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Hello from Pike Creek, Delaware! I am 59 years old, have loved trains all my life, have always dreamed of building a permanent layout but have never gotten around to doing it. Until now. The Mrs. and I agree that it’s high time to check off that box on life’s bucket list! I feel absolutely blessed to have her interest and support. Railfanning and toy trains are an interest to us both.

I’ve also been quietly reading many of the posts here on layout building and design. It seems like a great community of people and has convinced me that this would be a great place to document my adventures with the hobby. I’m open to any and all input from those of you who feel you can help with the design aspects of my project, which is in the earliest stages of planning. I have a lot of ideas, but until now I have not listed them out. So, here goes.

For starters, I’m attaching a graphic of the space I have available with which to work. It is generally an 8x16 area surrounded on three sides wby walls and partially on the fourth/front side. I have some ideas of what I would like to do as far as the footprint of the benchwork. But for now, I’d like to collect thoughts from others who have already been down this path and see how experience might tackle the problems this area has. It’s decently sized for a first layout but has obvious restrictions in many ways.

And now to the decisions that have been made and my goals based on my interests and collection on hand:

  • All of my benchwork will be Mianne. I drive a desk for a living and my carpentry skills are plain lousy. ‘nuff said there.
  • My interest and collection of pieces are strictly traditional sized O gauge. While 8x16 seems like a nice sized layout for me, I know that the space may be overpowered by the gargantuan pieces involved with scale modeling in O. Besides, being a sentimentalist, I like the “traditional” look in many ways.
  • I have loads of Fastrack to start with, to the point where it would make no sense to consider anything else. Curves are all O36 and O48 with which, ideally, would be to have two separate operating loops for multiple train action.
  • I believe the above means an around the room layout, not an island. Better use of the space. I think.
  • My favorite railfan place in all the world is Strasburg. I own both Lionel sets, I have the two most recent PnP pieces in the J Tower and East Strasburg ticket office. I also have an MTH double car shed to use in creating a diorama of the SRR. It does not need to be a precise scale replica of the area. A soft and compressed reconstruction or representation would do.
  • Other favorite pieces I’d like to incorporate include a Lionel Hellgate bridge, Irvington tin plate factory, operating horse corral, operating oil derrick and the Lionel Grand Central Station building.
  • In the case of Grand Central, I’m thinking of somewhere on the layout there being a second level depicting a downtown street scene, anchored in the center by Grand Central with an “underground” platform a la Penn Station depicted “below”. Probably somewhere along the long 16 foot back wall. But we'll see.

Well, I’ve probably piqued your interest or bored you to death by now. For me, it’s off to clearing out that space in the basement for where Pike Creek Railroad will be born. That's how early in the build phase I am. Oh well, we all start somewhere.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to your input or questions. Thanks!

Layout Space

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  • Layout Space
Last edited by Rich Melvin
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I agree with the around the walls plan.     In any given space, you get more square footage of layout if  you do around the walls rather than island style.     Also  you can put a lot of building rears (most often seen from trains), or building fronts along walls to create town scenes with little depth.

With a name like Pike Creek, I expected it to be based on kentucky coal fields.

@prrjim posted:

I agree with the around the walls plan.     In any given space, you get more square footage of layout if  you do around the walls rather than island style.     Also  you can put a lot of building rears (most often seen from trains), or building fronts along walls to create town scenes with little depth.

With a name like Pike Creek, I expected it to be based on kentucky coal fields.

Thanks, Jim. Can't say I am familiar with the great state of KY. In my case, Pike Creek is the area of Delaware where I reside.

Can you annotate where the entrance is, and also what is the big white space at the bottom.  Is it practical to have a total around the room continuous loop, perhaps with a lift-bridge at the entrance?  Defining the space is key to knowing how to proceed.

John, the white space is remaining area of the room we would like to keep clear and open. This space is set in the upper left corner of a much larger room lengthwise (to the right of the closet) that otherwise is set up for other use. The entrance to the basement from outside is on the left, marked as patio door. In the upper right is a closet door that needs to remain unobstructed. The inside entrance door at the bottom of the staircase leading to this basement is clear on the other side of the room and not a consideration at all. I'm okay  with a lift bridge entrance or duck under for access to the interior of a walk through plan somewhere along the bottom of the green area.

Once I have this space cleared out of all debris, I think I will take photos of the area to help lend perspective. We are a good ways away from that at he moment, however.

I should add, that my hand made rendering of the area is not exact. The space is actually 17 ft. some inches by 9 ft. some inches. The idea is to build (or shoe horn, perhaps) an 8x16 benchwork within that space.

The reason I asked about the open spaces is to truly go around the room, you'll have to accommodate access to those spaces.  I did a 1/4 around the room for that reason.   I had too many openings and access requirements for me to be able to do a true around-the-room configuration.  The more thinking you do about what you want and how to access all the spaces now will pay big dividends as you build.  FWIW, I started with Mianne benchwork as well, but then a real carpentry expert came along and convinced me to get fancy with the benchwork on top of the Mianne.

Mine in process layout is a large folded dogbone on two levels, and it has a few extra loops off the large mainline.  The big box sticking up is the Mianne power lift-bridge for access to the inside, I'm too old to crawl under benchwork as a regular habit.   Obviously, not finished yet, but working on it.

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The reason I asked about the open spaces is to truly go around the room, you'll have to accommodate access to those spaces.  I did a 1/4 around the room for that reason.   I had too many openings and access requirements for me to be able to do a true around-the-room configuration.  The more thinking you do about what you want and how to access all the spaces now will pay big dividends as you build.  FWIW, I started with Mianne benchwork as well, but then a real carpentry expert came along and convinced me to get fancy with the benchwork on top of the Mianne.

