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New Member
I'm new to the forum, this place looks great!

OK, I'd like some input.

Here's a (really) rough draft of my track plan.

The room is 20 feet by 10 feet, but I have to leave space for a loveseat and coffee table. The TV is under the layout. This plan is actually slightly wrong, it's two feet wider than it's supposed to be. However, compressing the middle section of the track (around the bridge) works fine.

The layout is somewhat of a practice layout for the future if/when we move to a larger place so I can expand it.

I'll walk you though the concept.

New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, 1948.

The left loop is "Springfield, MA" and hidden under a hill. The loop serves to turn the trains to the other side of the double-track main (and allows me to run continuous trains for my 3-year-old daughter).

The trains coming from Springfield enter Thompsonville, CT for passenger and freight service. From my understanding, Thompsonville is serviced primarily by a local freight out of Harford, CT so there may not be much freight traffic from this direction. The track plan is based of the USGS maps.

After Thompsonville, the train will cross the CT River and go into Windsor Locks, CT. The track plan here is based off of an article in the Novemeber, 1960 Model Railroader. Along the bottom wall I may also include a small spur to Suffield, CT (on the south, or really the west side of the tracks).

After Windsor Locks, the train turns behind a ridge (as a view block) and into the second loop. The shelf at the top will probably be a coach yard. It extends off of this map a bit.

The loop represents Hartford, CT, and will consist primarily of a small freight yard in half of the loop, and engine servicing in the second half. The trains then continue north and back to Springfield.


Operationally, these are my basic assumptions.

Based on an idea in one of the articles in the Gateway NMRA site, each car represents 2 cars. I'll be running 5 car passenger trains and 10 car freights.

I will probably still run MU motive power though (2 DL-109s, or an FA1-FB1-FA1 combo) as the prototype did. I also have a PA1, though I haven't picked up a second one yet. Eventually I will probably have some steam as well.

The minimum radius is 24", but I am using 26" and 28" or greater for the mainline. The 24" is used for the loops (which will be used at low speed) and the freight spurs. Switches will be #6 or #8 or Peco #5 for the coach yard, and #5 or better for freight.

Passenger trains on this layout will be run on a loose timetable, but are basically there to make the job more interesting for the freight (for the future layout, passenger operations will be much greater, since they were the main traffic on the Hartford/Springfield line).

Local freights will leave and return to Hartford, and through freights will also switch at Hartford. I plan to have at least one extra loop in Springfield for through freight staging. The loops are 24" radius, so the inner loops are two severe for the passenger trains. I may have some extra holding tracks there as well if they fit.

The Springfield section can be viewed and operated from the cutout (not easily visible from the room) with a large access in the event of problems. Eventually I would like to wire sensors that will automatically stop trains entering the hidden track if the switch is thrown the wrong way and the track is occupied.

Anyway, I've been through a lot of plans so far and this is looking pretty good.

Sorry for the messy plan, I'm working on a better one using templates.

Oh, and this is HO scale:
1 small square=2" and 1 large square=20".




Fun Lover

Looks like a good start. I'm having a difficultly gettin a sense of scale. What are your dimentions?

From what you have shown, you have a lot of switching in industries. but I can't see how the buildings will fit.


New Member
More info

Oops, I thought I had included the scale.

The room is 20' x 10'

The switching area on the right-hand side is Windsor Locks, CT. There is a small freight house, and a passenger station a little further on (those are the two buildings on that copy of the plan). Along the left side of the tracks is a canal and just over the canal beyond the passenger station is a large factory. I plan on building the track-side portion of it, and I'll leave the back open so you can watch the trains through the window. The canal actually runs between the siding and the factory, oddly enough (that's the way it is on the prototype).

One of the split spurs there is a lumber yard. The photograph I have shows a few small sheds, but mostly piles of lumber piled on all sides of the two tracks. The other spur goes to a small coal tower (I think) and a little way off the track to the right are some fuel tanks. So it's a busy area, but not many buildings.

For the other town I am redesigning it. The tracks should actually run the other direction, and there are two spurs parallel spurs on the top, one inside and one outside of the Bigelow-Sanford Carpet Mill. This was a monstrous structure (over 1,000 feet long I believe, one article mentioned that they added 100,000 sq feet in 1901), and I will do something similar to the factory in Windsor Locks.

There are three spurs that run off of the other side, also parallel. Two run past the freight depot before ending, and the last dead-ends on the side of the freight depot. There is also a passenger station near the corner into the loop.

