RE: 1st Time Post Looking for Layout Designs and Recommendations

Good afternoon all, 

I've recently completed a train table in my basement for the kids and I, finally got the wife to buy off on it. I've played around with some basic designs in SCARM and I've attached them for reference. Basically, I'm looking for any layout ideas. I've got a few basic concepts I'd like to achieve, but I'm amendable

- O-72 min for at least one loop

- Two loops would be nice

- Small buildings or industry -> flexible

-I'd like a part elevated with some bridge or trestles 

-Maybe a turntable? 

Either way, I'm flexible and this is for a longterm project. I look forward to trying to ballast for the 1st time and adding scenery and building the topography. I'm active duty so, I'll have to proceed in stages and possibly pack it up for a bit if I need to rent, but the table is staying. Overall the table is 13ft by 85 7/8 inches I intend to elevate the Slot Car set above any train tracks, using some simple 2 by 4 and sheet plywood strips.





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Original Post


Welcome to the Forum!  That is a really nice looking room you have and two great looking kids!  I see you have the slot car track on the tabletop, that you mentioned.  Regardless, you can do a lot, and make changes as you go along.  The SCARM plan you included looks like a good basic plan to start with.  Do you have any trains to run?  If so, what are they?  That may help get the discussion moving along a bit.  Did you have trains growing up yourself?

Thanks for the compliments Mark, 

I have DCS by MTH and I'm running two locomotives, both are MTH, a premiere GP-9, and an H10 Consolidation. 

I plan on getting Lionel Legacy to integrate with DCS and I've got plans in the works to Pre-Order the Visionline Challenger (Thinking this or a Big-Boy would be the Flagship). I know it might look a little funny with such large engines but, why not. 

Growing up we had small temporary layouts simple loops and they were HO scale. 

I was also messing around with Atlas track layouts last night, trying to get staging in the interior or and engine shed. I've attached an updated SCARM. 




Post EDIT, I think I might be able to get away with an O81 curve. 




That looks pretty good, I have a few concerns I need to iron out for my table. For example, I need to leave enough room at the back of the layout for elevating the track and I need to find a suitable trestle that can support bridge work and ballasting (I was thinking Woodland Scenic risers). I also need to consider the gradient.

Towards the front of the layout, I can go almost flush to the table edge, since I have a trim piece that is 1/2 inch higher than my table. 

Lastly, do you think the juice is "worth the squeeze" with an O81 curve vs O72? Aesthetically speaking for engine operation?

Thank you for your design. 



Latest trial: 

I'm thinking due to boiler overhang the O81 curve might be a bit too much and not allow for clearance to the walls and other tracks. I'm going to continue tweaking and see what I can make work. I've used on the wall side of the layout a decreasing radius to buy a few inches to the wall. I'm interested if anyone has tried this with success. I figure the boiler overhang would be greatest in the least commonly viewed angles of the layout. 




Chris, I think you are correct on the overhang.  If it was an island layout and not up against the wall then overhang wouldn't be an issue.  the 072 curve gives you some space to around the edges in case you do have a derailment, and also that you don't accidentally bump up against a train yourself.  I forgot to ask how high the tabletop is.  Please excuse me if youstated it, and I overlooked.


I wish you had asked before you built your train table.  If you had stopped construction just short of that support post, I would have suggested putting wheels or sliders on your table legs to make the whole table movable.  Then you could have eliminated your access hole (because you would pull the table away from the wall to reach the inevitable issues back there) and had more room for scenery, structures or a small rail yard.  I would also have suggested that you raise the layout enough to get your dog crate underneath it, even if only when not being used.

Rework doesn't get the job done faster, but might present a more enjoyable finished product.


Columbus, OH Union Station
Columbus, OH Union Station




I hear what you're saying. Think of this table as a beachhead (LOL). As the hobby grows and so do the kids there can be expansion. The height works for a toddler to have sufficient height above the table to enjoy the trains and cars without being too far off the ground sense they are prone to injury. I can make the access port a levered assembly. Unfortunately, I'll have to expand as the job permits. There's a good chance I'll have to move the end of the year, so this first layout will be a fast track build (more toy like than model). However, the table is now a permanent structure and the wife has already started making a play area underneath and added a chalkboard facing on one side. This home we are in now will be our permanent residence once I retire and we've got a permanent train table. Eventually, I'd like to expand to an L-Shape. 



Chris, Sounds to me like you have this planned out well!  Now I see why your wife was fine adding the table in such a nice room.  Kids love to have play areas underneath or inside things.  I'm glad you have a home you would like for a retirement residence even if you have to move in between!  

You are smarter than I was.  We went so many years without kids, that I built a layout that suited me.  Up high, scratchbuilt buildings, delicate scenery.  Neither of our daughters were interested.  They watched Thomas on television instead!    Now they are grown and married, and I am trying to get started on a new layout myself.  

Everyone has to find what suits him or her and the family!!

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