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Overall size: 12' wide by 10' deep
Prior note on track type: Tubular rail with Ross switches
Foundation wall at the north and and office wall to the east, with a knee wall at the west, and completely open on the south.
Grid squares are 6"

I'm having trouble settling on a track plan for my space. My primary objective is that I'd like to be able to run a few trains at a time, and it'd be great if I could work a second level in, or some elevation.  With an initial design I created, it was pointed out that I had too many unreachable spaces in case of derailments, and someone had suggested an around the wall layout.

In order to keep the middle open and be able to reach everything, I ended up with the curve-happy layout you see in version 1 (the inner T of the baseboard will probably be closer to the inner curves) . Not a whole lot of straight with all the back-to-back curves to turn things around, and not too much room for any scenics.

I later found a 2-level fastrack design that Gerhardt had posted back in '19 and adapted it as shown (version 2).  I can live with a duck-under or removeable bridges at the bottom, but here I have again a northeast corner that's nearly out of reach from the center aisle. I like this layout because it has tons of straights, a 2 reversing loops and not all these curves back-to-back, and it can support 4 trains no problem. I know there are a few logistic things to overcome with the second level overlapping the bottom track but that won't be the focus at this time.  I'm really looking for suggestions. I'm starting to consider adding a sliding window in the wall from the adjacent office just to reach any derailments in that back corner...

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  • Version 2 combined layers: V2 Both Layers
  • Version 1: V1
  • Version 2 Layer 2: V2 Layer 2
  • Version 2 Layer 1: V2 Layer 1
Last edited by WebNerdNick
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Well Nick, 10'x12' is pretty limiting.  But it is what it is.  I like your Version 2 with the straights.  Keep in mind you will definitely need access hatches.  It's not a matter of if, it's a question of when.  As well as derailments, you have to consider track cleaning and debris removal.  Here's my recommendation.  And hand-holes might be needed in the 2 corners at the right side of the room as well.  A derailment in the tunnel at the back right could be a problem.

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Good luck with your planning!

George

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@G3750 posted:

Well Nick, 10'x12' is pretty limiting.  But it is what it is.  I like your Version 2 with the straights.  Keep in mind you will definitely need access hatches.  It's not a matter of if, it's a question of when.  As well as derailments, you have to consider track cleaning and debris removal.  Here's my recommendation.  And hand-holes might be needed in the 2 corners at the right side of the room as well.  A derailment in the tunnel at the back right could be a problem.

v2_layer_1-notations

Good luck with your planning!

George

You're right, it certainly is! I'm coming from N scale (tired of the tiny tiny pieces), and oh how much room that would be!  With my reach, everything should be accessible in the south west corner, since there's only a short knee wall there- I should be able to reach right over that. But yes, the north east corner is certainly the tricky spot.  I was actually playing around with a version where I took all the switching on layer 2 out of the northeast corner and put it in the southwest corner. I may completely eliminate the long 45 at the corner too. That way, all the switching would be better accessible, and the only thing in the northeast would be curves, which would be simpler to access with a smaller panel, or access hole



v3

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  • v3
Last edited by WebNerdNick

I think you are making the mistake a lot of us make in that you haven't really determined what you want to get out of your railroad and come to terms with your space limitation.   Take the time to think about what you want out of your layout in both the near and long term.   Once that is done, come up with a design.   Your space limitations will most likely force you to make decisions on what is realistic.  At that point, start building.

My advice - lose the reversing loops.   You'd be surprised at what you can fit in if you limit yourself to 3 or 4 feet around the walls.  If you want to turn a train why not do it like the real word with a wye on a peninsula?

I have roughly a 20x20 space and I'm doing a layout that is 4 feet wide and have plenty of room for an upper and lower level as well as a connected branch line on 2 of the 4 sides.  While your runs wouldn't be as long the idea would be the same.   You can even elevate one level for better visual appeal.   This is a preliminary version so you can get a visual using RRTrack software.  I'm using Atlas track and switches as that's what I used on my old layout:

The space in the middle is where the stairs come down which is why it seems so open.  I will have between 30" and 35" of space to stand between the layout and the steps.  There is also a 4' area between the outer edges of the layout and the walls on 3 out of the 4 sides.  The angled area in the lower right hand corner will only be 18" wide as that's where my lift-out section will be.  I will make them pivot and rotate to open like a door similar to what John Coy uses on his layout (do a forum search or go to YouTube for layout videos).  Ignore the two double-crossovers.  Not sure where I will place it but there will be only one.  I have two there for track spacing as I design.

