The realities of "O"

As one who also spent years in HO, I realized that because space is defined as BOTH length and width a similar "O" layout needs 4X the space to have the same operating characteristics and realism as does HO in the same layout space.  That is because "space" is defined as length X width.

I think that a veteran HO modeler might be unhappy IF he attempts to have the operating possibilities in "O" as he had in the smaller scale.  I think that we have two basic choices:

- A "model railroad"- with a good rendition of reality, scale modeling (sort of), with reasonable trackage, but fewer scenes.  or;

- A "toy train".  Look at a well-done toy train layout, and what matters is that there are lots of tracks to run lots of trains, and many accessories.  This IS very much fun for those of us who loved this as kids and wanted all those sawmills, oil derricks, and other stuff we/ our parents could not afford.  A toy train layout IS fun for most of those and also for most who will see our layouts as visitors.  

No negative implied, and there are fans of each on this Forum and in the hobby. 

But if you (being an HO modeler) want a similar"scale" looking layout, you have to compromise on the number of yards, have more off-layout storage like wall racks, fewer spurs and double track mains etc., and focus more on the scenery, buildings, etc, of the layout. 

You need to be better with "fooling the eye"- using things like forced perspective, use of building flats vs. buildings, etc. and to compromise on the yards, and trackage.

Original Post

Fundamentals before you design an "O" track layout:

What do you want??  Basically, a toy train layout that has lots of track, and accessories crowded in, like back in our youth?  Or a depiction of a railroad in miniature? 

The average model structure is really a caricature of the prototype.   A scale model of Grand Central Terminal in NYC in 1:48th (O scale) would be 48" long X 22" deep X 22" high- and this does not include any trackage.  To put such a structure on a layout requires a lot of space.  

Highways and roads for scale cars, in O need to be 6" (24 scale feet)  or more wide for just 2 lanes.  Add an inch for a sidewalk- 2" (32' scale for street and both sidewalks) and "streets" take a surprising amount of space.   

So, we in model railroading use visual tricks to make the layout seem bigger, but there are limits to how that works.  All this needs to be in the plan.   

- You have to leave aisles to walk around/ in the layout, plus;

- you have to have access to all parts of it.  So- for example, any section that is against a wall has to either be about 24- 30" MAX deep, or have a removable/ lift-able access hatch for maintenance.

- You have to allow for access to things IN the train room- if the furnace needs to be replaced, do you have to dismantle the train to do it?

- Windows- can be a distraction if they are behind the train layout.

-  Access to work bench for working on trains- you wouldn't want to have to go up to the attic to work on an engine then test it in the basement.

- support columns - if they exist how do you hide them?

 

And dozens of more compromises and considerations.  I sent the drawing of my space to the track designer, first, after discussing what I wanted.  Then to a benchwork supplier, who built my tables to the layout of my basement, as dictated by the track plan.

 

You also will (believe it or not) spend less money in total on the stuff in between the trackage, because in sheer numbers, you need 1/4 of the items to fill the same space.  Think about it.  Our available space defines the size of our layouts regardless of the scale.  "O" buildings etc. might be twice the price - but needing 1/4 as many, you might only spend 1/2 as much!!  (My wife says "a fortune".)

As a bonus, in "O" you WILL get:

- better running- O gauge trains are WAY less "fiddly", and that is a benefit over smaller scales.

- access to what is really a second hobby- chasing old, but still good trains on e-Bay and at train shows.  Lionel engines from the late '40's can and do often run as well as when new.  (This is "collecting"!)

- easier to work on trains.

- (I think) more durable trains.

Space, as you have described it, is at a premium for alot of us.  Unless you are fortunate enough to have one of those humongous basements I have seen in the 55 and older homes, you may have to resort to some of the tricks pointed out by Mike.

Or, you can do what so many have done in the smaller scales.  Build a diorama.  You might decide to model a section of railroad that serves a couple of industries.  A lot of action can take place, even in a limited space.  

http://www.carendt.com/categor...ll-layout-scrapbook/

Dan Padova

 

"In the course of my life I have had to eat my words, and I must confess it was a wholesome diet"..........Winston Churchill

                                                                                                                                        

I have a 12'x15' empty bedroom for my O scale layout. Small by O standards. I run 3 trains and 3 bump n' go trolleys all on different tracks. I have very little 0-27 rolling stock. I like the looks of scale better. Most of my buildings are prebuilt.  Scenic Woodlands and Menards are my favorites as well as some scratch built for me. I have roads, cars, boats, airplanes, helicopters, people, and some things for fun - Batman, Superman, Godzilla, and people from my life on the layout. 