Mine in process layout is a large folded dogbone on two levels, and it has a few extra loops off the large mainline.  The big box sticking up is the Mianne power lift-bridge for access to the inside, I'm too old to crawl under benchwork as a regular habit.   Obviously, not finished yet, but working on it.

I'm drooling looking at what you have going so far, John. If I was single and had my druthers, I'd be going full bore in a similar fashion. But, alas, there ARE some limitations placed on what I can do where my better half is concerned.

Our laundry and utilities room is on the front end of the house off to the far side on the right, not pictured in my drawing. She wants to ensure that if the washer and dryer, or worse, the heater or water heater ever need replacement, access to that part of the basement from the rear entrance exists. I can't argue with the logic. There's also other activities going on with the remaining basement space. My work bench, my wife and granddaughter's bicycles, the granddaughter's large scale wooden doll house. It isn't completely a "man cave" in the purest sense. Thus, the 9x17 space that is "mine" for this endeavor. It will have to do, but all the same, I'm grateful for having it

I understand, but you still have to consider how your spot affects the access you speak of.  Are you saying that if you build within the 9x17 space that all the other requirements are taken care of as far as access?  In that case, I'd probably do a 30" rectangle and have some kind of lift-bridge to walk inside at one end.  You'll have space for nice long runs and easy access to anything on the layout.

I understand, but you still have to consider how your spot affects the access you speak of.  Are you saying that if you build within the 9x17 space that all the other requirements are taken care of as far as access?  In that case, I'd probably do a 30" rectangle and have some kind of lift-bridge to walk inside at one end.  You'll have space for nice long runs and easy access to anything on the layout.

Yes, that is an accurate assessment of where my head is. Thank you, John. BTW, do I understand correctly that are you associated with Henning's in Lansdale? Would love to make a day trip up there some day to see the place for myself.

Last edited by Antnee

Yes, a 24"-30" wide deck around the four walls leaving at least a 4' X 12' open middle space sounds right to me. From my experience in my 12'8" X 11'8" space I would go no wider that 24" because that open space is valuable also.

That standard-size office chair fills a lot of the open space, especially when an old fat guy sprawls in it:

         IMG_1733

This view is looking West at the 11'8" wall. That is a 1X6 shelf along the right wall in the pic. Decking on that wall could be wider if I didn't want the futon:

         IMG_1732



While wider in the corners the decking in front of the windows is only 20" wide:

         IMG_1688

         IMG_1689

As has been discussed, O scale takes a LOT of space.

I would do mock-ups to see how best to use your space.

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As a contrasting view, I'd want a bit more track real-estate as if I were planning something that I'd like to run for a while and not regret thinking longer term.  I'd want at least two track loops and some area for sidings, for instance.  If you have a 9 foot wide space, 30" benchwork gives you four feet inside.  If that's not enough for your "butt", maybe a diet would help.

@CurtisH posted:

I'm okay  with a lift bridge entrance or duck under for access to the interior of a walk through plan somewhere along the bottom of the green area.

That's going to get old as you get older trust me. You may want to rethink that.

Curtis

I hear you. I'm not thrilled about the idea either, but not sure how else I may be able to squeeze in a two track mainline around the perimeter if the table top of the surround is only 30-36 inches from the wall. That pretty much rules out anything like a dog bone or double ended loop. But I understand what you're saying and I am committed to nothing at this time other than to a) build something b) what I'd like to model (Strasburg) and c) the accessories I have that I would like to feature. Thank you for the spot on thought for consideration it's greatly appreciated!

@geysergazer posted:

Yes, a 24"-30" wide deck around the four walls leaving at least a 4' X 12' open middle space sounds right to me. From my experience in my 12'8" X 11'8" space I would go no wider that 24" because that open space is valuable also.

That standard-size office chair fills a lot of the open space, especially when an old fat guy sprawls in it:

         IMG_1733

This view is looking West at the 11'8" wall. That is a 1X6 shelf along the right wall in the pic. Decking on that wall could be wider if I didn't want the futon:

         IMG_1732



While wider in the corners the decking in front of the windows is only 20" wide:

         IMG_1688

         IMG_1689

As has been discussed, O scale takes a LOT of space.

I would do mock-ups to see how best to use your space.

"especially when an old fat guy sprawls in it"

LOL Lew.....I resemble that remark!

As for mock-ups, YES!!! Absolutely! Once I have the area cleared of junk, I am going to use painter's tape to mark out potential benchwork footprint(s) and and use paper track templates I've cut out to see what works. It's an old fashioned approach for sure, but I don't seem to be able to get the hang of either SCARM or AnyRail. At this rate, I feel like my would be better spent clearing out the junk. Pics of the space will follow the cleanout.

Last edited by Antnee

As a contrasting view, I'd want a bit more track real-estate as if I were planning something that I'd like to run for a while and not regret thinking longer term.  I'd want at least two track loops and some area for sidings, for instance.  If you have a 9 foot wide space, 30" benchwork gives you four feet inside.  If that's not enough for your "butt", maybe a diet would help.

My doctor would tend to agree! On the diet, that is!

@Antnee posted:

I hear you. I'm not thrilled about the idea either, but not sure how else I may be able to squeeze in a two track mainline around the perimeter if the table top of the surround is only 30-36 inches from the wall. That pretty much rules out anything like a dog bone or double ended loop. But I understand what you're saying and I am committed to nothing at this time other than to a) build something b) what I'd like to model (Strasburg) and c) the accessories I have that I would like to feature. Thank you for the spot on thought for consideration it's greatly appreciated!

Try the Mainne Gate. I love mine. I know Gunrunner also has one. It can be as wide and deep as you want.

Curtis

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