I am a late starter to the hobby and am currently researching for my first
layout. I am leaning towards 'n' gauge although my preferred producer
(Fleischmann) seem not to make uk outline. Most probably I will have to go
Continental or opt for the Graham Farish line.
I have settled on DCC as that is the future and I might as well grin and
bear the cost now.
My query is whether my garden shed will be okay for me to use for my
layout?. The shed is dry but obviously gets cold in the winter. Dust seems
to be less than you get in a house so my only problem would appear to be the
I would appreciate any advice on the suitability of a shed for my layout and
any advice on what precautions I should take. The shed is 10'x8' and I
would start with a small 6'x3' layout down one side.
In message , Admin
If it were me, I would cut a couple of holes in the end wall of the
shed, and extend the main line for a few (dozen) scale miles in the
You will find that you are sharing the garden shed with a few (hundred)
other life-forms. In spite of "the shed is dry" it is likely to become
rather damp, especially in the winter, as a result of condensation of
your breath, and as a result of any heating that you may use (that
includes your own body as a heat source).
Apart from that, you should be OK.
Is the shed lined ? If not, consider lining with rock-fibre or similar
insulation, then covering this with hardboard (shiny side towards the
inside), taping the joints and giving it a couple of coats of emulsion.
Also, think about some carpet offcuts or similar on the floor, and
draughtproofing door and window. Finally, try to install a proper lock
(Yale-type), rather than hasp and staple with padlock.
(whose own shed was snugger than his bedroom..)
In my experience of N stuff, as a general rule of thumb;
Japanese and US outline is cheapest and highest quality.
UK is a bit dearer and lower quality (even the new "improved" stuff isn't
that good when you look what the US and Japanese get).
European is more expensive, better quality than UK, not as good as the best
US and Japanese.
DCC in Farish is possible, but not the simplest.
I'd still suggest it for someone starting out; may as well go with DCC from
Don't rule out some of the "less obvious" controller makers, such as
Uhlenbrock (who make Fleishmann's DCC controllers) - I like their Daisy and
Should be OK, so long as you've some expansion joints (or flexibility in the
track to otherwise expand and contract). Watch out for spiders, mice and
other shed life. Condensation may be an issue if its not got adequate
I'd not build a 6*3 layout on the side; reaching across 3ft of layout is a
right pain; at best you'll catch your jumper on something at the front, at
worst you'll stain your back whilst reaching over. .
I'd build a narrower layout down one side - say 1ft to 18in deep, if you
want continuous run, return the tracks up the other side of the shed on a
temporary plank shelf until you get round to doing it properly. I'd also
use as much of the 10ft of run as I could.
I think you are going to have to insulate it, and maybe heat it, to
try and provide a stable climate to control dampness. The problem
wont be rain getting in through a leaky roof, but the formation of
condensation when temperatures cycle from cold to warm through the dew
point. If you can keep the ambient temperature above the dew point
then you can avoid the problem.
If the shed is well insulated, then heating need not be expensive,
and a small wattage electric convector heater with a thermostat can
keep the shed at a reasonable temperature (50F+) when not in use
without costing an arm and a leg, and can be turned up when in use to
get the ambient temperature up to a comfortable level for humans.
A bit of ventilation does no harm either, especially when you are in
the shed, to get rid of all the water vapour that we humans exude :-)
And don't be tempted to use open flame oil heaters - they chuck out an
unbelievable amount of water into the atmosphere.
I am pretty happy that the shed will not be a major issue, I'll follow the
guidance on insulation but not sure if I can endure the laughter from my
wife when I try to carpet the shed. For heating I can use a spare
greenhous electrical heater, works well and has a nice defrost setting. The
idea of narrowing from 3' to 18" sounds good as well.
Thanks, I can now move the dream along a little further. Still not sure
how I'll fit the Cheshire Lines Committee into a Continental setup but I'm
working on that one!
I know it's more expensive but I went the plywood route rather than
hardboard. Plywood has better dimensional stability and it's much easier
to fit shelves etc. without being tied to the frame timbers. And all the
offcuts can be used for more track, or better still, edging the outdoor
boards John Sullivan suggests. (Nothing like running outdoors on a still
evening, lights twinkling, drop of malt....).
Yup, do NOT use a parafin heater, every pint of fuel burnt produces a
pint of water in the air. Best is a pot-belly stove burning coke (you
get to use all that junk mail to get it started) but that requires
firing up, an electric fan heater is probably the next best option.
You can get clever and run a thin ply trunking down from the roof
area to the heater so it draws its air from the top (whewre the warm
air gathers) and blows it out at foot level (whewre the cold air
collects), this reduces the temperature gradient with makes you feel
better and keeps your feet warm especially if you are sitting still in
the room. You can get very uncomfortable if your head gets hot and
your feet cold, doing this also reduces by quite a lot the amount of
heat you will find you need in the room.
