Trying out a micro layout (or close to one).


Well-Known Member
I have recently gotten back into the hobby after a few years, and I have discovered I love the concept of micro layouts. I live in a small apartment and so the idea of designing and building one seems very fitting for my current situation. I also feel the challenge of making one will allow some critical thinking and getting those train gears turning again:)

Over the last few weeks, I have slowly been working on a design that is considered micro in nature but not design, meaning mine actually measures 20" x 33" 660 square inches, slightly more than the standard 576 square inches of maximum space used in a typical micro layout. Having recently completed a modern (1990's) 1' x 4' N scale switching layout, I decided to stick with the same era for this new layout as I can use the same rolling stock and locomotive.

The design below is what I have come up with so far. I will be using Kato Unitrack. The track plan is the same used from the 17" x 30" micro layout designed by Steve from, just slightly larger. I wasn't comfortable using the same measurements and tight 7.25" radius curves and therefore expanded the layout to my preferred size which allows for 8.5 and 9.8" radius curves as well as 2 #6 turnouts instead of a #6 and #4 compact. The layout will include 2 (or maybe 3) rail served industries. These include a bakery complex and mattress factory with the possibility of a construction materials company as the third industry if included. The mattress factory will be two kits forming the complex with one rail served and the other by truck.

I have decided on 3 building structure kits that will be used for the industries. I will utilize the Woodland Scenics Sicken Tire Co. building for the bakery and both the Woodland Scenics Gripps Luggage manufacturing and Goodnight Mattress Co. buildings to form the overall Mattress factory complex. Other elements of the layout include a small, raised city building portion with a tunnel below and two small bridges.

To celebrate the new year, I've just ordered the required track to get started on this build. In the next couple days, I'll take a drive over to Home Depot and get the supplies to build the bench work. It's a simple tabletop design consisting of a 1/2" x 4" frame with cross supports and a foam base. No plywood or boards will be used. This will make it lighter and easier to move/store if need be.
While I await the rest of my track to arrive, and before I put together the benchwork, I'd like some feedback on the wiring I'm planning on doing. If there is any one thing that I am not great at, it is wiring and electrical work. Despite my layout being so small, I'd like it to be DCC. I have heard that wiring KATO Unitrack for DCC is simple and therefore I attempted to draw up a quick diagram as to how (I think) it should look. I would also like to wire it to incorporate a DPDT toggle switch for each turnout. I would greatly appreciate any feedback.

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I've finalized the wiring diagram and I believe that everything is where it needs to be. Now it's just a matter of putting the pieces together and not screwing it up!


I've also received all my track in the mail. I am however still waiting on the Kato 3-way splitter for the feeders. Once I receive that I'll assemble the track on the kitchen table and make sure every piece works correctly.


Meanwhile, since I'm still waiting on the splitter, I began cutting the lumber to construct the benchwork. I’m using common board which is a little rough so I sanded it down and smoothed it out in preparation for a nice coat of paint.


The cutout in the board is for the toggle switch panel I’ll be constructing later on. The overall design of the benchwork can be seen below in a quick sketch I drew. The foam boards will form a 2” layer that rests inside the outer frame on top of the cross supports, sitting 1/4” below the top edge to protect trains from going overboard since the track runs close to the edge.

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I recently discovered Steve's Trains YouTube channel. He does good and interesting layouts.

If Christian hasn't already found that channel, he could probably spend a few days watching videos of small layouts.

The one I watched has Steve changing his mind near the end of the construction, and totally changing the look and feel of his project. Of course, there was a notable absence of dragons on the layout.
So...I'm a doofus and made my 1st mistake. My original design had to change because the board size I wanted wasn't available, but I forgot to update the plan. I mixed up what length I was supposed to use and made the internal measurements within the raised border too small, meaning instead of having a 20" x 33" space for the track plan, it is now 19.5" x 32.5". The overall measurements of the layout are still 21" x 34".

Since I already spent money on the lumber and time cutting and sanding it, I will go ahead and use what I have. Luckily, the only thing I need to modify in my design is not being able to have a raised edge to protect the trains. My plan is to raise the underlying support boards by 1/4" which will allow the foam board to be level with the outer frame. I will have to come up with another way to create a protective border because the track will end up resting right where the raised edge would begin, and trains would come in contact with it.

My grandfather always said, don't just measure twice and cut once, triple check and cut once. I measured three times alright, just used the wrong measurements haha. Oh well!