs, which gives me the opportunity to do a lot of "foreground modeling" on everything from trees to rolling stock.
Fortunately, I *enjoy* foreground modeling!
~Pete
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To me, 4x8' is the classic definition of a small layout.
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Larry Blanchard skriver:

I have plans for a small layout http://moppe.dk/mibane.html
"Rough google translation": <http://translate.google.com/translate?prev=hp&hl &js=y&u=http%3A%2F%2Fmoppe.dk%2Fmibane.html&sl&tl=en&history_state0=>
Klaus
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Modelbane Europas hjemmeside: http://www.modelbaneeuropa.hadsten.dk
Min egen hjemmeside nu med nyt domne http://www.moppe.dk
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Larry Blanchard wrote:

Size is relative, as others have pointed out. IMO, "small" has several aspects.
First, there's obviously physical size - I'd say a small layout is transportable in one or two or three pieces. But I also think "small" alludes to the time and effort needed to bring the layout to a presentable level of completion. IMO, if it takes a year's worth of spare time or less, it's a small layout. If you can do it in a couple of month's worth or thereabouts, it's a micro layout (actually, a micro layout takes a lot of time per square foot to make, precisely because there's so little space. You have to plan and modify your plans, and fit and fiddle to make it look right and work well.)
By the above parameters, a 4x8 layout is near the upper limit of "small". Besides, a 4x8 layout actually takes a lot of room - if you allow 2-foot aisles on three sides (not very much space for a person of adult girth), you need a space 8ft x 10ft, which is a smallish bedroom. So you might as well cut up the 4x8 and make a shelf layout around 2 or 3 sides of that room. Done right, there would still be room for a single bed, storage under the layout, maybe a desk, etc. Ideal solution.
Anecdote: A year or so ago, I built a 31 inch x 48 inch layout (N-scale) for show purposes in three weeks. (The odd size was the result of cutting a 15.5"x48" slab of 4" thick foam insulation board in half, and gluing the pieces together.) It's loosely based on "Oyster Bay" in 101 Track Plans.
I'm retired, so I could work on it several hours a day, but even so I only put in about 40-50 hours all told. The layout isn't complete, but it operates, and looks OK. The scenic base is 90% finished (I left a corner unfinished to show people how it's made.) There are some buildings and trees on it, the tunnel portals are actually painted, etc. It could take several more weeks worth of adding details - more buildings, trees, roads, etc. I putter away at it, no pressure. I've made the bay smaller, mostly to gain more space for the village by the sea. I've made a lighthouse (paper model from Fiddler's Green) to get a sense of the effect of a "proper" model, collected some Woodland Scenics trees, etc.
A person working full time would need 1 to 2 hours a week for a year to "finish" the layout described above. IMO, that makes it a small layout. Anyone with average ambition, ie, more than I have ;-), could make the layout much more presentable than it is at present after about 80 hours of work and puttering.
Cheers, wolf k.
PS: just came back from a quick trip to visit aging aunts in England and Austria. Didn't get much time for railway photos, but will be posting a few over the next week or so on alt.binaries.pictures.rail over the next couple of weeks. If you haven't found that news group, check it out. It's very friendly.
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