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I attached an image of what I'm currently planning. Track will be Menards O, with possible Ross Switches. As for the design, I have a 8' deep x 12' wide space, with the front and left side completely open. Back (top of diagram), and right wall are immovable. I was shooting for something that could support 3 independently controlled trains in conventional, with maybe one section eventually supporting the LionChief trains with a fixed supply voltage. I also wanted something with a second level.

All that being said, here's what I've worked out. The yellow line is my grade, and blue is the second level. Grade is steepish, and will limit some things I can run, but only having to raise 6" over 125" should be ok for my needs, since I'm going for more nostalgic factor and less prototypical.  I just wanted another set of eyes on this for suggestions of improvement, or things to watch out for.  It'll help to expand my ever growing wisdom.  Thanks!


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OK, let's get real here.  When a train jumps the tracks in the far back corner on the right (with no aisle access), how are you going to fix it?  Since you don't connect your outer ovals to your inner oval, how are you going to change the direction of the trains on the outer oval?  And, once you have reversed a train on the inner oval, how are you going to reverse that train again?  Back it all the way to the reversing loop at the end?

In the space you have, you should be able to build a nice "around the walls" layout (about 24 to 30 inches wide) allowing easy access to all track for maintenance and repairs.  You should even be able to include two reversing loops so trains will change direction if, and when, you desire.  From your plan, it sure looks like you want to just sit back and watch them run, so I won't even get into railroad "operations."


PRR1950- you do have a point with the back right corner. Before I had posted it, I knew I was going to get roasted for that.  That far back corner was probably going to be a tunnel that started at about 2' from the back wall. So yeah...

There was going to be a tunnel with cutouts on the left side where the blue overlaps the 2 bottom rails, so mountain and scenery will support that track. I know it's a little hard to imagine.

The layout is primarily for the enjoyment for myself and my young sons, so I can enjoy my vintage stuff, and they get to play too.   As for the inner loop, I'm not sure how to include a second reversing section without it just all being track, so I was trying to leave some room for scenery and the like. So yes, it'd be a long turn around for the middle. And as for the outside pair, there was never an intent to have those have to change direction, though it'd be nice to include, but I don't see any conceivable way of doing it without a further mess of track.

I do appreciate the comments- they seem to be on par with what I was already expecting to be a challenge. I am somewhat interested in taking a look at what at an "around the walls" layout would look like. If you're only thinking 24-30" deep at the walls, I'm assuming to do the reversing loops, you'd obviously need to come out farther at those areas.  Do you think I could get 2 main lines to go around with double loops?

Sure, since you seem to like elevation, just stack one reversing loop above the other on what I like to call the "blob" location of your around the wall layout.  Heck, they can even be double track reversing loops so that both mainlines can be reversed at each end.  You may still have to cut an access panel in the center of the blob (if you place it in a room corner) which would allow you access to both levels of return loops for maintenance and service.  There are a lot of people here that will speak against building an access hatch that requires ducking under your layout to reach, but in my world, tough access is better than little or no access at all.

There are people here that help others with designs.  Look for posts by DoubleDAZ (Dave) and Ken O-Scale for examples of their work.  You could also search the internet for 8x12 layout plans, 8x12 track plans, and double reverse loop track plans to see what might provide you with some ideas.


Nick - here's our 8'x12' layout featuring traditional tubular track. The train shown is negotiating the upper loop and will return to the lower level where it will circle the layout twice and then negotiate the lower loop.

I can also operate a double loop on the lower level only for larger locomotives or traditional non-cruise equipped locomotives. Please keep us posted on your layout progress!



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I’ve done some searching, but can’t seem to find a double track reversing loop. If I have 2 main lines coming in side by side, is there any conceivable way of nesting their reversing loops, but keeping them independent of each other? I know one would have to crossover the other somehow. I just need a picture or drawing to visualize. I suppose one mainline could reverse at one end while the other mainline goes around then on the other end of the layout the other mainline reverses and the other goes around.

When I did my N scale layout it took 23 revisions. So far I’m just on #2 :-)

I do like the idea of running the track on the outer walls and perhaps adding more operations but also allowing for some good loop running.

I deleted my last post, since I continued to fix the designs, and I worked out the curves a little better in the v7 version.  So, v6 here still has a back right corner that's hard to reach, but the ability to run multiple conventional trains is much easier than v7. V6 also features an over/under on the left, and lots of areas for industries. V6 also has plenty of options for reversal.  Smallest curve is 031, which is primarily the inside loops and industries, so that may limit what runs there.

v7 gets everything within reach, with nice long swooping runs and reverse loops as well. Should also be able to be separated for multiple conventional engines. I was trying to build a yard out somewhat in the front middle, but the size of the turnouts makes that a little difficult if I'm trying to keep things more compact. Smallest curve is 036, with just the front industries being 031, off the mainlines, but has large sweeping loops and track separation to run bigger trains.

I'm somewhat torn between these 2 designs at this point. Still looking for feedback.


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Last edited by WebNerdNick

I took the advice from this forum, and a few other places, and came up with the resulting track plan. Basically put in the biggest curves I could, and then tried to ease any S curves by straightening out sections I could.  In the lower left of the diagram, the outer loop would bridge over the inner loop. Not a whole lot of space to return it back to ground level with a decent grade, but I'm still trying to work those things out.  I have plenty of room for additional switching at the top of the diagram, and I think it'd be nice to have some industries served by a spur, but then again we're talking about adding MORE switches. As usual, looking for some feedback for improvement. Thanks!


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Well, back to the drawing board here. The biggest flaw I just ran into here is with any of these designs, I'm using Menards tubular track, but adapting to the ross custom track library, not just the ross tinplate stuff. So that pretty much eliminates anything but an O72 switch.  The other thing I shouldn't have been doing is using O72 switches for changing mainlines, whereas I should have been using their 11 degree regular switches, since I wasn't going into a full O72 curve.

I have quite a cache of Menards tubular track now, I need to figure out either how to adapt it to Ross custom switches, or find another switch product that will mate up to tubular that gives me a better range of turnouts.

If I remember correctly, Menard's track is "O" gauge size.  Look at the Ross Custom Switches website under "Accessories" and note that they carry "O" gauge mating pins.  You would just have to use those to connect Ross switches to your Menard's track.  Again, however, I have no experience in this matter.  Best to call Steve at Ross (he's usually available in the afternoons) and confirm what I believe to be true.


Here's my layout in a 9' x 12' space. I'm using Fastrack, but that should translate OK to Ross/tubular. There are two mains, a long passing siding, and a small yard. The inner line has reversing loops built into its design and as long as the train on the inner loop is about 13' or less, it can stop in the right place and allow a train on the outer line to come through and reverse direction. Inner loop min radius is 048 and outer loop min radius is 060. I have a Fastrack Extended Truss Bridge on the outer line crossing over the walk-in area.

Note the way I'm using 072 switches for my crossovers w/o creating an s-curve. Maybe something like that is an option for your plan as well.

Please ignore all the garage junk



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Over the last 8 years or so I was in the process of setting up my own 8' by 12'  layout but I realized the problem of access to all parts of it without having to walk on it.  I then decided to create space right down the middle with about 20" between two 4' by 12' sections On either end of the separation (12' long) I used bridges which for the present I duck under. I could reach everything on one of the 4' by 12' sections from 4 sides but the second was against a basement wall where I cut approach it from three sides. My solution was to have a small step ladder so when I stood on it I could reach over almost 4 feet. I did build the table top strong enough to walk on.

Maybe in your planning separate your 8' by 12' set up into 2 4' by 8' sections. The pictures in the entry above is a modified version of this.


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