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After all the warm welcomes I received from my "about me introduction" in the announcements section, I'll start this thread for my D&RG Railroad. (A nod to both the Denver & Rio Grande (I live in Denver, CO), but also an odd-nod to my parents home on "D"odford Rd, in the village of "R"ussell "G"ardens, yeah, I'm a little weird that way. <chuckle>.

OK, here is my train room.
Basement non-bedroom (no window escape), 11 ft x 11 ft. I have these 3 walls to use. The 4th wall has Furnace/water-heater access & off-season walk-in closet door. Allowing for open closet door leaves me 9ft x 11ft. leaving about 30" aisle access to closet. The room door gives 7 ft on that wall. So usable space I see is: 9 ft on left wall, 11 ft on back (center) wall, and 7 ft on right wall, I can sit in the 30" aisle.


That crawlspace (35x39") door on 11ft wall is used about monthly, but a 2 track hinged/removable bridge is very do-able (IF I build a "custom-ladder" (from leftovers) to replace the step stool, the bridge could stay installed). I was thinking I could make that a bridge & transformer/dispatcher pannel, but looking at the wall isn't too desirable. So I'm thinking of making dispatch table on hinges on the left board by closet so I can see the whole room.

My initial read of this space has me building a 4x8 on the left wall, a 4x7 on the right wall, leaving a 3 ft 2-track bridge connecting them together (leaving ~3 ft. aisle to crawlspace). I'm not really concerned with the 4 ft reach, a grabber works fine for me, I'm 6'1" and long arms :-)

Until I unpack those boxes, I won't have item counts, but about 20 years ago, I got a GREAT deal on eBay for ~10 - 022 switches for about $80 (if I remember right), so that added to my existing 6 (or 8??), so I have a lot! I just have O-Gauge track curve & straight tubular track, that's all there was 40 years ago, I'm in a time-bubble for now. Budget is just for this workbenching build. I'm a Diesel engineer, not a steamer, so I don't need the larger diameters at this point.

Those "laundry-soap boxes" in the corner are the train tracks, ZW, engines/cars, etc. (#364 & 362 still need to arrive).

My past style of track layout-ing is to place switches in key locations and build around them to provide loops, sidings, freight-yard, etc. This sort-of allows for a dogbone design? I've never used a "track layout program" (I downloaded the RTS Ver. 8 & 10, but haven't done much), so if anyone enjoys designing, I'd be ever-so-grateful <wink-wink;nudge-nudge; know-what-I-mean>. LOL!

Your input, comments and suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

CORRECTION! I mistakenly said I have 027 track, It's actually the 'better/heavier' o-gauge track. I guess this a common mistake?


Images (3)
  • Trainroom-Center-dimensions
  • Trainroom-L-dimensions
  • Trainroom-R-dimensions
Last edited by ToyFreak
Original Post

OK, Since Lionel Trains have such a HUGE Nostalgia component, I'll add another "desire" based on my past teenage experience.
Back then (late 70's to '81) I built a "2 level" 4x8 on the same support legs above each other (with about 16-18" between them), the 4 ft. depth had an "offset" of about 8-10" such that the bottom board was forward of the top. This allowed a custom set of "L" steel supports I built to "hang" the track (from the upper wooden support beams) on a grade to connect the levels together. A switch at back of lower board allowed approximately 18 feet of track to climb the 16-18" vertical distance (7 down the back, 4 on side, 7 up the front). The offset hung the back track in mid-air over the space (I'll have a shelf covered in carpet below grade), allowing the full 48" to still be used from the back. By the front, it was high enough to use the board space under the track. I know it's "unique", but can you picture that?

I know what some of you are thinking, "trains/towns don't go above each other like that". Well, since I grew up on Long Island, and took the LIRR train into "The City" (NYC) regularly, you should be told that the Penn Station LIRR tracks ARE underground, they had dark platforms side-by-side for the rows of trains to load from. Also, the NYC subways at major locations (think Grand Central Station) have entire "shopping areas" underground too. I think of my "concept" as nothing more than 2 "towns" that the train travels between. Perhaps like a "through-the-wall" might be. A real advantage of this is having 2 destinations "stacked" in a 4'8" x 8' space.

