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Plucking (and reworking some of) this first part out of my original thread, posted in Layout Design & Construction:

I've worked for a couple weeks on this track plan, reading up on different ideas, revising the plan, fixing mistakes, working in buildings and I already have and also trying to find other things I'd like to use to fill in the gaps. Also, big thanks to those of you who chimed in on suggestions for the initial track plan. I appreciate every bit of advice! So I've made some changes too...

My room is small (a little over 6x10 with a windowsill area on the lower right roughly 15 inches deep, where I will create some big-city depth to the background...I hope), but I want to start small -- the thought being, when my sons are older, if they want (let's hope) their own layout to play around with, and I'm still interested in a bigger layout, they can have this one and I'll build something bigger in a different room.

Lastly, had I known a million years ago that I'd have a small room to use, I'd have collected N scale. As it is, I have a ton of HO scale stuff and no N scale, so a scale change isn't going to happen. Way too much invested, and I'm not selling it all. :)

So here's the updated track plan:
layout slanted oval v2.jpg

When I thought of a layout this small, I figured it would just be a collection of track, industry and buildings, most of them just placed somewhere in no particular "order." Yet, I somehow was able to separate/progress the individual locales here (starting with farmland in the lower left, progressing to small town in the top middle, on to city and industry in the lower right. I'm planning on using the sidings not so much as an "operations" layout, but more of a "parking lot" and if I feel like dragging a train of grain cars out around the layout, I can stop off, pick them up, give them a couple turns around the loops and park them again. Same with the industries in the lower right. I'm looking more to run the trains and create scenery more than stand and operate the sidings and businesses.

I used that SCARM program for this, so each box is 5"x5", for what that's worth. Here are the two 3D renderings I pulled from SCARM:
3d orig plan 1.jpg
3d orig plan 2.jpg

Lastly, I'll spare you the picture of the room at the moment -- I'll save it for when the thing is pretty much cleared out (there's still a few odds and ends in there). I've got more work to do in there, plus I need to figure out exactly how I'm going to approach building the benchwork for this thing, given the wide variety of options out there (shelf brackets? legs? what size lumber?).

But at least I'm committed. I went to the Great Midwest Train Show in Wheaton, Ill., yesterday (as I do most months "in season" and especially around the holidays) and was able to pick up almost every single piece of track I need -- some of it used, some new, including the 30 pieces of Flextrack -- for about $180 total! I was pretty psyched about that, especially since I priced almost all of this closer to $400 online at a certain Web site.


Oh, and just for your knowledge...I'm going with DC and Atlas Code 100 track, except for the curved turnouts, for which I'm planning on getting Shinohara turnouts there. I have a variety of roadnames, but my hope is to run CN and CP equipment predominantly, with an occasional "surprise" roadname whenever I feel compelled. I'm not planning on operating the layout as much as I am planning to let the trains run around while I design, work on and appreciate the scenery.

Anyway, sorry for the long opening salvo here...I suspect as I make progress, things will shorten up a bit. :)

Enough for now...thanks and I hope you enjoy following along my journey!



BN Modeller
Looking forward to following along!
Is the room finished or bare walls and joists?
@Rico: It's a finished room that appears to have formerly been a home office. There are (no joke) about two dozen power outlets and at least two phone lines in the room (remember, it's about 6x9 right now), and it's pretty much tongue-and-groove boards (like wainscoting) from top to bottom...but I'm going to have to rip some of it out. The area where the left-hand side of my track plan will be currently features two sets of 20-inch-deep "built-in" shelves, one facing the train room, the other half facing the laundry room (with a "wall" between). So I'm going to tear down the wall and shelves from the layout up, and the mountain and backdrop in the upper left of my track plan will serve as the "wall" between the two rooms, with a sliding access door in the base of the mountain (in the laundry room) so I can get in there in case of a disastrous derailment in the tunnel. I'll post some pics later.

@gator: Thanks...I hope to live up to the challenge of making it fun! :)
A couple pictures of the room "mostly empty" (TRUST ME, it was way WAY more full of junk before). Still a ways to go to get it ready, but at least I'm getting a more clear picture of the space.