I can pick up my trains cars and rerail them without straining. Visually, my layout is a combination of scale realism and Salvador Dali impressionism. My trains run smoothly, do not derail, and are very reliable. Lighting is a big part of the scenery. Almost every building is lighted (about 35 of them) and the effect in the dark (lights turned off) is stunning.

The sense of nostalgia from the "old time" steam-diesel transition era is not lost. There is still plenty of whimsy to enjoy. My layout is a happy, crime free place to escape to. If you don't think so witness the photo of my chief of police included with this post. (You don't want to make me have him raise his visor)

I have recruited at least 2 (they are building their pikes as we speak) into the hobby. They are both older men like myself and they are both into HO. They selected  HO for two reasons  primarily. First, they don't have the room, and secondly they were "left" train stuff by parents or grandparents that happened to be HO. Good reasons.

When I get really old and have to move and am crunched for space then I will content myself with a coffee table N scale pike. But for now, I am happy....

 

 

 

 

TCA - 10 - 64769

Active Ferroequinologist

Collector of 40' scale boxcars

Collector of NYC steam in all gauges

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Well, I consider that middle rail to be my 007 license to kill. For that reason, I love 3-rail O gauge. With the 3rd rail in obvious evidence I have been freed from the obligation to create a scale railroad, follow a specific prototype and all that "crap" that the 2-rail guys think is religiously important. My trains have a distinctly unprototypical 3rd rail! Yay! I can do anything I want and justify it by pointing to that lovely middle rail. That middle rail is freedom, baby! 

I can still do scale if and where I want. But I can also do Plasticville and Lionel accessories. It ALL works. I don't want a hobby that nags me like a bad wife "you didn't do this right" and "you should have done that." Anytime I feel guilty about "doing it MY way", I just look at that beautiful third rail and the guilt melts away. 

So please enjoy all your debates. The bumper sticker on my car says "3rd Rail Freedom!" End of story.

Don

Don M.

I agree with Mike. The thought of truly modeling in O never entered my mind. In part, I grew up with large, Christmas carpet central layouts that were fun but in no way were representative of real railroads. My own basement layout, now torn down, was the same even though it was on benchwork and had, perhaps, 150 sq. ft. of space. My newest in a spare bedroom is 8'x12' and can only be just a toy train layout in O.

I've seen a forum member's large basement layout. Truly unbelievable one that belongs in a magazine. It takes up the bulk of a good-sized ranch house basement. For O, I think that's what's needed for a true 1:48 scale layout. On his, the to-me big scale engines look great proportionately correct. For me, OTOH, I'm thinking of selling my Wabash GP7s because they're too big compared with my O27/semi-scale steam engines and smaller diesels.

Looking forward to seeing Corner Field's layout!

O-Scale would seem to be an ideal size for club operations.  It is surprising that there are not more O-Scale clubs.  Even modular clubs, such as the famous Sipping and Switching Society HO gauge chapters, would be nice if chapters were formed in O-Scale.  

Visual compromises:  a whole separate topic.  How do you make it so a person viewing the layout "sees" a big city, or a scene in the mountains on a layout that might be just 3 or 4 actual feet deep, or a "city" that is an actual 5 feet square??

Some ideas:

- No straight, "through" streets. Make your streets zig zag or go diagonally across the space. 

- Have your streets go "off the layout" and think about adding a mirror at the end to visually stretch the scene.  A  5X7" camp mirror will fit about anywhere.  I turned the BACK of the mirror into a billboard.  Coghlan's Three Way Camp Mirror- available Promax Supply for $7 or so, shipped at: 

https://www.ebay.com/usr/proma...rksid=p2047675.l2559

- Use building flats instead of full buildings on the edges of the layout. 

- Make a single layout building have TWO different sides- I have a 3" deep building that is a PRR Welding and Bogie (truck) shop  on one side and an apparel maker on the other- both different colors, with the end hidden so the viewer cannot SEE that it's a 3" building. 

