CRG Layout - Room Planning


So, this is going in the Garage. I will frame in the train room portion so I can run an air purifier to reduce dust and such, and have a clean neat appearance. So that is why the lower right said says adjustable. There are conditions that make that form the room as most Ideal, but not 100% concrete.  Doors at the top of the room, So I figure the North (plan view) is a 3' wide hallway.

I did a very basic layout to get a feel for the space, mix of D60 and D72 curves.  I would prefer larger radius for looks. I doubt I will ever run a Big Boy. I do have a MTH Premier ES44 and I would imagine thats about as big as I will go. 

I had a 6x18 N scale layout for a while. I loved long trains, big yards. But the trains didnt move me. I sold it all intent to get into HO cause they were more "trains" vs toy gnats. I have built some HO buildings, love modeling (love it more than am good at it, but enjoy it) and so Scenery is important to me and I almost went HO, but the trains, not gnats, more like a mouse for my cats to pounce.  So I have to decide, TRAINS or CITY.... Well TRAINS wins, I can always build 2'x4' HO dioramas if I want (working on it as I plan this in fact).

So in terms of givens and druthers:

Reversing loops to run trains a

Switching. - I like to watch longer trains. Switching I am content with a smaller handful of cars. Really enjoy watching O gauge switching layouts. Do I basically build that with industries and ignore a yard? Do I need staging? 

Min Radius - 48" ? seems like a good one. Allows premier engines if I go that route (though I think most my power will be railking)

 Double main ? - most likely

Druthers -

yard - doesn't seem realistic, unless I build a small 4 car per track type yard, while running 10 car trains...

Passenger station - a 100" passenger train, doesnt seem likely to fit in a station. My wife and kids use Amtrack to visit family a good bit, so I thought it might be a nice tie in.

Era, I prefer the early GP locomotive power. That era seems tricky with the current MTH selections. So leaning towards a modern what I see layout. Here in memphis I see BNSF, NS frequently, CN,KC in consists with those... 100 Car Coal, trans modal, and a local 5 car run that serves a few industries outside of the city.  I  have considered maybe having a Large Coal Power Plant as a destination. 

So my thought is to do a modern freelance with a lot of my towns Icons. Gibson Guitar Factory serviced with wood and box cars. Wiseacre Brewing Serviced by tankers. and.... Ideally I would do industry tracks serviced a classification yard, but that just seems over the top for O.... 


I dont plan on having a fleet of locomotives, and running 4 trains at a time. I would like to see 2 going, perhaps 1 while I switch, or 2 and 1 switching and have that be my Peak.


I know I can only fit so much in... I could easily do it all in N, get most in HO, and compromise in O, looking for guidance on what seems realistic, and how the room might be best used. 

I dont mind Scenic Mountains and such, but the one thing I love about trains Is the Industrial nature of them. As a Horticulturist perhaps its the contrast to my day job, or its the Stark impact the have on the world that intrigues me. 


So would like some feedback on essentially the G layout. 

I have considered making the North South run more in the middle so the bottom wall (east/west) could be 21' long yard 2nd image. I have really fleshed this idea out, so the image is very diagramtic vs planned. Its presented as where the other part of my brain keeps going to see if it triggers and response.


Thanks for your time, I know this is MY endeavour, just looking for some experienced feedback at this scale, its very different to me from where I was.

CRG - Chi Rho Grace



Files (2)
First rendition - room planning
Original Post

I'm glad I saw your new planning topic for the CRG!  I know you are coming from a similar background as me, having to adjust to a larger scale.  I still don't really thing in 1:48 even after running O gauge trains for over 5 years.  I am still in N and HO frame of mind as you are.  I think once both of us get to building a layout, be will start thinking in 1:48.

All that said, last January, I was in the same boat as you, not really knowing how to fashion a route that will interest me and give the longest run possible in the space available.  I'm not good visualizing things.  I do think you have a realistic view of the things you want, and the things you would like to try to include.  The rest will come.  

I'll ponder your space (actually big compared to the space I am about ready to build in) overnight, and check back in with some ideas later.  My guess is, I'll be piggybacking someone else's ideas, but hey, that's what we are all here for.  A combined effort to help each other with his or her own layout!

I am sure this is just the beginning of tweaking (or out right overhauls). I could probably run another 8-10' down the bottom left as stub yard, but, I have a hard time seeing it as part of the layout.

The island layout, I can see having a long grade leading to a lower level reverse loop with a siding. 