The above photo is looking toward the window on the right (where the old Mac Classic is sitting...yep, that's an old Mac Classic). The electric panels are behind the door cut into the wall on the left-hand side. I'll remove that door since the layout will practice come right up to the bottom of the opening at grade level.
This is the other side -- this is going to be the "fun" can see the half-wall shelf that's behind the door when you open it. And the wall to the right is shelving in the laundry room (just beyond this wall). I'm going to cut out those shelves and the top portion of the wall to create the left-hand side of my track plan. The mountain/tunnel will be on the right-hand side of this photo.

OK, enough for now...back to cleaning...
OK, I'm 100% committed (as though buying some track really committed me). I just pulled down a portion of the outer part of the shelf wall that I'm going to wipe out to give me the additional 20 inches on the left side of the layout that I have planned. I pulled the top shelf off as well. It was a makeshift thing supported on three sides by OSB/MDF type stuff, probably about 3/4" wide and 2x4s as well. After I took it down, I thought, "Wait, this is automatic benchwork right here, why would I even think about cutting this down?!" So I measured -- it's about 48.5" off the floor in the laundry room. Until I get the interior wall down, I won't know exactly how it lines up, but it appears that it's going to be higher by 2-4 inches than the imaginary line below the electrical box clearance and at the windowsill.

So, back to the drawing board on the track plan to see if I can make this grade work, where the high point would now be the left side of the layout and the low point would be the right side...I'm crossing my fingers, otherwise I'll need to be even more creative over by the electrical box access point and window.

More soon...
Busted my rear today and got the entire half wall down. I need to relocate some electrical, as you can see, but otherwise, everything came out great. It's easy when the previous owner(s) did a half-ass job on the walls. I mean, they're basement, non-load walls, but still, do a good job.


anyway, I got the wall opened up and put the laser level on, and was happy to see that I won't have to mess with the bench work elevation as much as I thought. I wanted the layout higher up anyway, and I'll have to get creative by the electric panels, but I'm happy it won't take a million changes to make this work.

im also happy that the wall will do a really good job of saving me some money and time for bench work. That's a great thing in my book!


Got the urge to build one of my buildings that has been sitting here for years. So I started in on the Depots by John Windy City Series Bungalow #2 in recent days. I grew up just inside the Bungalow Belt in Chicago, and I now live in the Bungalow Belt, in a Chicago-style bungalow.


I've always absolutely loved these houses. We didn't have one growing up, but my grandparents did, and so there's a special place in my heart/brain for them. Beyond the nostalgia of my grandparents' house though, I love them architecturally and what they meant socially and in the realm of Chicago history. I enjoy pointing out to people who assume that "They're all the same though," that in fact, they are NOT. Look closely at, say, "sister" houses that were clearly built at the same time on the same block, and you'll notice that the brick patterns, brick styles, limestone trim, stained glass windows, etc., etc. -- the details -- often were slightly different.

There certainly was a "mass production" feel to things like the size, scale, room layouts, but every individual craftsman that came through these often appointed them every so slightly differently. It's very neat to think that John Q. Craftsman, who was maybe a bricklayer, would work on one house, then move to the next one and say, "Maybe I'll set these bricks in this pattern this time, as opposed to the one I did next door."

To me, that was a colder form of artistry that deserves acknowledgement. :)

Anyway, many years ago, I began to try and scratch-build a Chicago-style bungalow -- I still have that work unfinished in a box somewhere, and I'll get back around to it, for sure. But for now, these bungalow kits (I also have #1) will suffice. I wish they were still offered...I stumbled on them on eBay many years ago and was only able to snap up one of each. Which is better than zero, but hey, the appeal of the Chicago-style bungalow is to model several of them side-by-side, like they do at the Museum of Science & Industry here in Chicago. In fact, I think I read once that Depots by John used the tooling for the ones on the museum's layout, which were custom made for the museum. So that's cool.

So, yeah, that's the update for now. It's been busy, but I'm hoping to get to benchwork here soon! I'm itching to get moving on this layout, as you can tell, since I'm building stuff!
Ask and you shall receive...well, at least one portion of the benchwork is done. Stayed up late to get this done. From here, I have to build supports for the rest, not just plop it on a half-wall like I did here. That's going to take a little planning on my part.

This is the 21x79.5 run on the left-hand side of the layout plan. The tunnel will to in the back left of the first (non-panoramic) shot, acting as a partial wall for the pass-through that I cut out to get this space. The first shot is the view from the doorway...for which there no longer is a door!


