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new light on a 4'x8'

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new light on a 4'x8'
Posted by cahrn on Monday, May 12, 2008 11:31 PM

 

I currently have a 4'x8' train table, which resides in my garage. Over the summer, I am looking to do some renovation, as faulty wireing and trackwork have destroyed any operating potential. I have already removed most of the track, but the ballast and some of the scenery remains. This was a set of concentric ovals, with a small passing track. All of the sidings and spur tracks were in the middle of the table, which was a major headache, as I could only fit about about 10 cars in total on these short tracks. The tight radius of the inner oval rendered my large road engines effectively useless. I have several switcher models (HO scale), but my preference in motive power is definately the larger four and six axel road switchers/road engines.

Essentially I am posing the following question: What can anyone suggest that  will help refresh my view on the 'standard' 4'x8' train table that will provide a nice place to display my trains, and stand alone as a viable source of operation. I would like to mention that in the future, when I have more open space, I would like to have the prospect of expanding my layout, and perhaps including this 4'x8' segment in some way. 

While I am not asking for a specific track plan, I was wondering what elements you think would be wise to include. 

 

I thank you in advance for any time spent pondering my question.  

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Posted by loathar on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 12:38 AM
Have you looked on the Atlas site? They have a bunch of layout plans on there. Some pretty good 4x8 variations.
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Posted by fredswain on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 1:23 AM

An idea I have played around with (in my head) was to take a 4X8 sheet and cut it into equal 1/4's. The build a setup to be modular so that they can be rearranged into different configurations such as train shows or if space becomes available later on. The idea though was to have them assemble back into the original 4X8 configuration and have everything still line up as it was never cut apart. Creative use of scenery breaks such as tunnels, mountains, buildings, bridges, etc could be employed to mask the ends of each piece. I wasn't necessarily considering configuring the track to any particular outside standard other than it all fits together as I want it to.

If you use scenic dividers, you can really expand on this idea for the future. Let's say the layout stays together assembled as the 4X8 set. It appears to be one large scene. You could easily create a backdrop that merely screws onto the back of each section to make it it's own individual scene independent of the others. I had though about wiring each block to a simple generic wiring harness that just plugs into the next one. If each section had the same wiring harness they'd all be interchangeable in any order. The issue that would arise would be how to deal with switches and signaling if you decided to get that detailed. If you did, I'm sure you'd think of something.

Just an idea. It's the traditional 4X8 that can also be a shelf style system later on.

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Posted by markpierce on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 1:51 AM
My advice is to forget the 4x8. Go for a shelf layout, perhaps along one, two, or three, or best of all, four walls, even if you have to crawl under the layout to enter the room. (Think outside of your 4x8 box.)

Mark
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Posted by ChrisNH on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 8:04 AM

If you need to stay with the 4x8, try putting a scenic divider down the middle to make two distinct scenes and hide one end of the oval. This will make it appear to be a single stretch of track connecting two areas..

Alternatively, you could set up one side of the oval to be staging feeding trains to a scene on the other side.. 

Chris

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Posted by Midnight Railroader on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 9:22 AM
 ChrisNH wrote:

If you need to stay with the 4x8,

No one "needs" to stay with a 4x8. To argue that "all you have is four feet by eight feet of room" makes no sense.

 1. If lumber came only in sheets of 3x7 or 5x9, people would suddenly only have room for one of those.

2. If all you have is 4 x 8 feet, then you'd better be able to fly, because there will be no room for you to operate or even build the layout--you take up floor space, too. So you DO have more than 4x8 feet available.

The alternative is NOT to build shelves on the walls; a standalone layout that does not just happen to be 4 feet by 8 feet will work much better.

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Posted by ChrisNH on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 9:41 AM

Given the original poster said they already had a 4x8 train table, I was considering that they may want to keep the existing table.

There are times when an island layout is the best choice although I agree one wants to explore all other options. At least, at 4' wide, you are keeping a 2' reach in from each side.

Chris 

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 10:09 AM

Hi,

Look at the 4 x 8 layout is in the design contests. There are some good creative ideas in there.