Around the walls isn't doable for me as I have a crawl space, furnace, hot water heater, etc I need to access.  This is why I will have such a long area to be "lifted out".   I settled on 4' wide as I want to be able to reach everything by hand while standing on my own two feet.   I'm only trying to give you ideas not convince you of a different approach.

Bottom line - determine what YOU want on YOUR layout and then build it!   You're the only one who needs to be happy!

-Greg

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Last edited by Greg Houser

I took some more time with version 2 to fix the geometry, and utilize some turnouts I already had, mainly #11's, in place of the O64's that were used on the 2nd level track. I've been pondering over several iterations of my prior designs for at least a good solid month, but was never completely settled on it having what I wanted.  Since I've gotten over the whole "don't cross the entrance" idea, it's really helped cleanup the layout, add some good straight sections, and really add the space for scenics I was wanting.  In this revision, I moved one of the 2nd level crossovers to the east wall, so I have an uninterrupted straight section right where my aisle entrance will be, which should make a swing out, or lift out section much easier.

Combined 1st level and 2nd levelBottom LevelTop Level

My 2nd level will probably be about 10" higher than the first level to allow me to place buildings and industries under it in sections, or creatively use cut-aways. At this point I suppose, I'm looking for glaring issues.

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  • Combined 1st level and 2nd level
  • Bottom Level
  • Top Level

Nick, I definitely agree with the recommendation of adding access hatches. I'm in the process of putting them in on my layout too. We're not getting any younger, and crawling across benchwork isn't going to get any easier. If you're looking for a good drawbridge, Jim Ballmann of Stainless Unlimited makes a great product.

"I will make them pivot and rotate to open like a door similar to what John Coy uses on his layout"

Greg, I don't mean to hijack this thread, but anything you could post on this type of removable section would be great; I'm working on the same idea for my layout. I searched youtube and the forum as you suggested and came up with nothing.

Thanks

John

I'm in the camp Greg is in.  My room is 11x11, similar to yours.  I went through 3 plans that I started work on, all 3 had reverse loops.  I finally settled on what I call Plan D.  I am interested in a fairly high scenery to track ratio, but my plan can give you an idea of what I mean.  Do it double track like Greg's, or single track, twice around with passing sidings like mine.  I did add another stub siding and short three-track yard since we (DoubleDAZ Dave did the heavy lifting) drew this, but you get the idea.

Capture 2020-12-08

By the way, I modeled in both HO and N scale.  Both are too small for me now.  You will be amazed at how much room O takes up, but how much you can fit in if you really think about it.

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  • Capture 2020-12-08
Last edited by Mark Boyce

Mark, thanks for the reply and the layout drawing. I might play around with something like that on the first level instead of the reversing loop. I was trying to avoid a second around the room loop on the first level, but heck if I already have 3 going across a bridge, what’s a third. Looks like I have something new to try.  Greg said something along those lines too but that was before I said heck with it and did the big outer loops.

John, if I do keep that set of reverse loops, I’ll definitely be adding some sort of access hatch. It’ll likely live under avenues or buildings but will at least allow me to get right up in there.  Maybe I need to just build an overhead gantry crane that’ll let me grab derailed engines like a crane game ;-)

I have a twice around the room layout. the lower level is a table, about 24" deep in  most places, the upper level cantilevers off the wall with L-brackets and a 1x6 or 1x8.  A reversing loop or wye takes up way too much room and creates places you cannot reach. If you need to reverse engines, you can add a turntable, however that takes up a ton of space and probably will not work in a room of your size.

I suggest you try a single track design, with a few passing sidings and some industries. You can create an industry in each corner, with some industries on the front as well. You could create a hidden staging yard below the main table, with a track going down at the back, then hide the track with some building fronts. A second level would be difficult due to the size of the room. It takes about 20ft of uphill track to get to a second level that is more than 6" above the first level. However, with a hill, this could work. The hill could also hide the track going down to the under the table staging yard.

You may not have room for this idea, however it may be worth exploring in the idea stage. I spent over a year working on different layouts, and finally created something I liked in version 17 of my layout design.