The G shaped layout, is I am sure in need of a lot of work. Originally that top right was just industry but I could not help myself. I could add a door to the bottom right if I wanted to access that little alcove.

Thank you for the time invested in thinking this through with me. 



12 monkeys posted:

12 monkeys,

I like this as a start or concept. Can you post this file or email it to me. I like your thoughts with the givens and druthers. It adds scenic and operational or "play value" details.

I would like to give you a comprehensive reply, so send this file or post it as an attachment.

You are taking the proper approach. Those skills don't change with scale.


Arctic Railroad

12 monkeys posted:

Carl, attached are the files for both. 921 is your preference, I agree there is a part of me thinks it provides better opportunity, but I really have a hard time visualizing this scale and the space it takes up and the spacing. And how to work with the trains. 



Thanks 12 M,

I'll work on it and toss you some thoughts and ideas.


Arctic Railroad

12 Monkeys,

The plan Carl is going to work on is my favorite of the examples you presented.  I think the tracks angling across the room will give some nice scenic possibilities and great train viewing angles.  I'm interested in seeing what Carl does with it.

Yes, Mark I agree. I have read your thread, and many of Carls posts including some of his youtubes, and  I am definitely intrigued to see what he comes up with if he has the time. Even if he does not have time, the comments from both of you have already given me a few more Ideas that I may tweak later today after I get some work done to pay for all this...


12 Monkeys,

Ok, here is a concept, not complete. If you like it we can refine it. It still needs 2 sets of crossover switches, some track fitment work and switches for the Inglenooks.

Here is double main that will be a nice runner - mostly O84 and O72 with some O96 for the inside curves.  I always liked "balloons" versus loops when the space is available.

Yards usually bore me if you are not modeling something from a railroad. This is a big difference between O and smaller gauges. A 4' x 15' area is usually needed for a yard. I have been trying to incorporate Inglenooks for yards. These can be used anyway way that you like and also provide operational/play value as a shunting game. FasTtrack switches also limit yards not having any numbered switches for tight track centers.

There is space in the bend for some single service spurs if you desire those.

There is still space for scenic items, buildings and such.

Not sure if elevations can be incorporated.

I tried to setup the walls, which I assumed were the blue lines for baseboard and then make a baseboard for the tracks.

The aisles are tight in a couple of areas, but there is some space to be gained with table shaping. 

Here is a view from the door, a track plan overview and the SCARM file. 


Arctic Railroad


Thanks for the work. Your assumption on thr walls is correct.


I am not sold on a double main for this space... i think a few larger sidings mght be more interesting. 


Either way the table/room is taking shape i think.


On my way to an event , so a more thorough reply pending another day.



DoubleDAZ posted:

Carl, those loops reverse in the same direction.

Yeppur, saw that. Slapped them in and didn't pay attention. Trying to fit the O72 switch in was getting annoying. Got any ideas, Dave?

Maybe we can cut it all down to O72 and make it easy if he only wants a single main.

Let's wait for some input.


Arctic Railroad

Moonman posted:

Yeppur, saw that. Slapped them in and didn't pay attention. Trying to fit the O72 switch in was getting annoying. Got any ideas, Dave?.

Maybe we can cut it all down to O72 and make it easy if he only wants a single main.

Let's wait for some input.

Sorry, I really didn't look at the file to see about fitment for that switch with the correct orientation.  And based on 12M's last comment, I don't think it's worth the effort until we see where he wants to go, passing sidings vs the dual main approach. My take is he wants more operating options, but like he says, he's having a hard time visualizing the space. So many things one can do in HO or N scale simply don't translate well to O scale, even when the space is larger. As you know, I prefer the dual main approach because I like to watch trains run and I think once the crossovers are added there would be plenty of action moving trains around to avoid each other. Obviously, passing sidings could be added to a dual main approach, but then there might be too much track taking up space for landscaping.

Regardless of what you decide, do yourself a favor and make sure you can reach everything.  Nothing should be more than 30 inches away.  Don't climb on your layout.  It's hard on the back and knees.  The "ideal" layout would be one where you could simply walk up to everything and nothing would be more than 30 inches away.  Understanding that this isn't a perfect world and the "ideal" layout is difficult to achieve come as close as you can.

Lastly, get some rubber tile squares over your concrete floors.  Those are a killer to stand on for any length of time.  :-)

Well, I looked at doing a folded dogbone, that stacks on the smaller loop. I like the idea but have not managed to get something that makes sense to me so far. 

