Well, my plan to build a 2-level layout in the craft room this summer has been sidelined once again. This time it’s because I need to use the room as a bedroom one more time during the Christmas holidays this year. I stopped at Mr Muffin’s last month on our way to Green Bay after visiting our daughter near Savannah and picked up the Veteran’s SD70. Now I have 2 engines with no place to run them and I want to get something going.
I could set my RealTrax O31 oval back up, but I’ve decided to go ahead and build an L-shaped 16'x16' loop2loop layout in the garage. It will be used strictly to run the trains and NOT to build a model railroad. That means there will be minimal desert landscaping (if any) and nothing for the trains to do except run. There will be no buildings, but I may add a backdrop of some sort. One leg of the L will run across my workbench in front of pegboard with hanging tools. The other leg will run across shelves in 3 shelving units along a perpendicular wall. The corner will be on an angle because it will run in front of a water heater. It will also be removable (nuts&bolts) for access to the heater when needed. The 1x frame and decking will rest directly on top of the workbench and shelves. The leg across the workbench will be anchored to the wall and that should be sufficient to keep things in place. There is a slight difference in height between the two, so I’m going to vary the height of the 1x framing to make things level. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll use 1x stock or rip plywood. I think ripping plywood would be the most cost-effective and I have a ShopSmith to do the ripping. I still have to figure out how to deal with some uprights in the shelving units and that could end up being a deal-breaker.
The layout has concentric O36/O45 loops as well as inside reversing loops. The reversing loops and crossovers are done with Ross #4 switches. I plan to use GarGraves flex track to form the loops and a mix of O54/O63/O72 sectional curves elsewhere, though I might just go ahead and use flex throughout to reduce the number of joints. I’ve already talked to GarGraves and they assure me I can bend their flex to those sizes. In fact, if I understood them correctly, they told me that all their sectional curves are hand-bent following the tips in their video. And before anyone asks, I haven’t ruled out using Atlas sectional pieces for the loops and the adapter they sell for connecting to GarGraves track. I’d consider all Atlas, but their O72 and #5 switches are too big and I simply don’t want to use the smaller O54 switches.
Anyway, with all that in mind, the loop ends of the decking have a 27.5” arc across the front to provide enough clearance for the loops. The straight sections coming from the ends are 30” deep and the corner piece is "24” wide. The framing has cross-members on 16” centers and the decking will just be 1/2” plywood. Everything is symmetrical and mirrored to make things easier to build and leave me enough space in the 2 stalls of a 3-car garage so I can still do other things.
I realize this is not ideal, but I want to run my trains and I don’t want to do it on O31 RealTrax. I’ve been working with Carl (moonman) to get this far and he’s been a real help, seeing several things I didn’t, especially a different way to do the reversing loops. The design started as a dual main with crossovers and has morphed into what you see now. FWIW, I have a similar design done using GG 032/O42 curvers with the #4 switches, but I really don't want O31 or O32 curves unless there is no other choice. As always, comments are welcome.


Photos (1)
Files (1)
Original Post

I like the track plan, it is not unlike my own layout. It gives plenty of room for running trains and the reverse loop options will make for interesting operating sessions. I did not immediately see the scenery possibilities on mine but having it for a while the vision did come to me. Of course after having done the scenery although not complete it does come to mind changing to make for a better appearance, modifying components. 


Thanks for the positive comments, I was kind of expecting a different response, but there's still some weekend left.

Nick,  I'm so happy Carl convinced me to add the reversing loops and to turn them so the trains for immediately use the crossovers to go to the outer rails if desired. I initially had no reversing loops and the crossovers were in the opposite directions.

Dave, I'm a fan of dog bones and reversing loops, mostly because I don't have to space for an around the room design with large curves. Even there though I'd still want reversing loops so trains can travel in any direction on all the tracks.

Ray, you have a fine layout and I can see the similarities in the design, though you have so much more space that I do. I love the multiple levels and how trains cross over each other. I also like the permanent winter scene, not many do that. My eventual craft room layout will be a 2-level permanent winter scene with a town (Bedford Falls) on the upper level and a desert scene on the lower level. Unfortunately, it will also be small, a 4x8x12 L designed mostly so my wife can finally display her Bedfords Falls collection. Thanks for sharing your video.

