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HO Switching Layout for 12' x 18" Shelf

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  • Member since
    January, 2011
  • 8 posts
HO Switching Layout for 12' x 18" Shelf
Posted by RCRU on Monday, January 03, 2011 2:07 PM

Looking for layout ideas for an HO Switching Layout in a format that is 12 Feet Long x 18 inches wide (approx) that provides some decent operational opportunities.  Really like some of the examples I have seen in Lance Mindheim's books (I have 2 of these) but most of these are in an "L" shaped format and I don't have space for these at the current time.

Would like to work within the 12 foot long by 18 inch wide space I have currently rather than waiting till more space is available later.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Central Vermont
  • 3,891 posts
Posted by cowman on Monday, January 03, 2011 6:49 PM

Welcome to the forums.

Sorry I don't have a quick answer for you, but there has been much discussion on the topic, so I think a search of these forums will find you something.  Go down the right hand column until you come to Search Our Community.  Enter "switching layout"  I think  you should find quite a few entries.  I know Lance's bookss have come up, but so have other suggestions.

Good luck,


  • Member since
    January, 2011
  • 8 posts
Posted by RCRU on Monday, January 03, 2011 7:09 PM

Thanks Cowman!

I've done quite a bit of searching in the previous posts but haven't really found something in this size (12 foot x 18 inches).  I'll keep looking and hope for some inspiring ideas from others here.

Thanks again,

  • Member since
    July, 2010
  • 7 posts
Posted by ballast_boy on Monday, January 03, 2011 7:51 PM

Take a look at this layout:

  • Member since
    October, 2001
  • From: US
  • 931 posts
Posted by jmbjmb on Monday, January 03, 2011 7:54 PM

You could straighten a L shaped plan to fit as well.  There have been several domino plans in MRP over the years that would work.

  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • From: good ole WI
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Posted by BerkshireSteam on Tuesday, January 04, 2011 1:19 AM

First I would say look at stretching to 24 inch wide. Second, I ould say look at a different scale. Looking at my apartment living room which is 11 feet wide, really isn't much for HO. If you like switching a decent sized N scale yard could be had in your modeling area, even at 18 inches wide. Have the yard dead end at one end so it looks like only part of a larger yard, keep the locomotive servicing and car shops on the modeled side of the yard and you're looking at quite a bit of switching.

One more observation, 5 foot long trains look pretty good in N scale. A yard big enough to hold 5 foot long trains will certainly fit in 12' length, with maybe a small helix at one end that ducks under the main layout to provide more track for switching cars, adding enough length to pull an entire cut of cars from one classification track.

  • Member since
    September, 2009
  • 48 posts
Posted by HTower on Tuesday, January 04, 2011 1:45 AM

What era are you interested in modeling?  What locale, what industries?

Take a look at these websites and report back with some specifics so that we can really help you out:

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 157 posts
Posted by HoosierLine on Tuesday, January 04, 2011 5:56 AM

One of the best ways out of a jam like this is to copy real world examples.  The trick is to just focus on a very short section of an actual spur.  Bing Maps and Google maps give you pretty much everything you need.  Miami, Orlando, and Seattle are just a few places packed with ideas.  There should be plenty of examples of straight sections of track that would fit on your shelf.  You do have enough room for something fun.

With help from other hobbyists I've added an entire section to my website on prototype industrial parks:  There might be some more ideas in there.

Don't worry about getting it perfect.  Get the shelves up first since that defines your boundaries.  From that point you can almost plan 1:1 using loose pieces of track. 


  • Member since
    January, 2011
  • 8 posts
Posted by RCRU on Tuesday, January 04, 2011 7:07 AM

Interested in modeling fairly modern era, late 70's early 80's in SW Ohio, definitely in HO scale since I already have invested in an SW1200 with DCC and sound(Chessie / B&O) and have about 10-12 frieght cars that I have already weathered.(box cars, tank cars, covered hoppers).

I am about halfway through "completion" (if there is such a thing) of a layout that was (2) 24"W x 8'L "L" shape sections but it is in a space that needs to be used for another purpose (bedroom) and the 12' x 18"W or 24"W shelf make more sense being that it would be in my office and provide more accessable time on the layout.

The "L" shape was my first re-entry in the hobby since I was a kid and the layout is "OK" but I am not completely happy with the flow and I felt like I needed some better ideas moving forward.

As for industries, most of what I would be looking at would be pulp / paper, chemical plants, food / beverage Mfg., etc. which were prevelant in the area in which I grew up in SW Ohio.  Steel industry was big there but would dominate a space this size I would think..

Really appreciate the input.

  • Member since
    November, 2006
  • From: huizen, 15 miles from Amsterdam
  • 1,484 posts
Posted by Paulus Jas on Wednesday, January 05, 2011 8:43 AM


i took the Docksider from Lance Mindheim and  added a smal yard.


  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Pocono Mts. of Pa
  • 196 posts
Posted by LNEFAN on Wednesday, January 05, 2011 11:04 PM


  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 9,938 posts
Posted by wjstix on Thursday, January 06, 2011 8:28 AM

My current layout is a switching layout built on 16" wide shelves. I made extensive use of Walthers background buildings so most of the 'industries' are low-profile buildings along the backdrop. This allowed room for a team track, yard office and an engine house to fit in near the front of the layout


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