I have info on several other smaller businesses in the area, but it will be tough to fit more in. From what I've heard, these were busy locations, serviced by a local freight from Hartford - Thompsonville was the end-of-the-line for the freight before returning to Hartford.

The track plan for Windsor Locks was accurate for 1960 (when the article in MR ran). I'm not sure if it was different in 1948. The revised Thompsonville track plan that I am working on now is based on the USGS maps, although I've heard they aren't all that accurate. Bigelow-Sanford was the major customer requiring all sorts of materials and fuel, as well as shipping product out.

Apparently through freights didn't stop at these towns much, so they will be dropping off their cars at Hartford to be switched to the local. I'll try and get a better plan together to post tonight.



Looks like you have drawn more track than will fit. Especially the tracks in side the left loop. Might need to reduce the number of tracks.


Fun Lover
Sorry, I meant to edit the part about not seeing the dimensions out. I did, but must have not posted it correctly.

What I meant by not fitting on your plan was that there doesn't seem to be enough room for the physical buildings on the layout plan. Perhaps you could get the dimensions of some buildings from a Walther's Catalog and cut a few templates out to see how it fits.

I'd also suggest using a software package to draw out your plan. It will keep you "honest" with what will fit. Of the free ones, I like XtraCAD. IT has a good tutorial to get you started.


New Member
Updated plan

OK, here's a modified plan, with a rough idea of roads and buildings. The scale is slightly different (1 large square = 1 foot) and the plan doesn't include the second loop and the small shelf. The extra tracks there will be the last to be finalized.

I reversed the switching on Thompsonville based on the USGS maps right now. I'm still trying to find more accurate track plans for the town, and a lot of the industries that I know were there won't fit right now. I may straighten it out a little as well, it doesn't have to be at such an angle, but it does break up the monotony of a long run against that wall. One particular one I'd like to squeeze in was a coal trestle. I may try to run that the opposite direction of the other tracks and in front of the ridge as a further point of interest and view block.

Also, on the Windsor Locks side of the bridge I may reduce the angle a bit so I can put the Suffield spur along the back wall. I won't be able to fit the whole thing in, but I could at least run the track behind some trees so it's there.

The left loop is at the end of the main shelf, instead of turning like the last plan. It works better in the room like that. The mess in the middle of the last draft was scrapped for a large access area in case it's needed. I may have more than one passing track in the center of the loop as well. The back corner of the loop is open (to the 2'x2' triangle of open space) to allow some access without having to go under the layout. Otherwise, the loop is hidden from view under a hillside.

The curve at the bottom portion of the loop is there to bring it into closer alignment with the other track before it becomes visible again.

I also included a rough sketch of the prototype layout to show their general relationship, but not the actual trackage. The Windsor Locks spurs are at more of a right angle than I can fit, but I think it will work (and look) OK.

In all of the drafts I've made I've used compasses or track templates, so I'm comfortable that the track will fit. I checked out xtrkcad (I hadn't seen that one yet), but like all of the programs I've used so far, they aren't very intuitive. I'm not really interested in taking the time to learn to use the program right now so I'll stick with paper.

Thanks for the input so far,



Diesel Detail Freak
I like this plan. Sorry I never commented earlier, usually I dunno what to say about someone's track plan. Seems like you've put quite alot of thought into it, the too much track for the space MIGHT be an issue, you can allways CAD the design to get a slightly better feel for what would fit, I.E. the yards... I know testing my plan on XTrkCad proved that I need quite alot of space for the Barstow & San Bernardino yards, more then I had intialy seen fit...
rghammill said:
here's a modified plan...In all of the drafts I've made I've used compasses or track templates, so I'm comfortable that the track will fit.
I'm not. When I printed out the picture and used the dividers on it, I would guess there are some real problems. These are all technical things.

In the center of the bottom, the inside curve track right off the left of the bridge, I believe that is about 12" radius. On the other side of the bridge (heading to the right) I think the inside radius is about 18". Not to mention that there isn't enough room for the points of the turnout for the crossover. Perhaps a "wye" could be wedged in if it was moved a bit further to the right.

The turnout whos diverging route makes the final curve toward the loop (lower left) is about a #2.5. There is a real nasty kink there.

It also looks like there is a serious "S" curve on both legs of the loop in the lower left side. Then there are the two curve turnouts there. This arrangment always has a foul point much deeper into the siding than one would think. This siding is not going to be very long - maybe 4'.