Also look at the 2 x 8 shelf alyouts, as you could possibly combine two of them in a 4 x 8.

http://www.chipengelmann.com/trains/Layouts.html 


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Posted by cahrn on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 12:09 PM
At the moment I cannot use any more space than my current 4x8 table occupies. Given what I have been suggested, I will likely use a scene divider on my new layout.
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Posted by fwright on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 1:37 PM

Take a look at the Heart of Georgia plan (http://www.hogrr.com/) - the same 32 sq ft arranged differently.  Takes the same space within a room, and gets rid of most of the disadvanatages of a table 4x8 you mention.  The cost is a duckunder.

my thoughts, your choices

Fred W

 

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Posted by jecorbett on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 1:49 PM

You have a real problem. Large locos and 4x8 simple don't mix well for several reasons. First of all, the maximum radius you can have is 22" and that is for the outter oval only and leaves you just 2" clearance on each side. Six axle units are going to have a problem on 22" and even if they will stay on the track, they won't look that good doing it.

The other problem is 4x8 layouts dictate short trains. Large locos look out of place pulling short trains. Whether steam or diesel, small locomotives look much more appropriate pulling trains of 10 cars or less.

This might not be what you want to hear, but that's the way it is. I would mothball the big locos until you have room for a bigger layout. Small locos will be much better for your 4x8 and can be integrated into your larger future layout.  

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Posted by gandydancer19 on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 4:31 PM

Fred has the right idea. 

If you figure that you have to leave space around your 4x8 to walk around it, then you should be able to go with the HOG (Heart of Georga) layout.  It puts the layout in the walk-around space.  It gives you wide curves for larger equipment and a longer run.  You could also make a lift bridge vs a duck-under.

Elmer.

The above is my opinion, from an active and experienced Model Railroader in N scale and HO since 1961.

(Modeling Freelance, Eastern US, HO scale, in 1962, with NCE DCC for locomotive control and a stand alone LocoNet for block detection and signals.) http://waynes-trains.com/ at home, and N scale at the Club.

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Posted by cahrn on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 5:32 PM

Although I like the idea of a 32-square foot layout that is not the 4x8 table, I already have a 4x8 table from my old layout, and it has a hanging storage space for when it is not in use. This being said, space is at a premium, so I really cannot accomadate anything other than a 4x8.

 

Regarding my choice in motive power: I currently run only switchers, and do not run any large engine, as they do not fit well with such a small layout. My hope is that in the future, I can move away from a switching type layout and use some more midsized engines. 

My new layout will utilize DCC, however I am leaning toward using manual turnouts to add another aspect to the operation.  

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Posted by HarryHotspur on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 7:33 PM
 Midnight Railroader wrote:

The alternative is NOT to build shelves on the walls; a standalone layout that does not just happen to be 4 feet by 8 feet will work much better.

So a 3 x 7 or 5 x 9 would be better?

- Harry

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Posted by cahrn on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 10:43 PM
Regarding my first post, I would like to get feedback on building a layout that is more switching/industrial oriented on this table. A loop is not even a nessecity. What kind of operating potential is available on a layout like this? Can I fit enough track to have several chores to do each session, while still having structures and scenery on a 4x8 table?
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Posted by fwright on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 11:01 PM

A 4x8 is limited in HO, no matter what.

- short trains

- sharp curves (18" radius)

- 2 "towns" with a few switching locations each, at best.  Or a twice-around or double track main with very little switching.

For some ideas of good, buildable 4x8 layouts:

Atlas HO layouts #30 and #33 (http://www.atlasrr.com/Code100web/index.htm).  #30 is a 4x6 that could stand some expansion, but has lots of switching.

Another good example is at http://www.pacificcoastairlinerr.com/4x8/.

Iain Rice's Lilliput Logger is another favorite, but it can't be built with 18" radius curves as drawn.  You either need a little more width, or tighter curves.   Also, Rice's 4x8 cockpit design is interesting (see Small and Practical Layouts by Rice), but has the runaround track on a 20" radius curve.

Model Railroader published 2 good 4x8 project layouts IMHO - Jerome and Southwestern and the Turtle Creek.  One of the NMRA regions has also had some good 4x8 and 4x6 designs. 