That being said, I played with all sorts of ideas and have nothing that strikes me as a better use of the space than Moonman suggested is the best. I can't envision the layout yet (scenes).

I have updated the SCARM file with accurate walls. 

That being said. The top being a 24" wide aisle is tight, and the bottom being a 12"aisle is simply to tight. Even as just emergency access I can't see it being less than 18". Turning that lower corner into a Upper and lower Loop for a folded dogbone would help with being able make that lower aisle wider.

I also could use the back side of the room on the top most of the image. That room is the man cave. Putting in a staging / yard would be a good future expansion possibility. 






This is with the elevations. The left side of this image should all be sloped to grade. I have to fix that, but alas that will have to wait. The center of the  Island on the right is just to big for reaching. Not sure what to do about that. I know things over 30" will be TOO far to reach and I am not going to go the masochist route with this layout....



I can see building the folded layout, but I think I am derailing myself.

When I envision my layout it is far more urban than a scenic route. and while cities have elevations, its not the train that is usually changing height. 

This leaves me with the original by Carl da 'Moonman' as a basis for my layout. I need to work on how I create an urban theme out of it. 

One step is I need to order some O gauge urban buildings (I prefer kits, I already have a small block for HO that I have been working on, and love it, I just dont like the trains, too wimpy)

A few things have become clear, #1 O guage with sweeping curves is Much bigger than I can realize. 2 may space is huge for N, tiny for O. #3 - I have more space I can use.... So planning for an extension might be a good idea. I am currently planning on the train in a sem-pernament room build out in the garage. This is right next to my office / man cave, which I use a small portion of the space in, so Utilizing it as a roundabout, staging, or yard, etc... I dont know if its a good idea or not. I will have to work with SCARM some more. I need to look at more urban scenes and layouts and see what 'O' People are doing. This really is a completely different idea than N. 

I have painted miniatures from 1/160th to 1/36th scales and while the subject matter might be the same, the techniques are vastly different. Mass Scale (1/160th) is more an overview and blur, while 1/36th is all about highlighting and detail. And while a brush is a brush and paint is paint, each requires a different mindset. So, I get that concept for trains, I just have to GET IT.

Clearly getting some, building some, running some, will help. 

My other dilema is ultimately I wanted to do a 70's city. Its what I planning for, but in O guage, it seems 90% of the locomotives and die cast are modern. I dont mind modern, I am just struggling with a modern city and its train interaction. Any good reading would be appreciated. I have a book on transition era, I think I will sit down with that again today. I had a clearer vision for HO, I think I am in a transition era of hte mind between N/HO to O, and 70's to modern.

It's interesting how even if you already know something, till you write it out, it just doesn't register. I suppose this thread helps with that realization and planning as much as the track plan. While its cart vs horse thing, it does help to see the track plan and its limits in the space so when I go back and do some research I can imagine the limitations and benefits of the space with its application.

I have the Black Diamond series in route as well. Now to find an actual DVD player. We stream so much content these days, I dont know if my kids know what a DVD is.... 





Looking at some layouts will help you. O gauge has a lot of structures and items for the steam era and the steam to diesel transition. Living the '70's as young man, the cities were mainly '30's to '50's leftovers with only some new construction beginning. Even a lot of rolling was still old and the diesel engines beginning to show refinement.

The forum's publisher Alan Arnold (as leavingtracks forum name), has a large urban layout, Craig and his W & W has urban areas and some elevation changes. The NJ Hi-Railers club has some nice city areas.

I would suggest not to focus on the track plan detail, but instead, the overall design concept. Defining the scenic items will then help with the outcome of the track.

I, too, think folding an oval fits best in your space. I have created just an O72 single main around room for a long passing siding on the inside of the fold. I like getting the elevation in at the elbow of the fold and then overlap the inside and outside in the elbow. I don't get real excited about elevating areas. One can get a similar visual effect with only a 3"-4" elevation of a line at an area. Although, Obsidian and Craig came up with nice design for his W & W South Fork RR.

I am not too concerned about the reach as you have enough space to access the layout from all sides, even if it is a skinny aisle. Access hatches designed in are almost a must have when you'll need to work on scenery. Scenery or buildings can be on top the access hatches, so there's no loss of space. 

