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I finally have some new basement progress worth sharing. I am going with a semi-industrial/institutional look that can host a decent sized layout, a spacious workshop (still to be configured), and a comfortable chill-out area.







Overall floor plan from RR Track:


waterfall floor-001


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  • 2013-04-05_19-26-45_25
  • 2013-04-05_19-26-56_58
  • 2013-04-05_19-27-13_905
  • waterfall floor-001
Last edited by Norm Charbonneau
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Thanks guys. I can't believe how much work has gone into this so far. It should be worth it though when it comes time to start building the layout.


The worst task so far was spray painting the ceiling black.


Next on the agenda is the installation of track lighting for the layout then I will move onto the backdrop. Benchwork won't start until those two major tasks are complete. Somewhere in there I'd like to get the workshop set up too. I am really looking forward to having a new shop.

Thanks Patrick, yes I am pretty stoked. All the track lighting is up and I have a line of work lights up too. I moved some plumbing around and might do a bit more.


The general non-layout lighting consists of industrial style items from Menard's and Ikea. All the exposed wiring in the layout and chillout area is done with MC cable. I looked around for vintage fixtures but with this stuff being popular now it was just too much money. Menard's has a few nice pieces in their Farm and Barn Series made by Patriot Lighting.


Eventually I will put up some of my railroadiana and beer signage. Not sure if I want to display trains on the wall. They just become dust magnets.




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Originally Posted by Norm Charbonneau:

Not sure if I want to display trains on the wall. They just become dust magnets.


That's true if one uses open shelving.  Hard to avoid the dust issue.  HOWEVER, you might want to consider a couple (or more) closed wall display units to show off particular favorites on your roster.  Because I really hate having to dust my trains, I have a good number of closed display cases in various locations throughout my home.  These are very nicely done wood wall cases with sliding acrylic doors on the front.  They are available in a variety of finishes and sizes, and are, in my opinion, reasonably priced (prices also include shipping)..  Most of the ones I have came from Trackside Displays in Pennsylvania. 


You might want to check them out at


I have a good number that I use for O scale, and also a couple of very large ones that I use for a part of my G gauge collection.  I am very happy with the quality of the construction, and their packaging for shipping is nothing short of phenomenal.


I really could use a few more, but I've pretty much run out of wall space.  The joint already looks like a train museum.


P.S.--  It was great to see you at York, my friend!

Last edited by Allan Miller

Thanks Allan for the shelving advice. That is worth considering. I do have a bit of an investment going in Glenn Snyder shelves though. I may be able to hang them up but not until most of major benchwork construction is done.


I have been playing around with some 3 rail trackplans based on my past layout. Here is one that is L-shaped with a two track main and a freight switching branch. I have to be honest and say I'm just a loop runner. I like to run big steam so an oval design like this gives me maximum straights and curves. There are no grades on the mains but it might be worth trying to grade separate the front yard an inch or so, and maybe even step up the spur along the back wall.


This plan gives me old layout back with a chance to make the distances seem even greater along the mains. I can space the scenery out a bit more with the added 14 feet in length. I gain a bit more depth compared to the old layout but not much. I am liking the stretched steam era engine yard as opposed to my old folded one. I am stuck with duckunders but I like the depth of scenery this design offers. I also get to raise the layout height a bit compared to my old one.


I am definitely open to ideas if anyone's willing to take a look. I also have an around the walls rough plan with the engine yard coming down as a peninsula. I like it for the fact there are no duckunders. I have written off staging at this point but wouldn't mind a plan that might allow for it to be added later.


Some things to note - my center beam is actually offset about 22" in favor of the layout width. I am keeping the layout at least 3' away from the support columns (shown as black dots).


I attached the RRT file. I am running v4.02.


waterfall atlas L shaped 3


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  • waterfall atlas L shaped 3
Files (1)

Yeah, I have some advice on that - PAY SOMEONE!! Haha. Oh man, that was pretty gnarly but I do have to say I like the results.


I sprayed Glidden latex HD 9034 from Home Depot using a Harbor Freight HVLP setup.  This is the one here:


I was told there are some latex paints specifically made for spraying ceilings but I just went ahead with what I had.


If I was to do it again, I'd mask and tarp off a lot more stuff. I let the dried overspray hit the floor since I was going to repaint it anyway but it was like a horrid soot. It reconstituted itself when I hot-mopped everything during cleanup. It would have made a nice weathering wash...

If I understand things correctly, you will still have access around the perimeter of the layout.  Is that correct, Norm?


I'm far from an expert at layout design (or most anything else), but I know that I wish I had left far more space around the full perimeter of my layout so I could get to the left and right sides of it without venturing up top.  I can access it from the front, of course, and from the back if I move the transformer/DCS/Legacy stand out of the way and crawl under a 3' wide section.


Every situation (and train room) is different, but I sure am envious of the space you have available and I know you'll put it to fine use.  Thanks very much for keeping us posted on the progress.

