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Multiple Scale Layout

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  • Member since
    September, 2009
  • From: Geronimo, OK
  • 1 posts
Multiple Scale Layout
Posted by trainman1633 on Wednesday, September 02, 2009 10:19 AM

We are considering building a multiple scale layout in a 1200 sq ft area, a 30ft X 40ft space.  We want to include both "O" and HO, and possibly "N" Scale.  Has anyone had experience with this type of layout? What are the biggest problem areas?  How can we simplify the design process?  Would love to hear from anyone with ideas on this subject.

  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: Colorado
  • 3,942 posts
Posted by fwright on Wednesday, September 02, 2009 11:38 AM

Perhaps a better definition of "we" and the visons "we" have for the layout would help.

There have been mulitple scale layouts built - perhaps the best know one is/was a club in the East Bay of San Francisco whose O, S, and HO layout was featured in Model Railroader in the 1960s.  Each scale was more than just a display run.  The O was generally lowest and closest, with HO being the highest and furthest from on-lookers.

If we is really an I or just 2 people, time is often the resource with the most constraints.  There often isn't enough time to do a single scale justice in the space available, much less three.  In this situation, one scale tends to dominate and the other 2 portions either never get finished or end up as display layouts.  This even happens in single scale, multiple gauge layouts (like my HO/HOn3).  I ended up cutting my planned standard gauge track back considerably as the narrow gauge interest started to dominate. 

In the East Bay club mentioned much of the S portion was the work of just one person.  If that person were to find other interests, who would maintain and continue the S portion of the layout?

Obviously, the biggest problems in designing such a layout are going to be access issues and things looking "wrong" from a scale appearance perspective.  If the latter is not an issue for the "we", then the design becomes much simpler.

Which is why I asked about the collective goals and visions for the layout.  Putting several visions together club-style is difficult.  Multiple scales will make it even more difficult to achieve a unified vision and purpose.  Writing this down in advance for the group of builders to share is probably my top recommendation.

my thoughts, your choices

Fred W

  • Member since
    July, 2009
  • 236 posts
Posted by Robt. Livingston on Wednesday, September 02, 2009 11:38 AM

 I've accumulated O scale equipment and track as well as HO, so I set up a 4x6 O layout (a stub end freight yard) as an interior peninsula to my around the walls HO layout.  The scale difference was visually harmonious, I think.  My current layout  is a reconstruction and improvement of that layout, and I do have drawings of an O scale industrial switching layout filed away, as well as a 1'x4' O scale display shelf on a 6" lower level than the HO layout mainline.  Since the HO is in the bare-benchwork stage, for the most part, It remains to be seen whether any serious or refined attempt at integrating the two scales is made.  But it does seem like a fairly good way to integrate the two.  As long as the smaller scale runs behind the larger scale, the forced perspective works OK.     

  • Member since
    June, 2003
  • From: Culpeper, Va
  • 7,654 posts
Posted by IRONROOSTER on Wednesday, September 02, 2009 12:02 PM

This is always an intriguing idea when you have accumulated stuff in multiple scales.  I have all my HO, O, and my son's N plus a G train set.  I also have some Sn2 stuff.  But my current goal is a reasonable depiction of the Ma&Pa in the early 50's.  So none of this will be on by main layout, but I will probably set up a small display layout somewhere that has as much of it as I can fit in.



If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
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  • 2,751 posts
Posted by Allegheny2-6-6-6 on Thursday, September 03, 2009 12:02 PM

 I was at a train show a few months back where a club had a display layout of S gauge which incorporated a lot of HO structures as backdrop building and also full structures for the purpose of forced perspective. It worked very well and the layout was done very very well. I have also seen guys who mixed HO & ON30 but never the scales you propose. I would imagine it would require a lot of room to pull it off.

My son and I have planned out our G scale outdoor layout, starting construction this fall. He came up with the idea of using either an HO or N scale train set up in the back yard of one of the houses to simulate a garden railroad. I thought it was a neat idea.

Just my 2 cents worth, I spent the rest on trains. If you choked a Smurf what color would he turn?
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  • 947 posts
Posted by HHPATH56 on Friday, September 11, 2009 8:00 AM
The following photo shows the "forced perspective" effect of using an N scale tracks,( on a rough gray 2"x2"), directly behind the HO tracks. By using SceniKing sectional panorama of photos, of distant low hills. I matched the sky color of the uniform top blue of the paper sections, (electronically), at the paint store.. The painted Luan wall background, can have extra clouds stippled on, (if you so desire). The entire four walls of my 24'x24' around the room layout, are covered with SceniKing sequential photo pictures of urban and rural scenes. Bob Hahn
  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 10,466 posts
Posted by wjstix on Friday, September 11, 2009 8:27 AM

You might be better off working out a way to do two different layouts, perhaps at two different levels. For example I'm currently building what in effect is a fairly long HO switching layout on 16" shelfs around three walls of my basement, with a shelf height around 54". I plan on having a separate (not connected by a helix or anything) lower level HO layout at around 40" base height that will be built for continous running...basically two different divisions of a railroad.

 I could make the lower level an O scale or Lionel layout instead of HO as currently planned. That would work out nice if kids or grandkids are involved - run the Lionel stuff at their level, keep the HO stuff up out of their reach til they're old enough to work with it.

Anyway, I think it might be easier to do something like that rather than trying to mix scales, unless you're more of a collector than a modeller and just want a place to run your trains without worrying about scale and size difference etc.

  • Member since
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  • From: On the Banks of the Great Choptank
  • 2,916 posts
Posted by wm3798 on Friday, September 11, 2009 10:10 AM

 While I have interests in other scales, my preference is to do one thing, and try to do it well.  I've found that if you take on too much, none of it tends to be as good as you'd like it to be.


Route of the Alpha Jets

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