Skip to main content

Hi all,

I am currently planning a high shelf / ceiling layout in our guest bedroom. The room is 13 1/2 x 12 1/2. The goal was to be able to run all sizes of equipment but not just have a simple oval running around the room. The track height from the floor is going to be about ~77 inches which is high enough no one in my family has to duck and allows for the guest bed to remain comfortably. For three of the four sides of the room I am planning on using L brackets and shelf bracket to create a platform (12-16" depth). To cross the entry and closet area I am planning on suspending the layout from the ceiling. I am currently think for the curved section it will be plywood and the section of straight to be ross deck truss bridges. All track will be Ross. In the plan I have a number of sections that will need to be cut, I am using gargraves flex track as a placeholder in the attached plan. The grid on the attached plan is 3".

This is my second layout build, but my first shelf / ceiling layout (last was a table) and my first with Ross track (last was with fastrack). I have a couple questions for the group.

1) Are my spacing from the walls sufficient? There is about an inch currently on the left and right walls but only straightaways. I am thinking some building flat or some sort of very thin material for scenery. Most scenery would happen in the corners. Reducing width of the layout should be fairly easy since a large majority of layout requires cut sections.

2) Is this too much layout for the goal of keeping this as a guest bedroom? We only have a guest a couple times a year (mostly my parents, who are retiring next year and I believe they will be living close by), so I am not too worried about it. I think keeping the layout high keeps guest comfortable and track / equipment out of reach of children (mostly my own ha).

3) Wiring. My previous layout I used a bus system and connected feeders every few feet using suitcase connectors. Since it was a table layout with no real bridges it was easy and straight forward. I plan on running two bus lines, one for each loop. The other loop will also power the sidings. How to I continue the bus line through the truss bridge without it looking obvious? My thought was run the bus line around the layout from either side of the truss section, drops every few feet, and drops on their side of the truss bridge. I assume this would keep wires off the bridges and should be sufficient in powering the 5 1/2' section of truss bridge. I currently do not have plans for DCS but if I were to add it at some point, would this wiring system work?   

Any thoughts on the layout plan concept, inputs, concerns would be greatly appreciated. I was really close to pulling the trigger on the Ross track yesterday but want to chat with the experts before I did anything foolish! Thank you in advanced for your inputs.



Images (1)
  • Around the Guest Room Shelf / Ceiling Layout
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

The inner track will be hard to see, I would assume. I'd like to be able to run two trains at a time. One thought was to try and elevate the rear track somewhat, if possible.

The tracks are 4-4.5" on center. From what I have read that should be sufficient for large articulated locomotives.

Chuck - to your point, I have not purchased the track at this point, and the idea of the layout was to include the largest possible curves for future purchases such as large articulated power, which I do not have now and won't be able to test. The largest locomotive I have now requires O54.

The passing track would simply be a storage track to rotate trains running. Visibility would not be completely necessary.  I also plan on having stools for the kids to stand on. Plus, I am sure they will be standing on the beds.

If you eventually plan to run articulated locos over head, I would suggest leaving at least 3 inches between the outside (closest to the wall) edge of your track and the wall itself.  Some bigger engines have been known to dent / ding walls while entering or exiting curves.  This may happen less frequently if you can get your curves up to near O120.


Atlas 3-rail standard track geometry (O45, O54, O63, O72, etc.) is based on 4.5 inch track centers.  However, this has been known to be insufficient for certain long equipment on the smaller diameters.  Using only O72 and higher diameters makes the "will not work" scenario for longer equipment less likely, but usually significantly reduces ability to utilize our space well.  Potential compromise is to limit running of long equipment to largest diameter track.

Whatever you build, be sure that your test runs are very slow because you will not want any "scrape-bys" to be longer than necessary or result in a derailment that sends equipment to floor!  Again, testing at ground level before build is highly recommended.


I have been trying to figure out how to "find room" for a layout.  So this thread got me thinking about a ceiling layout.

When I think of "ceiling running" I always just assumed a loop or two of track where you put the train on it and let her rip.  Does any one have experience with what is being proposed here?  It seems to me that trying to switch equipment that is above eye level wouldn't work.  That would dictate having some kind of raised platform to stand on while actually "operating" the layout.  From my viewpoint not really sure I would want to do, that but would like to hear others experiences with this.

As far as having the outer track raised above the inner, that seems like a must.  To make this work, rather than a simple cross over, I would add a middle track to accommodate the incline.  I have seen where this is done on real Railroads.  It can also serve as a passing siding.

BTW NMRA standard for O is 4.5 track spacing, which is what Atlas follows.  A 4.0 spacing looks more realistic on straight sections.  If there is a height difference between inner and outer track, the embankment will help make it look better.

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
Link copied to your clipboard.