If you get a track plan that you like, I can save you time by refining the elevations and scenic detail for a good 3D. Those little software techniques will bog down your design process. I have attached your last file with some changes to improve the 3D for visual eye candy. I also changed the max elevation to 7". 4.5" just isn't enough for O gauge. Take a look at the 3D and rotate it around.



Arctic Railroad


Thanks Carl,

I had 7", but when I deleted a segment and made a change it set everything to the 4" height and at that point I was done for a while. Elevations seem to be tricky to work with. 

"I would suggest not to focus on the track plan detail, but instead, the overall design concept. Defining the scenic items will then help with the outcome of the track." - Yes sir, yesterday it hit me in a flash, and I can see a lot more of the layout taking shape in my mind. To me its a back and forth, see the space imagine elements, think of elements look at space, and at somepoint, it will start to click.

I am going to import the SCARM into a drawing package I use to annotate and make notes and then perhaps a SCARM wizard can help illustrate some of it for me. As I struggle along doing my best as well...

Thanks for all your input!.







12 M,

Perhaps just sketching it on paper would be a better medium.

The links in help of the SCARM menu take you to the SCARM website for basics of working with heights and objects. The SCARM Blog has additional tips and tricks.

Use the figures in the library to make placeholder shapes of the foot prints of structures. There are roads in the objects library to use the flex track tool from the tool box to shape them. There are trees and street lights and signals.

So, with a photo of a 2D sketch, I can create a working file for you with 3D objects in various layers.

I found that O72 fits the best and leaves the most aisle space around the outside.

I really liked this article from the Aussie NMRA chapter. It takes the concepts of many of the early layout designers and rolls the whole process into a succinct read for a method that creates focus of effort and saves time.


Arctic Railroad


Hi 12M,

back to basics - here's an O72 that's folded to create a large elevated area and a grade up and down with a tunnel under the elevated area.

This provides a medium and large area at 0 elevation and a large area at 7" elevation for scenery. The aisle at the bottom and access hole plugs in the cliffsides provide access to the tunnel track.

The aisle around the perimeter eliminates a reach issue.

I can see a long passing siding on the inside aisle.

Try this as a concept for your scenery designs. May not get reversing loops in there, but it covers a lot of druthers that you have.

The elevated deck is layer 2. Selected layer 1 and uncheck layer 2 to expose the track detail in the tunnel. The slopes are ~ 4.2%.




Arctic Railroad


Thanks, I haven't vanished but its that time. My sons birthday is this weekend, and well then the following week. 


I have been playing with ideas but haven't reached any "updates", I usually circle back to where I was.  Which is not entirely true, I do have some scenes in my head now. I have put a few variations to paper, I should clean one up for feedback. In the meantime, I will happily absorb  your latest effort into my thought process and see what it inspires. 






Yep, it's that time, which is why I wanted to put the over/under fold concept out there for consideration over the holiday time. If reversing direction on the fly becomes a druther, I have an idea for that with this concept.

Wish your son a Happy Birthday from the forum members and I.

I am following, so post when you feel it or have time.

I, too, am in the Christmas mode.


Arctic Railroad

I am hoping to score a few O gauge building kits from the wife. (I am on a purchase ban for the month). I know I like working with HO scenery. I have no affinity for the trains though <for HO Trains>. It will really help with visualizing the space to have some buildings in hand & built, and detailed <O buildings as opposed to the HO>. 

Personally so far I like the Folded Bone, double main the most. I have some ideas for it. Including bringing it into my "man cave" / office and and have the upper most curve in there. that provides:

  1. more main in the train room, with only one roundy section
  2. my every day office then can have some train scenery that ties in
  3. Allows me to put a staging yard, or switching yard in my office in the future if I feel so inclined, with a main line already there. 



 <edited text> for clarity.


There is website that SCARM supporters created with some O gauge buildings and I have collected some other building files that some forum members have created. I can't find the bookmark or remember the site - I'll post it when I find it. Forum member Chiloquin Russ created some excellent structures also.

Heres a couple building files attached. Open them in a separate instance of SCARM, selected and copy and paste onto the layout that you are working . You can set the elevation is the properties of the building and right-clicking and rotating will position it.

here's the last file with the Lionel Rico station, a Korber 304 Diesel shed, the Atlas 6907 Lumber Yard Long shed and Sales Office and a Lionel Quonset Hut.

A second shot with an SD38-2 and train from the SCARM simulator



Some of these cats are good with 3D tools. Forum member ACE made some cool structures, engines and cars. 



Arctic Railroad


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