Bob, you never know, the space is actually 18'x19'. Given the layout will effectively be done in 3 sections, the section along the workbench could easily be moved away from the wall and over to allow for the addition of buildings, etc., along the back. Similarly, the section all the utility wall could also be moved away and out and all I'd have to do is reconfigure the angled section that connects the two. I have some scrap rigid foam pieces, so my goal this week is to cut a piece the size of the bottom loop to see how it's going to fit and how it's going to affect my use of the space for woodworking projects, etc.

Dave, I would love to see the set, I did not know that a set was made. If you could at some time please post a picture of the set. I may start a hunt for such a set and reconfigure my winter seen with it.


Ray, our set is currently buried in a closet behind a ton of other holiday decorations, but here's a link that shows all the buildings and accessories. The set was sold back in 1997 and I do not remember what the scale is. And here are 2 shots of my first Christmas layout:





Photos (2)

Wow! What a great collection, don't have the room for all that in my winter area, but I will see if I can get some of those buildings, love Bedford Falls and the old values that it represents. I did not expect such a quick response, great Christmas layout.

Thank you Dave


Cut part of a sample loop out of rigid foam and put it in place on the farthest end of the workbench. I must say it looks better than I expected there, so I'm thinking of extending that leg by about 19" or so. I have enough scrap foam to finish a full loop past the reversing loop switch location and that will give me a better view. The biggest surprise is that it doesn't appear to interfere with our use of the doorway coming out of the house into the garage. It looks so nice, that I'm also thinking of extending the other leg all the way out to the garage door. That was my original plan, but it will require relocating some hanging tools and other items. I'll play with that after I remove everything from the workbench and shelving so I can see where I'm at.

I also laid 2 full sheets of the foam on a long table and set up my RealTrax O31 oval. Tomorrow I'll clean it, connect power, unpack my new engine and give it a test run. I might take time to figure out how to update my TIU since it hasn't been updated since I bought it back in 2012. I just watched Marc's O-Scale Trains video and see I need to order a USB-to-RS232 cable and a phone cord (thought I was done with those long ago ), so that will have to wait. FWIW, I'll be taking it slow because it's pretty hot in the garage these days. We hit 113° again today and have 112°/115°/110° coming before it cools down to 105° on Sunday. So, I'll do what I can after my morning walk and exercise.

Here's some pics of my test setup to see how things will fit and my wife approved.


Obviously some house cleaning is in order, so that's next on the agenda.


And here's a shot of the new SD70, doesn't it look good? It's much heavier and larger than my 4-6-0 steamer and runs like a champ, though there is a lot of overhang on those RealTrax O31 curves you see above. Having it running, even on a simple oval, gives me the push I need to get going, though the heat is oppressive right now and things will still go slow.




Photos (3)

I little more progress. Once I got the workbench top cleared, I saw how I could rearrange things so I can get to the cabinets and drawers. I'll simply move them all together and place them 6' from the left end. That way they'll be under the 30" deep section. I'll add some support legs on the left side of the framing to hold that section. It's 114° out there now, so tomorrow I'll clear off the shelves and figure out how I'm going to rearrange those. There are 3 units, but I think 1 is going to get moved. To the left of the first photo is the door and next to that is a 6' wall that is begging for some shelves.





Photos (2)

4 1/2 hours in the heat to get to this. I did find I can discard the 1" workbench tops and the cabinets come to within 1/2" of the shelves. I should be able to get away with a very slight grade on the removable cross-section. Lotta stuff to find a home for or more likely pass to Goodwill.






Photos (3)


I just saw this topic now!  I'm glad you are getting started on the garage layout you had mentioned before.  I think that it is a great idea to let you run trains until you get to build the layout in the other room!  Wow!  I wish I had that space; we wouldn't be going through all the gyrations that we are on my layout plan!  I'm looking forward to seeing how this progresses and a video of the 4-6-0 and Veterans SD70 running on this racetrack you are building!  

Rayin"S" posted:

DOUBLEDAZ, I actually do have Bailey Bros. Building and Loan in my winter scene.


Ray, I like the winter scene!  Dave knows I have a lot of winter buildings and am considering having my higher level town set in the winter.  We have way more buildings now than will fit on the 4x8 Christmas layout!  

Mark, it does have a racetrack look to it, doesn't it? However, I'm way beyond that stage and prefer to run 25-30 mph or so these days. I was thinking of making it a single loop-to-loop in order to add landscaping and some spurs, but I don't want to deal with the upkeep that will be required with a garage layout. It's going to get dusty enough the way it is, but I'm tired of my little RealTrax oval on the floor in the craft room. I will say that the weight of this engine makes it run much better than my 4-6-0 steamer on the O31 curves, not that the 4-6-0 runs bad.