If you want to go over the top add an electrostatic 'ion generator' at
the intake end and cut slots into the trunking into which you insert
metal sheets (or varnished ply sheets) coated with grease. That is how
they clean the air in 'clean rooms' and it will help deal with the
dust you generate. These sheets need to be removed, cleaned and
re-greased at intervals.
Do not smoke in the room if you can avoid it. I do not use them so I
cannot comment on the effect of 'smoke units'
A shelf layout running round the walls is preferable for many reasons,
I feel it is better than any solid board design. I had such a layout
in a small shed in N that kept me entertained and I have helped built
a couple for other people.
DStrip lighting is preferable, a strip down each side for preference
to avoid casting a shadow with your body.
Its fine having a shed layout, and it makes a nice 'escape pod' when
things get stressed
The main problem with an unheated, uninsulated garden shed is that the
changes in temperature also bring with them changes in humidity, and
those in turn can wreak havoc on baseboards, trackbeds, anything made of
wood or woodfibre (such as MDF.) Same is true of unheated, uninsulated
attics, garages, and basemenst (cellars.) Also changes in temperature
can affect rail length in nasty ways, although that effect is usually
not as great as the effects of humidity on the underlying track bed.
People have had success with a site such as yours, but I wouldn't risk
it, not in these days of relatively cheap insulation materials which
reduce the cost of heating. The shed should be kept at or above about 15
degrees Centigrade to reduce the risks of humidity changes.
Don't you guys have "drywall"?
Besides, if you apply insulation, then you need a poly vapour barrier. Put
the vapour barrier between the inside wall and the insulation.
Standard North American construction procedure where the vast majority of
our houses are wood framed, with 2 x 4s, and have various decorative
cladding on the outside that's made from either wooden "siding", plastic
"siding", brick veneer, with full bricks or fake bricks, or stucco.
Interior walls are clad in "drywall". foundations either concrete slab,
crawl space, or basement. Nice, warm, comfortable, houses.
Home of the Great Eastern Railway
Further points :-
Stand shed clear of ground on low supports if possible- mine wasn't, and so
the floor rotted and fell apart (mind you, it toook about 25 years to do
this, having originally been the site hut when my parents built the house).
Concrete blocks or railway sleepers are a possibility, though these latter
are currently stupidly expensive.
I'd definitely avoid a coke fire, as CO might prove lethal if not used in a
building with adequate ventilation. To be honest, a 60 W bulb was adequate
most of the time in mine, with a fan heater on the few occassions when it
got really cold.
I have used plywood in a shed but also 'contiboard' (hard plastic
coated high density chipboard, possibly similar to MDF sold as
shelving), mounted on spur shelving at 15 inch centres.
On top of the contiboard I used fibre insertion used between concrete
sections on buildings to allow for expansion (in the buildings). This
is a lightweight felt material. Not much cheaper, if at all, than
sundela. This gives very quiet running.
I made slots in the surface using a screwdriver for wires and wire in
tube point control (messy job as the felt frays). Once all was ready
for track laying I coated the felt with dilute PVA, not at all sure
this was necessary. Track (peco) was glued down using diluted flexible
(book binding) PVA, you can buy this from model shops from Anita
Decor, you can also buy it direct if you want to buy a lot.
Its been in there for many years, the felt and track was replaced once
when I changed the layout but the shelving in an unheated shed in
Manchester (damp if not wet). The Max Min thermometer indicates that
temperatures have ranged between about zero and up to 90 deg F over
the years. I just ran a rubber over the track, connected the power
and ran an 0-6-0 tank round with no problems at all.
No sign of warping or any other distortion. I used a lot of sectional
(Minitrix) track and put a steel rule between the sections as I
assembled the layout, gives a nice clickety clack and deals with
possible expansion problems. There are no indications of problems on
the Peco flex track sections (mostly the hidden tracks).
One odd point is that a strip of flet screwed to a strip of exterior
ply with some track secured to it using wire instead of glue is still
in good and useable condition after several years propped up in the
The point being that this would serve for quiet running on sections of
track outside (such as the suggested loops). Sitting the track on Peco
foam would add a measure of realism if required. I would suggest
using Slaters 20thou brass wire to secure the track - two holes
punched through felt and supporting timber, wire looped over the
sleepers, down through the holes and twisted underneath. I used steel
florists wire, its still there after several years outside but I would
expect it to rust away eventually
Re coke stoves, you need to buy a proper one. A friend lived on a
canal boat for years, he now has such a stove in his living room and
another (smaller) one in his garage cum workshop with a zig-zag
chimney (apparently a lot of the heat comes from the stove pipe).
He tells me they are safer than parafin/butane heaters from a CO