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!

N scale layout planning

8391 views
11 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 302,278 posts
N scale layout planning
Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, July 20, 2003 9:58 AM
For the 2nd time in just over one year I had to move, and now, finally, I have room to put up my N scale layout. However the 6 ' x 8 ' L-shape is no longer a possibility. The "new size" is 4 ' x 9 ' because I have three 3x4 modules. Also because of the move, I cannot find either layout planning books, or the web site someone suggested previously. Any help with either web sites, or other ideas on how to use the 4x9 area for a N scale layout that emphasizes operation? Thanks much.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 302,278 posts
N scale layout planning
Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, July 20, 2003 9:58 AM
For the 2nd time in just over one year I had to move, and now, finally, I have room to put up my N scale layout. However the 6 ' x 8 ' L-shape is no longer a possibility. The "new size" is 4 ' x 9 ' because I have three 3x4 modules. Also because of the move, I cannot find either layout planning books, or the web site someone suggested previously. Any help with either web sites, or other ideas on how to use the 4x9 area for a N scale layout that emphasizes operation? Thanks much.
  • Member since
    October 2002
  • From: City of Québec,Canada
  • 1,258 posts
Posted by Jacktal on Monday, July 21, 2003 2:25 PM
I suggest you try Atlas Layout Planning books which contain a few interesting layout plans that usually fit the 4X8.These are excellent starting points from which you could,with a little "strectch&squeeze",adapt to you specific benchwork.I don't know if these books are available to you.....however if you can reach this forum you can reach Atlas's website and print any or all of these free.They also have a few great HO scale plans that you could downsize(+or-50%).Kato also offers a few interseting plans on their website(Katousa.com).If these solutions aren't practical for you,then let me know .
  • Member since
    October 2002
  • From: City of Québec,Canada
  • 1,258 posts
Posted by Jacktal on Monday, July 21, 2003 2:25 PM
I suggest you try Atlas Layout Planning books which contain a few interesting layout plans that usually fit the 4X8.These are excellent starting points from which you could,with a little "strectch&squeeze",adapt to you specific benchwork.I don't know if these books are available to you.....however if you can reach this forum you can reach Atlas's website and print any or all of these free.They also have a few great HO scale plans that you could downsize(+or-50%).Kato also offers a few interseting plans on their website(Katousa.com).If these solutions aren't practical for you,then let me know .
  • Member since
    November 2001
  • From: US
  • 1,720 posts
Posted by MAbruce on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 2:03 PM
You might find something on these links:

http://www.layoutdepot.com/view.ihtml

http://www.naisp.net/users/mfischer/m_train2.htm
  • Member since
    November 2001
  • From: US
  • 1,720 posts
Posted by MAbruce on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 2:03 PM
You might find something on these links:

