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layout design service

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layout design service
Posted by johnbalich on Friday, July 31, 2020 2:06 PM

i am trying to find a free layout design service or a pay for play designer 

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Posted by dknelson on Friday, July 31, 2020 4:57 PM

There are small ads in issues of MR for among other things layout designers and custom layout builders (which you may or may not want)

Perhaps the Layout Design SIG (special interest group) could steer you in the right direction/

http://www.ldsig.org/

I have no affiliation with any of these people but I have heard of Robert Sprague as a layout designer

https://www.bobstrackplans.com/

Certainly Lance Mindheim is a well known author in MR and Model Railroad Planning and I believe he advertises his Shelf Layout business in MR

https://www.shelflayouts.com/design-services

Two names that I know, Ed Vondrak and Bob Mitchell (the California one) were at one time quite active in commercial layout design for a fee.  I cannot seem to find an internet presence for either.

Byron Henderson is a layout designer who writes a lot of articles for Model Railroad Planning.  He has a business.   https://www.layoutvision.com/

If you read enough John Armstrong books and articles and also study the Model Railroad Planning issues each year (and that is one magazine where the oldest issues are as useful and up to date as the newest) don't sell yourself short as a designer -- or inspired borrower -- of a good layout design.  And take a cue from Tony Koester's "layout design element" idea: copy the prototype, or copy many prototypes, and you'd have track arrangements that are proven to work.  That is how I designed my layout: every turnout is where the prototype had a turnout.  My job was to accomodate the necessary curves where the prototype was tangent.  

Dave Nelson

 

 

 

 

da1
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Posted by da1 on Friday, July 31, 2020 9:12 PM
Shameless plug for Byron H. Byron helped with design of my current layout c2005. Still working on it and enjoying the process. Any frustration I have is due to my lack of time or skill in some other area of the hobby. Byron was great to work with and I recommend his services. D
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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, August 1, 2020 4:43 AM

johnbalich
i am trying to find a free layout design service or a pay for play designer 

Hi John,

I think that if you get someone else to design your layout, you will have missed out on a really enjoyable part of model railroading. Certainly there can be mistakes made as you develop your own plan, but if you use resources like John Armstrong's 'Track Planning For Realistic Operation', you can avoid many of the newbie design errors.

If you want advice on a layout plan for free, the MR forums can certainly help. However, you need to have your own plan to start with. At a minimum, you need to define your available space including all the obstructions like windows, doors, electrical panels etc. If you start by posting those details, then you might get someone to suggest a design, but it would be better if you were to at least show something that you have in mind.

You also have a huge resource at your fingertips with the MR track plan database. It allows you to set your parameters so you don't have to filter through multiple plans that aren't suitable for your purposes. Click on the 'How To' option in the black bar at the top of the page and getting to the track plans is easy.

As far as 'free' goes, I think you are asking for a lot. Layout design takes time. Asking for someone else to do all the work without compensation is, IMHO, a bit much. You want a model railroad so I think that you have to be prepared to do most of the work.

My 2 Cents

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by selector on Saturday, August 1, 2020 12:04 PM

I'm going to resist agreeing with the others' primary orientation to your question (and I do freely admit I agree with them in principle, now working on my fourth layout) because I think there might be a back story that you could briefly flesh out for us?  Instead of us advising you not to pursue this avenue, would you tell us why you are asking for this kind of help? Smile What is it that leaves you feeling you can't tackle this yourself?

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Posted by johnbalich on Saturday, August 1, 2020 12:53 PM

yes i am asking a lot........to not ask is to not receive. Its simply a query. if no one is interested thats fine. Some may enjoy the planning enough to help. I forgot about The Armstrong book, seems like a great place to start.

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Posted by johnbalich on Saturday, August 1, 2020 12:58 PM

Should I post a track plan for constructive criticism?

 

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Posted by Doughless on Saturday, August 1, 2020 1:22 PM

johnbalich

i am trying to find a free layout design service or a pay for play designer 

 

I'm not exactly sure what pay for play means, but there is a professional layout designer here on this forum, under the stage name of CUYAMA.  He's well known and often contributes articles to Model Railroader.

As mentioned above, his real name is Byron.

- Douglas

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Posted by JoeinPA on Saturday, August 1, 2020 5:02 PM

johnbalich

Should I post a track plan for constructive criticism?

 

John:

If you can come up with a first draft of your plan along with your ideas on what you want to do with your railroad I'm sure that the members here will be happy to offer helpful criticism. This has worked in the past for several members.

Joe

 

 

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Posted by dknelson on Saturday, August 1, 2020 6:04 PM

We often comment/critique track plans on this part of the Forums.  Heh it is like dangling raw meat in front of hungry dogs.  

But it is a genuine skill or talent to be able to stare at lines on a page and actually envision it as a real layout with real trains enough to offer useful comment or opinion.  That is partly why so many model railroaders express dissatisfaction with their own track plan once built.  It looked great on paper but not on plywood. 

