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4X8 layout

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  • Member since
    February, 2010
  • From: Los Angeles
  • 18 posts
4X8 layout
Posted by bulletstreamliner on Saturday, June 12, 2010 4:27 PM
What's happenin forum (hope you get the joke) I'm building an ho 4x8 layout and I need some ideas. Normally I blue sky on my own, but Ive got a budget problem due to the fact that I'm 13. All I've planned so far is that it will be a Californian setting, but if you have any suggestions, feel free to email me, I'll make a post of the ideas that made the cut. Many thanks!

wait, what?

  • Member since
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  • From: Bedford, MA, USA
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Posted by MisterBeasley on Saturday, June 12, 2010 6:19 PM

Well, I suppose my first idea is:  Why a 4x8?  Yes, it's a common size for plywood.  But, is that any reason to think it's right for a railroad?  (The answer may be yes, but read on.)  With that same sheet of plywood, you could build an around-the-walls layout which would give you a lot more operating potential, a longer main line and many more options for an interesting track plan.

At 13, though, you don't control the allocation of space in your home, do you?  Don't worry, I'm 63, and I don't control the allocation of space in my home, either.  But, through skillful negotiation, I've managed to secure track rights to a decent space.  So, what do you have to work with?  More than anything else, the shape of the train room will determine what you can do with it.

Sometimes, the 4x8 is a good option.  If you have to put away the trains and tilt the layout up against the wall when it's not in use, this may be the best you can do.  If it's got to roll under your bed at night, again, a 4x8 is a good choice.  And, despite the preference of "serious" model railroaders for around-the-wall and odd-shaped layouts, there are probably more track plans out there for a 4x8 than anything else.

So, my suggestion is to open up you horizons and see what you can do other than a 4x8, but if that's your best choice, there are plenty of us that started out exactly that way.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

  • Member since
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  • From: upstate NY
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Posted by galaxy on Saturday, June 12, 2010 6:41 PM

Hi there.

Your parents {and money or lack thereof} probably rule your kingdom. YOu asked about 4 x 8's so here is some help on that front.

Here are some simple plans for 4 x 8 HO scale layouts that are simple, require less track and may fit your budget:

http://www.modeltrainguide.com/index.php?mode=displayarticle&section=3&article=3

Here are some more small layout ideas:

http://www.gatewaynmra.org/project.htm

Heres one from MR Magazine that you may not be able to view unless you subscribe to the magazine and enter your subscription number to access the "subscriber content":

http://www.trains.com/mrr/objects/pdf/deermountain_1-06.pdf

Hope one of these helps! and Sign - Welcome to the forum and model railroading! Wink

 

 

-G .

Just my thoughts, ideas, opinions and experiences. Others may vary.

 HO and N Scale.

After long and careful thought, they have convinced me. I have come to the conclusion that they are right. The aliens did it.

  • Member since
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  • From: Central Vermont
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Posted by cowman on Saturday, June 12, 2010 6:51 PM

Welcome to the forums.

What scale would you like to work with?  If you have not started collecting, that will be one of your first choices.  N scale will give you more options as it is smaller.  O scale on the other end of the normal table scales is very limited on a 4x8.  HO is a frequent choice.

What type of operations do you think you want?  Let the trains run or a lot of switching?  A 4x8 lends itself to a continuous loop, but there are variations that will favor which type of operation you like.  I would suggest putting a view block somewhere near the center of your table.  This allows trains to go somewhere out of sight.  If you put it at an angle it will look less structured.  You can place it so most of your scenery is on one side of the view block and only a couple of staging tracks where trains can go and wait, while another comes on scene.  An alternative is a fairly even split with a small yard or a couple of sidings serving small industries on each side of the view block.  With this option you can do some switching, make up a train, go somewhere (the other side) and switch different industries and sidings.   You could even have a friend operating one side, while you operate the other.

Most of us started on a 4x8 and have gone on from there.  If that is what is available, go for it, pratice and develop your skills (we are all still hoaning ours), then when the opportunity for another space comes along you can "dream, plan and build" a new layout.

Have fun,

  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: Colorado
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Posted by fwright on Saturday, June 12, 2010 8:50 PM

bulletstreamliner
What's happenin forum (hope you get the joke) I'm building an ho 4x8 layout and I need some ideas. Normally I blue sky on my own, but Ive got a budget problem due to the fact that I'm 13. All I've planned so far is that it will be a Californian setting, but if you have any suggestions, feel free to email me, I'll make a post of the ideas that made the cut. Many thanks!

 

Thanks anyway, but I'm not interested in a competition.

You mention California setting, but different parts of California are very different from each other.  A logging line in coastal Northern California is very different from the agricultural lines of the Valley which is very different from Donner Pass or Feather River Canyon which is different from the high desert railroading of Southern California.  Era also makes a difference - enough difference to make your 4x8 practical or impractical in HO because of curve radius.

You seem to indicate that the budget is going to be the primary driver.  Is this a cooperative effort with your family, or are you on your own with just your allowance?  Whatever the budget situation actually is, it probably won't get any better as long as you are a student.  That's just the way life is.  You can build a layout on $20 a month.  But there will be months where you won't have money to advance the layout.  The upfront cost of the benchwork is a bear on $20 per month if you have to start from scratch, so keeping things small helps.  Also, buying from garage sales, and kits instead of RTR will help you not to run out of money before the month runs out.  And you will gain skills and capabilities you never knew you had in you.