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Loveably weird
Looks good! You have good taste in reciprocating saws! Looks just like mine. ;)
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Got another section of bench work built, painted and in position. Got a super busy work week ahead, but I'll get at this when I can, hopefully sooner than later!
Phew! It's been a busy, busy month of work travel and other crazy stuff going on. But I finally got the main part of the benchwork figured out and built/installed. Much slower pace than some of the other folks around here, but slow is better than not at all! :)

Here's where I'm at:



I need to figure out/make the swingout/liftout section that is going to span the doorway. HOWEVER, I was still thinking about that.
Speaking of which...has anyone here gotten/installed and liked the Walthers operating bascule bridge? I really badly want one (I'll actually need two), and I was thinking that maybe, JUST MAYBE, I could get two of them and use the actual bascule bridges over the walkway -- completely eliminating the need for any kind of benchwork I nuts? Is the Walthers bascule bridge any good? It would actually fit this span pretty decently (I'd maybe have to shrink the span by an inch, pending the actual bridge).

What do you all think, if you've had experience with that bridge? Or is it just dumb to rely on a bridge that operates to lift up out of the way when I want to get in and out of the room?
I got around to printing out my SCARM track plan in 1:1, so I can make sure my measurements were right...they're a teensy bit off, but at least I have a template now to work with on laying track and such.

I laid out all the sheets, and let me tell you, it's so cool to see the plan in 1:1 format...I'm sure that, as I go along here, things will change too, but here's a look at my 1:1 puzzle...

The first one is the view of the two mainlines and spurs from the doorway itself...this will be the industrial area...should look pretty neat to anyone who just stands at the doorway instead of coming in the room.

Here's the turn from the doorway around toward the tunnels under the mountain. Also, the space where there's no paper is where the grain elevator likely will be. Unless I change my mind, which is not entirely out of the question!
These two mainline curves will be under the mountain taking up this corner...which the road will travel up and over the peak.
Here's an "aerial" shot of the industrial area, with the city scene planned to take up the area by the window where the Mac Classic currently is sitting. If there's a spaghetti bowl anywhere, I suppose this would be it.

Next up, starting to piece together the track to make sure it is going to work the way I planned!

More soon, I hope! :cool::cool::cool::cool:


Active Member
The plan doesn't have a siding long enough to sort cars the get them in the right order to make setouts around your MR. See if the two Xovers can be further apart to make a longer siding there.


Whiskey Merchant
It looks like you're making a lot of progress. You may have to get creative to work in a siding. It's nice to use a computer to generate a track plan, but when push comes to shove, I like to have the actual turnouts and track on hand to make sure that everything will fit properly. When I was putting down the track for my last town which had a yard, engine facility and a number of rail customers I can't count how many times the actual plan changed until everything fit properly and had enough room for the structeres. Good luck.
@cajon: I'm not as worried about operation of the spurs, but when I get into putting down the track on the trial run, I'll take into account the idea of spreading out those turnouts to make things a little easier. Thanks!

@montanan: No doubt this is not the final chapter in the actual layout's design. The perfectionist in me simply wanted to see that the track plan would fit on the benchwork I constructed. I'm sure that I'll probably "revise on the fly" step is to get track temporarily placed to make sure it makes sense beyond a printout! Once i'm comfortable with the functionality of it, I'll put down the roadbed and track...:D


Whiskey Merchant
You are headed in the right direction. I have seen people clain that computer generated plans work, but I also know many many people who had to make adjustments to make things fit properly for them. Having the actual benchwork down and having the track in hand will make things a lot easier for you.
Finished up the Chicago bungalow...

That Depots by John Chicago Bungalow I started building earlier in the year? Well, I finished it up a month or two ago, at least to the point where I can prepare to place it on the layout (once the layout is, you know, moved along to the "place buildings" stage!).

Here are some pics.

I weathered it lightly (just dark-washed the roof and put some dirt stains around where water would drain off the windowsills in some spots), put in a floor and some paper walls (just to prevent being able to see all the way through the house from side to side), and that vent stack for the toilet? Didn't come with the kit -- but how are the residents supposed to have good working plumbing without a vent??? LOL

I've now started on my Smallman Street Warehouse and add-on from City Classics. I already have it painted and the walls put together, and now I am working on filling the seams between the wall columns (and then repainting those parts, of course). Pics when that's done.

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