Finally, John Allens' first Gorre and Daphited will easily fit in 4x8, but again has less than 18" radius curves.

just some ideas

Fred W 

 

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Posted by Midnight Railroader on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 8:56 AM
 HarryHotspur wrote:
 Midnight Railroader wrote:

The alternative is NOT to build shelves on the walls; a standalone layout that does not just happen to be 4 feet by 8 feet will work much better.

So a 3 x 7 or 5 x 9 would be better?

No, what I am saying is, there are other, better, benchwork designs that take the same amount of space that don't happen to be a rectangle, as described here.

The OP describes a common misconception, that he can't go "larger than a 4x8," but unless he can levitate above it, he's already using more than 32 square feet. Why not use that same space to make a better layout?

My point in mentioning the other sizes was, I find it odd that so many homes just happen to have just enough room for a layout exactly the size of a common sheet of plywood. I suspect if plywood came in standard 5x9-foot sheets, these same homes would magically have just enough room for a 5x9 layout!

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Posted by ChrisNH on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 9:37 AM
 cahrn wrote:

Although I like the idea of a 32-square foot layout that is not the 4x8 table, I already have a 4x8 table from my old layout, and it has a hanging storage space for when it is not in use.

I think the cahrn pretty well covers it all here..

I hope you post some pics of your progress as you go along.

Chris 

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Posted by HarryHotspur on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 12:56 PM
 Midnight Railroader wrote:
 HarryHotspur wrote:
 Midnight Railroader wrote:

The alternative is NOT to build shelves on the walls; a standalone layout that does not just happen to be 4 feet by 8 feet will work much better.

So a 3 x 7 or 5 x 9 would be better?

No, what I am saying is, there are other, better, benchwork designs that take the same amount of space that don't happen to be a rectangle, as described here.

The OP describes a common misconception, that he can't go "larger than a 4x8," but unless he can levitate above it, he's already using more than 32 square feet. Why not use that same space to make a better layout?

My point in mentioning the other sizes was, I find it odd that so many homes just happen to have just enough room for a layout exactly the size of a common sheet of plywood. I suspect if plywood came in standard 5x9-foot sheets, these same homes would magically have just enough room for a 5x9 layout!

Gotcha. Makes sense. 

- Harry

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Posted by hotrak on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 10:15 PM

The Gateway NMRA in St. Louis has some "project" layouts that are HO and 4x8 or smaller.  They are well done and look interesting. Lots of ideas and construction details.

http://www.gatewaynmra.org/project.htm

Thanks,

Rob
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Posted by rolleiman on Thursday, May 15, 2008 12:17 AM

 cahrn wrote:
Regarding my first post, I would like to get feedback on building a layout that is more switching/industrial oriented on this table. A loop is not even a nessecity. What kind of operating potential is available on a layout like this? Can I fit enough track to have several chores to do each session, while still having structures and scenery on a 4x8 table?

In respect to all those who keep trying to tell you that you cannot run large locomotives on a 4x8, and all the rest of the well intentioned advice, the answer to your question is Yes.  

Several options can be had. You've already accepted that your space is limited to that of a 4x8 table. I assume this has to be somewhat portable for storage? Further, that long trains sweeping around a mainline aren't likely to happen (in anything larger than N scale). Given that...

2 industrial areas on each side of the table, perhaps seperated by a divider (terrain, backdrop, large factory type buildings, etc). One side feeding the other and back again. One of MY favorites for this sort of thing is related to an old Timesaver design (by John Allen). His, was actually a game, in which specific parameters were set such as the constant speed of the locomotives. The opbject was to get cars moved from one end or track to another (basically) with the least number of moves (thus the shortest time).  

Have a look here

http://www.wymann.info/ShuntingPuzzles/sw-timesaver.html 

I'm not suggesting you actually build a 'puzzle' layout but this may get some ideas going for you.  

