Hello Gents, and Ladies...

I am excited to enter the next iteration of having a layout in my home - it has been quite some time (19 years). 

Pauls New Layout – Design Input Please

So I am a paper / pencil guy when it comes to layout planning. With that said, I’m not strong in the skill of visualizing what can be created in a given space. Let me explain my first thoughts of Paul’s New Layout.

There are two rooms, let’s call them the Main and Second. They will be connected by two tunnels through the wall as indicated in the attached diagram. Each square is 1'.  I’ll be using Mianne Benchwork and all new Gargraves Track. RCS Switches will replace my Lionel 072’s. I run conventional, TMCC / Legacy and DCS.

Note the existing “shelves” on the walls. I’d like to use those for a upper main and maybe a yard lead. These may turn out to determine the height of the upper level. I envision some way to use the tunnels to extend the mains on the upper level into the second room while still being able to have a good size yard in that space. Maybe I’m dreaming.

I have looked at the space two ways:

  1. As two separate rooms with the second mainly a yard and a couple of mains around the edges connecting both rooms
  2. Trying to visualize there is no wall and look at it as one big room to plan the space. Placing needed tunnels through the wall.

The diagram shows two tunnels – one on each end of the length of the second room connecting to the main room.

Right now, there is no “theme” per se, there will be some whimsical corners and mostly scenery and a few small buildings and accessories. I know I can’t get it all, BUT

 ideally I would like: (I know I can’t get it all)

  • Upper Level, Main Level, and potential lower level for subway / staging
  • One 072 main if possible – this decision is giving me the most agita, I own nothing that would require that in my stable – but I’d love a scale GG1 and the rest is a downhill slope~~~
  • Two mainlines on first level – grades and cuts)
  • Station with passing track. Another passing track for a freight somewhere.
  • No Duck-Unders
  • Most everything in reach
  • A transition from main level to upper / lower Levels (Lower if used as staging)
  • A reverse loop on at least one main somewhere
  • A bridge or three
  • A large yard in Second room with a long yard lead (this is my initial thought for the Second Room)
  • Subway?
  • Turntable? (I don’t think I have the space to dedicate - maybe the new Atlas model
  • Varying height in Terrain on the Main level?
  • Cuts / Fills

There are two doors which need a clear path to and from - also indicated on diagram.

If this is vague enough for someone to give it a go, I’d love to see your thoughts either penciled out or whatever program output you may have access.

This is a first blush but I am trying to get a jump on the Winter Train Project in our new home. Painting the walls is done and track lighting has been installed. Next step (besides layout design) is shelving for the walls. This will allow me to see for the first time in many years my entire “collection” – such that it is.

I’m looking forward to getting this started and thank you for any help / suggestions / ideas.

All the best,


... still have my fare - with just a trifle to spare...




Original Post


I created your room using SCARM  which is free with a limited number of track sections.  It will allow you to play with this room.  You didn't indicate which way the doors swing.  For now I'll assume that it is inward.


I feel that a mid-40s inch height is ideal for all but the youngest kids.  Since you are getting back in after 19 years I expect that children are older or have moved out.

You'll want to use the largest diameter track that you can.  This will let you run all the equipment that you want, and it looks better.  Also I feel you should use sectional curves over bending your own.  Small radius curves are a problem.



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Holy smokes, Paul, your space is very similar to the shape of rooms I am building my basement layout in! It is not a large basement but I have to say my plan utilizes the space very well. I have a wall and steps separating the large room from the smaller - and I "tunneled" under the steps in the interior part of the basement and used bridges and cantilevered shelves along the outer walls (see diagram). I have a peninsula connected to the outer mainlines via a double-crossing (4-45 degree crossovers). I went with 43" base-height - allows for comfortable viewing and working under layout. My friend, whom is a carpenter, helped me build the curved sections - this allows for smooth walking between the aisles and is pleasing to the eye IMO (its a lot of work though).

I designed this on engineering graph paper and did all the calculations for track diameters on scratch paper. I attached a floor plan and have yet to pencil in the tracks! Long story short: I used maximum diameters on my mainlines (O-72 min up to O-128 max - Ross track) and had to use a lift-out bridge that separates the smaller room from the utility room and workshop. I am not suggesting you use this approach, but it is one fun layout because from every viewing point the trains appear to disappear on a journey and it is the only layout I've ever built where watching trains doesn't become boring after awhile. It took me quite some time to design it and there are some unconventional aspects. Since these photos were taken I've built a large city on the peninsula and am currently working on the outer "shelving" areas. The smaller room will be a "Christmas in the City/North Pole" fantasy" area.

Here's some "under construction" photos of the tunnel, peninsula and cantilevered shelving:






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Here are two concepts to start you thinking.  Both have a minimum curve diameter of O72.  The spacing between the two mainlines is 5 inches.  I left space for the door to swing in at the bottom of the layout.  If it is not needed the space can be used for industry around a waterway.

Railrunnin Figure 8 v1

There is plenty of room for industry and scenery in the lower right.  the two mainlines cross over each other in the center.  Reverse loops can take advantage of this.

Railrunnin Round-the-Room v1

This concept leaves the entire center open for a yard complete with a turntable.  The mainline can be shifted diagonally to make room at the doorway for a lift out section.



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