- make sure the viewer cannot see THROUGH a building- opaque the windows, or put a  downloaded photo of an interior of a full scale building like yours instead of a full interior.  A diner photo for instance. 

- When placing buildings, LOOK from every vantage point that a viewer might see of your layout.

- Out of scale accessories- if you are using a 1:64 ceramic "mantle building" (like used on the mantle at Christmas) or a Plasticville structure, placing it high on hill adds to the illusion of distance AND allows you to use the building even if you are trying for a scale appearance.  Place your larger than 1:48th vehicles close to the viewers' eye, and your smaller ones farther away- again to add to the illusion of depth and distance.

- detail the close-to-the-eye structure interiors, and save time by opaque windows on those far away from the eye.

 

Let's hear some more "tricks" about visual enhancing of an "O" layout!!

     

Mike Wyatt posted:

As a bonus, in "O" you WILL get:

1.- better running- O gauge trains are WAY less "fiddly", and that is a benefit over smaller scales.

2.- access to what is really a second hobby- chasing old, but still good trains on e-Bay and at train shows.  Lionel engines from the late '40's can and do often run as well as when new.  (This is "collecting"!)

3.- easier to work on trains.

4.- (I think) more durable trains.

While I appreciate (and share) your enthusiasm for the scale, I think some of those generalizations are incorrect. 

1. Not at all true. Attend any train show or watch a youtube video and you will see that good running is easily obtainable in any scale. 

2. "Train chasing" on eBay and at shows applies to all scales; although I do agree about what you say regarding "Lionel engines from the late '40's..." 

3. Sometimes: although with the modern tech packed into today's engines, I'm not sure that's always the case.

4. Some of that "durability" may be in part due to the fact that a good deal of "our" trains (think Lionel/Flyer Post War) are not as detailed as a lot of the smaller scales.  Certainly a '40's vintage 2035 is going to be more "durable" then, say, a delicate brass engine. I'd hope that we take that all into account and treat out stuff accordingly. 

Mark in Oregon

 

Clearly there are some compromises.  Through the years I have learned O gauge curves take up a great deal of real estate, hide the tighter radius curves if possible, expose the broad radius curves where you can.  Shorter trains make the layout seem larger, I run nothing longer than 8 cars for two reasons, appearance and limitations on my return loops.  Yards take up a whole lot of space with not so much return on investment.  I opted for a railroad that appears, runs through 3 distinct scenes and leaves, giving the illusion of going to or from someplace.  5 finger yard exists in another room but is just a bunch of used 027 straight track for storage to lift trains on and off the layout.  Engine terminals with turn tables also take up a great deal of space, I don't have that space so the terminal exists only in my imagination.  I work under the premise that I am not building an accurate model butt rather a representation of something that appeals to me.  Not a model, not a toy train layout, not quite high rail because I placed one or two favorite operating accessories just for fun.  I also am a single person operator, while I can have up to three trains on the layout, only one is running at a time.  In two of the scenes there are separate operating trains that fit that location, a trolley line that travels a small loop, and a mine run that shuttles back and forth, both independent of the main, both on opposite ends of the room.  This is more than enough for me.  While I would love to have a multiple track main line, that isn't going to happen in this house and more than likely in the next one either.  Nevertheless, O scale has been my go to for my entire life, I will work within the constraints of that scale.

When I was a kid; most of my interaction with trains was either standing on the platform at the station or at the grade crossing leading back into my grandparents summer cottage.  In either case, the trains were passing through.  I rarely saw trains switching in yards or making pick ups and set outs at an industry.

For this reason; when I built my layout my primary interest was simply to watch trains go by in as realistic a setting as I was or am capable of creating.  

When I’m operating, I move a chair around the outer edges of my 16’X12’ layout and watch trains pass by in the different areas whether it’s “in town” or “out in the country.”  I am a 1/48 scale rail fan.

Curt

Mike Wyatt posted:

Visual compromises:  a whole separate topic.  How do you make it so a person viewing the layout "sees" a big city, or a scene in the mountains on a layout that might be just 3 or 4 actual feet deep, or a "city" that is an actual 5 feet square??

Some ideas:

- No straight, "through" streets. Make your streets zig zag or go diagonally across the space. 

