My first post is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.


I’ve been lurking in the background for while. I thought I’d share my ideas for a new layout and get some feedback.

I’ve been around trains most of my life. My dad was and still is an avid railfan and photographer. I spent the first twenty years of my life chasing trains around the midwest with him and still do when our schedules both allow it. He and I built several HO scale layouts in the late ‘80s but nothing that ever got to a state of “completion”. To the point of running trains, but not to completion of scenery or detailing. I have taken a 15 year hiatus from model railroading. I have tried to keep up with the times. I frequently purchase magazines and books and have collected a number of models for my favorite prototype, the Wabash, whenever something new becomes available. I guess I have been an armchair modeler.

I have grand dreams of building a basement filling layout that depicts the west side of Detriot on the Wabash. Specifically the area from Oakwood to Romulas, or maybe Milan Michigan. But this seams to big a project to dive into for a first layout in 15 years. So maybe the Wabash branch in central Missouri from Centralia to Columbia would be a better choice. The problem is I can see moving from our current home within the next four or five years. I know I could make the layout “movable” but moving to a new house that has same size and shape space seams unlikely. I think I should start with something simpler.

I’m drawn to Ian Rice’s plan “The Norfolk & Western’s Abingdon Branch”. For some resin I like this plan. I think it has a manageable size and level of complexity. I would make it slightly larger to accommodate a larger minimum radius, and open up the width of the aisle way. The only thing is I’m not sure how to adapt it to a Wabash location and I don’t think I’d be happy with a completely fictional layout.

So as I ponder what to build and how to build it I thought I’d say Hi.
This great site, with lots of great layouts has been an inspiration to get going on a layout of my own. I look forward to contributing to Photo Contests and WPF threads and hopefully someday lending some useful advise to other newbes.
So if anyone has any advice or ideas to share lets have them…


House Mother, Cheerleader
Welcome to the forums! I look forward to learning more about your plans and progress. Sounds like you have some great ideas.

You've come to the right place for feedback, so make yourself at home!

And remember, we LOVE pictures. :)


Diesel Detail Freak
Welcome! Everyone else kinda beat me here, but yeah you'll find its VERY freindly, and we LOVE pictures!


A Big Welcome to you!
Something you may want to consider is to build your layout in small diorama type sections, each transitioning to the next. This way you can build the railroad you want, be able to move it when necessary, and make it as big as time will allow before your move. After the move...connect it up...continue on.;) :)

Hope you enjoy our friendly forum! REX


In Training Down Under.
Welcome along, pop over to the coffee shop and tell us alittle about yourself, if Ya'll want!! ( my best American accent )



Lazy Daydreamer
Hiya...Joe is it? Anyway, welcome to the forum!

I grew up in Livonia, MI, which is near one of the areas you're planning to model, but I was mostly around the C&O and NYC. (Wish I would've had a drivers license during that time - man what a bunch of great railfanning I could've done!)

That sounds like an exciting layout you're aiming to build, but you're right to approach it cautiously - especially if it is your first. I've seen people try to tackle a project so huge where it took up all of their time doing the unpleasant work (unless you really love carpentry and wiring LOL!) and got burned-out. A modified Ian Rice layout is a great starting point for teaching yourself the basics.

Looking forward to seeing your work online!


Fun Lover
While I like Rice layouts, is it what you want or are you settling? I guess the question I'm really asking is, do you want to model the Wabash in or do you want a hypothetical layout (a modified Rice plan) in your basement?

If you want to model Detroit, then model start out with a small section of Detroit, say an industrial district, and build that. Build in some staging so you can keep the switching fresh. If you want continous running, build a temporary loop. Then move to the next section. You may find that your interests change. If so, you can rethink your plan as you go.


Far too often I have seen fellow hobbyist procrastinate about building a less than perfect layout relative to their "druthers". In the end, they often never build any layout at all. In your case, while you currently seem to have the space available, you appear to be hesitant to start anything because of a probable move 4-5 years down the road and the Rice layout design you admire doesn't quite fit into your prototype desires/collection.

My suggestion would be to take the bull by the horns and move forward. If you like the Rice layout, with perhaps some slight modifications, go for it without much more delay. And if the layout isn't exactly prototype-specific, you are in good company, as 75% of all layouts built aren't either. In fact, the track arrangements of many real railroads would prove to be boring when recreated in is more their surrounding scenery that catches our eye.

Knowing that most of Ian Rice's layouts are relatively compact and operationally fun, chances are that you could complete the N&W plan in considerably less than the time alotted to you at your present location and you could get some real fun out of running it. Building it now will also serve as a testbed and/or refresher for the necessary modeling skills and ideas needed if you do attempt something larger, later. But honestly, far too many hobbyist have grandeous dreams of basement-filling empires. I've rarely seen many of these come to any real state of completion. Their builders often end up permanently bogged down at the benchwork level for years, even decades...if they finally do start building that layout at all! Better to have something a little less than perfect but based on a sound design that can provide fun, than to have nothing at all.

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Welcome, Joe!
Remember that most plans are best set in pencil, so you can erase and redraw the plans to be uniquely yours to suit newly available items and your personal taste.
Ask questions here and you will get advice you can accept or ignore, just as I am offering this opinion.:)
Modular sections are relatively easy to construct as bench work and you can plan your scenery and trackwork with removable sections for future transportation of the modules.


Hi Joe, welcome to the forums. I'm somewhat new here myself and have found it to be a terrific resource.

I just got Iain Rice's book and have been going through it page by page. The Abingdon Branch looks like a great place to start, I think you could modify it quite a bit to fit your needs. Don't be afraid to build something a little more freelanced to start out with, that way if something doesn't turn out quite prototypical it can still have a positive contribution to the layout as a whole. You can always go back and make changes, it can be difficult, but it's a heck of a lot easier than starting :).

Post your plans as you make and revise them and you'll get plenty of advice.

Hi Joe welcome to the Forum .. im sure you'll enjoy the time you spend here, lots of great people, with good advice and great photos

Steve B

Welcome back from your short break, hope you enjoy your return, things have changed a lot in 15 years


NYW&B and the rest of you are right. It is better build something with some compromises than to build nothing at all. I can learn from what doesn't work out.
I have been experimenting with some flex track and my rolling stock to determine what I'm going to use for a minimum radius. Right now it looks like 33"-35" with a 2-1/2" centerline on curves. Those E8's and streamlined cars need lots of room!:D


Fun Lover
While I agree it is better to build than not build. There's still a gap between prudent planning and jumping in to get running and sorting it out later. There's lots of money at stake.

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