Skip to main content

@The Bellcaptain - I feel your pain. This post begins 11-2020 - at this rate looks like nothing gets built for a long long time.  Time to start building your layout.  Just go ahead with your double loop idea and start building. Get the bench work done, lay the track and run your trains. You might quickly find things you like and others not so much - you can always change your layout. I am on my 5th or 6th iteration and I know this one will change again.

If you don't have it already pick up a copy of Linn Westcott's book "How to build Model Railroad Benchwork"  I think you will find it helpful. The construction method makes it easier to change your layout - IMO.

I could add a lot more - but just lay some track and run your trains.

Jeff

In my similar space, the thought process was "how much surface can I fit in here, without a duckunder, while allowing for display shelves?".  Several years later, I still don't know if that was the correct approach, and folks have offered a lot of good insight in the preceding posts. 

I built a table that can be walked around (2-3' clearance to the walls), and then I built shelves along the walls.  In hindsight, it might have been better to go around the walls.  However, had I done so, it would have been difficult to create accessible storage for the items that aren't on the track.  So I guess that one question to ask yourself is how much stuff do you have that won't fit on the layout, and how easily do you want to be able to get to it.  One can build shelves along the front of the benchwork, but doing so exposes the shelved items to knees, feet, and curious children.

As for indecisiveness, I'm a member of that club.  My advice on that is to build benchwork that you think will work (use screws, no glue), lay some track (don't ballast it), run it for awhile, and see if you like it.  Chances are that you won't like some or all of it - so remove the track, reconfigure the benchwork, and try again.  If you go with L-girder benchwork, it's easy to make areas larger or smaller.

At your club, make notes about what you like and what you don't (the layout, not the people!) and apply that information to your planning.

Don't feel like it has to be perfect the first time, and don't be afraid to change direction on something that isn't working.

@ScoutingDad posted:

@The Bellcaptain - I feel your pain. This post begins 11-2020 - at this rate looks like nothing gets built for a long long time.  Time to start building your layout.  Just go ahead with your double loop idea and start building. Get the bench work done, lay the track and run your trains. You might quickly find things you like and others not so much - you can always change your layout. I am on my 5th or 6th iteration and I know this one will change again.

If you don't have it already pick up a copy of Linn Westcott's book "How to build Model Railroad Benchwork"  I think you will find it helpful. The construction method makes it easier to change your layout - IMO.

I could add a lot more - but just lay some track and run your trains.

Jeff

You type faster than I do!

Bell Captain,

To answer some of your specific  questions:

I did not decide on my layout, until  putting  a masking tape outline of my proposed table top on the concrete floor of my basement,  hooking together all of the track of my proposed layout  on the floor inside the tape boundaries, running a few power lines to the tracks, and running my locomotives with cars on it, on and off for  about 4 weeks.   Don't worry about wiring the switches, just turn them by hand.  Don't worry about building raised levels, this is just  a prototype test track. 

You are then going from the theory of the drawing board to the practical issues of construction.

Sounds like a silly process, but it is not.  Problems with the initial layout will quickly reveal themselves.   Tight turns, short pieces that need to be custom cut, overhang areas, curves and sections that should fit on paper but don't quite fit in real life, boring curves, boring long runs, delays or  problems in changing from outside loops to inside loops with the proposed switch locations, etc.   

And then you start eliminating these problems one by one, on the floor, by adding extra switches, altering curves, altering long straight runs, cutting a few custom pieces, etc.   Then you test again. 

More problems will be seen.  Alter again however you like to fix them.

After you do this about 3 times, you will be confident in the layout you are proposing.  Your trains will run fine.  You will gain lots of new insight.

Then, unhook i(disassemble) the track in large track runs, leaving 3 or 4 tracks sections hooked together when you do it, and reassemble the whole thing on the table top.   Oops, your table may be 2 inches too short or long here and there.  No problem, alter the layout a bit or add to the table a bit.  Reassemble the entire thing on the table top and just lightly tack it down.

Now, hook up the wiring and run the trains again. 

Oops, an uneven place on the table top.  Oops, coming around this sharp turn too fast will throw a fast PostWar engine over the edge.    No problem, make final adjustments.

