starting over with HO scale

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New guy here, but been on this earth 0ver 7 decades. Have a small N gauge layout, trying to sell that, got tired of how tiny everything is. So now designing an HO in a spare bedroom, using AnyRail and Kato Unitrack. Am posting a pic of the layout in a 10 ft x 13 ft room. I like alot of places to be destinations for rail activity. I think the layout will be relatively flat, except for the grade down to staging area underneath platform. Would like input on my design, I don't want to make the mistakes (many) that I made in the old N scale layout.
 

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  • Tom's new HO layout using Kato Track.jpg
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Smudge617

Well-Known Member
Welcome to the forum. Looks like a big build your planning, I look forward to following your progress on this
 

PowrCab

Active Member
Aside from some other concerns, the narrow table for the drop leaf wye leg worries me in that if it's not supported by some sort of steel legs bolted to the floor, and though you think it'll never happen, if a train is sitting on that leaf and you or someone forgets and backs into it, the entire train (with a $250 loco) are going to wind up crashing to the floor...Perhaps you could eliminate the wye altogether since you do have a turntable...
Another approach could be to curve the wye leg counterclockwise so as to not needing to be a drop leaf.. Then this curve could be secured to the benchwork with struts..Nothing wrong with a curved wye leg...
32" is too low...Trains look more realistic when viewed nearly from the side, not from above them, since 97% the time we see the 1:1 scale from the side, not above or below it...Also, if high up, it's way easier to get under the benchwork for all the reasons one would need to...I'd put it up an around 52" or chest height, say...
 
PowrCab, thanks for your reply. The drop leaf would be connected to the facia at it's end when it is in place with a latch so it remains stable. Since I would be operating the train to turn the entire train around it will be on that wye only momentarily. Your comment does however have me rethinking the wye since you are correct, I can park the train on a passing/run around track and turn the engine around on the turntable and reconnect with the cars in order to service spurs that are in the other direction. That actually does bring in another fun operation, turning the turntable. As far as height, I may add a second shelf layout about 24 to 28 inches above this one, but independent so no helix involved. For that reason I don't want to exceed 36" in height of this layout. 32" gives me a little more headroom between two layouts. I understand your take on height, I had my old N scale layout at 50" height. But again, I will reconsider height, and whether at my age having a shelf layout somewhere in my future even makes any sense. I do want to see what others have to say too. I have seen other layouts at 36" height or so. Please let me know of your other concerns, you may be helping me be more realistic/reasonable with this layout.
 

santafewillie

Same Ol' Buzzard
While I think that 32" is a tad too low, if you're operating the layout sitting in a rolling chair, it could work. My layout itself is at 36" and I have an upper level at 52", not connected. 24" would be a bit more clearance than necessary for me. However my maximum reach-in is 32"; I don't have to thrust my torso in between except in some corners where there is no track anyway.
In my humble opinion, you will not add a shelf above unless you make it first. Even at a younger age, those open access areas are not easy access. Of course you may not be overweight like me!
 

Topherisme

Chris wants more hobby time!!!
Welcome to the forum 153 😉 I was concerned with a drop or raise section myself, ended up doing a swing gate, no worries about scenery getting flung about by accident. I also installed micro switches at either end that will cut power when gate is open, to gate itself and at least 24” past either end, a little over 3 loco length. I have no “stay alives” installed so in case someone sneaks up to join me and opens the gate with me unaware the trains will stop long before a dive off the end…
 

logandsawman

Well-Known Member
PowrCab, thanks for your reply. The drop leaf would be connected to the facia at it's end when it is in place with a latch so it remains stable. Since I would be operating the train to turn the entire train around it will be on that wye only momentarily. Your comment does however have me rethinking the wye since you are correct, I can park the train on a passing/run around track and turn the engine around on the turntable and reconnect with the cars in order to service spurs that are in the other direction. That actually does bring in another fun operation, turning the turntable. As far as height, I may add a second shelf layout about 24 to 28 inches above this one, but independent so no helix involved. For that reason I don't want to exceed 36" in height of this layout. 32" gives me a little more headroom between two layouts. I understand your take on height, I had my old N scale layout at 50" height. But again, I will reconsider height, and whether at my age having a shelf layout somewhere in my future even makes any sense. I do want to see what others have to say too. I have seen other layouts at 36" height or so. Please let me know of your other concerns, you may be helping me be more realistic/reasonable with this layout.
Welcome!

I have had layouts at 36" and my new one is 48". I definitely like the latter better, is a breeze working under the layout, and I use a simple two step kitchen gadget stool thing to stand on for when I am working on scenery.

The idea of the staging yard under the main layout is something I wanted. I think it is a great idea, however I could not get it worked into my new track plan.

Dave LASM
 
Hey guys, I appreciate these great responses. Santafewillie, some good points, I might go with your heights, and crawling under to the access places won't be a problem, my waist is 32" and I used to explore caves! The only time I need to access those is laying track and building scenery, not when operating unless there is a derailment.. What is the depth of your upper layout shelf? Also, do you have a valance above your upper layout that contains lighting?

Topherisme, I like the idea of a swinging gate, hinged like a door and maybe a roller wheel at outer end of gate to help hold weight, just might be a good thing. Gate could possibly be built with shelves to hold rolling stock, and framework that the gate is attached to could be securely fasten to floor at bottom and benchwork at top. I am still considering doing away with the Wye altogether as suggested by PowerCab, which would make human movement easier, and make more use of the turntable.