Or, Just off the top of the dome, a quickie,

I call this 3 towns on 3 levels. It is by no means refined. It IS however a 4x8 layout that'll keep one or possibly even two operators busy for awhile. It is a point to point with a grade. Two terminal ends, and a division point. I've arbitraily labeled what those could be. The basic idea is to move raw material out of whatever you decide the 'mining' area to be and carry it down to the port for shipment elsewhere by boat or barge. Then, Bring empty cars back up for a reload of goods. The Division point town could be both a supplier and receiver of goods for (or from) both of the terminal ends. Get the idea?

The port level is on the ground level. The division point is midway on the elevation and the mine is on the upper level (say at 3" elevation). The two C shaped brackets denote tunnel entrances and the single track between them is hidden. With some careful fitting you could even put a staging siding in that tunnel. The large green line simply denotes a scenic (of some sort) divider between the two sides. The turnouts are all #4 and the curves are all 18" radius. The very bottom line on the drawing is the table edge, not a track. With a very slight modification, you could even have a continuous runaround track as long as you don't get too crazy with the grade seperations. 

There are also a lot of scenic possibilities here. For instance, The upper right of the drawing where the two tracks exit the 'scenic divider'.. Those could be curved trestle bridges going over a river that flows off that corner.  

Modeling the Wabash from Detroit to Montpelier Jeff
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Posted by markpierce on Thursday, May 15, 2008 3:43 AM

It is rather sad that so many people are fixated on a 4x8 (usually HO scale) layout.  Despite its relatively large space requirement (at least 8x10, almost the size of a second bedroom) because it requires access on three sides, despite that it is only 32 square feet and severely restricts minimum radius.  There are better alternatives.  Fortunately, I won't be commenting on any more 4x8 layouts.

Mark

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Posted by Midnight Railroader on Thursday, May 15, 2008 6:48 AM
 rolleiman wrote:

In respect to all those who keep trying to tell you that you cannot run large locomotives on a 4x8, and all the rest of the well intentioned advice, the answer to your question is Yes.  

Your one word answer doesn't take into account that:

(a) It isn't true. Not all large locos will make an 18" or even 22" curve without trouble, and

(b) They look sily and toylike even if they can stay on the track.

(c) If the couplers are body-mounted, which they usually are these days, long locos can drag cars off the track when they attempt these curves.

So much for "well-intentioned" advice!

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Posted by jecorbett on Thursday, May 15, 2008 1:01 PM
 markpierce wrote:

It is rather sad that so many people are fixated on a 4x8 (usually HO scale) layout.  Despite its relatively large space requirement (at least 8x10, almost the size of a second bedroom) because it requires access on three sides, despite that it is only 32 square feet and severely restricts minimum radius.  There are better alternatives.  Fortunately, I won't be commenting on any more 4x8 layouts.

Mark

This argument comes up everytime the issue of a 4x8 layout comes up and while it is true that many people fixate on a 4x8 and also true that a 4x8 requires as much space to operate as one built along the walls, there are other factors which might dictate that a 4x8 is the best choice. Those who insist an around the room design is much better are as closed minded as those who believe 4x8 is the only way to go.

There are a number of factors that might fall on the 4x8 side of the scale. Portability is one. Even if a layout is not intended to travel, if it is on a table with casters it can easily be pushed into the corner of a room when not in use so it would only require a 4x8 footprint. It could be operated with the layout in the corner of the room and only pulled away from the corner when access is needed. There might be other reasons for not wanting to go around the walls such as doors or windows in inconvenient spaces. The modeler might not want to deal with a duck under which would be a requirement if one wanted a continuous running layout in a small room.

The original poster asked simply for suggestions for his 4x8 layout. To tell him he is wrong for wanting to go that route simply makes no sense whatsoever.  

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Posted by steinjr on Thursday, May 15, 2008 4:45 PM
 ChrisNH wrote:
 cahrn wrote:

 Although I like the idea of a 32-square foot layout that is not the 4x8 table, I already have a 4x8 table from my old layout, and it has a hanging storage space for when it is not in use.

I think the cahrn pretty well covers it all here..

 Yup. A moveable/stowable 4x8 certainly can take less storage space than a 32 square feet O-shaped layout when not in use, even though both layouts will take the same amount of space when in use.