This "concept" would give a 3rd town "underground" with it's own lighting (like Penn Station). Granted, the items towards the back are less visible, but I put the "industries" near the front of that lower board along the 8 ft. x ~2 ft back. It was quite usable (as I recall).

The "Wrinkle" this now introduces is the upper level now blocks the crawl-space door from opening! So, my idea is to make a 19" x 35"(?) corner of this upper table on a hinge (no track on this section?? or a "U" joint that the track pins would rest in when lowered) so it can be flipped-up out of the way so the 35" crawlspace door could open completely.

Those of you who followed that explanation get my salute on your minds-eye-vision abilities!

This is what I was afraid of, it's a common issue I cause, I give TOO MUCH information, and overwhelm people. Nobody replied with any suggestions, or ideas for my new room. That 2nd post I made (I think) was just too much to take in, so everyone can ignore that concept for now. Monday or Tuesday I was planning to buy wood, then I'll be fairly committed to my initial ideas, a 4x8 on the left, and a 4x7 on the right, connected via a 3 ft. bridge in the middle under the crawl-space door. I like my idea of building a "new" ladder to replace that 2-step stool, and with a short stand-off on ladder-top, the bridge can remain fixed in that place.

So if any of you have suggestions, ideas, etc, I'm all ears! <chuckle>

How about a second lift-out section at the other end of the space? That would provide a basic around-the-perimeter track-plan route as well as the dog-bone you are starting with. 

Your track-plan is really dependent on your interests and thus what you are trying to accomplish. Tinplate? Post War? High Rail? Passenger trains? Industry switching moves? Drilling&blocking of freight trains in a classification yard? A favorite prototype you are mimicking?

I gather you have a ready supply of O31 curves and track switches and if sticking with them lots of planning decisions have already been made.

In the department of opinion and for-what-its-worth I prefer higher rather than lower benchwork because I want to sit and view the Pike somewhat below eye level, i.e. 38"-40". I sort of fall right into the scene that way.

Another FWIW (that doesn't fit your on-hand track pieces) is that I prefer a minimum of O72 curves including through switches because suspension-of-disbelief: in my mind's eye it 'looks' like a real railroad. 

I'll get on my favorite soap-box and say that all model railroading is caricature and that what we strive for is good (believable on some level) caricature.

Time to get out the tools, eh? 

Lewis- post a basic sketch of the plans you have in mind. It would give us a starting point. Include the track type you have and type of switches, etc. Hand-drawn is fine. We won't critique your artistic skill

If you have issues with the software you are using, SCARM has a free download that is pretty simple to use.

I like Lew's suggestion of a bridge to connect the tables as you walk into the space too. It will give you more operational variety. Swing bridges are better IMHO. Either up or down works depending on your space. Lift-outs need to be put someplace when you remove them as opposed to just hanging there by the hinges. More complex to wire too since you will need plugs to disconnect the wiring each time. Several guys on the forum have done swing out gates too.

If you want multiple levels, consider not connecting them, or at least the uppermost one. Simplifies the design a lot. A train or trains, (with a passing siding), can just travel on their merry way while operations happen on the lower levels.

Seriously re-consider the 4X8 tables too. I'm 6'5" and I can barely reach the back of my 4X8 section.


Last edited by RSJB18

Lew, Bob, everyone-

Thanks for responding to my plea for a response LOL!

OK, Let me attempt a design that is NOT a 4x8. You aren't the first people to suggest that and a smaller reach. SO, I cut up some paper to scale. I'm not attempting track yet, but my idea is to follow something like this.

Train Boards idea V3

Someone on a Facebook Lionel Layouts group suggested a book "How to Build Model Railroad Benchwork by Linn Hanson" so I got a used copy delivered today, and reading the 1st 3 chapters I guess I agree 4' is a long reach. so for now I'm looking at cutting a 4x7 board, and creating a "sort of Yin/Yang" that provides a 12-16" "access aisle" that can better use the 5'3" wall on the Right of the crawl-space door (pulling out that 4' makes it more like 63" wide). I CAN come over maybe 6-8" more if it makes a big difference to the track design. The right side has a 7 ft limit to room's door. I assume I can put a bridge across the yin/yang to connect them, also providing a much longer main-line(?)

