Help me design an attic layout

  I model to the edge too, but if I were to have kids running regularly, to stop dives from accidental or careless highspeed rollovers, I'd have a good sized space at the curves bordering the edges, or put a decent guard rail up.

Leaving some space of a few inches away on any portion facing you allows you to lean over to grab this or that while a train is still running. Too close, and the train will likely clip your body as it passes..... unless maybe your real skinny and shirtless  

Reaching over without leaning is very uncomfortable; an unatural postion.

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"


"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.


Asymair95 posted:

Wow...that is amazing! Beautiful.

Thank You, very much!

A little trick I use when running the 10 trains (using TMCC) and one trolley is that when a train, steam locomotive or diesel, approaches where a person, adult or child, is standing, usually looking and gesturing, I sound the horns long and steady, warning of their approach, as well as adding a little 'theater" to the moment. Everybody gets the message. I have not had a single locomotive or car knocked off its tracks, not even bumped, since the first layout of 1995.


looking toward neck

I will, however, at times, stop a train right in front of a guest if it seems  they'd like to give it a touch or a little caress, which has sometimes been the case. I liked everything right up front and available, to scrutiny and touch, as much as possible.




P.S. I want the layout to give people joy. I am not touch-me-not about the layout or its trains at all. I like the smiles the best. Beyond that, I do not spend energy worrying about accidents.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge has limits.     Dr. W.Dyer


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The only concern that I have is what happens when you stand in the aisle from the center to the windows? Does the slope of the ceiling force you to bend over?

I flipped your photo and used it as a background image in SCARM and tried to recreate the tables. The walls are the blue polygon outline.

Then, using circles and squares, (well, only circles), placed O31 circles to check for fitment.

You can put rectangle footprints in for accessories and buildings, then work the track around those.

The yard could be a little tricky on the triangle. I may try a wye on the center island and perhaps the yard in there.

Then, work the O27 line in. 

SCARM now has 6"(imperial grid) option. If you have 5", it's an older beta version.


Arctic Railroad


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That table design gives me interesting ideas.  Let's check your specs before I play more with this.

1. You want to run three trains independently.  That means three loops.  Is it OK if loops cross w/ 45 or 90 degree crossings ?

2.  Does on O-31 and two O-27 loops meet the spec ?

3. should there be crossovers so taht all loops connect ?

4. do you want to have a wye or reverse loop ?

5. How do you feel about O-31/O-27 transition sections.







Just a thought, instead of 2 small peninsulas, why not one wide peninsula that would allow for a great variety of track configurations.  The two small peninsulas (and walk ways) take up a lot of space, and don't give you many track options.

If the one large peninsula (76in below, but could be shortened) is slid toward the door, it would also allow for a bump out in the top section to allow for more space for a reverse loop, wider radius track, scenery, accessories, etc.  

There is a slight reach issue on the right side of the big peninsula, for my money, in that space, I'd be ok sacrificing the reach there to gain a large area as shown below.  Yard tracks/engine house, etc could be down by the door.

Just throwing some ideas out there...







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Here is an idea - 

I inserted a lionel dealer display plan for a D-264 onto the peninsula.  Added some track options.  You can have 4 trains running on independent loops.  Has some crossings for interest. Space for industry sidings. A yard for train building. 

Granted, my "work of art" above is not to scale, so my track fitting is just a guess.   Just sending an idea out there to see if this is going down the right track for your end goal or not.

 You could add access below the mountain on the D-264 to gain reach access if needed

D-264 below:

Image result for lionel d-264





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Moonman posted:...

You can put rectangle footprints in for accessories and buildings, then work the track around those.

I found that system to be very helpful, often...2This corner trailer- park is an example. The Masonite baseplate was measured and configured and then crafted off the layout, once the track was configured for this wide curve, and then, screwed in place. You may be able to see the Masonite baseplate's edge temporarily exposed here and there..BB

Across the three-mainline tracks at this corner curve is this neighborhood, planned and crafted using the same procedure = baseplate configured in; then, the craftwork completed upon each baseplate, and each individual project affixed into place...






The super-advantage to using baseplates everywhere I can is that if I change my mind about emplacement of a vignette, all I have to do is unscrew it (if it is screwed down) and lift it out, with ZERO loss of ingredients or damage to the structures

FrankM, Moon's son..

