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Thinking of moving my shelf layout (HO scale) into our little shed. It is unheated and obviously does not have A/C. I live in South Central Illinois (gets pretty humid in the summer). Is there any problem to doing this? I wouldn't think there would be other than worrying about some corrosion.

Anyone else done this before?


N Scale with Stone Tools
The most obvious problem is expansion and contraction. Heat swings make metal track change dimensions, which can cause buckling. Swings in heat and humidity can make the wood change dimensions.

For a small, well-built layout, you may be able to get away with it. But how clean is this shed? Dirt plays more havoc than temperature swings. Add spiders and beetles into that and you've got a mess.


I should have noted this, it is a small (maybe 8X12) with a concrete floor. Pretty clean once I get our junk out of it.


Long Winded Old Fart
My building is 24by40 ft. w/a concrete floor w.14ft ceiling. When I laid my track I put a business card between the rails to allow for heat expansion. Dirt & Dust is my biggest problem. Don't have any problems w/corrosion. Be careful about using any kind of thin plastic sheeting for roads, etc. because when the humidty gets bad it buckles.
Try not to use thin plastic for building bases either because of buckling. Mine is not insulated. I use 4 fans in the summer, but, it's still awfully hot. If you can, put a small wall or window A/C in it after you insulate it. That will help you 100% w/all of your problems that I have. It's easy to heat w/insulation w/a small gas heater. I have a large gas heater & I can't get it warm enough when the temps. get below 40 degree's.


Well-Known Member
BK and Larry,
You guys ought to look into some of the rigid closed cell foam sheets that Lowes and others sell. I used it to cover two metal garage doors of the outside so it fit snug into the opening and my garage stay nice and warm in the winter and fairly cool in the summer.

Even a sheet 1" thick will afford a lot of protection against the elements.


Mostly Harmless
For what its worth... I built a 12' by 24' shed for my layout and club modules. Humidity in the UK is always a problem. Temp not so much as the minimum here is usually no colder than -5c(21f) and no hotter than 30c(86f) This is what I've done based on the recommendations of others.

2" foam insulation on all walls and inside of the roof. Helps to minimise the temp changes and to hold in the cooler air in summer and warmer air in winter.

External vent AC/heater/dehumidifier unit. (Home Depot or Lowes have similar gizmos)
Small greenhouse heater (1kw) to keep the temp above 3c(38f) on really cold days.

The dehumidifier runs for 2 hours twice a day and is averaging about 3 litres (just over 3 US quarts) of water removed from the air. Makes a heck of a difference.

The unit will keep the shed under 25c (74f) on the hottest days and warm up to 21c(70f) on the coldest days giving me a year round man cave to model in.

As others have said the most important thing is to minimise temp and humidity swings.


Long Winded Old Fart
Here's the scoop on insulating my building. To install flexable fibreglass insulation w/metal hangers. have to rent a scissorlift w/an extendable deck. Remove one of my long tables in the middle of the layout. remove the control panel table, buy the stuff & get 2 people to install it. $4500.00. Blow-in insullation. Cover everything w/plastic sheets. Hire a crew & pay for the stuff. $4000.oo.
Foam panels, tried that once w/2" foam(green & Yellow). glued it on the walls w/liquid nails. The panels stayed for about 3 months & then when the walls got about 100 degrees the panels fell off. Foam board was free. Had a bunch of money in tubes of liquid nails & it took me about 6 months to remove all of the glue off the walls for paint. I figured I had about $500.00 in that process. I'm not rich & to old to be climbing on ladders. Novel ended.
Without any sort of climate control in the building. The change in temp and seasons will create condensation and will reek havoc on everything. Not to mention if its too cold or to hot, you wont enjoy being out there.


Mostly Harmless
Larry: shame about the foam. I had the same problem with the roof with the liquid nails softening and the foam dropping off. The simple solution (for me at least) was to use thin strips of ply to sandwich in the foam panels between the rafters. The walls were drywalled with the drywall sheets screwed to the framework of the shed. That held in the insulation there with no glue needed. The size of yours though sounds more like a barn or industrial building than a shed.


THere is nothing wrong with puttting a layout in a shed. Your bigger problems will be 1}expansion and contraction and warpage of track, 2} humidity and corosion, 3} dust and dirt everywhere,
However, as one commentor on another forum said {about an una/c'd unheated garage that was unfinished: "why would you spend up to thousands of dollars {And building framework, track, scenery, locos and trains can cost that much} and put it in a room unihabitable to humans to get ruined?" He also mentinoned that "could YOU stand to operate your loco in that type of climate?" {teens in the winter and 90's in the summer?}

Here are some tips:

First, I would suggest, spend a little money and insulate your shed, add some vapor barrier sheet plastic and some sheet rock elsewise dust and dirt may take over your layout.
Then, if there is a window, a window a/c {about $100} will help keep things cool in the summer. if not, have a through teh wall a/c installed may cost a bit more. Even set on lower temps it will be better than not.
Then invest in a dehumidifier to keep down humidity as sure to empty 2 times a day or more.
THen, get a small wall heater {they shoud sell them where you live} and have it installed...they work on Nat. gas or Propane to keep temp at min 50 degrees in the winter, higher when you want to play.

Just some sound advice and opinions. others may vary,
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My basement dehumidifier had a hose outlet which I ran to the floor drain - no need to empty manually.

I've considered doing a shed thing. Very useful info here.


Hopefully I will start cleaning out the little shed soon. I will do the de-humidifier but the A/C and heat I am not too sure about yet, too much $$ for a temporary home for my little shelf layout. I will finish insulating it though (everything except above the loft is insulated).



You and I live close to each other so our climates are the same.

A few years ago, I put up a large shed. I added a partial second floor loft to it. Working inside in the summer was brutal! Like working in an oven. That prompted me to add insulation. I used pink fiberglas batts.

When the the walls were insulated, the temperature inside dropped noticably. When the ceiling was insulated, it was almost comfortable working inside it. Then I went whole hog and drywalled everything, installed 4 windows and ran an electric line from the house and installed several outlets and light fixtures.

In the summer, while it is still warm in the shed, it's noticably cooler than the outdoor temperature. In the winter, it does get cold inside the shed, sometimes cold enough to freeze water in a pan. But the shed is so well insulated that I believe a small portable 1500 watt electric heater would keep it almost warm enough to enjoy.

I have enough electrical capacity to install a small A/C unit if I want to. I'd mount it through the wall rather than in a window.

I'm sure with a bit more work, my shed could be used year-round.

If you're considering a shed for your model railroad, start with insulation. The difference between insulated and non-insulated is quite astounding!

Consider what you are planning to do in the shed. You will need electric service, either by running a drop from your house main or having a separate service provided by your electric company. A separate service would be better if you plan on heating and cooling to in-the-house kind of comfort levels.

I haven't noticed any problems with humidity inside the shed. Our area can get pretty humid in the summer. I think the insulation with vapor barrier helps control the humidity in the shed.

Having a special, designated area for model railroading is wonderful. I haven't used my shed for that purpose because I prefer to stay close to my wife who has special needs. But I would use the shed for my model railroading in a New York minute if I could!

Hope this helps.

Darrell, quiet...for now


Mostly Harmless
Hopefully I will start cleaning out the little shed soon. I will do the de-humidifier but the A/C and heat I am not too sure about yet, too much $$ for a temporary home for my little shelf layout. I will finish insulating it though (everything except above the loft is insulated).
Your best bet is to look for an all in one unit. Most of the small portable a/c gizmos out there also have a de-humidify and heat setting. Most times there is little if any difference in cost between the multi-purpose unit and a plain dehumidifier.

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