As far as the space goes, I'm giving up a lot to get the space for the "L". I still intend to do some woodworking with the Shopsmith and bandsaw, so the only space I have is along the edges and I still need to figure out how to deal with the shelving unit uprights. They are like 1.5x1.5 angle iron, so I need to position the shelving units where the front tracks will clear the front uprights. I took some measurements and I think things will clear if I place the units about 10" from the wall. That wil basically put them under the tracks along the front edge. An added benefit of doing that is I can add a 28" piece of plywood to the top shelf for more storage.

Here's a new color-coded view of the bench work. Each section of 4 yellow rectangles and 1 dark green rectangle measures 30"x78" making the two sides 156" long. The yellows represent 16" centers and greens are 14". Each end section will have the 2 dark green rectangles added to make an 18"x36" extension to support the loops. 




Photos (1)


Yes I only run about 25 smph myself.  I want to see the details of the nice trains I bought.  I had an HO set I bought when I was about 12 and I never ran trains fast.  Yes I like the weight of these engines now too.  I tried N Scale for a while years ago, and the roadbed and track had to be perfect to keep them on the rails.

The plan looks well thought out for support as well as track plan.  I agree about nothing too fancy in the garage, it would always get dirty.

Hi Dave, I kept looking at this plan and thinking how much I like it. It seemed to me to be a good fit for the Lionel FasTrack modules. So I drew it up.

I used 4 of the "Small corner modules" which are O-36 and O-48 (in a 30 inch square module). I used 5 of the "Straight modules" (30 inch by 45 inches). Those are highlighted in green with the "connecting tracks" shown in light green. I used O-72 switches for the reversing loops. For the remainder of the module gaps you could make "triangle wedges" connected to the modules (shown in while and yellow). Two of the straight modules need a little help in the format of a 1 inch strip added (marked with an X) so the FasTrack ballast doesn't hang over the edge. It's not quite as long as yours on the long side, and it is a little wider that yours in the turns.



Mike Lewis

Grew up in Ironton, OH

(that's the I in the DT&I RR)


No photos the last couple of days, but I am making progress in spite of the heat. However, said progress centers on finding places to put all the stuff I want to keep and had to move off the workbench and shelves. It's slow going because of the heat and I'm taking my time deciding what to keep and where to put it. I've got the workbench and shelves cleared, the rest is cleanup and will go faster once Goodwill picks up the sofa tomorrow. I've had to move it into the garage because of the threat of rain, but I'm to the point now where I can work around it easy enough.

I was wondering if you'd pick up on that. Like a lot of people who drink coffee, I used to drink Coca Cola from sun-up to sun-down. I practically had a cup attached to my hand all day long. Over time I switch to diet, then diet caffeine-free. I tried Pepsi, but it gave me headaches. I tried Dr Pepper, even Mello Yellow and eventually Barq's root beer. That gradually stopped when I went to work for the post office. I carried a cooler with me for the longest, but eventually found that soda just didn't help with dehydration and thirst in the summer heat. So, I limited my soda to the office/lunch and started drinking water. I tried lemonade, but that was too acidic to drink in large quantities. So, water it became, but it was lacking flavor. After I retired I noticed Mio in the commissary and decided to try it. It' snot a big burst of flavor, but it's better than plain water for me, so now I drink Mio-flavored water at home and root beer when we go out. I'd actually drink water when we go out too, but water quality/taste is so different around the country and I opt for soda most of the time.

I am sort of following in your footsteps.  Right now it is Caffeine Free Coke Zero, but not in the quantity as I once did.  Yes, I drink a good bit of water, but I agree it gets old, and in restaurants you don't know what you are getting in taste.  My wife has been picking up Walmart's Clear American.  It has some fizz, but tastes pretty good especially compared to the one daughter and son-in-law who get the flavored seltzer water.  I don't like that.  I do still drink some coffee, mostly decaf.  Other "beverages" most guys like to drink have never appealed to me. 

In my youth the age for beer was 18, so I had enough of that to last a lifetime. When I joined the military and went to Okinawa, the hard start flowed freely and I also had enough of that. After that I did drink at parties, etc., but usually not more than 3 and never when I was the designated driver. I've pretty much given it all up except for the occasional margarita when we dine out at a Mexican restaurant, even that is rare. I did have a beer back in 2014 and my family almost fell out of their seats.