Good luck and enjoy exploring different design options. This is a fun and creative part of the hobby and should not be rushed through, as you want to LOVE what you eventually build, as building is a lot more work than designing concepts.

@Joe K posted:

I have a twice around the room layout. the lower level is a table, about 24" deep in  most places, the upper level cantilevers off the wall with L-brackets and a 1x6 or 1x8.  A reversing loop or wye takes up way too much room and creates places you cannot reach. If you need to reverse engines, you can add a turntable, however that takes up a ton of space and probably will not work in a room of your size.

I suggest you try a single track design, with a few passing sidings and some industries. You can create an industry in each corner, with some industries on the front as well. You could create a hidden staging yard below the main table, with a track going down at the back, then hide the track with some building fronts. A second level would be difficult due to the size of the room. It takes about 20ft of uphill track to get to a second level that is more than 6" above the first level. However, with a hill, this could work. The hill could also hide the track going down to the under the table staging yard.

You may not have room for this idea, however it may be worth exploring in the idea stage. I spent over a year working on different layouts, and finally created something I liked in version 17 of my layout design.

Good luck and enjoy exploring different design options. This is a fun and creative part of the hobby and should not be rushed through, as you want to LOVE what you eventually build, as building is a lot more work than designing concepts.

I can’t wait to get in front of SCARM again to play around with these new ideas. It’s somewhat relaxing for me to sit and work through the logistics then work out the geometries.  Honestly I’m probably on version 14 or 15 at this point and on subversion like 5 of this design. I’m not planning on having anything go between the upper and lower levels like a hill, as you mentioned there just isn’t enough room. I do want a second level though as it’ll probably end up being conventional while the bottom is DCS or some other remote. I initially wanted 2 separate mainlines on the bottom thinking of what all I wanted to run, but the second level accomplishes that. So perhaps a single run with sidings and industries is the way to go, since whatever trains down there will be controllable instead of just conventional.

Thanks for all the great feedback. Hoping to get something new posted tomorrow!

Leading off on Mark's comment wrt how much space O scale takes, my train room is 11'8" X 12'8" and one simple around-the-walls loop is what fits nicely. Granted that I am limited by a 42" high knee-wall which pretty much precludes a twice-around up-and-over track-plan.

Looking West, leaving room for a futon guest-bed means a single track on a narrow shelf along the North wall:

         IMG_1400

Facing South. Even modest O scale structures use a lot of real estate:

         IMG_1687

Situating industries in corners takes advantage of available space. The East End:

        IMG_1688



       IMG_1677



The West End:

         IMG_1689



         IMG_1313 [1)

Doorways are alway a constraint. The Northeast corner:

         IMG_1385

There is just nicely room for a single track along the east wall. Again, O scale is BIG. But as with other folks here, I find the visual impact worth the sacrifice. I don't have to squint while setting-out or picking-up a car on an industry siding :

          IMG_1541

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@geysergazer posted:

Leading off on Mark's comment wrt how much space O scale takes, my train room is 11'8" X 12'8" and one simple around-the-walls loop is what fits nicely. Granted that I am limited by a 42" high knee-wall which pretty much precludes a twice-around up-and-over track-plan.

Looking West, leaving room for a futon guest-bed means a single track on a narrow shelf along the North wall:

         

Facing South. Even modest O scale structures use a lot of real estate:

         IMG_1687



Wow I really like what you did with the space.  I visited a forum member, TexSpecial in Portland years ago and he had a similar room.  I was impressed with the amount of running he could do and how it incorporated into the room.  Sadly he hasn't been on the forum since 2015.

Couple of thoughts:

  1. Greg Houser hit it out of the park:  "I think you are making the mistake a lot of us make in that you haven't really determined what you want to get out of your railroad and come to terms with your space limitation.   Take the time to think about what you want out of your layout in both the near and long term.   Once that is done, come up with a design.   Your space limitations will most likely force you to make decisions on what is realistic.  At that point, start building."
  2. geysergazer (Lew) did an amazing job with the space available to him.  That looks like a fun layout to play with.

George

Ok, I scrapped any previous designs and started completely fresh. I changed some wants based on being a little more realistic for the space, while leaving enough room for scenics and industries.

This new design utilizes some inclines to get me up to 6", which ends up being a 3.1% grade, which will be fine for what I'm planning to run.  (Already tested with an even steeper grade). So I'm able to get the second level I wanted.