 Chip (SpaceMouse) already posted a link to the 4x8 competition. Don't know if anyone clicked their way down to the 4x8 layouts and looked at them, but both winner "Du Bois and Punxzy" and runner-up "Loopy Bridge and Terminal" should have quite a bit of operating potensial.

 Here is the track plan for the latter:

  

  I simulated a possible operating session of the latter layout here.

 Course - if you have fairly limited space, and you have the option of putting up relatively narrow shelves high up on the walls, so you can use the space under for other things, a point to point 18" deep shelf layout high up on a wall (above e.g. storage cabinets or whatever) might be an even better option than a 4x8. 

 Here is a layout that takes 7x2 feet of storage space (ie 14 square feet) up on a wall, with a roughly three foot x 6" drop leaf for a lead track off one end - it certainly occupies less wall area than a stored 4x8 hanging flat on the wall, so it should be possible to use the space under the layout for e.g. storage. 

 

 An extended version of this layout: 

  

 Main part is 10.3 feet by 2 feet, with a 4.3 feet x 8" shelf on one end, and a triangle shaped extension 34" wide and 24" high at the other end - 2.8 square feet - total 26.1 square feet - a little smaller than the 32 square feet a 4x8 occupies, but with considerable more room for operations and scenery.

 Bringing it up to a size of about 32 square feet, give or take a little: 

 

  Many options. But if original poster wants 4x8, then 4x8 it is. Please let us see what you end up designing and building!

 Smile,
 Stein

 

 

 

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Posted by cahrn on Thursday, May 15, 2008 7:13 PM
In theory I could go larger than 4x8, but the reason I was rather picky about having a 4x8 layout is that I have an existing 4x8 layout table, and I do not want to have to construct new benchwork for my new layout. My goal in the future is to have an around the walls, or shelf type layout, as that looks appealing to me.
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Posted by cahrn on Thursday, May 15, 2008 7:20 PM
Rolleiman: The image you posted is very interesting and I think I'll try to include parts of it in my upcoming layout.

I'm not suggesting you actually build a 'puzzle' layout but this may get some ideas going for you.  

Or, Just off the top of the dome, a quickie,

 

The table is portable, as well, and when not in use, it can be transported into another room and hung from the ceiling from a block and tackle type devive. All of the buildings and large scenery must be removed (ex: mountains)  beforehand, so that will be included in the construction.

 

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Posted by rolleiman on Thursday, May 15, 2008 11:45 PM
 Midnight Railroader wrote:
 rolleiman wrote:

In respect to all those who keep trying to tell you that you cannot run large locomotives on a 4x8, and all the rest of the well intentioned advice, the answer to your question is Yes.  

Your one word answer doesn't take into account that:

(a) It isn't true. Not all large locos will make an 18" or even 22" curve without trouble, and

(b) They look sily and toylike even if they can stay on the track.

(c) If the couplers are body-mounted, which they usually are these days, long locos can drag cars off the track when they attempt these curves.

So much for "well-intentioned" advice!

The OP does state that he is NOT running Large Locos. He Further states that he is more intertested, currently, in sticking with his 4x8 table. So in the case of This discussion, your ABC points are, Pointless. 

Modeling the Wabash from Detroit to Montpelier Jeff
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Posted by rolleiman on Thursday, May 15, 2008 11:50 PM

 cahrn wrote:
Rolleiman: The image you posted is very interesting and I think I'll try to include parts of it in my upcoming layout.

The table is portable, as well, and when not in use, it can be transported into another room and hung from the ceiling from a block and tackle type devive. All of the buildings and large scenery must be removed (ex: mountains)  beforehand, so that will be included in the construction. 

cahrn,  Show us some photos when you get going. Always interesting to see layout progress photos of the folks here.

Modeling the Wabash from Detroit to Montpelier Jeff
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Posted by Midnight Railroader on Friday, May 16, 2008 7:22 AM
 jecorbett wrote:

The original poster asked simply for suggestions for his 4x8 layout. To tell him he is wrong for wanting to go that route simply makes no sense whatsoever.  

What is wrong with offering alternatives and explaining why they might suit him better?

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