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Here is my take on 32": My layout is a folded dogbone in a 14 x 14 room. My lower level is a 32" AFL (Above Floor Level) on one side of the room, with a medium-size yard. The other side of the room is at 36" AFL, with a 2.5% grade climbing from the main yard to the other, smaller yard. At 70 years, 8 months, and still pretty mobile, I decided on these levels so I can operate from a rolling office chair, and can see both levels easily. I also figured if I have any kids (neighbor' grandkids are too grown, and most are out-of-town :( ) over, they don't have to climb on top of a step stool or something. Also, it is easier to reach across the benches at both levels to re-rail rolling stock, or work on scenery.

Welcome to the Forum!


Chris wants more hobby time!!!
I am satisfied with my 36” height, even considered slightly lower but decided against it. Wanted to go 42” but slanted walls really wouldn’t allow it, even that 6 inches was a lot of lost space…
OK, more good responses. Beiland, I am building this in a spare bedroom, 10'6" x 13' counting closet, in Colorado, USA Magnus, (In AnyRail Forum) mentioned eliminating the S curves, really appreciate that, he is the only one to mention that! I did some research on the problem they create because I did not know. Watched a YouTube video that showed a derailment, convinced me!! I took the suggested solution for the ones I cannot eliminate due to small room size. Eliminated the one on the outer loop which will carry passenger cars. Other S curves I added a straight section of track between the opposing curves. Had to insert a new S curve for the siding for Imperial Foods, but that is just a siding for 50's era reefers, so thinking it shouldn't pose a problem. He suggested I eliminate the runaround tract next to power plant, but I am keeping the configuration by the power plant. I want to maintain the run around due to a short freight train needing to get out of the way of a passing passenger train. One person thought my lift out bridges were double track, but they are singles, now spaced further apart due to changes for the S curve issue. I added a factory next to the canning company, to process hides from the Champion Packing plant, into leather. Rlcross (in AnyRail forum)...suggested an open truss bridge, but I am using deck girder bridges so the Kato Unitrack used in entire layout) can be used on the bridge since the track has integrated ballast. I plan on adding handrails and stanchions to the bridges for more interest. If I do raise the level of the benchwork as suggested I probably will not make those bridges removable, just duck under. Any more comments appreciated!!


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Oh, and Beiland...I want to mention that I like your metal benchwork framing, would be easier to do that than wood L girder. I was already considering some of that where my staging yard is since the yard it is only 7 inches below the bench surface and I would need space to work with rolling stock on the staging yard. Now I think I might make the entire support system using your idea. Thanks!
Hey, I'm back. had to take time to plan and go on a 6 day 49 mile backpack trip in wilderness canyons in Utah. Also had to redo my track plan due to getting one huge surprise that I would not have seen had I not ordered a few turnouts.

I discovered upon unpacking some turnouts that some track components listed in the KATO track library in AnyRail must be used with the turnouts and only with the turnouts and thus are not available to use anywhere else due to their design of the molded ballast roadbed. In my original plan, since I was not aware of this issue, I used those turnout accessory pieces many other places in my track plan. Unless a user wants to take a Dremel tool to other track pieces to modify them to fit, these specific accessory track pieces are the only way one can connect regular track pieces to the turnouts.

This was extremely frustrating for me, I was angry that this crucial information wasn't addressed by AnyRail. I had to remove these specialized accessory pieces from my track plan, which made the plan look like the old pick-up sticks I played with when I was a child, toss them in the air and see where they all randomly land. That is what my layout then resembled. Just a bunch of disconnected track laying about randomly! Had I waited to order KATO turnouts until I had the benchwork built around the perimeter of the room, I would have had an expensive re-work to do. It took many many hours to rebuild my layout plan with the correct unique turnout accessory pieces incorporated to each of the 37 turnouts, and to redo the plan with the common track elements to once again make it a workable layout. I did test runs of my locomotives and longest rolling stock on the temporary benchwork track and no problems, even at a fast speed.

With all that said though, I really do like the AnyRail software, finding it very valuable for designing a layout, easy to use, and it beats paper and pencil! I especially like being able to run the layout through it's paces in TrainPlayer software, which catches any track connection errors in the plan. So I do highly recommend AnyRail

I strongly recommend the software designers add some notes to the item description one sees in the item's tooltip and on the status bar, when the mouse pointer is placed over a track segment in the KATO HO track library.

So I now have my track plan in it's final form. I have built a mock-up benchwork in the spare room to make sure that it all fits and the space for this human being to move around also works, which it does, as long as I don't gain many more inches to my waistline! Next is to repaint the room, and then build the valance to hold the LED light strips, and then the permanent benchwork. Here is my layout. Comments and critiques are still welcome. Thanks to all those in this forum and others that gave me alot of valuable input.


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Well-Known Member
Re, those S-curves: Connecting curves that turn in opposite directions directly end-to-end is almost a guaranteed spot for derailments, although you might get away with them at very slow speeds. Author Paul Mallery (old school track and bridge expert, and author of at least three books on those subjects) opined an acceptable alternative is to insert a length of straight track in between circular curves. He suggests a length equal to the longest equipment you plan to run.

You have obviously taken this to heart already, as you had several of those problem areas in your first plan, but seem to have fixed them in the second plan. Your friend did give you good advice and you took it. Well done.

As others have said, I'm curious too to see how your layout build turns out.


