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First post after lurking the forum for quite a while.

I'll apologize up front for the long post, but I want to answer the most frequently asked questions up front.

After years of having the trains in boxes, I finally have a house with a spare room to build a layout in with my son.  The room measures 13' x 12'4" with an undivided closet with two doors.  The goal is to design a layout for operations with continuous running allowing two trains and a functional yard area.  I also want to incorporate as much of the Dept 56 Snow Village buildings as I can for a town area.  Planned industries are a scrap yard with gantry crane, culvert loading/unloading, small coal operation with a 497 coal elevator, saw mill, freight siding with milk platform, and a reactor for town power.  

I want both mainlines connected to allow consists to be switched out for either line.  The longest locomotives/rolling stock I have is a PA-1 AA set and Williams streamline 18" passenger cars.  Outer loop is O72 and the inner loop is O60 to handle these.  The local delivery route will be serviced by locomotives with O31 minimum curve requirements.  The era modeled will be the late 50's/early 60's and the setting is the PRR since I'm originally from near Pittsburgh. My fleet consists of Postwar, MPC, and modern era. Only freight consists of about eight cars will be switched.  Passenger cars will removed by hand if I want to run freight on the outer line.

The design utilizes Fastrack and I plan to use the closet space as my tunnel to conserve space in the room. I'm not going for a hi-rail setup, but figuring on a nicely sceniced toy train.  I have an MTH Steel Arch bridge to use as the lift out for access to the control area.  I'm currently running conventionally, but planning for Legacy later on utilizing a ZW-L for main power.

After reading a lot of good information on this forum and many scrapped design ideas on my computer, I think I have come up with a design that fits the bill.  I designed the layout in SCARM.  I want to get the design finalized so I can prep the room and build the benchwork.  I do not have everything I need to complete the layout and plan on building up the inventory over time. Any and all comments/ideas are welcome.  This includes radical departures from my design.  I'd like to get this right the first time.  I have attached a picture of the room with the current iteration of our floor layout, a pic of the design and my SCARM file.

Thanks in advance



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  • Floor Layout
  • Train Room Dimensioned
  • Greater Penn RR
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Last edited by Kreuz
Original Post

If I read your diagrams correctly, your track goes in to the closet one door and out the other door, with both doors being fully blocked.  How will you get in there if something derails?

If you choose to use the closet that way, I would put nothing but broad curves in there while fitting the crossover between mainlines on the exact opposite (and open) area of the layout.  I also agree with GVDOBLER above, trains only capable of running the same direction, without the hand of God, can soon become very boring.


Kreuz posted:

 I would love to have the ability to reverse the trains.  I just couldn't figure out how to work in the reverse loops and keep the rest of the functionality. If someone has a good idea how to accomplish, please let me know.  

I found two possible sights for reverse loops as indicated by the red curved lines. I'll crack open your scarm file and take a look to see if this will work.



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  • Greater%20Penn%20RR

Revised the track plan to incorporate the reverse loops. As you can see from the pictures below, the necessary restructuring of the track interferes with the sawmill siding. To correct this, the two red pieces of track can be shortened to make extra room. The pieces in orange are filler pieces that will probably require a custom cut. The pieces in green are to make viewing the new addition easier.




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Hi Kreuz,

An 060 wye almost fits from the bridge to closet as a way to reverse direction. Take a look. I didn't want to mess with your plan. Looks like fun.

Any reason you are transitioning to tubular for the bridge? Better looks? Gargraves perhaps? You don't really need the transition tracks. A lift-up or lift-out gets its own set of feeder wires.


Last edited by Moonman

I am not a fan of having any turnouts in the closet area for this layout. Here is another revised track plan that puts a crossover at the top of the layout. I then went back and corrected the curve spacing to a 6" centerline for the two mainlines.

The next issue I see is circled in red. Depending on the type of rolling stock you use, you might be ok with two trains passing in this spot. From the information I have gathered, the MTH bridge has a 4" centerline, where FasTrack is 6". Where you might get into trouble is if a train is coming off of the diverging route, the overhang from an engine or rolling stock could interfere with a passing train on the outside mainline. You will have to watch this area when running trains.




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Last edited by ChessieFan72

Thanks for all the great input. 

Joe - I see what you mean about the far right corner.  The other two corners already have access to them.

Stewart - I was so focused on the yard being a stand alone operation, that I missed the possibilities there. It's easy enough to interrupt switching ops and park the switcher on the lead to allow the reverse. I'll lay out the spacing of the turnout with the 4" track spacing and see what the overhang on my locos looks like.  My SD18s would be the worst overhang of the locos that would go that route.  While I have no plans to have the PA-1s to run that route due to the tight turns, I'll check them as well, as that would be the worst case scenario.