I believe the straight industry track on the lower left is only 4" long. Perhaps a bobber caboose or a single ore car might fit.
Last edited by a moderator:


New Member

Thanks Gandydancer. I'll modify the drawing a bit.

I should have mentioned that the crossovers were just drawn in, not measured yet. I was trying to determine from an operational standpoint if they would work there. Overall, the turnouts are drawn using a template, but the template doesn't have curved turnouts.

Also, the curved turnouts in the loop are also just a concept. I'm sure I can fit a siding in there, and the specific length is not that important, although longer would be better. I'm working on an assumption of a maximum 10-car freight, and 5-car passenger, although the passenger trains would not use the inner loop. The idea is to try and fit a little staging inside the loop if I can.

The lower portion of the loop does not have to have the curve either, but I'd like to the double mainline to come together before it comes out from behind the scenery if possible.

I'm not sure which siding you are seeing that is 4" long, but I'll go through those again. There is a line on the lower right that should have been erased better when I curved the spurs a bit.

I've actually found a little more information on the track plan for Thompsonville (the town on the lower left) so I am making a few modifications.

I'll recheck the measurements on the radii, although the track along the long wall can be straightened out a bit if necessary. I'm just trying to avoid making it completely parallel, and also to lengthen the run as much as I can, even a few inches.

I have been laying out some test track as well to see how things fit, although I need to pick up some more turnouts.

I'll play around a little bit more with the CAD program to see if I can get a cleaner plan.

From an "interesting layout' design, though, what do you think? I think it will be interesting because one town has several smaller industries, and the second has one major industry, plus a smaller industry along with the freight and passenger stations. The stations themselves happen to be on opposite sides of the tracks as well. That doesn't make any difference operationally, but at least it looks different.

Unfortunately, our scanner is not available tonight, so if I can't figure out the CAD thing I won't get an update posted tonight. Thanks for the input so far, I'll keep working at it...



Fun Lover
XtraCAD has a great tutorial. I might take an evening or two, but it is worth it. Better take the time to learn the program than to buy a bunch of stuff that doesn't work.
rghammill said:
Also, the curved turnouts in the loop are also just a concept. I'm sure I can fit a siding in there,
And it is a very good concept. My comment was just that curved sidings always have less capacity than one would think. We have several at the club (great big S) with a curved entrance on both sides. The actual siding is probably 8-10 feet long but one can only fit a train that is 4-6 feet long into them.

There is a line on the lower right that should have been erased better when I curved the spurs a bit.
Yup it is possible that is what I saw.

From an "interesting layout' design, though, what do you think? I think it will be interesting because one town has several smaller industries, and the second has one major industry, plus a smaller industry along with the freight and passenger stations.
I really like it. However with the staging that is available I would totally ditch the yard in the center top and replace it with another interesting town with industires. It seems a waste to take up that much space for a boring yard, when you could match it with the rest of the layout. You can use the staging as the "yard".


New Member

Thanks for the advice so far. Yeah, I'm not entirely sure what I'll do with the space in the right-hand loop. I would kind of like to model some engine servicing, but I could put portions of another town (Windsor) in half of the circle. I've already started working on plans for that station as well. It won't be particularly realistic on a loop, but I'll just have to deal with that in this space.

On the other hand, I like the idea of breaking down and building trains for the other two towns. Incidentally, I have since learned that the towns modeled on this layout received a local freight from Hartford (which would be represented by the yard) which ended at Thompsonville.

But, the bigger news is that I have gotten more specific information on the trackwork for Thompsonville, so I'm reworking the plan a bit. There are a total of 5 tracks I was missing. I obviously can't fit them all in, so I'm working on what I want to eliminate. One of the tracks is a curve that crosses over the large spur and into the Bigelow building itself. Immediately after diverging from the main track there is another turnout that makes a spur parallel to the main line that runs in front of (and services) the freight house.

So, the general plan remains the same, but the specifics are still in flux. I'm also trying to determine the construction method. I'd like to use a spline roadbed, and it would be effective because there is a 10-12 foot drop immediately behind the mainline in Thompsonville. The spur beyond that was on a trestle. There is a 50 foot drop from the ground to the CT river at the river banks on both sides, and there are slight grades at a number of points along the mainline. So the spline seems to be an effective option, and cheap too, provided I can get access to a table saw.

One way I can provide the room for the extra tracks is to straighten the Thomsonville section, rather than running it across diagonally. However, that will shorten the section for the bridge as well as make the distance between the towns shorter, so I think I'd rather give up a few sidings.


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