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Hello Citizens,

I've spent most of the last year re-building a building that sits behind my house.  The building itself is 24' x 32'.  At this point it is completely re-wired (to code), insulated, and temperature-controlled for comfort year-round.  I have dedicated one room that is approximately 11' x 19'  for running O gauge trains.  Now that (most of) the construction is finished I confess to being impatient/anxious to get some trains running around.  I figure my basic options involve either 1) setting up an 'island' in the center of the room or B) setting benchwork against the wall(s).  I got my hands on the 'AnyRail' software package, and after experimenting a bit (using FasTrack template bits) it seems that I can get more mileage by working against the walls.  I want to keep the entrance into the room free of obstruction, and there is one window to which I will want to maintain access.  I would like to avoid lift-gates and/or pop-ups in the middle of the layout.  I know that these constraints mean that I will need to be able to reach everything that I put on the benches.

I'm attaching a couple of images to show some of what I've come up with so far (the grids are 12").  These are all very simple, 2-loop (one inside the other), designs that will allow two trains to run simultaneously/independently.  The outer loop is built with 48" curves and the inner loop is built with 36" curves - with/without sidings, spurs, etc..  I imagine the long straightway against the far wall incorporating some ascending grade and some length of extended elevation (descending grade extending along the left wall).  Maybe a tunnel or two in the lower left corner (?).

I realize that these designs, compared to many I've seen posted around here, are not very sophisticated with respect to prototypes, switching operations, etc..  As I indicated, right now I mainly want to get some trains running.  On the other hand, I will be making an investment in benchwork, and would like to start out with a design that will last for a while.  Gotta start someplace....

I'm truly grateful for any and all comments and suggestions.  I've learned a lot sitting on the sidelines of this forum, and I know that there is a wealth of talent and experience close at hand.

Peace,

Sam in Oregon

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Another factor that may affect your design is the brand of track you plan to use.  Some brands include what's known as flex-track which allows you to build curves at any radius or diameter you prefer.  Others don't have this option, and unless you feel comfortable mixing track brands, your options will be more limited.  Same thing goes for switches and crossings; different manufacturers provide different options affecting what you can build.

Otherwise, I totally agree with John above.  Decide what you want your railroad to be and do and then choose a brand of track that meets all of your needs.  If really unsure, buy some track and set it up on the floor to run for a while.  If that helps you decide, then build the benchwork for a more permanent layout.  As it stands now, your proposals seem to leave very little room for scenery or accessories.

Chuck

Last edited by PRR1950

Thanks everyone, for helpful feedback and guidance.  I understand the attraction of 72" curves and the freedom they would allow, roster-wise.  In fact, the first thing I attempted with AnyRail was fitting 72" curves inside my space.  I can't see that they are compatible unless I incorporate pop-ups out in the middle of the layout - or opt for the 'island' approach.  If I go that route, I need to leave room around the island perimeter for moving about.  Can anyone offer insight into how much space is generally required around the island, for comfortable navigation?  If I build an island that is 7' x 14' (on top of which I can cobble an outer loop with O-72) I would have a little over 2' between the island and wall - would that be sufficient (I myself am kind of a small guy)?

All of the equipment I currently have on hand (mostly transition era diesel stuff) will run comfortably on 36" curves - so the designs above, with O-36 and O-48, will work (assuming I haven't violated the reach-rules).  I confess I sometimes see handsome outfits in the current catalogs requiring O-72 to which I might otherwise feel called, but they generally come with price tags that so far have squelched any compulsion to press the 'Place Your Order' button.  This comes with the added bonus of fostering domestic tranquility.

Thanks again.

One piece of advice.  Unless you're OK limiting what you can run, I'd seriously consider at least one loop with O72 minimum curves.  Also, what kind of running do you like to do, continuous loops, switching, what?  Also, think about yard space, you'll want a place to park trains.

Hi John, I been dying to ask, What comes first, Chicken or the egg? With me, Trains, then track, and someday layout.

Was seasonal for me till I met all ya'll, and Mr Elliot. "And it's been an Eye-Opening  Adventure ever since." Here it is March, and I am still working out the fiddle and bits, preparing for the accidental hole-in-the-wall-to the closet and my Asking For Forgiveness scheme... <g>

If it was me, I would make an along the wall shelf using the entire length of the building with a reversing loop in each half of the building. Does not have to be a wide shelf, 12" will work. This way you can use big curves and the train will seem to go somewhere and return. Be ashamed to waste 32 foot length of building. you will still have plenty of room in building. Essentially split the building in half, length wise. I would not do anything less than 072. To me 072 is too  sharp.  RR are long narrow industries not rectangle industries. Be nice to see where you're other doors and windows are.

Just my opinion  

Here's the problem with a 7x14 foot island.  Along each 7 foot side, you're going to have about 8 feet in the middle you will not be able to reach, and along the 14 foot sides, you'll have about 1 foot in the middle that's out of reach.  So, if you can live with just scenery in that 8 square foot area in the middle, your island should work just fine.

Chuck

Personally,  I like being able to walk around my entire layout.   One reason, is the ease of working on any part of the layout, another is, and don't laugh, when you get your trains running, and you always watch from your control panel, you are going to see the same things over and over and over.  I found that it is pretty entertaining to get the trains running and then walk around and watch them from a totally different angle, perhaps from the farthest diagonal corner of the layout.  It gives you a completely different perspective, and to your eye, it looks like a totally different layout!