What do you think about this cut-up? (Ignore the left 4x8 for now, I'm starting on the right side M or Tu).


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  • Train Boards idea V3
Last edited by ToyFreak

OK, I installed SCARM and came up with this initial design (Lionel o-gauge track), approx 5'6" x 7'0"  This roughly fits in my designated 67" (+/-) on the Right side of that crawl space door. This yin/yang cut from 4x7 board, with additional board added as necessary to maintain an aisle for access about 12-14".
Initial ideas:
One of the loops (upper) will contain a freight yard or industry.
Other loop MAY have a lake way down the road. My 24YO daughter, with high-functioning Aspergers isn't interested in building the framework, but would like helping to landscape. (at least until Grad-school in fall).
The dual tracks in top corner could have a mountain/tunnel built eventually (hey this is fantasy for the moment LOL!).
My son and I bought wood yesterday. I'm off F-Su, so we'll do some building!!

Any suggestions/ideas/changes? 


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  • 0115-Trainroom-Right-v2
Last edited by ToyFreak

It appears that you have a point to reverse loop type design.  That is assuming the two straight sections of track at the top of your sketch stop where the drawing stops.

If you pull a train out of one of the straight sections, then go around the reverse loop back to with the same straight section or the one next to it, your locomotive will have to push the train on it's next trip.  The same goes for running the train from the stub end of one straight to the stub end of the other.  

If you were able to have reverse loops at each end of the run, then you could run the train loco first all the time.  

Also, consider a passing siding somewhere.

@Former Member, The dual straights at top go under a crawlspace door, and will go to the another layout (to be built later) on the left side of this room (that top wall is 11'6") this half is about 67" wide-ish. The other layout will also have a reversing loop somewhere, so no pushing backwards ;-) . I could put a pair of switches on right side (I have a lot of 022's) to allow changing to other track. My "initial" goal is usually to provide a mainline as long as possible, then modify as needed. A siding is very possible, maybe added to that dual track at top, depends on how wide that section gets, I have to climb over that to get into crawlspace. I think a wood ladder I make with a stand-off should allow this to work.

@palallin, my initial idea was to have a simple 4x8 rectangle board, but everyone everywhere said that the 48" is too much of a reach, I agree that 12" will be tight, the only intent is to use this aisle to get to a derailed train. The book  I'm building from does suggest it's tight, but doable. I do have a little negotiating room with my wife that could allow a few more inches. that left edge is part of the crawlspace access aisle I'm trying to maintain, I can go a few inches into it, but need to keep access.

Last edited by ToyFreak

I was thinking of 12" isles as well when I built mine.  But after I stacked some boxes at layout height and gave it a try myself I know it's a very bad idea.  So please do yourself a favor and mock it up and see if you can really navigate a 12" gap, and turn around or bend down or stand up in that gap.  I'm a relatively skinny guy and had to make it 18" to fit and work in.

Here's a suggestion that will not mess up your original operating scheme, but will give you more aisle space.  Turn the switch around in the lower right hand corner and make it a left hand switch.  You eliminate one unnecessary loop and still have two tracks headed up to the top part of your drawing.

Next, take out one piece of straight track on each side running up to your reversing loop and you should have at least 18 inches of aisle space to work with.


Okay, then why not just eliminate both switches at bottom (and one of the "loops") and just make one pure end of the dog bone.  Now, shrinking your actual, remaining dog bone loop will give you plenty of aisle space.  On top of that, you can place 2 left-hand switches on the bottom straight away and 2 right-hand switches on the top straightaway, creating a nice long passing siding as well as giving you the opportunity to reverse direction (through the dog bone loop) of travel on either track.


Had some time these last 2 days to do some bench work.