Allan, the layout will run along four walls. At the far left, the layout butts right up to the north wall of the utility room which is 10' long. Like my last layout, it will have a ~3' aisle in the center. There will be several duckunder locations along the front of the layout. The engine yard section will be 3' to 4' in width with a wider bump-out for the roundhouse. My old engine yard was 5' deep.


I have been kicking around the idea of some reverse loops with a (flat) crossover in the center of the layout. That might look pretty cool and could be the source of a few interesting sidings. Maybe someone might have a better idea?


I should probably show a rough outline of the benchwork edges.



Thanks for the info. I will look into the paint and sprayer. I wa wondering where to even get black paint!


One more question. I appears you did not paint your HVAC duct work. My duck work  is very similar to yours in that it is below the floor joists in certain areas. I was going to paint it as well for that reason. Why didn't you paint yours?


Thanks again.




Dennis, I used my Harbor Freight 21 gallon compressor to run the sprayer. I'd suggest getting the plastic baggie liners for the sprayer reservoir. That sprayer was suggested by my builder and it worked well. You can put a bit more than a half gallon of paint in at a time. I did thin the paint a little, like maybe 10% or so tap water.


I just peeked at the paint cans a minute ago, seems HD changed the codes to GL 9034. I even have a can of EM 9034. I used that paint for the benchwork and scenery quite on my old layout.


I didn't paint the ductwork because I thought it looked cool as is, that's all. I could have gone either way I suppose. It matches up with the wiring and light fixtures in the non-layout zones.

LI, I wouldn't mind a reverse loop but I am thinking another reverse loop with a crossover would be nice to return a train to normal right-hand running. I am on the fence about adding more trackwork through the center though. I am afraid of crowding up the space too much and spoiling the sense of distance this space can give me. Hmm.



Thanks for the info on the sprayer. I have a compressor, and actually I have a sprayer, but wasn't sure if it would work in this application. I will go with your unit. Also thanks for the tip about thinning the paint. Someone else had mentioned that to me and I had forgotten it until your comment.


OK on the duct work -- I was just curious. I have a lot of it because we have two furnaces so there is an area in my basement where the warm air mains run parallel to each other and I am considering what to do in that area. They also are proud of the floor joists so it may be easier to just leave it alone. I may leave it alone as you did. We will see. Also the cold air returns are boxed in between the floor joists so I may paint those regardless.


Thanks again for all the info. I may pick your brain again in the future.



George, here's a comparison of how an around-the-walls plan compares to an L-shaped one. The stairs land toward the bottom of the diagram.


waterfall around the wallswaterfall atlas L shaped-001


A couple things I don't like about going around the walls - the S curve  (too tight for big steam and scale length passenger cars) and the loss of non-layout floor space for hanging out. I am intrigued by the photo potential for the roundhouse. I'm also concerned that the space along the west (left) wall is too tight for yars/sidings etc.


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  • waterfall around the walls
  • waterfall atlas L shaped-001

Norm, I'd echo George's suggestion of looking into the around the wall design.  How about a single, two track loop following all the walls, crossing the hallway entrance from the stairs.  (doesn't have to follow the walls, but on a 30" to 3' wide table, you have lots of room for curves, scenery, industries, towns, etc)  Yes, it would require a lift out section, but that way the whole center of the room would be open.  Your dimensions are large enough for a couple of bump outs for your engine terminal and another for a town scene, industry, yards, whatever.

Hey Alex, sorry we didn't get to meet up...maybe in October?


Peter, thanks but I'd like to avoid lift-outs. I don't like them due to the scenic discontinuity they create. I am intrigued by the around-the-walls approach but it will be a tough sell due to loss of floor space for other things. The L shape is such a clean package and presents itself well with a 30'+ front.


I should also mention that I'd like to stick with my Atlas investment and don't want curves under 99" diameter on the mains (planning for 108" if/when Atlas sees fit to deliver).

Made a bit more progress hanging the backdrop but nothing worth sharing at this point. I continue to play with the trackplan now that I have decided on the general footprint (29' by 36' L-shaped).


This one is just a two-main loop like the one above with some slight tweaks. I am experimenting with some bridges in the rear section of the layout and some grade separations like I had on my old layout. I also fooled around with the x-over locations so signalling them will look OK. If I raise the mains along the back wall to about 3" the curves will climb and descend a slightly less than 2% grade on the curves which is my self-imposed max grade for big steam. Anything more starts to look nutty. The front yard is 1" above the mains at the front edge of the layout. RR Track file is attached if anyone's interested.


waterfall atlas L shaped 7


This one is much like my old layout before it was tore down and rebuilt in January 2011. I have three mains with 90", 99", and 108" curves. I really don't want to go less than 90", again so my big scale engines don't contort themselves too badly. This has some grade separations and bridges too. Like the layout above, all switches are #5s. I will not use O72s or anything else since most long wheelbase steam tends to flop all over them clumsily.


Both layouts will let me fart around with some switching and goof off around the roundhouse while two trains can run unbothered.


waterfall atlas L shaped 9 grades-001


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