One common mistake, and I have said this many times here -- few things are as deceptive as a line on a track plan to indicate track.  You can cram them so tightly together, you can force fit this tangent to that siding just by moving a pencil, the possibilities are endless, and the realities are so sobering and constricted.   Even published track plans are misleading in this way.  The line is not as wide as the track will be, and wonderful things can be done with that line that cannot (or should not) be done with track.  I see published plans where I think "man that track is too darn close to the edge of the layout" or "OK how do you propose to uncouple cars at the far reaches of that yard?" or "OK you just spent $XX for that turnout and HOW many cars can fit on that spur?  One?  IF it is a 36' ice reefer, on a 1990s era layout?"

In terms of your quest for "free" track planning, I know there are modelers who really do enjoy track planning and if you are one of those and once you've done your own "final" layout -- now what?  So you might look for opportunities to do it again.  Sort of like the guys who REALLY like hand laying track and now their layout is done.  Sometimes they can be talked into it gratis.   

So there may be some out there who would help design for free.  But it is one thing to doodle some ideas and another to really analyze and design to suit the "client" and that kind of "real" practical, useful and buildable layout design is an awful lot of genuine work to expect it for free.     

Dave Nelson

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Posted by BATMAN on Saturday, August 1, 2020 6:20 PM

Hi John, welcome aboard.

There are CAD programs available to help in planning a layout and it is really rewarding to design your own. I have an architect program that I use to design houses on for fun but for some reason I like the old paper and pencil method for layout planning.

I picked up this giant pad of graph paper at Staples for $7.00 and designed my current layout on it. Each square is 1 inch which translates to 1 foot on the graph paper. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Saturday, August 1, 2020 7:42 PM

I had a sketch of a layout that I planned to build in the basement of the house I had just built, but not long after benchwork construction began, parts of the basement were requisitioned for "other uses", and I was left with this oddly-shaped room...

After moving the few already-built units, intended to support an open-grid layout, into the room, I spent a couple of weeks wandering around the room (roughly 560 sq.ft.) with tape measure in-hand.

As time passed, I began to envision scenes, and those begat more scenes, and pretty soon I had built supports all around the room, their size and location governed by a desire for aisles of decent width for a walk-around style of layout.

As soon as the open-grid sections were constructed and installed, I got two sheets of 3/4" plywood and cut them into curves, starting with a 30" radius and increasing by 2", for each of the subsequent ones. 
The second sheet was then cut, starting with a 34" radius, duplicated several times, then a series of ones increasing again by 2" each.

I then fastened a couple together, and went around the room testing to see the biggest radius that would fit into each of the room's 10 corners.  Once those curves were installed (most of them on risers), all that was needed was to connect the curves with some straight-ish track.

Everything else...sidings, scenery, structures, even the trains, was already in my mind, and it simply presented itself as work progress on the layout.  It continues to unfold in the same manner, and it's turned-out better than any rough trackplan I had for the original basement-filling layout.

Here's a Layout (room) tour, with lots of photos...

I'm not suggesting that it's a useful design for anyone (how many modellers end-up with a layout room with 10 corners?), but it illustrates that it's not always necessary (or even possible) to have a plan that's fully thought-out.  Mine continues to develop and continues to hold my interest, too.

Wayne

 

 

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Posted by IDRick on Sunday, August 2, 2020 10:02 AM

John,

I would like to suggest another name, Rob Chant.  He does great work at a reasonable price.  You can see some of his layout designs with comments at his blog: http://www.jomrd.com/   I especially like the 3D mockups, take a design to whole new level of appreciation. His contact address is available on his blog.

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Posted by jjdamnit on Sunday, August 2, 2020 1:14 PM

Hello All,

A few things to consider:

From The "Wizzard Of Monterey" on planning:


"A model railroad should probably start with a concept. Why? Because much knowledge about railroading, experience in model railroading, and thought are required before a proper concept for a model railroad can be formed. These requirements are seldom possible on a first pike. Mine was no exception."
- -John Allen; Gorre & Daphetid Railroad.

As with any construction project, what is your budget?

Yes, you might get a workable track plan for free but there is still the cost of benchwork, track, locomotives, rolling stock, scenery, control (DC vs. DCC) and wiring.

I began my pike on a bar napkin.

From there I went to graph-paper, a mechanical pencil, and a BIG eraser.

After the initial plan was set on paper I used sectional track to replicate what I had on paper to what I could actually put down.

Yes, the great folks on this forum could hand you a track plan based on your specifications- -if you can share them.

Part of the challenge of this hobby is to be self-reliant- -or a self-made-millionaire.

Yes, forum members can help at no cost, but if you are looking for professional advice expect to pay for the service.

Drawings, sketches, bar napkins are all welcome here for feedback.

Get the ball rolling and, hopefully, the folks her can help you keep it going.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by selector on Sunday, August 2, 2020 2:19 PM

It seems our asker has much of his question answered, one way or another, and I wish him well.

Our hosts publish an annual layout planning guide, while another is a display case for some selected layouts recently completed (see Special Issues in the black marquee at top).  When I was in his position, wondering if I could do this, and where to start, I found those publications very helpful in giving me ideas, but also teaching me how to depict my vision in graphic form.  From there, 3-D visualization and depiction followed so that I could plan height changes that would work but not be too steep for the locomotives.

It's a fine line between seeking help and inspiration while wanting to retain enthusiasm and momentum.  I really do hope our OP comes away from this discussion with an idea or two about how he'd like to continue to explore a path through the hobby.

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