http://www.layoutdepot.com/view.ihtml

http://www.naisp.net/users/mfischer/m_train2.htm
  • Member since
    August 2002
  • From: Corpus Christi, Texas
  • 2,377 posts
Posted by leighant on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 2:41 PM
I am puzzled about using three 3x4 "modules" and having a 4x9 layout space. Usually when I think of modules, I think of more or interchangeable units with track at a uniform standard position on each end. Do you mean you have 3 3x4 frames on which to build a layout? I am more and more favoring an "around the room" shelf arrangement even if it requires a duckunder or liftup. But I can see that a "table" layout in three chunks would be more practical to move when and if... Is your layout space big enough to walk around the proposed 4x9 layout and operate from both sides, with some kind of viewblock down the middle. Or do you want to create a layout with one deep 4x9 scene viewed and operated from one side only?
I have a 3 x 7 N scale layout which I wish was a little bigger. I described it in an article in Model Railroader almost 20 years ago and it was reprinted in the book "Top Notch Layout Plans". The layout was called Lost River District RR in the article. I am disappointed with my layout because the curves are somewhat too tight. I also didn't have enough staging, only room for 2 trains offstage. I managed to add one more stub-ended staging track but I wish I could have one or two more. I have run over 100 operating sessions on that layout, very pleased with way freight operations, but freight trains over 8 or 9 cars are a problem because of tight curves-- even though passing sidings are long enough. Passenger trains are ven worse. I have given up on passenger service except for a doodlebug. The line I model is Santa Fe in the piney woods of East Texas where doodlebugs were the prototype. But it would be nice to be able to use some of the rest of my passenger equipment, at least once in a while. I am tired of the tight curve and I am planning to replace my 3x7 with a round the walls shelf layout. But I think the design would work great in your 4x9 space, IF you can access it from both sides. My general design was an oval of track with only one side visible, running through a courthouse-square small town where there are a handful of industries and a passing siding where mainline trains can make meets and a local peddler can made runarounds. The side of the loop opposite the town scene has the staging tracks- originally two double-ended tracks, but I added a third single ended track. A solid line of 80 foot pine trees (6" in N scale) makes a view block. However, the layover staging tracks do not go all the way over to the over side of the layout. My "train-set" 9 3/4" radius curves allow a little space on the "staging" or "back" side of the layout. Originally, I had a narrow strip 6.5 inches deep running the length of the layout. Adding my third staging track narrowed it to 5 inches. In that 5 inches, I built the end of a lumber company branch line serving a huge lumber mill. The branchline breaks off the main in the "small town" scene and runs around one end curve the layout to reach a branch terminal which requires a short runaround and some spurs. I was going to have lumber mill building fronts hiding the layover staging tracks from that side, buildings only a fraction of an inch deep but running nearly the entire length of the layout, over 5 feet. A lumber mill 700 scale feet long should represent a BIG industry. Had a problem though. Originally my branchline terminal was three tracks deep, two tracks for a runaround plus a parallel spur for the finished lumber shipping building. But I could not squeeze the building front between the branch terminal and the layover tracks. I found I could limit the width of the branchline terminal because my log trains didn't need to be more than four or five cars long, so I didn't need a runaround track 4 feet long, only a little over 2 feet, with the various spurs coming off the ends. The entire terminal is only two tracks wide and that leaves room for the building fronts. The terminal consists of the runaround plus a "tail" or escape track on the stub end of the branch where an engine can get out to run around its train, a log dump track where full log cars are delivered, a shipping track where finished lumber and wood chips are loaded and occasional supplies unloaded, and a short service track for the logging company locomotive. A full branch terminal with five turnouts. No turning facilities for the locomotive. Wouldn't have helped unless I also had a turning facility at the other end of the logging run. I use an SW-9 diesel switcher, run either direction. (Moscow Camden & San Augustine RR, and Texas- Southeastern both used similar diesels in the east Texas woods.)
OPERATIONS. If I were starting again, building my layout in 4x9, I would have more staging tracks, a total of four or five double ended. The staging would accomodate one daily through freight train eastbound and another one westbound, a local peddler freight that would run east one day and west alternate days, a doodlebug and possibly an extra train such as an east Texas iron ore train to the steel mill on the Houston ship channel, or a solid train of boxcars of rice during the rice harvest. Passenger service with a doodlebug, but once in a while there could be a passenger special in place of a freight extra, carrying high school students on a charter train trip to their big annual football rivalry game. Notice that there would be NO YARD SWITCHING to speak of on the mainline of this layout. Trains appear from staging, run through town and leave. Occasionally there would be a meet between two trains. Switching the local would be a major part of the operation, and the traffic and the handling would be different between the days the local is eastbound and westbound. There are two DISTINCT operations on the lumber company branchline. One is logging. A train of empty log car runs from the mill to the mainline junction, then over the mainline rails to a log reload just outside side. (The train does not run directly to a cutting area but to an area when logs are brought by truck for reloading to rail.) The running by trackage rights partly over Santa Fe tracks mimics an operation by Kirby Lumber Company near Silsbee in east Texas. At the reload, the log train swaps empty cars for loaded log buggies, makes a runaround and goes back to the mill with the logs. But the logging line also interchanges with the mainline railroad, picking up fuel oil for the logging operation and shipping finished lumber and wood chips. This mimics several East Texas lumber company lines that operated as common carriers in order to get the originating railroad division of the freight rate. In some cases, the same lumber company operated trains both as common carrier and logging trams at the same time period, and that is the justification for making separate runs for logs and other freight. This allows a REAL interchange of cars between the mainline local train and the logging branch rr. So that is three train operations that really have some switching to do, and three or four others that just go through. Is that enough railroading for a 4x9? I've got another idea but I will stop for now. Maybe later.
  • Member since
    August 2002
  • From: Corpus Christi, Texas
  • 2,377 posts
Posted by leighant on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 2:41 PM
