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Hey All,
a buddy and me are wanting to build am HO scale railroad based in the late 30's early 40's between us we have two 2-8-2's two 0-8-0's and an 0-6-0,
so naturally it would be for 40' freight cars and wanting to creat a typical "short line of the steam era" but enough to have the two mikados and at least 1 of the 0-8-0's running in an operating session. this size we have to work with is about 10' wide and about 30' feet long. just posting this to see if i could get any track plan and operating scheme from all you great modelers on this fine forum.


Lazy Daydreamer
Hello Josh and welcome to the MRF!:)

10' by 30' sounds like plenty of space, especially if you plan on running short frieght cars as your era seems to indicate. Can you build around the walls? That's what I would have done if I had the option [which I don't]. As for a track plan, I strongly recommend dreaming one up yourself - you'll get a much greater sense of satisfaction running trains on a line you can call "your own" than somebody else's idea. There's an excellent planning software tool called XTrkCAD (sp?), I'm hoping one of the other members here can supply the web address to download it [it's supposed to be available FREE but I won't stake my life on that...]

I guess a short line would have alot of trackside industries, right? You'll probably want to include spurs for as many of them as you possibly can, since running a 'way frieght' to switch-out lineside businesses is one of the most enjoyable types of operation I know of.

Well that's enough windbagging from me, hope you found some of it useful...have fun!


Master Mechanic
XtrkCad is an excellent trackplanning tool. I used it to design mine and it turned out quite well. If you do download it follow the tutorials. If you have any questions about it, enough of us use it to be able to answer them readily.

Some advice. Unless you are very patient in building a layout, you should always plan some way to have op sessions from any but the initial phase of construction.
WCWbrasshat has a tour of his layout in the virtual tour section. He has provided a "traveling" staging yard for his. As he gets further along with the construction, the staging yard moves as well, so he can have op sessions even if the layout is nowhere near complete. You need to look at what he is doing and how easy it really is to incorporate something like this during construction. It really is a fantastic idea!


In Training Down Under.
I've done that with my layout, I can build the bottom level and the staging and operate without going up to the next levels.



no it is in an attic of a house if it was a boxcar it would be 10' x 40'. but at the time didnt have permission to do that but now it is gonna be in a Milwaukee Road boxcar but only gonna use 25' of it though.

Steve B

If i had your available space i'd have an end to end you can realy extend the running line length by turning it back on it's self a couple of times to give yourself some challenging grades to climb, you could get a friend to do helper service at the rear with the 0-8-0, that would be fun


i have something in mind of that sorts, wanting to try a double level without a helix. if i do have to use a helix i only want like a 3 1/2 turn, i really dont like a helix they are a headache!


Coal Shoveler
I'm planning on doing that. My run from Level 1 to Level 2 is on the outside edges of the layout and will gain 4" in about 200" of run. Which works out to somewhere around a 2% grade. Which is prototypical.

This is all done via drawings and calculations; I haven't acutally built this part of the layout yet,



im just afraid everything is gonna go wrong when i start building i have never done a double deck b4 but any how im planning for this layout to be a point to point with staging and a run though track for continuos circle running. this is getting complicated! lol


Josh- just to give you a mental view- the Allen Sub train room (inside dimensions) is 11 feet x 29 feet. My minimum radius is 24" except the one at Rayne is 22.5". The minimum aisle width is 30". If I were you, I would start by figuring out those 3 things first. That will give you an idea as to what you can do.
If your looking to maximize your layout space, there will be some give and takes, ie: a "monster helix" in order to double your mainline distance over 2 levels.

1. Draw your room dimensions on graph paper or CAD
2. Make some curves you can move around, rotate, etc. Remember if you want double track curves they should be 2 1/2" OC apart. Lay some down in different corners, etc.
3. Figure out your benchwork next taking into account for your isle width.
4. Avoid deep scenes that you cannot reach track without a "pop up".

I would be happy to give you more input/ideas if you like, and meanwhile, you can learn from my mistakes operating on the Allen Sub, or as you once said, "the BS and PP"- LOL

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