Planning Your Layout and Track Plans 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.


Section Hand
How many of the Forum Members used track plans from a magazine or book, designed your own track plan or processed ahead with just a track plan in mind? If you designed your own track plan did you use a track planning software or drew the plan free hand? If you used a track planning software, which one did you use?

Thanks everyone.



Well-Known Member
I had a general plan in mind, and sketched the benchwork first, to make sure it would all fit and that I bought enough lumber. From there I just laid track using a set of home made curvature templates and a straightedge to assure that I was not fudging things. Occasionally I sketched out not to scale drawings of switching areas and continued to just lay track. This I did more to remember from one weekend to the next what I had planned. After retirement, that wasn't quite as necessary as I worked on it day to day. Of my 70+ industries to switch, I ended up with only one where I didn't quite give myself enough clearance to the backdrop. I had to move it about 1" closer to the switch. It's an angled siding and I might eventually just remove part of the loading dock and awning (on a non-visible side) and position it back where I wanted it.
I had built three previous layouts (practice I called them) in a different location and pretty much knew what would work and what would not work. Through it all, John Armstrong's book "Track Planning for Realistic Operations" was at my side.
I did not follow any specific plan from any source but designed one on Anyrail that is a freestanding walk around that fit the room and had the goals I was looking to achieve in the space I had.


Active Member
I used SCARM to create the plan, worked pretty well. It has it's kinks but their easy to workaround and the end result is very usable. For creating the track plan, I did a google image search of layouts and found the overall shape that I thought would satisfy my needs. At this point, I'm easy to please so there wasn't much searching. It would likely have been easier to pick a layout from a book/magazine, but that's too easy and leaves too little room for error... 🤪


Active Member
I generally sketch things around on pieces of paper, and do a lot of the final detail design full size on the benchwork. Never have mastered using any of the free track design softwares and haven't wanted to spend the bucks for a more sophisticated one.

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