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New Member
Good evening all. I am in the position that I might be able to start a new layout after the first of the year and would like to have your comments. Below is a diagram of the room I will be getting. It is the upstairs portion of my house, and is fully insulated and sheetrocked.

As you can see it is a quite large rectangular room, as of now there are 3 bedrooms there, all of which can be modified as needed. The walls along the long sides are only about 4' tall and angle upwards to the center, to a hight of about 7'. there are windows in each dormer that didn't show up in the diagram.
Any help on designing a layout would be helpful, I was thinking about a double or triple main line with several sidings and branch lines, and a large yard. I would like to have a town as well as lots of industryies. Thanks for the help. Mike


Tell us some more, please...

Let's start with the basics:

1) Have you selected a modeling scale, and if so what is it? I'm guessing HO, since generally when folks don't say they're working in HO, but let's make sure.

2) Prototype or freelance? If prototype, what line(s). If freelance, do you want it to be influenced by any particular railroad?

3) Geographic region you want to model?

4) What era are you modeling? Steam only, steam and diesel, or diesel only?

5) Type of trains you like? Passenger, freight, locals, long drags, manifests?

6) Any interchanges with other railroads?

7) Special interests? (Logging/mining/steel/wharves/traction?)

8) Specific items you'd like to see on the layout? (Bridges, tunnels, roundhouse, mine, dock, city, small town, big depot, large yard, etc etc)

9) What kind of operation? Point to point or continuous running?

10) Single track main or multiple? How much, if any, staging do you want?

11) Single or multi levels? Probably single due to roof slope?

12) Do you want any peninsulas in the room? Is the room to be used for anything else that we need to leave space for?

(You've mentioned a few of these items already, but let's shoot for more info.)
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New Member
Thanks for the fast respons, I will try and answer your questions. I am in HO freelance modeling in thr mid to upper '70's. Iwould like to have a continious run with at least a double mainline,witha large bridge/trestle across the staircase,with pleanty of mountains and tunnels. I would also like to be able to have a length of track that might through a fairly flat country side with rivers, lakes, and small creeks. As far as special interest, I now have a concrete plant and would like to have a rock quarry, I also have a lumber yard so I would like to model a sawmill and maybe a logging opperation. I also might like to have a refinery and some oil wells. Thanks again. Mike


Diesel Detail Freak
40'x17' "useable" space? to add to Brian's question, how wide are the stairs (so we'd have an idea of the gap needed there).


Just from what you've posted so far... my suggestion would be to do something a little more unorthodox then looping around the walls. Since you'll only be able to go up about 4 feet before the slant starts, the layout would be a little low, plus you'd have a slanted backdrop... which might actually look cool, it may have give a good conception of distance if painted correctly.

Anyway. I would consider something running down the middle longways, with visible staging looping back around the walls, where it wouldn't matter if the height was a little low and wouldn't need a backdrop. a few peninsula's sticking out along the short axis might also work, but you might end up with some sharp curves that way.



New Member
Thanks so much for all the responses, I will take all this into consideration when I get ready to start construction. One thing for sure, I do not want any sharp curves as I have several 18'' curves on my present layout and I cannot run the larger steam locos or any passenger trains. The stairway is about 3 foot wide. For the record....I posted this on another forum and got 3 replies that didn't say much. I am about feed up with all the bickering and complaining over there. Mike
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Diesel Detail Freak
Don't post that forums link, or it'll influence me not to go there...

I think around the "walls" could work, but the slant becomes and issue. I'd suggest adding some sweeping curves with "hill dividers" to break up the length.


Pennsy Tuscan Red Blood
First down load XtrkCad, free, or invest in a design program. It will make the process alot easier and more accurate. You can get XtrkCad from or the yahoo group for XtrkCad You'll have to sign up for the later, but the guys there can really help you if you run into any problems. Also be sure to watch all the tutorials, they difinitely help.
Here's a sample of my layout I did on the program

Good luck

grove den

naturally natural trees

Tried to make a start: You can see the Part that is situated on the right site when you come up the stairs
I placed the backdrops a little bit from the walls so they winn on hight.
The way to the dormors is still open just place two large "replaceble" bridges between the right part of the layout and the rest/large part on the left side of your loft( made a canyon out of it)



Grandson of ALCO Bldr
Are you goin to run any tracks over the stair well? You mentioned continuous loop main lines...maybe a 12 inch wide bridge of some sort running over that with a grade or helix before it?

grove den

naturally natural trees
Hello Alcomotive, Traintown Mike,

First thought of mine was: Murphy's LAW.!!!...That is why I keep a path to the dormers/and storage and the window at the top of your posted diagram. I made this (rudimental) design/drawing in that way so you can reach the dormers/ storage and the window( once a year you heve to clean it, at least:D )
I think when you want to built track with wide curves the best sollution is a layout along the walls..But the "walls" from floor till roof are only 4 feet.
So I Placed the backdrops 1 1/2 feet before it. Now you have also acces from behind when you want to make a staging yard and the backdrops are a litle bit higher.
Another point is the "shape" of the mainline.That is also a matter of taste: Track built like real,so almost none or least very wide( as possible) curves. and at the other hand the layout built like coked "Spaghetti":D

I will not let trains run over the stairs because there is no path to the window. If that is not a point to you ,you could lead the mainlaine (from under the lumberyard) over the stairs and further to the hiding mainline under the railwaystation. But you have to cross again the path to the dormer! Again something like a bridge that could/should be removed when using the storage....( Murphy!)

I tried, but it is still as I wrote rudimental, to add already some detailed landscape parts. Because, I think, you have to "devide" such a large layout in smaller parts on wich you can show different themes and as I read your list of "wishes" I think the loft is still to small to modell that in reliable way

Hope I expressed my comment(s) clear to you because the language is still a problem to me....
Add 2 drawings...

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grove den

naturally natural trees
Hello Traintown Mike,

Here are some art impressions of the designed layout...
The last drawing shows the track leading above the stairs and going to the staging yard...


Steve B

I like the idea of leaving a small walkway behind the layout to gain access to hidden staging.

Some great idea's Jos and great artwork
Chip That makes great informative reading, it makes you sit back and think ahead more

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