Carl - I'll look into the wye option and see how that pans out.  I decided to go with tubular on the bridge for looks.  I think non ballasted track on the bridge just looks better and the bottom of the bridge has good detail to boot.  While the transitions don't connect electrically, they have the advantage of have a straight edge to mate to the tubular.  It's easier than me trying to cut regular pieces to have the flush face.

I'll work with the track plan and repost.

I have updated the plan utilizing your suggestions.  I added a hatch area as well to be able to reach the far right corner and the crossovers.  I also checked the clearance at the switch by the bridge tunnel. As the pictures show, it looks like clearance won't be an issue.  Even the PA-1s look ok, and they won't be running that line of tight curves.  I tried Carl's wye idea, but it didn't quite work out.

Greater Penn RR 1.1Greater Penn RR 1.1 3DSD18 ClearancePA-1 Clearance


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  • Greater Penn RR 1.1
  • Greater Penn RR 1.1 3D
  • SD18 Clearance
  • PA-1 Clearance
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Very nice layout. Good knowledge and use of SCARM. It will fit as designed.

The wye would have had to been part of it from start. I like them and the prototypical movement to reverse direction in a small layout.

If you really want the bridge to look nice, the Gargraves Trestle track 101-Trestle will put the finishing touch on it. I am thinking the Lionel O will be too low (about 3/32") and the rails will not mate with the roadbed and rail height of FasTrack. GG track sits really close as there are pictures of GG users putting the LCS Sensor track into their layout.

I was trying to find a way to get a longer spur for the reactor. No go. You could sit the AEC security caboose and glow tank car on a faux siding next to it.

Please don't lurk any longer and post some layout build photos. Have fun!


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  • Web-101-trestle
Last edited by Moonman


Like Stewart I can't wait to see the pictures of the build, possibly the most exciting part of model railroading for me thus far.  Carl and Stewart helped me A LOT! when I was planning my layout and I cannot thank them enough, of course I tweaked things here and there, but that was out of necessity.  Good luck with your layout, you have a great plan in place, can't wait to see the progress, please keep us updated.


Carl, like you I do like wyes as well.  The design iteration before this one had two in it for reversing, but the outer lines were O48 and O36.  I thought those curves would do me, but then Christmas brought the PA-1s.  They were very slightly used and I got them for a great price.  If it weren't for a little dirt on the wheels, you'd never know they were run. Once I saw those on O36, I knew I needed larger curves.  I just couldn't get the larger radius wyes to quite work to my satisfaction.  Many on this forum have stated to go with the largest curves you can manage.  I should have listened to that sooner.  At least my mistake never made it off the computer screen.   I'll look into the GG trestle track, I like the look of that.  The faux siding by the reactor is good too.  Need something more there.  I still have to acquire the sawmill, reactor, and coal elevator, so those will be phased in over time. I'll probably put my 394 beacon on the mountain somewhere since my son is determined to have one or two aircraft hanging from the ceiling over the layout.

Stewart, great thought, but already have that covered.  Both left corners of the room are cut off at a 45° angle to allow pop up access. By my measurements I'll be able to reach anything in the left corner from either the control area or that corner as the total bench depth there is less than 6'.  I'll just need to decide whether to leave it open at all times, or make some scenery in the corners that I can drop out to open up the access point.  I figure I'll plan for the drop out scenery, but will wait on execution until I see how much I actually have to use the access corners.

When I start construction, I'll take plenty of pictures and will start a thread to document the progress and my bloopers.  It'll take some time to complete as I unfortunately can't purchase everything I need at once (mainly switches). My pockets just aren't that deep. (but tax refund time is close)

With the additional access panel behind the crane, I need to figure out how to scenic that area and still drop out the panel.  When I get to that point I'll start a thread over on Scenery and Structures to get some ideas.

I still have to do some experiments for best materials on the benchwork top for noise control.  At this point I'll use a 3/4" OSB top, 1" foam board, carpet padding or laminate underlayment, then green indoor/outdoor carpet.  The fiber kind, not the plastic looking stuff.  If I decide on a winter scene I can cover with Buffalo Snow.    I love the scenery that some of you accomplish, it's just amazing, but I'm not sure I have the talent to pull that off.  I'm and engineer, not an artist after all.  But, I won't know until I try.  Maybe I'll surprise myself.  

The reason for the foam, is not noise control, but the ability to carve below grade features like the drainage pond.  I'll experiment with some combinations to see what sounds best to my ear and what final look I want. There is already so many threads on controlling Fastrack noise that I won't add to that.  I would use homosote if it was available in my area.  Alas it's not.  Heck the only hobby shop close to me is 90 miles away.


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