- Have your streets go "off the layout" and think about adding a mirror at the end to visually stretch the scene.  A  5X7" camp mirror will fit about anywhere.  I turned the BACK of the mirror into a billboard.  Coghlan's Three Way Camp Mirror- available Promax Supply for $7 or so, shipped at: 

https://www.ebay.com/usr/proma...rksid=p2047675.l2559

- Use building flats instead of full buildings on the edges of the layout. 

- Make a single layout building have TWO different sides- I have a 3" deep building that is a PRR Welding and Bogie (truck) shop  on one side and an apparel maker on the other- both different colors, with the end hidden so the viewer cannot SEE that it's a 3" building. 

- make sure the viewer cannot see THROUGH a building- opaque the windows, or put a  downloaded photo of an interior of a full scale building like yours instead of a full interior.  A diner photo for instance. 

- When placing buildings, LOOK from every vantage point that a viewer might see of your layout.

- Out of scale accessories- if you are using a 1:64 ceramic "mantle building" (like used on the mantle at Christmas) or a Plasticville structure, placing it high on hill adds to the illusion of distance AND allows you to use the building even if you are trying for a scale appearance.  Place your larger than 1:48th vehicles close to the viewers' eye, and your smaller ones farther away- again to add to the illusion of depth and distance.

- detail the close-to-the-eye structure interiors, and save time by opaque windows on those far away from the eye.

 

Let's hear some more "tricks" about visual enhancing of an "O" layout!!

     

Something very simple - put some bigger taller buildings in the foreground. Just enough, not too many, to give that "crowded" look. Also, go up. Tall things with small footprints make big impressions on the viewer.  A tower, crane, or building add to that urban feel. I also had a trolley bridge built over an existing main line of track creating a "layered" look suggesting population and use of all available space. 

TCA - 10 - 64769

Active Ferroequinologist

Collector of 40' scale boxcars

Collector of NYC steam in all gauges

Choo Choo Charlie posted:

And then there is S gauge, not so small to give issues with putting wheels on the track, only two rails, accessories available, possible to use O27 sized buildings and lots trains available.          What not to like if O gauge or scale is too big and HO is too small?

Charlie

Gotta agree with Choo Choo Charlie, S Gauge is probably the best gauge.  What in the world am I doing in O Gauge??

Mike Wyatt posted:

As one who also spent years in HO, I realized that because space is defined as BOTH length and width a similar "O" layout needs 4X the space to have the same operating characteristics and realism as does HO in the same layout space.

I think that a veteran HO modeler might be unhappy IF he attempts to have the operating possibilities in "O" as he had in the smaller scale.  I think that we have two basic choices:

- A "model railroad"- with a good rendition of reality, scale modeling (sort of), with reasonable trackage, but fewer scenes...

- A "toy train"...

Mike,

I dealt with this issue on the 10'-by-5' layout that I recently completed and wrote about in OGR magazine Run 304. For me, the only viable option was a realistic O gauge "model railroad" in a limited space. I regarded it as a challenge. You can see what I did at this link and in the article. Your comments appreciated.

MELGAR

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...ayout-in-ogr-run-304

 

Choo Choo Charlie posted:

And then there is S gauge, not so small as to give issues with putting wheels on the track, only two rails, accessories available, possible to use O27 sized buildings and lots [of] trains available.         

What's not to like if O gauge or scale is too big and HO is too small?

Charlie

I have no argument to that.  But I'd take a bit of issue with the "lots of trains available" part.  I think there has always been a wider range of rolling stock and locomotives available in O.  Which is why the first train Santa brought me in 1951 was a Lionel 027 set -- and why I'm still in O today.

All the same, I've got to admit, S has a lot of attraction.  If I had the space for a big benchwork layout, I might well go to S instead of my current on-the-basement-floor 3rs layout.

Our current living room layout navigates the couch, and two recliners.  We have no zig-zag streets but we do expect our pedestrians to zig zag when walking through the layout and wiring.  When I close my eyes I think I can see the resemblence of the nice soft carpet to that of the southwest landscape.  Occasional tunnels made out of cardboard boxes are decorated with trees sticking out.  We are currently forbidden from any construction through the kitchen or dining room due to the lengthy rental contract we were given on the living room floor.