Two feet is not enough gap space on the side of the layout to comfortable work on and watch your layout run.  I would consider 30 inches as a minimum.  It will also give you enough room to walk around and go underneath your table to wire up switches and power lines, without having to crawl underneath your whole table every time you need to work on items on the back edges.  (You can't imagine at first how much time you will have to spend underneath your table, on your back, to wire up everything and then constantly de-bug problems to get things running perfectly!)

I didn't go for the absolute biggest layout I could build.  I went for the one that was "big enough" and easy to work on, service, and enjoy.  (5' x 9.5', with a 32 inch walk around in the back.)

Personally, I don't care for train yards, because they take up alot of room and require alot of costly switches and wiring.  BUT, having gotten my layout running, and having purchased 5 engines, I can now definitely see the wisdom of having a small yard, with just enough switches and short yard tracks to park your engines and tenders only!  The small yard shown above would definitely fill the bill.)

I hope this helps.

Mannyrock

@clem k posted:

If it was me, I would make an along the wall shelf using the entire length of the building with a reversing loop in each half of the building. Does not have to be a wide shelf, 12" will work. This way you can use big curves and the train will seem to go somewhere and return. Be ashamed to waste 32 foot length of building. you will still have plenty of room in building. Essentially split the building in half, length wise. I would not do anything less than 072. To me 072 is too  sharp.  RR are long narrow industries not rectangle industries. Be nice to see where you're other doors and windows are.

Just my opinion  

The rest of the building (three rooms total, one of which is outlined above) is dedicated to other pursuits and that space is unavailable (a woodshop and a microscopy/photography lab occupy the rest).  In my defense, at least here among this forum, of the three rooms that make up the building I DID secure the largest for running trains.

One of the things that I'm encountering is this: Up until now, although I had a large collection of MARX tin (O-27) and a growing collection of Lionel/MTH O gauge stuff (all of which is parked on display shelves inside the house where we live most of the time), I mainly 'ran' HO gauge trains.  When I started re-building my building, I decided that I would dedicate the largest room to running O gauge (my eyesight is not getting better with age and I've discovered that bigger stuff is easier to see).  At this point I've just about finished selling off a lot of HO stock that I acquired over years of collecting.  I thought a room that is 11' x 19' would be BIG - but as soon as I started fussing around with AnyRail (and O gauge instead of HO)  I discovered that the available real estate gets eaten up pretty fast.  I wonder if anyone else around here has shared a similar experience.

In any case and still, I am happy to have what I have.  I consider myself lucky and I'm confident that I will enjoy what comes next, regardless of size or complexity.

Thanks again to everyone who has responded so far - ALL of it helps.

CS

" When I started re-building my building, I decided that I would dedicate the largest room to running O gauge (my eyesight is not getting better with age and I've discovered that bigger stuff is easier to see)."

Exactly the same reason that I switched to O gauge.

But, I didn't count on rupturing tendons in my hands trying to force new O Gauge track together, especially the K-Line stuff.  Even trying to pry open the bottoms of the rail endings, and "opening up" the holes a bit with small tools is painful, especially if you have even a touch of arthritis.  :-)

I would highly suggest that you take a look at Art's specialty tools, at his TinMan3 website, especially his pin puller.

Mannyrock

@Bruce Brown posted:

At least 42" high because you'll be spending a lot of time under the table with wiring. Trainyards are usually an afterthought in initial layout design but eventually a necessity when you realize how many engines, rolling stock and passenger cars you actually own. Agree with the 072 and "need to reach" comments.

If you're on carpet, one of these will be VERY handy. If you're on a hard floor, just substitute some carpeted hard floor glides for the sliders. When you're down there wiring, it's really much easier on your back to have something to lean against!  My layout is 41" to the top, though with the variation in the floor leveling, it varies from around 41" to 43", depending on where you are.  I'm on carpet, so this is the chair I built.





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Last edited by gunrunnerjohn

If you're on carpet, one of these will be VERY handy. If you're on a hard floor, just substitute some carpeted hard floor glides for the sliders. When you're down there wiring, it's really much easier on your back to have something to lean against!  My layout is 41" to the top, though with the variation in the floor leveling, it varies from around 41" to 43", depending on where you are.  I'm on carpet, so this is the chair I built.

GRJ:

I absolutely LOVE this, particularly the idea of cannibalizing one of those stackable chairs to make this.  Great suggestion.

Thanks.

Steven J. Serenska

I've had these chairs since the 1970's, but we were going to get rid of the orange ones, so I decided that I could hack one up.  I do have to say, the chairs are certainly bulletproof, they look like the day I got them, and they were well used before I got them!  After being under the layout fooling with the first of the wiring, I realized that my back would be killing me trying to sit up without support.  My head clears the structure by about 2-3" while sitting, a perfect height.  I can slide it on the carpet, but it doesn't move so easily that I can't work without shifting, I can't imagine a better item to access the wiring with.

This was one of those fifteen minute projects that turns out way better than you imagined.

Given your apparent expertise with this building, is there any chance you could create a hole in the floor to allow two steps down and back up to get under a section of the layout without much ducking?  The opposite approach would be to create ceiling height for stairs up and over and perhaps a viewing platform.

My layout is smaller, 8 x 19.  It has lots of switches, buildings, moving stuff.  I can with some patience move a train from the most outer 4th loop to an inner 3rd.  Inner most loop dedicated dog bone.  Outer 2 loops have elevated sections.  Great fun!  But it is all O gauge.  My desire is to re-do it removing some O, adding some standard gauge and maybe an OO loop.  My reason is that my enjoyment comes from restoration and repair more than operating these old pre- and post- war marvels.  No real advice other than to enjoy your trains.

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