Comments & Advice Please

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mburn16

New Member
Hello everyone,

Below is a link to a tentative design for my first layout. Short of a flat, 4x8 sheet of plywood, we have never really attempted anything. But, with our new trainroom nearing completion (actually its a large basement room that we finally got to cleaning up:) ), we have finally decided to get to work.

What I have below is the beginnings of what will eventually be a much larger layout (more than twice the size of whay you see), and I was hoping that maybe you could comment on the design and advise me on possible changes.

This portion of the layout is based on the fictional town of Los Valles, California, and the rail activity is focus on two main points: an Amtrak station (which will be located inside of the large loop on the lefthand side), and a freight depot (the blue box on the top with tracks running into it). The four siding closer to the bottom will be for set-outs, which will then be hauled into the freight depot by a smaller engine.

All comments, recomendations, revisions, are welcome and appreciated. Thanks.
 

hd-fatboy

Member
Hello everyone,

Below is a link to a tentative design for my first layout. Short of a flat, 4x8 sheet of plywood, we have never really attempted anything. But, with our new trainroom nearing completion (actually its a large basement room that we finally got to cleaning up:) ), we have finally decided to get to work.

What I have below is the beginnings of what will eventually be a much larger layout (more than twice the size of whay you see), and I was hoping that maybe you could comment on the design and advise me on possible changes.

This portion of the layout is based on the fictional town of Los Valles, California, and the rail activity is focus on two main points: an Amtrak station (which will be located inside of the large loop on the lefthand side), and a freight depot (the blue box on the top with tracks running into it). The four siding closer to the bottom will be for set-outs, which will then be hauled into the freight depot by a smaller engine.

All comments, recomendations, revisions, are welcome and appreciated. Thanks.
Hello & welcome aboard.
I'm just starting a layout also and not an old hand at this. Okay, here come the questions, is the right side against a wall or is there access to it? How will the layout be sitting? What is the scale?

I wanted to start mine as a 4x8 also. One problem that will come up will be access to the back side of the 4x8, the reach will be to far to get to derailments or switching unless you have a way to access the back.

Nice job on the drawing, are you using XtrakCad? I'm sure others will chime in shortly.

Don FG
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
I have some of the same questions as Don. Where are the walls here?

IF you have a larger space, I suggest not starting with a 4 x 8. The reason is that 4 x 8 are very constraining. They force you to create tight turns and unrealistic loops. If you consider that you need at minimum two feet around the layout to walk to clean track, work on the layout , etc. You will see that a 4 x 8 takes up at least an 8 x 10 space. That same 8 x 10 space can house a much larger/better "O" or "U" shaped layout --especially if you are going to expand.

However, the way you have the layout drawn, it looks like you have no access to the majority of the layout.

Might I suggest you read my "Beginner's Guide" You can get to it from my signature. Takes about 5 minutes to read and will gives some clues about what you should be thinking about.

On the other hand, there are some very thoughtful positive aspects to what you have drawn. Using the same thoughtfulness with different constrains might yeild you a much less constrained design.
 
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mburn16

New Member
Yeah, sorry, the room is a 12' x 16'-10" room with no wall on one side. I made a quick sketch below, hope it helps.:
 

hd-fatboy

Member
Yeah, sorry, the room is a 12' x 16'-10" room with no wall on one side. I made a quick sketch below, hope it helps.:
So as I read the drawing this will sit on the right side of the room up against two walls? If so, the reach to the right rear for the train shed may be a problem.

I'm 6'2" with a 29" reach and I can pick up a 4x8, not much of a stretch. Now lay that 4x8 flat at waist level and see how far you can reach. Fingers still get there? I overlooked the same problem. Keep the middle sections down to about 2ft and make the ends wider, picture a dog bone.

With a 12x16 room you can pack an awesome layout there.

Don FG
 
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mburn16

New Member
you beat me to the punch, I though about it, and decided to make some changes. Firstly, I should tell you that the room is not 12' x 16'-10", its 10' x 16'-10".