I am puzzled about using three 3x4 "modules" and having a 4x9 layout space. Usually when I think of modules, I think of more or interchangeable units with track at a uniform standard position on each end. Do you mean you have 3 3x4 frames on which to build a layout? I am more and more favoring an "around the room" shelf arrangement even if it requires a duckunder or liftup. But I can see that a "table" layout in three chunks would be more practical to move when and if... Is your layout space big enough to walk around the proposed 4x9 layout and operate from both sides, with some kind of viewblock down the middle. Or do you want to create a layout with one deep 4x9 scene viewed and operated from one side only?
I have a 3 x 7 N scale layout which I wish was a little bigger. I described it in an article in Model Railroader almost 20 years ago and it was reprinted in the book "Top Notch Layout Plans". The layout was called Lost River District RR in the article. I am disappointed with my layout because the curves are somewhat too tight. I also didn't have enough staging, only room for 2 trains offstage. I managed to add one more stub-ended staging track but I wish I could have one or two more. I have run over 100 operating sessions on that layout, very pleased with way freight operations, but freight trains over 8 or 9 cars are a problem because of tight curves-- even though passing sidings are long enough. Passenger trains are ven worse. I have given up on passenger service except for a doodlebug. The line I model is Santa Fe in the piney woods of East Texas where doodlebugs were the prototype. But it would be nice to be able to use some of the rest of my passenger equipment, at least once in a while. I am tired of the tight curve and I am planning to replace my 3x7 with a round the walls shelf layout. But I think the design would work great in your 4x9 space, IF you can access it from both sides. My general design was an oval of track with only one side visible, running through a courthouse-square small town where there are a handful of industries and a passing siding where mainline trains can make meets and a local peddler can made runarounds. The side of the loop opposite the town scene has the staging tracks- originally two double-ended tracks, but I added a third single ended track. A solid line of 80 foot pine trees (6" in N scale) makes a view block. However, the layover staging tracks do not go all the way over to the over side of the layout. My "train-set" 9 3/4" radius curves allow a little space on the "staging" or "back" side of the layout. Originally, I had a narrow strip 6.5 inches deep running the length of the layout. Adding my third staging track narrowed it to 5 inches. In that 5 inches, I built the end of a lumber company branch line serving a huge lumber mill. The branchline breaks off the main in the "small town" scene and runs around one end curve the layout to reach a branch terminal which requires a short runaround and some spurs. I was going to have lumber mill building fronts hiding the layover staging tracks from that side, buildings only a fraction of an inch deep but running nearly the entire length of the layout, over 5 feet. A lumber mill 700 scale feet long should represent a BIG industry. Had a problem though. Originally my branchline terminal was three tracks deep, two tracks for a runaround plus a parallel spur for the finished lumber shipping building. But I could not squeeze the building front between the branch terminal and the layover tracks. I found I could limit the width of the branchline terminal because my log trains didn't need to be more than four or five cars long, so I didn't need a runaround track 4 feet long, only a little over 2 feet, with the various spurs coming off the ends. The entire terminal is only two tracks wide and that leaves room for the building fronts. The terminal consists of the runaround plus a "tail" or escape track on the stub end of the branch where an engine can get out to run around its train, a log dump track where full log cars are delivered, a shipping track where finished lumber and wood chips are loaded and occasional supplies unloaded, and a short service track for the logging company locomotive. A full branch terminal with five turnouts. No turning facilities for the locomotive. Wouldn't have helped unless I also had a turning facility at the other end of the logging run. I use an SW-9 diesel switcher, run either direction. (Moscow Camden & San Augustine RR, and Texas- Southeastern both used similar diesels in the east Texas woods.)
OPERATIONS. If I were starting again, building my layout in 4x9, I would have more staging tracks, a total of four or five double ended. The staging would accomodate one daily through freight train eastbound and another one westbound, a local peddler freight that would run east one day and west alternate days, a doodlebug and possibly an extra train such as an east Texas iron ore train to the steel mill on the Houston ship channel, or a solid train of boxcars of rice during the rice harvest. Passenger service with a doodlebug, but once in a while there could be a passenger special in place of a freight extra, carrying high school students on a charter train trip to their big annual football rivalry game. Notice that there would be NO YARD SWITCHING to speak of on the mainline of this layout. Trains appear from staging, run through town and leave. Occasionally there would be a meet between two trains. Switching the local would be a major part of the operation, and the traffic and the handling would be different between the days the local is eastbound and westbound. There are two DISTINCT operations on the lumber company branchline. One is logging. A train of empty log car runs from the mill to the mainline junction, then over the mainline rails to a log reload just outside side. (The train does not run directly to a cutting area but to an area when logs are brought by truck for reloading to rail.) The running by trackage rights partly over Santa Fe tracks mimics an operation by Kirby Lumber Company near Silsbee in east Texas. At the reload, the log train swaps empty cars for loaded log buggies, makes a runaround and goes back to the mill with the logs. But the logging line also interchanges with the mainline railroad, picking up fuel oil for the logging operation and shipping finished lumber and wood chips. This mimics several East Texas lumber company lines that operated as common carriers in order to get the originating railroad division of the freight rate. In some cases, the same lumber company operated trains both as common carrier and logging trams at the same time period, and that is the justification for making separate runs for logs and other freight. This allows a REAL interchange of cars between the mainline local train and the logging branch rr. So that is three train operations that really have some switching to do, and three or four others that just go through. Is that enough railroading for a 4x9? I've got another idea but I will stop for now. Maybe later.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 302,278 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, July 23, 2003 2:21 PM
Leighant,
Break your long post into paragraphs, preferably fairly short paragraphs. People tend to tune out in long post with no paragraphs. Just a suggestion, but more people will respond to your discussion.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 302,278 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, July 23, 2003 2:21 PM
Leighant,
Break your long post into paragraphs, preferably fairly short paragraphs. People tend to tune out in long post with no paragraphs. Just a suggestion, but more people will respond to your discussion.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 302,278 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, July 23, 2003 6:19 PM
I have built two 4 x 8's in my lifetime. If by operation, you mean train meets at sidings, then I recommend a railroad set in the piedmont on mountains. This way you can crowd levels against one another and get away with it by the scenery.