The third rail is the least of our concerns when we have anxious customers waiting delivery of their hot wheels cars.

Balshis posted:
Choo Choo Charlie posted:

And then there is S gauge, not so small as to give issues with putting wheels on the track, only two rails, accessories available, possible to use O27 sized buildings and lots [of] trains available.         

What's not to like if O gauge or scale is too big and HO is too small?

Charlie

I have no argument to that.  But I'd take a bit of issue with the "lots of trains available" part.  I think there has always been a wider range of rolling stock and locomotives available in O.  Which is why the first train Santa brought me in 1951 was a Lionel 027 set -- and why I'm still in O today.

All the same, I've got to admit, S has a lot of attraction.  If I had the space for a big benchwork layout, I might well go to S instead of my current on-the-basement-floor 3rs layout.

That's more or less what I was gonna say.

I remember a time when Model Railroader did most of their line drawings of steam in S; guess it would fit the format.

1/64 just seems to be the best proportioned of the scales; big enough, not too big. It's always been a bit of a puzzle as to why it didn't catch on more than it did. Maybe because it was a relative late-comer to the game, kinda like TT(?) 

Mark in Oregon

 

For my ghost town I only gave myself about two and a half feet in width. The back ground mountains go to about six ft. Below the town the rock drops almost to the floor. The idea was to make an interesting view. I added much detail though in these shots it's still not finished. This entire area, both sides and end of the room is all the way to the floor with a height of six to six and a half ft. Eye lever is about at the height of the main line in the background. DonDSC_0171photographerphoto #6wide last version

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scale rail posted:

For my ghost town I only gave myself about two and a half feet in width. The back ground mountains go to about six ft. Below the town the rock drops almost to the floor. The idea was to make an interesting view. I added much detail though in these shots it's still not finished. This entire area, both sides and end of the room is all the way to the floor with a height of six to six and a half ft. Eye lever is about at the height of the main line in the background. DonDSC_0171photographerphoto #6wide last version

Very cool ghost town, Don.

In my little world, I leave this troubled world behind.

scale rail posted:

For my ghost town I only gave myself about two and a half feet in width. The back ground mountains go to about six ft. Below the town the rock drops almost to the floor. The idea was to make an interesting view. I added much detail though in these shots it's still not finished. This entire area, both sides and end of the room is all the way to the floor with a height of six to six and a half ft. Eye lever is about at the height of the main line in the background. DonDSC_0171photographerphoto #6wide last version

Fantastic work, it's hard to do that type of subject without it looking like a complete mess you have done it so it looks natural as if it has slowly fell apart over the years.

Great work I like it mate. Roo.

I had help form Randy at Down Town Deco. I asked him if he ever had dropped or just broken pieces of his building kits. Did he! He sent me two large boxes of messed up building parts. Also he made his first deteriorating concrete sidewalk and that's what I used. He now sells it in his O gauge line. I even broke up the sidewalk more. Everything is painted in a very weathered and faded fashion. For old window screens I used pantyhose. The tan kind. That turned out to be one of the hardest things to find. In Hawaii, no gals use them. The tumble weeds in the second to last shot are from Scenic Express. Dondrunk last man standing

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A few things we all should realize

- that the "magazine photos" all look great- because- a picture also fools the eye.

- what we should try and do with our layouts is make them look good in total.  That can be done through having the scene the viewer sees first as the most spectacular- a mountain scene is more stunning than a yard.

- and ALL that really matters:  pleasing ourselves.  That means what WE see in our own eyes.  My "yard" is now nothing but a bunch of 027 track laying loose, un-powered, on a brown piece of plywood.  But I see the PRR yards in Altoona. 

Making those two visions (minds eye and human eyes) come together is what makes this fun.

scale rail posted:

For my ghost town I only gave myself about two and a half feet in width. The back ground mountains go to about six ft. Below the town the rock drops almost to the floor. The idea was to make an interesting view. I added much detail though in these shots it's still not finished. This entire area, both sides and end of the room is all the way to the floor with a height of six to six and a half ft. Eye lever is about at the height of the main line in the background. DonDSC_0171photographerphoto #6wide last version

Wow, wow, wow! Clearly a labor of love. Very nicely done, Mr. Rail  !

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