Now,  in my mind, you are ready to actually put down the layout on the board.  Use a pencil to outline the outer edges of the track,  pull up your tacked down track, and start building your ramps etc.

For me, this designing and building a layout.

I honestly think that you are way overthinking the layout design, because you feel that once you choose a design, you MUST assemble THAT design and screw it down on the table top, and then you are stuck with it.  The great thing about the O gauge hobby is that you are not stuck with it.   Constantly re-thinking, adjusting, adding and subtracting are part of the process.

So, just get started!  You will feel better about it.

Hope this helps.

Mannyrock

You have done some thinking about what you want to do with the trains.   I think that is most important consideration.    The spectrum runs from 3-5 loops with trains continously circling without interference while you watch and sip to the other end of a really operations based point to point layout with no continous run that requires you run the trains hands on and do a lot of switching and movements.     And there is everything in between.   

My personal experience is that the continuous loops lost my interest pretty quickly once I had scenery built and the thing wired.    I built at least 3 like that ranging from 4x12 to single car garage size.      Then I moved on to add more switching based operations and converted the garage layout to point to point but it still had a continuous loop on one level that I seldom used.     The layout became a lot more fun to run and I wanted to add various additional cars to provide more "service".      I designated to 2 stub tracks on the layout as "interchanges", one with the C&O and one with "PRR".     Then I had 8-10 industrial spots to set cars in and out of.    My basic operation was that cars came off the interchanges onto my RR and were moved to the industies.    Empties and shipments were then delivered back to one or the other interchange.    To make this somewhat random, I cut one inch long pieces of plastruct I-beams.     I put white tape on the webs.    On one side I would write the name or initials of one of the industries and on the other side the initials of one of the interchanges.    I think separated these by car types appropriate to the industries, ie boxcars, hopper, gondolas, flat cars, etc and placed these in little boxes above eye level.     When the cars were on an interchange, I would reach into the appropriate container for the car type, say a boxcar and take one out and place it on the car on the interchange with the name of the industry facing up.    I would do this for all cars on the interchanges.     then I would pick up the cars and move them to their destinations with my locomotive.    when I was done, I would flip the tabs over on top of all the cars at the industries to tell me which interchange to deliver them to, the next time I ran trains.     I found that to be a lot of fun and generally with about a 15-20 cars on the layout,  doing the "work" took me at least a half hour.

so my advice is to think about what you want to do, come up with a track plan for that, and then finally decide what the "table" or benchwork will be to create that.

Hello Bell Captain,

Yes indeed, time is always a constraint and issue and also finances are too.  I am in the process of tearing down my Missouri Plywood RR (a hi-rail plywood nearly scale to scale mix of prototypical and collectible rolling stock and power units of all eras).  My layout to replace will take years to get even the mainlines and yards in place on the benchwork.

In planning my new layout, I took my planned allocated space, thought about what size curves, how I have operated the past 25 years, and incorporated that into my thoughts about my new set up.  But I first thought about the space and benchwork.

Thinking and wondering, planning is awesome, and when contemplating your start, do think about doing it in stages, and getting part of your benchwork down so you can just lay loose track to run a few things.  Having meets and clubs can scratch that operating itch in a great way.  You are thinking ahead, and that is always a great first step.  Kudos.  

Last edited by Commodorefirst

Well guys, there's thinking ahead, . . .and then there is agonizing ahead.

I think our Poster is getting exhausted with all of the possibilities and problems just floating around in his head, which is understandable, because you can't solve real world mechanical issues with things just floating around in your head.  At some point, you need to start building and solve as you go.   By doing this,  you convert theoretical issues, which you can't actually put your hands on, to mechanical issues, which you can easily solve by simple hand tools and track pieces.

We aren't building a space craft here.  Nothing is going to explode and nobody is going to perish if we end up with a curve that is too tight or a design plan that is a little off.   

Bell Captain, . . .start building and be happy!  You can easily solve any problem that comes up, especially with the advice of all of the experts on this board!