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge has limits.     Dr. W.Dyer


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I was originally going to have one large peninsula in the middle instead of two smaller ones. I was worried about not being able to reach things though. What do guys typically do on larger areas of real estate like that? I really like your layout ideas though, I would much prefer something along those lines. It adds lots of interest, but still leaves room for accessories. I don’t have that many switches at the moment though, and that plan has lots of Here is a pic of what I currently have:


7 o27 switches, 4 o31 switches and one crossover that I believe is for o31. I have tons of track, but definite have twice as much o27 as I do o31.


Thank you for that plan. I made the aisle 3’ from the wall so I wouldn’t bump my head on the ceiling. After seeing JD2035 larger peninsula idea, I’m leaning more towards that.  How large should I go? I can fit a full 8’ in there and still have a 2’ aisle on the door side and window side.


Yes, all those things sound great. Would the crossover require one train to wait while one passed? My engines aren’t the most reliable, I wouldn’t trust them to start back up again after a mementary stop. What is a o27/o31 transition? Is this a piece I would need to fabricate?

Thank you for all the ideas and help. I got a big box from woodlandscenics today. I’ve also been busy on eBay replacing all the accessories we had to sell a few years back. Still breaks my heart to this day. So far I have scored a Lionel 24” metal bridge, gateman, and switch tower.

What is everyone’s thoughts on the Midwest cork roadbed?


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In my sketch, without the yard, there are six LH switches, six RH switches, one 45 degree crossover, and two 90 degree crossovers.  I believe the D-264 is approximately 9x5, but that is using Super 0 track which I believe is 0-36.  You would have to modify the plan for 027-031, but you might still need the same amount of space to ensure that the grade isn't too steep.

I think the peninsula should be 5-6 ft wide (allowing 2.5 - 3.0ft reach from either side), depending on the elements you want to fit inside the space.

There is a buy/sell forum here, I have had good luck acquiring additional pieces I needed for reasonable prices from people who enjoy helping another guy out.  With this size of a layout, you may want to get a bunch of 022 O gauge switches that you can supply with fixed voltage and switch remotely.



Well, you have a switch shortage in O31. Anyhow, we can work what you have.

I just feel like the O27 looks to snappy in the curves. It's a little more delicate to work with. The lower rail height looks good.

I would say lean over a table or something and see where the reach is comfortable to fiddle with a train.

I like the 2 peninsulas  for boys. They can be in different locations and operating different accessories or just having their own viewing spot.

So, the main loop looks like it will be in O27 and the secondary loop in O31. We need some spurs for accessories.

Also, consider that you can shape the deck in curves and still have the rectangular/angles framing underneath. Just allow for enough overhang to cut the curve with a jigsaw. Something about corners bugs me.

let us know what you decide for the peninsulas/width.



Arctic Railroad

After leaning over some correct height tables, I would like to make the peninsula 7’ across. I can fit 8’ but it’s not possible for me to reach that far. The depth of the peninsula can stay the same as it was with the original plan. It will be tough to reach the area behind the peninsula, but I will just leave that somewhat barren, or put a farm there.

Thanks for the heads up on the buy sell area on the forum. Will stop by and put some requests in.

i will definitely leave some room around the outside of the table for jigsaw trimming.



The dust is still settling, but the benchwork is up.




I had enough room to add another bench against the wall. Here is the plan with measurements.


Was hoping the pros here could help design a good postwar layout. Tonight the first coat of paint goes on.


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mlaughlinnyc posted:

When a train derails on the several feet of track that is more than a five foot reach from the corner of the aisle, what is your plan for getting to it.

...and that is the only place a train will derail (unless you have tunnels,  of course).


ASYMAIR95, if you close the attic door and notice the room is getting cold, you may have to put a few 1"or 2" dia. holes in the layout against the wall above the baseboard radiator. Sorry I just started following your project this morning. I would have suggested leaving a gap between the wall and the layout above that radiator. Radiators have to move the air in the room through them, by means of convection, as quickly as possible to heat the room at the same speed as the room with the thermostat in it. If you don't allow for the heat to raise, the heat will be trapped under the layout. You may have to put a small fan under there to help move the heat into the room. Which ever you do, it will help to keep the tracks from expanding and contracting over the radiator. Also, if you hang curtains off the front of the layout, keep a gap between the floor and the curtains so that the cold air in the room can move to the radiator.

Dave Z

Dave, I don’t run the heat much up there to save heating oil. The rising heat from downstairs keeps it pretty warm up there.

2035, I thought about putting a hatch in, but it seems like a lot of work. I’m thinking I’ll just put some plasticville houses in that area to take up space. I’ll keep the track shenanigan to a minimum out there too.

