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Without intentionally trying to sound morbid but rather emphasize a practical bent, I'd be curious to know what your favorite shortcuts might be given many of us have left more miles on the odometer than we can count on in the future.  So, I'm trying to encourage the sharing of secrets for "macro" level projects that help push layouts from the planning stage to what may be considered a substantial level of completion (we all know they are never finished!).

This could be anything--utilizing command control over conventional block wiring, prefab over traditional benchwork, track preference, having invented an "instant weathering" dip, whatever--I'd like to know!



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Sorry Tuscan Jim, can't help you there, I have no layout and the one I'll be running on in the future is already completed, it sits within the confines of an old heavy weight baggage car.  it's a really nice layout and offers a lot of value for what it cost's me each month to be a member.  I believe some of the members belong to this forum, maybe some of them will come forward and maybe they will be able to help you.

As to your questions, I can't think of anything that would be a short cut to building a layout in a jiffy unless your building for a client then they would try and keep it on schedule, personally, I don't believe that there are any "macro's" that serve to move a layout from beginning stages to almost completed in a hurry.  If you have more time than you know what to do with (I wish I did) maybe that would be a way for you to build all day long each and every day.  There are a couple guys on the list, can't recall who they are right now but one of them has moved along on his layout in "warp speed" fashion, maybe he will come forward and give you some pointers.

Best of luck, hope you can get the answers you are looking for.

Gosh Jim,

I recently went from zero to a pretty nice 9.5 ft x 5 ft layout in just a matter of a few weeks, in O gauge, with no layout plans.  The table is built, the track is laid, the wiring is done, and two trains are running.  The only thing I am doing now is installing eight  different power attachments to the track, so that I can have eight separate power blocks, and I am in the process over the next two days of running all of those wires under my table to my currently open-topped control panel.   When I get the two MTH power distribution strips I ordered  a few days ago, and the fiber track pins,  all of that will get done in a matter of hours.  There are several separate routes that the trains can travel.

Now, for total honesty:
1.    I have not yet put the cork underneath the tracks.  I want all of the track fully screwed down, wired, and thoroughly  tested for hours first, and then I will just unscrew a few sections at a time, lay the cork bed down, and screw them back on top.

2.  I did not build any trainyard.  I think they can be really beautiful in large layouts, but they take up large amounts of board space, use a large number of switches, and of course they assume that you like running your trains backwards.  I don't.   I use side tracks to park my trains, separately blocked with ingress and egress switches.

3.   FINALLY, THE BIGGIE:  At this point, my layout board is just painted in a flat green.  I have not put in any landscaping.  Personally, I think that there are really no shortcuts to creating really great and realistic scenery.  I don't have the patience or talent for it, so I am just going to use some sprinkled grasses and soils from Woodland Scenics.   I also have access to a small  trainshop, that buys used stuff at shows, and they have lots of fully assembled O and HO gauge buildings from old layouts, custom painted, that look great, and cost about 1/2 of the price of a new kit for the building.   So, I am going to pick out several, and put them down.

Do I have a scenically beautiful and fully realistic looking layout?  No.  But, I like watching my trains run.   Little figurines, automobiles, and the tiny details that go with them just don't interest me that much, though I do appreciate the beauty of the layouts where people have spent 100s of hours properly incorporating these.

Don't know if this helps.


P.S.- Jim.  Don't build your table until you have fully assembled the main sections of your layout on the floor.  As you assemble, you are definitely going to find you need an extra 4 or 5 inches here or there, and if you have already completed your table, then you will be sunk.   "If only I had built the table six inches wider, I could have put a great track in, going up a mountain side."  :-)

Be open to learning. Don't be afraid to trash what doesn't actually work for you. This is a hobby, the purpose of which is to be fun, to give pleasure. Learn what about it feels good and scrap or quit doing any parts that aren't. Model railroading isn't real life, it is a pastime. It carries no obligations or duties with it. Enjoy those aspects you find fun and pay no homage to that which is not.

Another option is to have a professional build your layout for you......and that’s exactly what I did...time is my enemy, and I knew it would be years and years before I could “finish” my layout...after a very good friend of mine suggested a builder, I made contact, struck an accord, and the builder put my layout together better than I could ever imagined.....done & done in 3 months flat...I was lucky enough to have a true artisan/old world craftsman do my layout .......but to each his own....I love my layout, and really enjoy operating it, but to me, the scenery aspect, tack laying, and wiring does nothing for me, so that’s why I went the route I did......I’m much happier working on/modifying/improving motive power than planting grass & ballast...just another option on the thread......but do shop around and get to know your builder if you go that route.....I had contacted several ( whom shall go nameless ) that either didn’t bother returning an email, or just totally blew off........and that’s just fine, since the fella that did build my layout became a great friend, and a valuable asset in the model railroad world.....and I’m actually super thankful the others didn’t do their jobs.....


The biggest shortcut I have have discovered is proper planning.  One has to approach the project from the most basic elements.  The first being room preparation - ie: electrical requirements, lighting, walls and ceiling and flooring.  Next is a track plan.  After the track plan has been finalized, benchwork can be designed.  Here, again, careful thought must be put into where certain features, such as rivers, mountains, etc. will be located.  What type of construction will you be using?  Do you want Homasote put down over the tabletop?  There are many questions that you must ask yourself as your plan develops.  Once all of the questions have been answered you have a plan to work with.  After everything is put to paper the construction actually goes pretty quickly and there are not many surprises.


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