Logansawman, My old N scale layout didn't have a staging area but I want one with this layout, the small size of the room challenged me to think outside the box. I see myself sitting on a stool when doing staging, might have shelves underneath staging to hold rolling stock, although I still have legs that need someplace to be!. I don't think I will go high with layout and I will only be underneath when wiring, whereas most of time will be spent upright laying track, building scenery, and running trains, and the depth of the layout means I don't have to go under very far. Considering I change my own oil in my pickup and go under my camper trailer for maintenance, I should be able to handle going under the layout, however now the 36" height makes more sense since I measured myself sitting on my butt and I would fit fine with that 36" height, 32" would mean laying on my back, or having surgery to remove a few vertebrae!!

Responses give me many things to consider...Thanks!
 
Hi guys. I have received some really good feedback on this forum and other forums. So I have designed an alternative layout. One influence has been some of Bill Beranek's Design Elements, and others have offered valuable suggestions. Designed this layout as around the room type instead of loop-back. Took a suggestion of having all the turnouts on a main line facing the same direction. So now I have what I will call the Santa Fe main line, and the Rio Grande one going the opposite direction . Am also reconsidering the height of my layout of between 36" and 45", as suggested. Not likely to reduce the activity/destinations since I like alot of buildings and places to go to. And the town is desired as well. Looking at some terrain/track height variations not yet designed in. Observations invited!!
 

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  • alternate plan 2 with removable bridge.jpg
    alternate plan 2 with removable bridge.jpg
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Smudge617

Well-Known Member
Yeah, have to agree with Topherisme, version 2.0 looks better, less crowded and plenty of space, looks to me to be more "natural", hard to explain really, it sort of "flows" better.
 

beiland

Well-Known Member
Hi guys. I have received some really good feedback on this forum and other forums. So I have designed an alternative layout. One influence has been some of Bill Beranek's Design Elements, and others have offered valuable suggestions. Designed this layout as around the room type instead of loop-back. Took a suggestion of having all the turnouts on a main line facing the same direction. So now I have what I will call the Santa Fe main line, and the Rio Grande one going the opposite direction . Am also reconsidering the height of my layout of between 36" and 45", as suggested. Not likely to reduce the activity/destinations since I like alot of buildings and places to go to. And the town is desired as well. Looking at some terrain/track height variations not yet designed in. Observations invited!!

You mentioned Rio Grande. I just happen to have a PA set for sale,.. https://modelrailroadforums.com/forum/index.php?threads/d-rgw-pa-locos-by-proto-2000.34437/
 

bklynman01

Active Member
I like this a lot, think it's a big improvement from version 1.

The two mainlines having their own industries can be a lot of fun. Cars that need to switch from one line to the other and coordinating those efforts between the trains, gives a bit of an operator feel to the time running. I did something similar on my layout, where siding are simply branches from the mainline. BUT, I only have a single main, so operations were different. I've recently added an entire switching area to my layout that interfere with the main. This allows me to run a train in circles while I "play" with moving cars around. If that's something you want to do, just consider how that would work. It looks like you could run one long train and switch on the other line, then swap tracks and work the other. It still works for this plan, just want to bring it up in case it wasn't thought of already.

About the height - Unless there is someone that will be consistently working on construction/maintenance that's under 4'6" (near the standard height to ride a roller coaster), I would suggest the higher benchwork. Reasons: 1) the hidden staging will need easy enough access. At some point, even with perfect trackwork, there will be a derailment. If the normal height is 36", that staging yard would be a strange height to look at - too high to sit on the ground and look at, too low to sit on a chair and see. 2) The town in the closet is cool, and after some time maybe you'll not need as frequent access to the little open areas hidden in the closet, but until then, you'll need to crawl through a decent distance to get there. If you've been on earth over 7 decades, that's only going to make this harder as you continue into your 8th and 9th decades. 3) It's fun to see the layout at "normal" height, the height at which one of the people in your layout would be looking. Of course, bending down a little bit to do this is also recommended, but try to make it so you're not perpendicular just to see the view from the Golden Valley Canning Company freight docks.
If you want to keep it low, I'd recommend a grand kid or neighbor kid that can help with those inconveniences.

HOWEVER - this is your layout. My biggest problem with this hobby is the freedom to do whatever I want 😅
 

beiland

Well-Known Member
Metal Benchwork by fellow in Switzerland (there were more photos but somehow they got deleted, likely they were on his own server?)

Jun 10, 2019

Clean looking Angle Iron/Steel
Quote:
In Switzerland, where I live, these angled profiles are available in 'Home-Depot'-like stores, called 'Baumarkt' over here. The primary use is for storage shelves. The profiles come in two sizes (30 x 30 mm = ca. 1 1/5" x 1 1/5" and 40 x 40 mm = ca 1 3/5" x 1 3/5") and various lengths (1, 2, 2.50 m = ca. 3+, 6+, 8 feet).

The material is very sturdy and still easy to work with. It can be cut to length and does not hinder creativity
smile.gif
I use this approach for the base benchwork which is self sustained and in may case not bolted to the wall; thus it can be relocated or broken down easily if required. For the upper two levels, I plan to use click-in outlay carrier arms on which I will mount wood or foam modules. These arms should be visible in the pictures, too.
Regards, Carlo - Switzerland
img.png

I thought this posting from above deserved re-posting. I'd have likely utilized those lighter weight angle iron pieces had I not discovered the square shaped steel road sign material at my local metal scrap yard. Nice clean look with no welding.
 




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