No reversing loops, but I was able to fit in a reversing wye, which may lead off into the adjacent office some day.

Light green is my uphill grade, and light red is the downhill grade. Dark green is 2nd level. I'll have a tunnel in the southwest corner, and a bridged section over the southeast tail off the wye, and a removable bridge section in the middle of the aisle. Still have some tweaking to do, but I feel like I'm getting closer...

v4

Below is an additional version I created, which has a full upper loop too, so trains can stay on the upper level. With this version I lose a little between the lower sidings. Thoughts or opinions?

v5

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  • Version 4
  • v5
Last edited by WebNerdNick

Either looks fine.  Make sure you know how far a reach it is back into the corners, since it seems there isn’t room for pop up access like George showed in your return loop plan.  

I know, it’s always something!! 🤪  In my plan I can reach the corners because I don’t have track too close to the open operating area.  We went over and over plans just to get my simple plan to work out.

Also think about how to access lower level track with the upper track in place, and how you will support the upper track with lower tracks in the way.  Two sides of the same coin.  Also think about overhang clearances with curving adjacent tracks.  The lower right looks a little close.

All that said, you are thinking outside the box.  I think you need to with O gauge in a small room.  I have a hard time thinking outside the box.

I have a mix of conventional DCS and LionChief Plus locomotives, and one thing I keep thinking about is how I can run conventional along side the others on an isolated track.  The DCS and LionChief are easy as they both take 16VAC, so they can run together, but the conventional would need completely isolated track sections.

I was wondering, do you folks even run mixed setups, and those of you who do, how have you isolated your sections.  With my latest designs, it would be hard to do this, where as a previous version there was a dedicated level for it.

One comment I have is you don't have many sidings to park stuff on, that's something I'd think about.  I think you'll find that as you start running, you really wish you had more parking.

I certainly agree there. I'm thinking about dumping the reversing wye and that'll get me some real estate back, otherwise, I'm thinking if I added any more spurs with what's already there I wouldn't have any space for buildings or anything else. I'll have to sacrifice one or the other I suppose.

You may want to consider a slight modification to your design, which would have the dark green upper track against the wall, all around the room. This will allow you to cantilever the roadbed on a 1x6, supported on the wall by steel L-brackets (my supports are every 6 to 8 ft). The picture below shows how I did this. In my model "world", this upper level is not part of the lower level, therefore the scenery is separate, not tied together with anything. I even have different backdrops for the upper and lower level when they are separate.

2017 108

To reduce shadows, I have some "string" LED lighting under the top level shelf. (along the back wall)

As upper level track goes down to the lower level, you can combine the scenery so they are considered to be part of the same "world".

2017 094

At this point, the upper and lower tracks are place to allow them to pass each other without interference. My maximum grade is 6%, which was needed because my upper level and lower levels are 16" apart. This is way more than you need, I had a staircase railing to deal with, which forced the upper level elevation.

Once you add some 060 curves in the corners, you have room for some small industries, an example is shown below. This siding only holds 1 car with a second car sitting over the uncoupler track on occasion. The industry in the picture below is only 3" deep.

2017 103

On my layout, I have one passing track on the top level, and one passing track on the bottom level. You can run trains continuously on both the top and bottom levels. Make sure the passing tracks are both the same length, as this will establish the length of your longest train.

As you mention, the Wye takes up a lot of space, and eliminating it would allow you the make the train table narrower, making it easier to reach the track against the wall. You want to be able to reach the back track with reasonable comfort. The corners are always a problem, so I plan not to have too many derailments there!

There are many ways to tweek your design, so enjoy looking at the options. To quote Star Wars, the solution will eventually present itself.

Note: the masking tape seen on my layout pictures from time to time are maintenance "work order" that I place in any place I need to later address. This includes trackwork issues, poor connections, burned out light bulbs, or the need to add some scenery to 'hide' stuff. You can see from my pictures that I seem to always have a number of maintenance issues that keep popping up.

Also not that my layout is designed with Fastrack on painted carpet underpad. All the scenery is painted foam, held together with toothpicks and acrylic calking. These buildings, trees and rocks are all removable for easy maintenance of track, etc. Any electrical in the building is unplugged, when the building is lifted up.  My entire layout can be dismantled in a few hours. Then reassembled after I have completed electrical wiring work or  changes to my track plan. I am always changing things around, as I get new and better ideas by following this forum.

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