I'm looking for some opinions and advice on this layout design. I've attached the SCARM file and also a sketch of the space I have to work with. I'll be using Gargraves 3R phantom track. This layout will also include Legacy and DCS with Wifi capability. I'm not yet a pro with SCARM so I had some difficulty designing the lower level which is highlighted with red track. I know these types of topics are difficult because its a matter of personal preference but I would really appreciate any feedback before I spend the money on turnouts and curves. I'm not big on operating accessories so this layout was going to be more small rural areas, mountains, tunnels. I did want to include some industry like logging, mining, freight loading and unloading, maybe small passenger stations. I feel that with this design I may struggle to find places for them? I also haven't picked a good spot for some type of shelf or control panel to place the transformers and remotes. Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks  


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Original Post

Initial comment:  If it's truly drawn the way you intended, there would need to be a very dramatic slope for those 2 return loops at the top left.

As shown, the grey track needs to go from above the red track to under it in a space only roughly the diameter of the curve.  Actually it's worse than that now that I look again.  You go from below to above to below, all in that small area.

That seems way too steep.

Unless you did that accidentally, and intended one reverse loop to be entirely above the other?

{edit:now that I re-read your description, I guess it was an error with the software.  You did say the red was supposed to all be below, my bad for typing before I re-read that part.  That might be OK since you have that really long run from the switch on the top right to transition to a lower level.}


Took the liberty of rotating the layout 90° for a larger view in SCARM on my laptop. I added a baseboard based on the dimensions in the photo and hope I got them right. As you can see I'm a fan of color-coding, so the blue tracks are the mail level at 0" elevation, the gold are the upper level at 8" elevation and the purple are the grade, which is 3.7%.

A lot of sections were "off kilter", so I straightened everything by either using cut sectional curves or adding flex curves after the straight sections were added. I think I kept all the flex curves O-54 or larger, but I suggest you cut sectional curves rather than bend flex for easier installation. In most cases, a half section of O-54 is needed to make a smooth curve and it's a lot easier to cut a full section in half than to bend a relatively short piece of flex.

Because you used flex, there was an "S" curve in the blue loop above the storage tracks, so I reworked that, though now the aisle by the upper 2'4" wall *or whatever that is) may be too narrow. If those 2'4" sections are walls, I assume you plan to tunnel through the upper one.

NOTE: Edited the elevations and added a 3D image.

 GG track plan daz

GG track plan daz3d

Cheers, Dave

USAF E-9 (Ret) Aim High!


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So the one thing that jumps out at me is access and reach.  The yard turnouts are all tucked in a corner that doesn't appear to be accessible without climbing onto or crawling under the layout.   Speaking from experience reach will be an issue.  Your return loops all are way too far from what would be the aisle and that will be problematic during construction and afterwards.  

The other thing that I wonder about once you are framed is the stacked track on the long wall.  What is the intended outcome here?  This will be difficult to provide any scenic interest unless you intend this to be more of a toy like tubular layout.  If your stated desire is to have tunnels and mountains there will be a great deal of hidden track, the entire blue line on the long wall will be not in view.  

Thank you Dave for straightening out my original design. I'm still learning SCARM and had trouble lining things up and transitioning levels. This room is a finished room in the back of my garage. The small walls in the middle I assume are hiding the roof supports. I did not cut the drywall out but I did probe with a screw driver and I should not have an issue tunneling through it. 

Taking NECRAILS comments into account, I did worry about reaching the yard section in case of trouble but I thought I could just deal with it if and when I needed to. I'm not so sure now. Using Dave's rendition for location, what about adding turnouts to the blue loop on the right and moving the yard in between there? I could then push the loops on the lower left closer to the wall? Or it may free up space to change the design on that side? Thank you all again for the help. 

New layout looks to be more functional.  You have a decent size room, one I hope to have in my next location.  One of the most efficient uses of space I have learned is an around the walls layout with a peninsula.  You will need a duck under or lift bridge but this brings everything within arms reach.  I will try to find an example from the other train magazine from back in 2010.  That room size was 12 x 12 but the plan can be stretched and you can fill in the blanks.  Hopefully Ken O scale will chime in on this thread, he is the master of layout design on this forum.

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