The first coat of paint last night.



Watching the birds at the feeder from the train room



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I throw an idea out there for you.  Sorry I don't do the track planning software.  I included a hatch (green square) as part of the plan.  Redline is the trolley line going through the plasticville city.  Not sure how you feel about a lift bridge/swing bridge/duckunder, but that aisle is begging for a double bridge!  

What elements do you like and dislike in the below idea?





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JD2035RR posted:

I throw an idea out there for you.  Sorry I don't do the track planning software.  I included a hatch (green square) as part of the plan.  Redline is the trolley line going through the plasticville city.  Not surehow you feel about a lift bridge/swing bridge/duckunder, but that aisle is begging for a double bridge!  ..

The only advice I could offer you regarding lift/swing/duckunder bridges on layouts is that I have noticed many postings, here and on other forums, stating that the hobbyists got real tired of them fast, eventually even removing them, in several cases. I wouldn't even consider having one.

As evidence, if you take notice of the line of Second-level bridges and arch-unders in the foreground of this mid-section to my layout...8...I had considered having a duckunder there, but decided against it,  knowing we would have plenty of company and that the chances of somebody, especially children and older, less flexible adults, bumping heads into such a structure, I decided it was best to have guests able to walk right up to the bridges and peer over and beyond them into the valley beyond, and up into the hills of the Second and Third levels beyond, at 14' distance away, approx....IMG_0861edx 

Of course, if having a moveable bridge arrangement interests and amuses you, then doing what you feel would be enjoyable for you, of course, is a big part of the adventure of creating a layout.



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I really like that style of layout. I would like to avoid the swing bridge though as monsoon said.

I do like the double cross over, sidings, marshling yard, trolly area...basically everything.

I would like another basic loop around the perimeter, and a bridge or two, as well as a tunnel.


That layout is a work of art.

Good start with base color - now use other earth colors and patchy areas of a second coat of that color. may want to wait until you get a track plan.

Do you have any half-straights and half-curves in O27?

Oh, no one answered your question about the Midwest cork - if it is in your budget - use it. You will have a very quiet layout and make the experience more enjoyable.  Painting the cork with a single coat of gray will look like ballast.


Arctic Railroad


I don’t have any half sections. I was going to buy several from tin man, as well as some insulated sections, and several power tap sections. 

I caulked the seams last night and put another coat of green on. Going to fabricate and paint a perimeter around the control panel tonight. Need to finish up cleaning the rest of my track and settle on a track plan. 

I’m thinking of putting push button switches around the perimeter of the layout near different operating accessories and lights for the kids to press. I was going to put them all on the control panel, but thought it would be more fun for the kids to be able to press various buttons throughout the layout and operate things. 

Anyone have a go to switch they use for something like that? 


I am working on some track ideas.  just trying to get to know your inventory in O27. You can always cut the long straights, but the curves are a little tricky. It's very limiting to work with a full curve.

Door bell buttons are the simplest for momentary on.  There are big colored and lighted ones, but keep it simple. They like the doorbell buttons with a label.



Arctic Railroad


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I bought these.  They come with small micro switches that are easy to wire.  I liked the look and will take a lot of abuse being arcade buttons.  They also have lighted ones.

Do you plan to run your trains conventionally? TMCC/Legacy? DCS? Lionchief (+)/RC?






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thank you, that looks like a good start. I like the cross section of track. I can always buy more track, or specialty pieces if need be. I was thinking of getting another four way, and an X section also. Looking at an auction for four more switches too. I just came in from cleaning the last of my o27 track. Tomorrow I will start on the o31. It should go quick as it is in much better shape.


Thank you for the button link. My only concern with those is they look like I have to drill a fairly large hole to mount them. I would like to mount them on the facia board around the circumference of the layout. This is also a support board though and is relatively weak being only 1x3 ferring strip. I’m afraid putting a big hole like that through it will weaken it too much. The door bell idea sounds good though. I can just screw it to the outside and drill a small hole for wires to pass through.

This will be a conventional powered layout. I have a zw and a few older Lionel transformers for lighting, accessories, and powering sidings and such.

Do you guys like the woodland scenics incline/decline risers for elevating the track? Good bad?

I think Moorman's suggestion of cutting off the corners is a good one.  You're going to find that the square corners, as you have them now, will jump out and bump into you every chance they get.....LOL

Dan Padova


"In the course of my life I have had to eat my words, and I must confess it was a wholesome diet"..........Winston Churchill


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