Fitted the plywood (OSB) to the Framing. (65" x 63" main, plus 22" x 30" corner, plus 8" 2-track, with 14" aisle, yeah, 12" was too tight, this is Much better!)
(This original space is 64 x 84)
Had a GOOD excuse to open 11 boxes that've been packed 40 years! (to find the barrier-strips). No room to unpack anything yet though :-(
Labeled Boxes
Ran a few wires through the frame, and installed an Electrical Panel to get started.
If weather permits this weekend, I'll get 2 boards of Homasote and work to fit. Then I "THINK" I'll buy "earth-tone" and "grass-green" paint to surface the Homasote. Starting to look like I've progressed.



Images (3)
  • BoardTop: 65" x 63" main, plus 22" x 30" corner, plus 8" 2-track, with 14" aisle
  • Framing+Electrical
  • Labeled Boxes

Lewis, wrt your question posed  on the other thread: in order to alert people you can edit the title of this thread to reflect updates. Having said that, many forum members watch the "Recent Posts" window down the right side of the webpage and will notice your topic moving to the top. This alerts everyone that someone (including you) has replied to the topic and when that happens I click and read. 

Nice progress, btw. Your benchwork would support Lee's Mack truck. 

Thanks Lew & Mark- That's how I'll do the posts, so this thread contains the actual content.

Thanks Lew, I agree it will hold up quite well. I "just" followed the Linn Wescott book, though since 2x3's are significantly less expensive than 1x4's ($2 vs $6) so using the 2x3's make it (look) Much Beefier. They even held ME up doing arm push-ups! LOL!

This build has changed significantly from my initial ideas. I've always (40 years ago) built single level on a board, so now I'll reconsider layout design, I'll see if I can come up with a multi level idea on the 63x65" & the extension space (though I'm really considering a mountain/tunnel) in that corner...

The "What did you do today" thread has been cleaned of thousands of posts since it started too. 

For any chance at a long term record of your work, the separate and more detailed portion best stands alone; but quick bursts of "today" are what WDYDT is all about IMO, "a little talk & a link" there is fine for me.I think it was more common to link threads within the forum years back than it has been lately.  I know the move into the app world slowed me way down.  The auto composer issues within Google/Droid are awful and menus working are hit & miss too.

I enjoy reading long posts as well as short.  Short but sweet is kinda boring when you aren't in a hurry 😉  If in a hurry, why read at all ?...."Priorities"  😁 

Almost ready to paint!

I installed the soundproofing board from HD (I didn't want to wait for a Homasote brand delivery). Besides, I'm into instant gratification, and wanted this done Now! <chuckle>
Also got 2-Gallons and 4-Quarts of "oops" paint. My daughter(24) didn't want to help build the table, but wants to be involved in "landscaping with Colorado color schemes". So she directed the oops-pickings ($92 to 31) (dark green, & "white" gals. and some earth-tone tan, ocher, red-brown, etc. 
I patched the table-top seams, then just a little sanding and vacuum. Line the Walls w/ newspaper and we can paint soon! Maybe W or Th.

20200217_trainspatched seams

I'm also examining/trying/experimenting at "Making My Own Grass". I've been collecting sawdust, then sifting it through a strainer. I "Painted" a sample in various paint (dark green) dilutions (1:15-20) works well) ) . Wrung through a paper towel and layed out to dry worked great (for 1/4 cup samples)! When I showed her them on paper plates(9") they were on, she said "Dried Herbs!!!" I really did LOL! So we may paint our own shades of grasses. We do have an herb garden, so a pile isn't out of place in this house. Anybody try this approach before me?

20200217_trains Painted sawdust


Images (2)
  • patched seams
  • Painted sawdust

Suggestion:  Edit the thread's title with the date to indicate that new material/photos have been added to the thread.  You might even add a brief description of the subject of the new material.  Doing so alerts folks like me (who visit the forum regularly by looking at the "recent posts" list) that there is something new to look at posted by the thread's starter.

I finally broke down and layed tracks out (Yay! I got real track out of their box) in a 1st attempt of a Real design (using the 3rd dimension) for this space. The 2-track straights go under the crawlspace door. I can't figure out adding the proper height to a elevated yet (clearance for all post-war engines & stock). so it's all wavy ATM, is there a way to type in the actual values? Now I think the baseboard shows the proper 14" aisle for this area. I just threw 2 switches in for fun. I've never built with elevations before, but look forward to an up & over idea. but I'm open to any suggestions, i.e. there isn't a reversing loop here yet, I'll need several sidings for industry. Remember there WILL be a "Left-side" area that is 36x108" connecting to that double track so more industries can go there, and I'LL have room to loop too.


