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Ideas for Easy to Transport Layout Designs

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  • Member since
    March, 2017
  • 2 posts
Ideas for Easy to Transport Layout Designs
Posted by wmmike on Thursday, March 09, 2017 12:10 PM

I want to build an HO layout but I have limited space. My options are...

  • Building a small 4 by 6 layout based off the Eagle Mountain RR layout track plan, but instead modeling the B&O or WM coal branches in West Virginia in the mid 60's, so power would be four axles (GP7's, 9's and F units) pulling coal hoppers. Leaning more toward this one. How could I build the bench work that it could be removed and the layout slid away under my bed or something? 
  • The other option is building a 10 by 12 modular layout built mostly from 2 by 4 modules modeling a small portion the Santa Fe Chillicothe Sub in 1995. I would be running mostly high speed freights and intermodal trains behind 6 axles for the most part, so I want the minimum radius to be 30 inches or more if possible. I like this one because I love this era of the Santa Fe in this part of the country and the size is okay as well. This layout would have be easy to assemble and dissamble and would have to keep most of the scenery on the layout when in storage. I want it to fit it into a 2-3 storage bins that can be easily moved around in peices to get it out of the way. Perhaps "legs" could be fold chairs the tables lay on? 

looking for any information or ideas anyone would like to share. 


Thanks in advance,


  • Member since
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  • From: Fullerton, California
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Posted by hornblower on Thursday, March 09, 2017 4:41 PM

I have tried various versions of hide-away or out-of-the-way layouts and quickly lost interest in every single one of them.  If you want to operate/work on your layout but have to perform some sort of set-up prior to and tear-down following every modeling session, the layout will quickly become less and less entertaining.  This was even true for a layout I suspended from the ceiling of an occupied bedroom.  The fact that I would first have to move at least a chair plus anything else sitting on the floor under the layout, then insert removable legs before using an electric winch to lower the layout to the floor (this was the easy part but it took time), then reverse the whole procedure when finished meant that I worked on the layout less and less.

Thus, I would recommend the modular approach.  Even if your layout space can only fit one module at a time, the fact that a module is always ready and waiting means that you will more frequently operate it or work on it.  If you build modules to a specific standard, the modules will not only travel well but can be connected to other modules of the same standard once you reach your destination.


  • Member since
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Posted by 7j43k on Thursday, March 09, 2017 5:04 PM

You might consider building your modules to Free-mo standards:

You can then take part or all of your easily transported modules to join up with others.



  • Member since
    September, 2007
  • From: Charlotte, NC
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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Thursday, March 09, 2017 6:45 PM



Count another vote for standard modules.


Lackawanna Route of the Phoebe Snow

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Posted by ACY Tom on Friday, March 10, 2017 9:49 AM

If it were my project (and it's not), I think I'd go for the larger 10x12 layout, made with standard modules about 2x6 and/or 2x4 feet. However, I'm not so sure about putting a high speed, high capacity railroad in that space. It could probably be done, but I think the coal branch would be a better theme for the space. 

If you go for the 4x6, I recommend the old tried and true Tidewater Central plan from 1956. The scenery would be changed from the original to suit your needs, and some of the spurs could be relocated as needed. 


  • Member since
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  • From: Massachusetts
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Posted by Bundy74 on Friday, March 10, 2017 10:14 AM

I'll also recommend the Free-Mo route.  If you eventually get a home layout, you can build it so the module(s) can be removable to take to a show.

Modeling whatever I can make out of that stash of kits that takes up half my apartment's spare bedroom.

  • Member since
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  • 2 posts
Posted by wmmike on Friday, March 10, 2017 1:18 PM

Thanks for the replies so far. The modular approach seems like the better idea. When I get home, I will do measure the room. I think it may be a foot or two bigger. Maybe, just maybe, if the room is wider, I could build a peninsula in the center. Of course, that would only be if the radius could be permitted to be at least 27". 

I'll draw up a plan before the evening is over. 




  • Member since
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  • From: California
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Posted by DSchmitt on Friday, March 10, 2017 2:45 PM

f it were my project (and it's not), I think I'd go for the larger 10x12 layout, made with standard modules about 2x6 and/or 2x4 feet.

I agree with others that modular/sectional is a good way to go. Even if one is not in a group and does not adhere to any group standards.  Modular groups usually specify 2x4 and 2x6 standard.  I have not been involved in a modular group for many years, but in my time built both sizes.  I think 2x4 can be sunwhat limiting and as I got older found 2x6 to be hard to transport (mainly because of weight)  I have thought that 2x5 might be a good compromise, but have never built any that size. I did design a 20' layout to NTrak standards (four 5' sections) representing a specific location.  It looks good on paper.

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

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  • From: somerset, nj
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Posted by gregc on Friday, March 10, 2017 3:59 PM


greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by 7j43k on Friday, March 10, 2017 7:09 PM

Generally, for Free-mo, the ends of the module have to be 2 feet wide and single centered track (26" for double track).  What you do elsewhere is up to you:  length, width, curve/straight etc.

I have two modules that are 22 degree curves.  They're 6' long overall.

The next module I'm planning will be straight and 22 feet long (in four sub-modules).


There's a lot of flexibility with Free-mo design.  I've seen big old yards, turn around loops, and double track wyes.  And 2' x 4', too.



  • Member since
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  • From: Just south of the drift ice barrier
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Posted by Sir Madog on Saturday, March 11, 2017 1:12 AM

Unless you plan to link up your modules with others at a Free-mo meet, following their standards may limit your options in terms of track plan design.

If you don´t need this interchangeability, just plan and build your layout in sections instead of standardized modules.


People of my age don´t tan, they simply rust!

  • Member since
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  • 34 posts
Posted by Canalligators on Thursday, March 16, 2017 2:07 PM

I've built an HO slide-under-bed road on a 4x6, a 4x8 HO road on a table with folding legs, and an N 30"x40" in box construction for transporting.  The under-bed was just enough trouble to pull out that my nephew didn't use it often.  The table layout was a rousing success.  The N went to Cub Scout meetings with me, so that worked out OK - a bit heavy but movable.  Now that I'm not transporting it any more, we've mounted it on a frame and bolted on another section, to make it semi-permanent.  "We" being my grandson and I.

Genesee Terminal, freelanced HO in Upstate NY Loon Bay Transit Authority

CP/D&H, N scale somewhere on the Canadian Shield

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