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New basement layout design help

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  • Member since
    January, 2016
  • 131 posts
New basement layout design help
Posted by SpartanCook on Wednesday, November 07, 2018 9:48 PM

Hello all, it’s been almost a year since I have posted on here. In that time I have torn down and sold my HO collection that was in my 15x8 mechanical room and started buying n scale Alaska trains for my new 19x14 train room in a house we had built. I wanted to run by an initial layout sketch I made up today to see if you all think I can accomplish what I think I may be able to accomplish in this space.

So this is what I am looking to get out of this layout. This will be a free lanced Alaska themed layout, where the CN/CP interchange in anchorage from a canadian-Alaskan rail link. Below is a list of goals

-n scale

-20” min curves

-long yard capable of 30-40 car trains

-an intermodal yard

-a coal mine

-a large deep ravine bridge scene 

-mountain scene through turnagain arm

-small city section in anchorage

-a few switching industries in Seward, Whittier and anchorage

-long trains, with both continuous running and switChing 


here is my initial attempt, looking mainly on shape of benchwork and if the elements can fit And if there is another benchwork design you think would work better in the space.


  • Member since
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  • From: Vancouver Island, BC
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Posted by selector on Thursday, November 08, 2018 2:15 AM

I like that.  There are many opportunities to break off the main to a siding or spur to service industries or interchanges.  I think you'll enjoy this, provided you make it interesting and all the points don't face the same way to diverging industrial tracks.

  • Member since
    September, 2018
  • 34 posts
Posted by agrasyuk on Thursday, November 08, 2018 11:16 AM

Looks like eficient use of space to me. ,  like the single alley instead of a maze passages between the benches. 

Track plan wise , the vertical line on the right wall, to me it looks like "emergency" behind the scenes shortcut to the yard. Perhaps alreasy in progress but  Seward should probably be more of a "endpoint" destination with return loop hidden .

Waiting to see more



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  • From: Southern California
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Posted by Lone Wolf and Santa Fe on Thursday, November 08, 2018 12:03 PM

I like it. The only suggestion I would make is that if the layout height is high enough that you could do without the dividers on the peninsulas and have tall mountains there instead as a view block.

Modeling a fictional version of California set in the 1990s Lone Wolf and Santa Fe Railroad
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Posted by kasskaboose on Thursday, November 08, 2018 1:03 PM

Nice layout with a lot of options.  Why not have a point-to-point setup can convey that the train moves beyond the layout?  You might consider that instead of two circles at the ends.  Just a thought.

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Posted by PED on Thursday, November 08, 2018 4:03 PM

Concept looks very workable. Your drawing appears to have some curves that are tighter than your 20" minimum. A free hand drawing can be a trap and sucker you into track arangements that you will not like. Suggest you get one of the free track laying programs and verify everything fits like you expect. That includes some edge margin for tracks close to walkway. An alternate approach is one I used many years ago. I covered the floor with cardboard then drew out my track on it to verify everything fits OK. Also lets you draw in some of the industry and make sure they fit OK.


Washita and Santa Fe Railroad
Circa 1970's in south central Oklahoma

  • Member since
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  • From: Reading, PA
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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, November 08, 2018 4:35 PM

 That is definitely not a freehand drawing, that's from a graphics or CAD program of some sort. I was looking, I don;t see anything that comes in under 20" radius - the tightest loops seem to be the ones at the ends, and I count 7-9 squares which appear to be 6" each, so 42"-54" diameter, 21" radius or better. 



Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's


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  • 131 posts
Posted by SpartanCook on Thursday, November 08, 2018 8:57 PM

This is indeed a track planning program, I am using anyrail currently put only have the trial version as i havent needed to plan this big of a layout before. 

I think you all have brought up a good point and this layout would benefit most in layout from a point to point setup. The curves take up a lot of room on the dogbones. I will work up some ideas for a point to point tonight. I have some good ideas and hopefully i can get them on here. 

PED i like your idea of drawing on the floor, currently i have painters tape laid out on the floor. I will probably draw it all out on the floor because i plan to paint the concrete floor as i finish the room. This room is the one unfinished room in the basement so i need to still frame, install lighting, drywall and put in a drop ceiling. Working on the layout design right now is strictly to lay out the benchwork so i know where i will need to install lighting.

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Posted by SpartanCook on Thursday, November 08, 2018 11:07 PM

Well I wasnt able to get more than turnagain arm done and whittier when looking at a more point to point layout. I was able to now Wye into the whittier peninsula and have a very realistic looking layout of the harbor and yard areas. (No good place as of now to place the passenger station tent yet)

The yard is not currently functional but just there as a placeholder for amount of track on how it will look. I need to figure out how to make it funcitonal in about 5 ft. 

Should be able to have the harbor area sceniced and buildings on the other side of whittier st.

I will have to make sure i can access the wye tracks from underneath.

I had to make some adjustments to the first benchwork design. I increased the length of the peninsula to 9' from 8.5' to fit more intermodal. The aisle by the yard will only be 2' now. Not too bad as i plan to operate solo. Although this peninsula only ended up being 3' wide down from 3'6" so i will be able to add some space between the peninsulas.

I would appreciate any thoughts on this arrangement and how it may be improved. 


  • Member since
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  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
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Posted by cuyama on Friday, November 09, 2018 12:24 AM

A long spiral peninsula "G" with only two turnback curves ("blobs") is often an optimal approach. A point-to-point schematic can usually be overlaid on this with a hidden or visually de-emphasized continuous-run still an option.

Good luck with your layout.

  • Member since
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  • From: somerset, nj
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Posted by gregc on Friday, November 09, 2018 5:50 AM

the track traces a path near the edge of the benchwork around both pennisulas.

have you considered having the track from the top right corner cross over to the lower side of the pennisula (larger radii) and then looping over itself away toward the 2nd pennisula

or ... having the track from the upper right corner crossing across the upper pennisula to the lower pennisula, returning to the upper pennisula before reaching Seward.

these approaches would allow wider radius curves, extend the length of the mainline, incorporate the use of tunnels and overpasses, ...

avoiding the curve from the lower half of the lower pennisula, instead coming from the upper half of the pennisula, Steward could also become more of an endpoint with lengths of straight track, extending from the lower loopback to the upper half of the lower pennisula. 

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by SpartanCook on Monday, November 12, 2018 10:56 PM


And everyone else for that matter. Thanks for the feedback so far it has been very helpful to try to think through this. I put the long spiral G penisula down on any rail and i think its going to work well. I am just trying to figure out how to overlay a pt to pt where it makes sense for a progression on anchorage-Scenic Stretch - Whittier-Scenic Stetch-Seward. 

One thing i really love about this is i can place the hurricane gultch bridge on the peninsula and get the space for a long 3' bridge and not have to make it double track to complete both sides of the loop like the exterior walls.

Here is a rough 15 min mock up to see what could fit, and what the bechwork would look like. Curves definitely wont be a problem to have 22"+ Radius

  • Member since
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  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
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Posted by cuyama on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 10:06 AM

The single spiral peninsula should give you more flexibility in choosing scenes, good approach. Note that benchwork edges can curve in and out, allowing narrower benchwork between major elements and reducing the amount of layout to eventually scenic. 

And the sides of the backdrop on the peninsula can likewise curve, allowing you to emphasize major scenes and reduce the depth of the scene elsewhere. Modulating benchwork and scene depth is a good way to open aisles, focus attention, and free up your resources (money and time) for the more important elements.

Good luck with your layout.

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