Mannyrock

@ScoutingDad posted:

@The Bellcaptain - I feel your pain. This post begins 11-2020 - at this rate looks like nothing gets built for a long long time.  Time to start building your layout.  Just go ahead with your double loop idea and start building. Get the bench work done, lay the track and run your trains. You might quickly find things you like and others not so much - you can always change your layout. I am on my 5th or 6th iteration and I know this one will change again.

If you don't have it already pick up a copy of Linn Westcott's book "How to build Model Railroad Benchwork"  I think you will find it helpful. The construction method makes it easier to change your layout - IMO.

I could add a lot more - but just lay some track and run your trains.

Jeff

Ballcaptain, I have to agree with ScoutingDad.  The plan I showed back in November is what I call Plan D.  Plan A was scrapped before I started building benchwork.  Plans B and C were started, some benchwork and track laid.  Your freehand drawing a day ago looks a lot like the computer drawn plan from back in November.  That's okay, but it sounds like you are running into 'analysis paralysis.'  I would suggest just building some benchwork, lay some track, and see how it works out.  It is only then that you will start to figure out what you want.  That's what happened to me.

Mark has a good idea and one I was hoping to guide you to. It would be of great benefit to you to set up a couple of loops and a few sidings to play with for a while. This is not intended to be your final layout, just enough to allow you to loop trains and or do some switching of cars.

I did something like this for about a year before starting my current layout built. I was getting much of the same advice about loops, sidings, industries, etc. My experience with that prototype layout led me to realize that I do like occasional switching but I'm not really interested in industries at all. Switching cars showed me the many issues with couplers, weight, etc. that start impacting those operations. These can all be addressed but they aren't going to be high on my list of things to do.

Get after it... and, be thankful you are not stuck in the attic!

Go around the room (because you can).

After a month of planning and realizing I was spinning my wheels...  I decided to build it and that they would come.

I started construction on 8/30/20 (68" x 21')...

and, on 9/22/20 I had this... (my own structural take on things)... @ 240lbs I can easily crawl around on it.

Attic RR - 02

Running TRAINS 10/27/20 (my B'day)!

IMAG0291

Never stop improving!  The PUNCH-A-HOLE through the knee-wall project started 2 months later.

Attachments

Images (2)
  • Attic RR - 02
  • IMAG0291

Turkey Hollow Dan filled in some more detail of what I was getting at.  My Plans B and C had turnback loops with 042 track.  The first concept was to build a rollout section to clamp onto the stationary layout to give me access to the back side of the loop when necessary.  The prototype actually worked.  The second concept had the same end loop, but two stacked on each other for an out and back.  I finally decided I didn't like the depth of either, and went with the around the room with a lift up bridge to get into the center of the layout.

Dennis has done a fine job building his layout in stages, and yes he has to work around his attic room.  His addition with a loop into his knee wall has worked out well, and it is surprising how he has good access.  I am not like him.  Though I only weigh in the 170s, with one replaced knee and lumbar fusion, there is no way I am going to be climbing up on things anymore.  Believe me, in my working days, I was always climbing up, over, into tough spots.  Those days are done, and I built high enough that I can wire sitting on my little two foot-high padded roll around work stool.   

The original track plans that you posted are ones that Obsidian and I did.

I've posted a first take on an around the wall layout based on your sketch.  I did change your crossovers to something more prototypical and operationally useful.  My interest is in operations, and my designs reflect this.

Mainline spacing is 6" between centers.

Jan

Bellcaptain v1

Attachments

Images (1)
  • Bellcaptain v1
Files (1)
Last edited by Jan
@trestleking posted:

All good suggestions !   I went down to the basement tonight & threw down a 6’ x 16’ loop and ran some trains.  My space has somehow “shrunk” so it’s back to the planning, but putting down the track helped me gain perspective.

Not as easy to follow as the digital versions but it works for us.   Sorry the scan is so bad.   But you get the idea.  This is 13x21 roughly.   A lot can be put in a small space.   7E0A499E-471D-4804-B9B9-1E43B2BFA8B1

Attachments

Images (1)
  • 7E0A499E-471D-4804-B9B9-1E43B2BFA8B1

Add Reply

Post
The Track Planning and Layout Design Forum is sponsored by

AN OGR FORUM CHARTER SPONSOR
OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
330-757-3020

www.ogaugerr.com
×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×
×