Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

What can you do with 150 square feet ?

1719 views
31 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    April 2018
  • 59 posts
What can you do with 150 square feet ?
Posted by Outsailing86 on Thursday, October 17, 2019 9:10 AM

hi all, HO scale modeler with a 10’ x 15’ rectangular space in an open basement. Looking to model Chicago area suburbs in Modern era. Looking for some help from layout designers... 

Prefer at least an accommodation for loop running (traverser ok). Not looking for an L shape layout. Want some sort of swing down gate for visitors. 

Modern Era with Passenger Station stop or multiple stops (can be Chicago Metra, Amtrak, or both) 

One or two local switching industries, plus a transfer junction. Want to model the freight in the hole waiting for traffic to clear. 

Too much HO scale equipment to change to N Scale

Layout will be freestanding in an unfinished basement, so Multi level probably won’t work. 

I‘ve been kicking around a couple BNSF racetrack plans but the triple track always gets big. 

 

 

  • Member since
    November 2013
  • 853 posts
Posted by snjroy on Thursday, October 17, 2019 9:22 AM

Hi there. Are there any walls in that space?

Simon

 

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
  • 4,086 posts
Posted by cuyama on Thursday, October 17, 2019 9:35 AM

Back when you first posted on this idea, I suggested a published plan of mine from MRP as possible inspiration. While it's too large as-is, the twice-around and shared freight and commuter traffic themes might be useful.

cuyama
I used a twice-around design for a model of the C&NW Chicago commute in Model Railroad Planning 2014 that might offer some ideas. But it’s in a larger space and for an earlier era, so not directly applicable. It included a freight yard and some freight switching.

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/11/t/270172.aspx

I thought that you made an interesting start with a rough plan that you (at least, I think it was you) posted on the Layout Design SIG's Facebook Group in April. It might be worthwhile to post those plans here to help jumpstart discussion, along with what you like and don't like about them.

Good luck with your layout.

Byron

 

  • Member since
    April 2018
  • From: 53° 33′ N, 10° 0′ E
  • 1,474 posts
Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Thursday, October 17, 2019 9:39 AM

snjroy

Hi there. Are there any walls in that space?

Simon

 

 

The OP said freestanding!

10 by 15 ft. is a nice space for a modest, but nice HO scale layout. I find Scott Perry´s Heart of Georgia layout an interesting base. It offers plenty of operation possibilities, especially when you manage to integrate some staging.

http://hogrr.blogspot.com/

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

"You´re never too old for a happy childhood!"

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
  • 4,086 posts
Posted by cuyama on Thursday, October 17, 2019 9:43 AM

Outsailing86
10’ x 15’ rectangular space in an open basement

As others have posted, it would help others help you to know if that area is bounded by walls or if there is a possibility for aisles outside of that space. It also helps to know where the entrance(s) will be.

  • Member since
    April 2018
  • 59 posts
Posted by Outsailing86 on Thursday, October 17, 2019 9:52 AM

It’s in the basement,  an open space. The floor area is 15’ x 20’ with windows on both sides of the one corner. The basement is unfinished. Layout entrance could be on either the 10’ or 15’ side.  

My current layout is based on the Heart of Georgia, but I really don’t like the duckunder or the narrow shelves. I have a yard with an automotive plant, but the one siding I didn’t make the clearance enough and found you can’t shove autoracks in a 24” radius curve. 

As far as my other plan I made, I made the curves too tight of radius, especially in the yard. I used 2” offsets. I also didn’t like the Metra having to go across crossovers to the siding to tie up in the suburban commuter terminal. 

  • Member since
    June 2007
  • From: Grew up in Calif, left in 84, now in Virginia
  • 7,011 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, October 17, 2019 10:22 AM

Is there any reason you can't use the full 15x20' space and have a lift out bridge.  Around the walls will give you a good sized layout and there is room for a lobe in the middle that can support 30 inch radius curves.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

  • Member since
    February 2005
  • 610 posts
Posted by davidmurray on Thursday, October 17, 2019 10:34 AM

Is there a reason to not insulate and finish the area?  This would open up many possibilities, and make the space much nicer.

Dave

 

David Murray from Oshawa, Ontario Canada
  • Member since
    January 2009
  • 4,160 posts
Posted by RR_Mel on Thursday, October 17, 2019 10:34 AM

My layout is 14’ x 10’ free standing on casters in our two car garage.  It is a rural area 1950s era with mountains.  You can put a lot in a small space with a little planning.
 
My layout is an HO scale twice-around with a 3% grade, a 30” radius helix and a double crossover.
 