Re, the N-scale stuff: You don't have to give it up entirely, just because your focus has moved back to HO. You could build a module or two and run them as part of the DeNTrak group:

You may already have seen these guys at shows along the Colorado front range (The Rocky Mountain Train show in Denver, for example, which had a big turnout after a couple years off due to Covid). Good group of gents, IMO, the DeNTrak folks.

The NTrak module height is 40," which is good for shorter people...some aged less than seven, others well over seventy...and everyone in between.... :D

While NTrak does not use Kato track, it's not very hard to lay straight track on cork roadbed--if you can build the track plan you have laid out above, I'm sure you could handle it.

The modules use a short track connector, one module to the next, plus a few common bus wires and plugs. Once again, if you can build that ^^^,
nothing about NTrak should be insurmountable.
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Well-Known Member
FWIW, metal framing in house construction has been around for a hundred odd years or thereabouts. Assembly typically uses sheet metal screws for wall studs.

With lumber prices rising, it becomes an increasingly viable option with every passing day.

Re, your own dual railroad mains: Sounds like your version of "The Joint Line," south of Denver...yes? Of course the Joint Line is "joint" because the north and south mains are shared between Rio Grande (now UP :( ), Santa Fe, and BN (now BNSF). I'll hazard a guess you already know this, and it's part of your source of inspiration.

I do agree with Iron Horseman, btw, that industries/set-outs from both directions are more interesting for operations. They do demand at least one runaround so you can switch cars from both ends, which your plan already incorporates at the bottom. With two railroads, that's two, or even four local freights (perhaps two locals for each railroad, one in each direction), which means "more operational possibilities." Getting all that switching done while clearing both mains for through traffic should keep you hopping....
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Well-Known Member
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Just, curious. Why do you like that suggestion? Seems to me to limit the operation at every industry to the same basic move. Back in, pull old cars out, push new cars in. Am I missing something?
Guilford Railman, thanks for your welcoming!

Iron Horseman...I did turnouts facing one direction to make it easier to pick up and deliver cars without having to use runaround tracks so much and in the tight space I have to work with it just made placing industries easier. Real railroads prefer spurs to all face the same way, making operations more efficient, less time involved, more economical, and safer. Lance Mindheim covers this quite well in his book 'How to Design a Model Railroad'. I will run trains in both directions, so more complicated switching will then be needed. I will have three or four strategically placed switcher engines to help so a train can be broken anywhere and then a car switched in or out using the switcher, while keeping the locomotive and cars idling on the mainline, and then connecting up again before moving on.

Beiland, an artist friend is going to paint my backdrop for me, using a blue that is just a little lighter than yours, and adding clouds. I had considered buying printed backdrops but the cost would have been up there with the annual cost of filling my truck gas tank lately!! For lighting I am using LED strip lights that connect together, made by Commercial Electric, from Home Depot.

Snowman, I will be building the benchwork framing with metal, expensive, but so easy to bolt together! I live in Southwest Colorado, 12 miles from New Mexico, and where the TV stations we get out of Albuquerque makes us more a part of New Mexico, and we are only a little over an hour's drive to Utah, which makes Denver and the front range an eight hour drive over four mountain passes, so I rarely go there!

I have now taken down the mockup benchwork where I tested running trains at high speeds on the very curvy mainline with no problems and am now building the valance for the lighting. I will be running one track around the outer edge of the valance to run a simple non-DCC steam train that will be a D & RGW passenger train like the real one here in Durango. That will be my first running train and will remain the 'Railfanning' part of the setup, no scenery, just the train running continuously whenever I am in my 'Man Cave'! I will probably build a scale fence along the edge so if the train derails it doesn't take a long trip to the floor!!

Thanks everyone, happy railroading!

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
I will have three or four strategically placed switcher engines to help so a train can be broken anywhere and then a car switched in or out using the switcher, while keeping the locomotive and cars idling on the mainline, and then connecting up again before moving on.
Hmm, interesting. Never thought of having local switchers set about.

Yeah, real railroads do lots of things for efficiency (working for the real railroad, streamlining operations is in my job description), but with models we often do things differently because we want them to be interesting and fun. Real railroad work and operations is anything but. That is why we have to pay people to do it.


Well-Known Member
Hmm, interesting. Never thought of having local switchers set about.

Yeah, real railroads do lots of things for efficiency (working for the real railroad, streamlining operations is in my job description), but with models we often do things differently because we want them to be interesting and fun. Real railroad work and operations is anything but. That is why we have to pay people to do it
Some people enjoy their work more than others, although they still like to be paid.

Like this engineer:

[He gets into a discussion about stuff like that with his ride-along companion a bit later in the thread]
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Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
Like this engineer:
I'll give you dimes to donuts that this was done by either my friend Frank Wilson or his co-worker John Shine. They were the two foamer engineers working there about this time period. Have been been trying to find either of their contact information to ask, for certain.
Here is a progress report on my new HO layout. I have just finished the lighting valance, with all the LED lighting installed. All the LED lighting only draws one amp!. The blue backdrop with have clouds painted onto it by an artist friend of mine. For railfaning effect, I am adding a train on the lighting valance that I can let run continuously whenever I am in the room. It is an steam engine and passenger cars labeled as the 'Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad'. Since I live in the Durango Colorado area, and that is our local tourist railroad, I wanted that to be what I see and hear as I build out my layout! Next step after the clouds are finished is to tear up the worn carpeting and install a new Pergo laminate floor which I have on order from Home Depot. Now I'll take a break and go camping!


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