It would be the traditional "spagetti-bowl" with levels crossing above other levels at a few points. Imagine a couple of figure-8's stacked on top of one another. A siding or two on the mainline, and maybe a two track yard on the lowest or highest level.

A high level yard would be a good trick, not many modlers would think to do that - but maybe it would be a mining town up in the hills/mountains running down to some unmodeled connection to the outside world on the lowest level.

Happy modeling!

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 302,278 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, July 23, 2003 6:19 PM
I have built two 4 x 8's in my lifetime. If by operation, you mean train meets at sidings, then I recommend a railroad set in the piedmont on mountains. This way you can crowd levels against one another and get away with it by the scenery.

It would be the traditional "spagetti-bowl" with levels crossing above other levels at a few points. Imagine a couple of figure-8's stacked on top of one another. A siding or two on the mainline, and maybe a two track yard on the lowest or highest level.

A high level yard would be a good trick, not many modlers would think to do that - but maybe it would be a mining town up in the hills/mountains running down to some unmodeled connection to the outside world on the lowest level.

Happy modeling!

  • Member since
    September 2002
  • From: Nova Scotia, Northumberland Shore
  • 2,421 posts
Posted by der5997 on Wednesday, July 23, 2003 8:12 PM
Irenee: If you do get track plans from Atlas, or elsewhere, remember that many can work "flipped" or as mirror images. This sometimes helps overcome an otherwise impossible looking space / track dilema. I did this in HO with Atlas' "Grade Crossing Deluxe" plan on my first serious layout. It made the whole room usable.

"There are always alternatives, Captain" - Spock.

  • Member since
    September 2002
  • From: Nova Scotia, Northumberland Shore
  • 2,421 posts
Posted by der5997 on Wednesday, July 23, 2003 8:12 PM
Irenee: If you do get track plans from Atlas, or elsewhere, remember that many can work "flipped" or as mirror images. This sometimes helps overcome an otherwise impossible looking space / track dilema. I did this in HO with Atlas' "Grade Crossing Deluxe" plan on my first serious layout. It made the whole room usable.

"There are always alternatives, Captain" - Spock.

  • Member since
    April 2002
  • From: Nashville TN
  • 1,306 posts
Posted by Wdlgln005 on Wednesday, July 23, 2003 11:12 PM
For planning, I like to us the 6" squares method. Make up ssquares on a sheet of notebook paper. Each square represents 6". Two squares are needed to make a 12" corner. Three squares lay out an 18" corner. Then connect the corners. Use color pencils, and you have a color layout plan. You could also start with the dimensions of your room & move the "plans" around like dominoes & leave space for operators.