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  • 20200220-RightV4
Files (1)

Lewis, assuming you're trying to do something like this, you can't. The Lionel graduated trestle set for O and O-27 track rises 4 3/4" with a grade of 4.7% because you need that much clearance beneath any track for trains to pass under them. And that assumes that none of your equipment is taller and are able to handle that much grade. Other trestle sets rise even higher. Even if you make your own, you still need the height.

The 2nd photo uses 5" and shows you can get a 4.5% grade for part of the layout, but it's 9% for the other part, way too much of a climb and track under the others really needs to be 0" making the grade even greater.

Your dimensions are a bit weird, so I tried to figure them out as best I could to clean up the baseboard. I don't know if you drew the baseboard to fit the design or if there are limitations to the space. The numbers are the coordinates for use with the Toolbox dialog.

EDIT: I just looked at the rest of the thread and saw the photos of the decking, so you need to let us know the dimensions so we can see if there is some other way of getting close to what you are looking for.

At any rate, you can see how I use colors to identify different sections of tracks. The grades are purple, so I can quickly select them and change the end points for the the grade. In this case, all started out as 0", so all I had to do was change the high end to 5" and it displayed the grades. The key to this though is that all the tracks in the selected section need to be joined as one continuous section or you end up with the roller coaster. You can see that when I cleaned up the joints, some of the tracks got close to the edges.





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  • test
  • test
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Last edited by DoubleDAZ

@DoubleDAZ, Yes, that's what I had in mind. I fixed the dimensions, changed which part is elevated, I removed the switches to adjust the grades, but now instead of supports, those have 'ground' under them (Scarm attached). Did you change to Fastrack? I'm using the "old" 031 tubular track. Unfortunately, now with the elevations, it seems I don't have any place to put the log loader, coal, loader, milk car, cattle corral... Not all of them here. Thinking in 3 dimensions is new for me. So, is this space (85 on one edge, 65x63 in that large area) not suitable for an elevated section? basically I have a truncated 5' x7', I thought I'd get MORE room by allowing some track to go over. I thought those diagonals (~70") would help. Maybe I need to go back to single level? I do have a 90 degree crossing that could fix that crossover. 



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  • 20200220-scarm-RightV4-daz2
Files (1)

Just finished my (floating) weekend project. Got the train-board painted and "Grassed" with my Homemade saw-dust-painted grass. For the effect I was going for, it came out Beautifully. As I pained the board, Aviva (my daughter) came behind me and grassed each new section. I got the track out since photo, and arranging holes for blocks/power-drops, etc.



Images (3)
  • 20200401-LewisStandingPainting
  • 20200401-CenterBoardW-GrassRoadbed
  • 20200401-WholeBoardPainted

So, After getting the "Right side" of the room built, I was left with the 2 "connecting tracks" as the "track to nowhere" since the "Left side" needed to be built to have a destination.

This 2nd build went much easier than the 1st.  Unfortunately, my current contract job has had a problem getting me back onboard since the computer said my contract had ended (end of May), even though it should be October. so current finances are locked up. The Left board is only 2/3 the length it will end at, and the 2nd upper level is on hold too. The rest of the switching yard has to wait on more plywood & sound board.

I ran the "last" wires for Switches & RCS (plus a couple of extras, is there ever a real "last time"? <chuckle> So here is a Real Run of a couple of cars. 


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  • 20200611-v4-Right: Right side layout
  • 20200611-Left_V0.4: Left side Layout
Videos (1)

Looks great, Lewis!  Congratulations on getting all that in place and wired for a good run!

After the company I was working for retired me, they brought me back as a contract worker.  All went fine for a couple years, then I learned I had been working and getting paid when I wasn't supposed to be.  Later, I wasn't working and they the system thought I was.    Go figure.

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