 
Total mainline track is 120’ with a small yard, turntable, roundhouse, diesel maintenance building and a passenger station.  The smallest mainline radius is 28” with #6 mainline turnouts and #4 yard turnouts.
 
 
Mel
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
  • Member since
    April 2018
  • 59 posts
Posted by Outsailing86 on Thursday, October 17, 2019 10:42 AM

It’s insulated. In the winter it isn't too cold down there. I’ve got overheard lighting that keeps it pretty bright, and I use rubber gym mat flooring for the feet. 

Property taxes will go up significantly if I finish the basement, or if I do it myself without permits I’d have to rip it out when we move. Plus there’s the cost of finishing a 900 sq foot basement. 

  • Member since
    April 2018
  • 59 posts
Posted by Outsailing86 on Thursday, October 17, 2019 10:44 AM

Nope, that option would be available, except the layout would be built on legs with a backdrop, not mounted to the walls.

  • Member since
    November 2013
  • 853 posts
Posted by snjroy on Thursday, October 17, 2019 10:50 AM

One thing to consider is working space. From what I understand, the layout will basically take all the 15X20 space if the layout is entirely freestanding. That leaves little room for work space. Is there another room in the basement for that?... Another option would be to finish the walls, as suggested, and to connect the layout to one of the walls to save space on one side for a small work desk.

Simon

  • Member since
    April 2018
  • 59 posts
Posted by Outsailing86 on Thursday, October 17, 2019 11:08 AM

The rest of the basement is available for assembling. My workbench and tools are in the garage. 

Layout size is somewhat self inflicte. There’s no way my wife would be happy with a full basement layout. 

  • Member since
    July 2009
  • From: somerset, nj
  • 2,676 posts
Posted by gregc on Thursday, October 17, 2019 11:56 AM

you might consider making it high enough so that you can sit in a chair with wheels to work underneath the bench.

and if it's high enough, you can probably fit a workbench (on wheels) under it, if that gives you more layout space in the basement.

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

  • Member since
    February 2008
  • 1,271 posts
Posted by kasskaboose on Thursday, October 17, 2019 12:07 PM

Might I suggest avoiding the duck-under.  I had tha on my 1st layout and realized how much I despised it once I build the second (current one).  Much better with a more open arrangmenet b/c people can walk right up to the layout.

  • Member since
    April 2018
  • 59 posts
Posted by Outsailing86 on Thursday, October 17, 2019 12:39 PM

I’d like to avoid a duck under. I’m ok with building a swing down gate. 

Layout height would be around 50” (building legs out of 1x4x8’ ) and I’m 6’1” 

  • Member since
    November 2015
  • 48 posts
Posted by ROCK MILW on Thursday, October 17, 2019 1:07 PM

My Rock Island-themed layout is 12.5 ft x 11.5 ft and has a double-track main, some staging, a yard and yard lead/passing siding, and a fully functional signal system: https://goo.gl/photos/3JVZWi6NgCkk9GNbA

I like your Chicago racetrack idea.  I've thought about creating a triple-track CNW suburban layout with Wheaton as the focus (my grandparents lived there).  The triple track would circumnavigate the area (with a lift gate), and a track would descend to lower-level staging that would extend around the area except at the location of the lift gate.

The staging would hold the commuter trains and freights that you'd be navigating around the layout from your CTC panel.  The signaling would be really fun to do and control.  Now that the UP has put some lineside signals on the former CNW, you could do this layout/signaling for either the BNSF or UP.  The rush-hour traffic would be fun.  This would be more of a dispatcher-focused layout, which is where my interests lie, but you could change it up with sidings for more switching.

Also, Byron Henderson's CNW design is really cool.  I study that one pretty often.  It's a great combination of city, yard and suburbs in a smaller space.  Really creative.

The John Armstrong 'Harper's Ferry Vignette' article/layout from his book 'The Classic Layout Designs of John Armstrong' (Kalmbach, 2001) may give you some ideas on how to create a nice layout in a smaller space.

 

 

 

  • Member since
    November 2013
  • 853 posts
Posted by snjroy on Thursday, October 17, 2019 1:52 PM

Yes, I installed a hinged liftout on mine and never regretted it.

I think that the key for a layout with modern equpiment is to keep things simple, wide and long...  Complicated layouts don't work well with long modern trains. I would do two parallel tracks, with space on one of the longer sides to store some cars for some staging. A switching site could be placed on the opposite side of the doughnut.

Simon

  • Member since
    April 2018
  • 59 posts
Posted by Outsailing86 on Thursday, October 17, 2019 2:13 PM

That’s what I’m thinking. Triple track oval race track with a transloading facility and station on the 15’ side. Add crossovers on the 10’ sides, and a traverser on the other side to hold trains. 