Took some time off from working out in the heat now that the garage has been rearranged. I had planned on looking for lumber yesterday, but found out too late that the yard I wanted to check out closes at noon on Saturday and is not open on Sunday. I'm torn between buying 1x lumber in 8' lengths and ripping 3/4" plywood for the framing. I figure I need about 22 boards and the only straight boards I saw at Lowe's was Poplar at over $15 each or over $330. The Oak and Maple plywood sheets are $50 each and I'd only need 2 for quite a savings with which I can buy a pocket hole jig.

Anyway, we were watching our granddaughter, so I played around with my design a bit. I came up with an alternative I kind of like and would appreciate some comments.

What I did was change the outer and inner loops going across the angled connecting section so they cross over each other. The main level is now at a 3" elevation while the yellow track at the connection is at 0" elevation and the blue track is at 7" elevation. Those are rises of 3" & 4" and grades of 2.3% & 3.2%. As you can see in the 3D photo, I end up with 3 elevations where trains can pass each.

I also moved the upper leg down and over to the left 4" (didn't change the baseboard) so the trains will clear a 4-outlet box on the wall right in the middle at layout height. This will increase the 3.2% grade for that leg to 3.4%. Looking at the photo now, I see I really didn't need to move it over, just down.

This light green rectangles on the left are 18x24 cabinets and at the top are 18x36 shelving units. I moved the shelving units so the trains will clear the poles. The cabinet on the bottom opens toward the top, so I'll have fairly easy access. The others open toward the bottom, but they will be 6" from the edge for easy access.






I like the grades and crossover.  I don't know how much more involved it will be building it; if you want to spend the extra effort since you will be building the other layout sooner or later.  Do you still plan to leave this layout up after you get the other going to where you can run trains?  If so then maybe it is worth the effort.

Im thinking ripping plywood or OSB mY be better cost savings and do as well.


Building it will be quite a bit more involved because that section will be removable and I had planned on simple table decking with some risers for the outside grade. Here's a slightly modified version that maintains the base elevation at 0" and raises the outside the full 7". Note the change to the yellow tracks and the extension of the purple tracks. I had always planned on using flex coming off the turnouts to create some gradual curves and move the yellow track away from the purple track for more clearance. Doing so also lets me continue the grade into the blue track a bit and the purple track now has a 3.2% grade. However both of these designs will impact the workbench I'll still need to use, so I'll probably stick with the original plan.

Unless I change my mind, this layout will become permanent and I'll mostly just run the Christmas passenger train on the Bedford Falls layout in the craft room. I now have a design for it where the 2 levels are connected and there are no turnouts.




Photos (1)

I spent all week in the garage last week when it was hotter, but not quite as humid. Dew point's been above 55 and that's humid for us. Still, as long as I have something to do, the temps don't bother me that much. The biggest problem is something always seems to come up when I want to do something, like check out the lumber yard. Maybe I'm just trying to get too many things done at the same time and I need to prioritize. With that in mind, I think we'll work on the new countertops first and then I'll worry about getting the lumber.

Thanks, guys.  I should start the building process next weekend. It will be slow going though since I'm still a little unsure of myself after a trip to the ER and an overnight in the hospital for vertigo 3 weeks ago.

My biggest problem now is I'm afraid to work on my back. I gave up changing the oil in my vehicles some time ago because I'd get a little dizzy at times. Before I went to Lowe's that day, I had been under the kitchen sink disconnecting a garbage disposal and we think that set off the vertigo, even though it was about 15 minutes later when I was driving home. So now I'm looking for ways to wire the layout from above and cover the wires with carpet, carpet padding, conduit, etc. I might just run the wires along the front fascia and cover that. I'll think of something even if it's not pretty and I'm open to ideas.

Looks good Dave--should be a lot of fun. I have a friend who has a narrow O in his garage in Phoenix--keeps a portable evap cooler for this time of year--of course, I have a heater in my garage--and two cars, hence the reason the trains are in the dinging room/Living room.

DoubleDaz, I sure like your approach in your layouts, this creation hers is marvelous. Was wondering if you could help with some planning for me. I also like to watch the trains stretch out. I a corner or an L. Have plenty of open space, can use lets say 20' on left leg and 16' on right leg. Big turns, elevations, bridges. Really like what you have done here and also thought of a modification of the Lionel 1957 Super O you have worked with. Any help would be appreciated. 


Add Reply

The Track Planning and Layout Design Forum is sponsored by

OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653