Please help with future under the tree 4'x6' or 4'x8' track plan. 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.

First off I would like to say hello because I am new here, I have been playing with trains since I was 1 (N,HO, & O27) but took a hiatus for the last few years while playing with cars. I am getting back into the train hobby particuarly HO Scale and I am currently in the planning stages of rebuilding a better version of a DC HO layout I had as a kid.
This layout will be the typical DC on a 4'x6' which it was originally on, or since I have the room I thought about stretching it to 4'x8'. The reason for this size is it will be for under the Christmas tree in my first home when I move in later this year. I attached a link to this post a hand drawn sketch of the layout I used to have; only I extended the straight a-ways to a 4'x8' shape. Sorry I do not have any cad software for a real drawing.

The layout consists of a twice around loop (over & under) I want to keep that over and under route of the twice around with a siding for an extra train. I like the twice around because it's for under the tree and it is different. I am not so much worried about prototypical operation.

Measuring the tallest rolling stock car I have, I will need 2 ¾" total for the grade up at the highest point where it will cross over the bottom track I believe that works out to be about a 2.5% grade? The only other issue is the placement of the Christmas tree with the 41" wide tree skirt. I can shorten the tree skirt a bit but not much more, I had another idea to hide the tree stand but my Fiancé wants to have the tree skirt she picked out and I get my trains so I am not going to push my luck on the skirt

I am looking for ideas and comments to make this platform a little more interesting, such as adding water, roads, a town, maybe a little switching at an industry, a little round house for my engines, changing around the track plan a little, etc... I have also thought about adding a loop around it for a 2nd train but I believe to fit that I would have to go to 5' wide instead of 4' but I am not sure yet if I will have the room to tackle that size.

If anyone has any ideas please let me know, since everyone has different ideas I am open to all suggestions. I wish I had a cad program to really design this to spec & size but with working my first home, I just haven't had the time to pick up a program and learn how to use it. I like the programs I have seen that give you the 3d look of the plan, those programs are really neat.

Thanks in advance for the help & advice.

Link to skecth:
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