But to model a single town vs multiple towns is my question 

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
  • 4,086 posts
Posted by cuyama on Thursday, October 17, 2019 2:37 PM

Consider running the mainline twice-around with an elevation difference between the passes. It makes a gate more complicated, but not by a lot. And this creates more locations for towns/commuter stops (as on my published plan).

In building a donut-style layout, many folks miss the opportunity to use all three sides of the benchwork: Inside, Outside, and "Backside" (against the wall) for staging. This might work for you if you wish to keep an aisle along one side.

Here's a not-to-scale sketch. The duckunder could be a gate.

  • Member since
    April 2018
  • 59 posts
Posted by Outsailing86 on Thursday, October 17, 2019 4:00 PM

Neat idea! But I see this layout being operated by myself, so going inside for a branch line seems a little bit of a stretch. im thinking about the MR Crystal Lake plan, but I’m struggling with how to make it modern. 

  • Member since
    April 2018
  • 59 posts
Posted by Outsailing86 on Thursday, October 17, 2019 4:26 PM

How much more can you do with N scale? Assuming two locomotives in N is an HO scale engine, a 6 car HO train turns into a 12 car N scale with two diesels.

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Central Vermont
  • 4,165 posts
Posted by cowman on Thursday, October 17, 2019 4:27 PM

My thoughts on a swing down gate.  It means the scenery on the gate is subject to damage when you walk through.  I am planning for a tip up type gate to avoid such a problem.

Good luck,

Richard

  • Member since
    November 2013
  • 853 posts
Posted by snjroy on Thursday, October 17, 2019 5:08 PM

Outsailing86

That’s what I’m thinking. Triple track oval race track with a transloading facility and station on the 15’ side. Add crossovers on the 10’ sides, and a traverser on the other side to hold trains. 

But to model a single town vs multiple towns is my question 

 

There could be room for a town on one of the 10' sides, and another across, on the other side. One could be more downtownish, and the other more like a suburb or a mountain with expensive housing.

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: In the heart of Georgia
  • 3,286 posts
Posted by Doughless on Thursday, October 17, 2019 6:52 PM

Outsailing86

That’s what I’m thinking. Triple track oval race track with a transloading facility and station on the 15’ side. Add crossovers on the 10’ sides, and a traverser on the other side to hold trains. 

But to model a single town vs multiple towns is my question 

 

Probably just one town if an entire 15 foot side is going to be used for staging. You could have some different neighborhoods on each ten foot side.

How would this traverser work?  How many trains do you need, and why wouldn't a simple stubb ended staging yard not be sufficient?

- Douglas

  • Member since
    April 2018
  • 59 posts
Posted by Outsailing86 on Friday, October 18, 2019 8:31 AM

The traverser works like putting the trains on a drawer, and moving it to align the tracks so the train would come off without loosing the space of the switch ladders. 

On the 10’ sides, I figure the straight section would only be 3’, so I’m looking at single town again. Has anyone operated a single town layout? What are your thoughts? 

  • Member since
    May 2019
  • From: Pacific Northwest
  • 64 posts
Posted by corsiar on Friday, October 18, 2019 11:11 AM

Here is my 10' x 9' N scale layout I am building. Not very fancy. The MRR N scale Burlington Northern Project from 1990 is a nice little layout. That is what I based mine on, wish I would have done a penisula.

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: In the heart of Georgia
  • 3,286 posts
Posted by Doughless on Friday, October 18, 2019 12:27 PM

Outsailing86

The traverser works like putting the trains on a drawer, and moving it to align the tracks so the train would come off without loosing the space of the switch ladders. 

On the 10’ sides, I figure the straight section would only be 3’, so I’m looking at single town again. Has anyone operated a single town layout? What are your thoughts? 

 

Ok, I get that, you want to keep all of the train lengths the same.

How broad of curves are you planning, and what is your train length?

- Douglas

  • Member since
    April 2018
  • 59 posts
Posted by Outsailing86 on Friday, October 18, 2019 1:00 PM

Train length 7.5 feet and 30” radius curve 

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: In the heart of Georgia
  • 3,286 posts
Posted by Doughless on Friday, October 18, 2019 1:30 PM

I could see having the terminal on the 15 foot side and maybe the transload/frieght area on one ten foot section and maybe residential/retail on the other ten foot section.

You could scenic the other 15 foot section, but a traverser might eliminate that possibility.

If you built a double ended staging yard using Walthers curved turnouts to start either end, you might end up with 4 fixed staging tracks of at least 7.5 feet.  But the inside radius of a couple of trnouts might have to be 28 inches.

- Douglas

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!