Do you actually have space for a 4x8 layout?  Do you have the lumber on hand?  If not, do you have a way to get it home?  Most cars, some minivans, and many SUVs will not fit a 4x8 sheet of plywood.  You may have to cut the layout down to 4x6 or 4x7 to get the materials home and/or fit it into the proposed space.  My current spare bedroom/office/train room will not fit a 4x8 with adequate aisles, nor can my minivan take a full 4x8 sheet.  Which means I either have to cut it down to 4x6 (which I have done) and/or use shelves around the walls (which will be an add-on extension).

A shelf layout or a 4x8 table are the cheapest ways to get started in the hobby.  Carl Arendt's Micro Layout site (http://www.carendt.us/ has lots of fabulous less traditional ideas for very small layouts.  The traditional inexpensive way is to buy a train set and put it on a 4x8 (or smaller) table, and slowly expand from there, as finances, time, and money permit.  The shelf layout is a different starting option, one that many beginners in the hobby would never think of, but is probably a better fit for a teenager's bedroom and budget.

Finally, somewhat more expensive, but much better suited to modeling modern railroading than a 4x8 while taking the same floor space, is something like the Heart of Georgia (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_OWJKbUUCx00/SyMKs_oR-xI/AAAAAAAACC8/4dZCKnp6I8E/s1600-h/Heart+of+Georgia+HOG+Layout+Rev+511.jpg).  The HOG will take longer to build and takes a little more skill than the typical 4x8.  But for many the result will be a more satisfying layout than the 4x8 it replaces.

Ultimately, you have to decide how much space, time, and money you really have for the hobby.  Staying within those limits will keep your life balanced, which is important at your age.  Don't over estimate how much time you will have for the hobby.  As my soon-to-be a junior son told me a few months ago, he never imagined he would be this busy in high school when he was finishing middle school.

hope this and the other advice you have been given helps

Fred W

  • Member since
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  • From: Los Angeles
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Posted by bulletstreamliner on Sunday, June 13, 2010 5:01 PM

first of all, thanks for all of the great suggestions guys, it means alot to me. second of all i feel i should address my collection and more detail of my space to you guys.

Space

i live in a small apartment with a pretty reasonably sized garage, with enough space to accomodate a 4x8 layout, but ive once again got problems.

1. its hard to convince my parents into rearranging their workstation for my trains

2. i live with a dog that takes up space for her food and water.

my grandparent have offered to let me use a small space of their attic to put my layout in, but its hard to access, and gets very hot in the summer, we are putting much thought into more ventilation.

Train collection

i have a reasonably sized collection, but i long for a bigger one, which includes

Roundhouse HO 2-6-0 Denver & Rio Grande Western

Bachmann HO Santa Fe Passenger F7

an unidentified "shark nose" PRR diessel locomotive i bought at a hobby show

yes i know i have a rather large time and road name barrier, but that is due to my parents lack of railroad knowledge. i have been thinking about DCC, but wondering if it is worth it on such a small layout.

feel free to email me with more of your suggestions, and if DCC is a good idea

-thanks!

 

wait, what?

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Posted by Hamltnblue on Sunday, June 13, 2010 6:40 PM

 There are probably more 4x8 layouts out there than anything else so go for it.  Start by setting some track and get running.  Add scenery as you can.

What track are you using?

Springfield PA

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  • From: Los Angeles
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Posted by bulletstreamliner on Sunday, June 13, 2010 6:51 PM

i am currently using Bachmann EZ track

wait, what?

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    May, 2008
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Posted by Hamltnblue on Sunday, June 13, 2010 8:13 PM

 Nice thing about EZ track is you can mess around with different ideas on your layout until you figure it out.  Standard snap track will come apart if not secured but EZ track won't

Springfield PA

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  • 524 posts
Posted by nucat78 on Tuesday, June 15, 2010 9:27 AM

I think you need to decide a basic question before you dig in, namely:  Do you want a "toy train" layout, a railfan layout, or an operational layout?  (At least I consider those to be the 3 major types of layouts.)

The answer to that will make a big difference in what kind of designs to consider.

I'm with Fred on the HOG - I think the Heart of Georgia is a much better beginners layout than anything you can put on a 4X8.  But people have different tastes and different resources...
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Posted by YoHo1975 on Tuesday, June 15, 2010 2:32 PM
Is the space you have available always available? or does it need to be taken down all the time?

If I might suggest, maybe you can negotiate a different spaced shape. A dog bone shaped layout would be longer (perhaps 12 feet) but potentially less intrusive than a 4x8. I had a Kalmbach book from the 80s that had a wonderful dogbone plan based on cutting up a 4x8 sheet. It was a "step up from the trainset" plan. I'll do some research to see if I can find the plan, but it was nice because while being longer, it only needed to be accessed from 2 sides and thus took up less room.

You might also consider mounting your layout higher so that the counter top is underneath and still usable.

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