I've also decided to change the table size to allow access to the full thing and have less wasted space. The problem is, I now have to re-design the layout, so feel free to make suggestions. The design is below, table is shaded:

http://img406.imageshack.us/img406/9097/layoutbt4.jpg

sorry, but the attachment option on the forum is not working for me.:confused:
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
The shaded area is still too wide. The generally accepted maximum reach is 30" and the narrow point of 24" of walk way is pretty tight.

Since your table (usually called benchwork) is not built yet, you still have not made any mistakes--unless you have been rapidly buying every engine and car you see.

Once again I suggest reading SpaceMouse's Beginner's Guide to Layout Design

and

What is Staging and why do I need it?

Let your layout plan detrmine your benchwork. Don't let your benchwork limit your layout plan. The exact backwards way to plan is to build the bench, then lay track, then try to fit everything else in--yet that is the way most beginner's try to do it.
 

mburn16

New Member
Spacemouse - I did read the guide, which was a help. I really had no idea what staging was before I read it.

As for mistakes, no have not made any yet. I have a few cars (amtrak, Burlington Northern), but, other than that, it is all pretty much on paper at this point.

thanks again for the advice.
 

pcarrell

Just a guy
I think your plan of a "U" shaped layout with a finger into the room (Iguess that makes it kind of "G" shaped, huh?) is a good one, but you can narrow the shelves quite a bit and that will not only help reach issues, but also widen the isleways.

Are you looking for something that is a continuous run or are you looking at more of a point to point setup? Knowing that up front can affect the shape of your benchwork.

It seems like so far you're leaning towards a continuous run setup. Be careful with that as you can end up with a racetrack look if you don't plan it and scenic it well. There's nothing more boring then watching a train chase it's caboose if you ask me. It's not that I don't like loop layouts (I have loop and point to point on my own layout), it's just that you have to think it through if you're going to do it well, ya know?

I don't see where you've mentioned the scale here, but maybe you have on another thread.

The reason I bring that up is that it has a great effect on curve radii. As you know, the larger the scale, the larger the radii. If you need a larger curve then you'll have a bit wider benchwork in the corners, but thats OK. See, the track is still up front where you can reach it, not buried in the corner. Use the back part of the corner for some good scenery. It can also affect the area needed for turnback loops if you need them.

Chip's guide that you read is a good one. He's an accomplished track planner and helped me a lot with the development of my plan. Give his ideas and thoughts some good weight.

It sounds to me like you're at the right stage to be asking these kinds of questions. Many people dive right in and only realize their mistakes later. You've stopped to ask questions first.....good for you! Keep asking them!
 

mburn16

New Member
Maybe I've been a little too sparse on details.

The scale is HO, and the era that I'm [trying] to model is modern, 90's-present. I am trying to come up with a layout that allows me to model both freight and passenger (though I'm not looking for extremely detailed passenger opperations). The location that I've been looking at to model is Southern California, which I thought would allow me to model both the pax. and freight scences that I want.

As for the looping, I don't want a race track (I agree that they are dull), but I wanted the train to have the ability to turnaround. I was hoping for a mainline that looped at either end, but that had plenty of sidings, spurs, and hopefully a yard, to help make it interesting. Another idea I have had would have one looping end, and another end that was either staging, or perhaps a yard & turntable.


My problem is not so much what I want, because I have a relatively good idea, its determining how to translate my wants into a working layout. Being my first real layout, I am not exactly an expert.
 

pcarrell

Just a guy
HO, and modern.....cool! Focus on freight with some light passenger. Now I'm up to speed!

What I did on my class 1 was to basically make it a single loop that had a good portion of that loop as hidden staging. (You can see it in Chip's guide as the loop staging example.)

You could do a variation of that by having either a loop or a figure 8 setup, but half of the loop (or figure 8) would be folded under the main sceniced part and could act as staging with one track designated open for run throughs.

With something like that you can have a train come from staging out onto the layout, do whatever it needs to do, then return to staging heading in the same direction the whole time (west to east or vice versa). That replicates what we see in the real world. Trains come from somewhere on the right, do their thing, then head on into the sunset to the left (or whatever). Does that make any sense? I hope I explained it well.

A loop to loop setup can work too, but you eat up a lot of real estate with those loops that don't look very realistic. You could make it work with good scenery planning though.
 
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