Have fun Nscaling!
Glenn Woodle
  • Member since
    April 2002
  • From: Nashville TN
  • 1,306 posts
Posted by Wdlgln005 on Wednesday, July 23, 2003 11:12 PM
For planning, I like to us the 6" squares method. Make up ssquares on a sheet of notebook paper. Each square represents 6". Two squares are needed to make a 12" corner. Three squares lay out an 18" corner. Then connect the corners. Use color pencils, and you have a color layout plan. You could also start with the dimensions of your room & move the "plans" around like dominoes & leave space for operators.

Have fun Nscaling!
Glenn Woodle
  • Member since
    September 2002
  • From: Nova Scotia, Northumberland Shore
  • 2,421 posts
Posted by der5997 on Thursday, July 24, 2003 8:25 PM
Irenee: There is a thread @ Help Me!!!!~ that may be of some use to you. Hope things are coming together for you.

"There are always alternatives, Captain" - Spock.

  • Member since
    September 2002
  • From: Nova Scotia, Northumberland Shore
  • 2,421 posts
Posted by der5997 on Thursday, July 24, 2003 8:25 PM
Irenee: There is a thread @ Help Me!!!!~ that may be of some use to you. Hope things are coming together for you.

"There are always alternatives, Captain" - Spock.

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 302,278 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Friday, July 25, 2003 1:52 PM
I Love Train's
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 302,278 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Friday, July 25, 2003 1:52 PM
I Love Train's
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 302,278 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, July 26, 2003 1:26 PM
Well, thanks everybody.
Although I agree with rsn48 that leighant should have at least submitted something a litte more readable. The progress I had been making toward construction of a new layout has been temporarily nipped in the bud by the abrupt conclusion of a temp job (which I thought would last at least through September).
The area that I have modeled before (and would probably do again) is the "Prairie" of the northern Mid-West, pre-1965 with lots of 1st gen diesels (Alco's, maybe a Baldwin, maybe an FT set-income depending, etc.) and roads such as GN, CB&Q, Milw Rd., and SOO to predominate. Industries? Undecided, but since it will be pre-BN and somewhat rural, there will be at least a grain elevator, lumber yard, and a small town where the RR will have some servicing facilities.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 302,278 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, July 26, 2003 1:26 PM
Well, thanks everybody.
Although I agree with rsn48 that leighant should have at least submitted something a litte more readable. The progress I had been making toward construction of a new layout has been temporarily nipped in the bud by the abrupt conclusion of a temp job (which I thought would last at least through September).
The area that I have modeled before (and would probably do again) is the "Prairie" of the northern Mid-West, pre-1965 with lots of 1st gen diesels (Alco's, maybe a Baldwin, maybe an FT set-income depending, etc.) and roads such as GN, CB&Q, Milw Rd., and SOO to predominate. Industries? Undecided, but since it will be pre-BN and somewhat rural, there will be at least a grain elevator, lumber yard, and a small town where the RR will have some servicing facilities.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 302,278 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, July 28, 2003 9:29 PM
New thought here.

I live in a small home. TWo children and nowhere to put a layout for Nscale let alone
larger.
So I ran across the T-TRAK concept of module building and I got hooked.
Next I built plastic molding molds and have now launched a new product line for N Scale modeling you might find helpful.

Please visit our website at : www.shape-master.com then click on the T-TRAK for
N scale modeling.

Then view my new test page at this link for more photos.

http://www.shape-master.com/t-trak/t-trak.htm

You don't have to buy our product to get into T-TRAK just view the official T-TRAK
website and see how to build your own modules.

Let me know what you other N scalers think.

Ken C.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 302,278 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, July 28, 2003 9:29 PM
New thought here.

I live in a small home. TWo children and nowhere to put a layout for Nscale let alone
larger.
So I ran across the T-TRAK concept of module building and I got hooked.
Next I built plastic molding molds and have now launched a new product line for N Scale modeling you might find helpful.

Please visit our website at : www.shape-master.com then click on the T-TRAK for
N scale modeling.

Then view my new test page at this link for more photos.

http://www.shape-master.com/t-trak/t-trak.htm

You don't have to buy our product to get into T-TRAK just view the official T-TRAK
website and see how to build your own modules.

Let me know what you other N scalers think.

Ken C.

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!