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Challenges of a small layout room

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Challenges of a small layout room
Posted by emdmike on Friday, April 05, 2019 1:04 AM

I am stuck trying to decide what to do in my small room, a typical 4x8 table is wall locked on 3 sides with access from one side only.  Around the wall shelf style is a challenge due to two doors that open into the room both in the same corner(one each wall at that corner of the room).  Continious running is desired, so we are back to the 4x8 that dominates the room.  I had started to build a fold down table, but took it back down.  I am thinking of putting it back up.  The hardware is still there, I used reused some of the frame to make a shelf set up.  I have paired down my G scale collection, so I can reassemble the wall mounted frame.  Just need a new wood frame for the fold down portion, along with hinges.  I used 1x6 pine for the wall mounted frame.  This allows some buildings, trees and such to be mounted to the table.  Of coarse all the rolling stock and engines have to be put away before closing up the table.  I am going to use Kato HO unitrak.  I like it over anything else with built in roadbed. Railroad modeled it up in the air right now, its between the IC in the final years before the CN merger or the NYS&W Utica branch in the late 1980s with Alco C430 power.  I have locomotives for both lines.      Mike

 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, April 05, 2019 7:34 AM

A 4 by 8 loop accessable from both long sides with shelf type switching extensions that come off of the loop is a very viable and play-friendly track arrangement.

.

-Kevin

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, April 05, 2019 8:05 AM

Hi Mike,

That sounds like a real conundrum!Hmm

I have a few questions:

Can you post a drawing of the room with dimensions including the exact width of the doors?

What scale are you working in? If you are in HO would you consider converting to N?

Do you have the space to put in a dog bone with a 90 degree bend in the middle on the two walls that don't have doors?

Would it help if one or both doors were converted to an accordian style? They're not great on appearance, but could you live with them for the sake of the trains?

Just some thoughts.

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, April 05, 2019 8:06 AM

SeeYou190
A 4 by 8 loop accessable from both long sides

Hi Kevin,

The OP mentioned that he can only get access to one side of a 4' x 8' table.

Dave

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Posted by snjroy on Friday, April 05, 2019 9:50 AM

Hi there. I had a 4X6 pike for a few years, in a room that I knew I had to move out from a few years down the road. So, a few years later, I sub-divided my workshop and built a room that is 7X11, with a door entrance. 

I opted for a wall-mounted plan, with a lift-up bridge for the door. I closed the loop last summer, and let me tell you, it is way more fun to operate than my previous 4X6. The scenery will come soon, but I am sure it will look better than the small loop I had (which even had a scene divider). The lift-up was a bit intimidating to build up-front, but I took my time and it works great. My locos NEVER derail on it. I built all my woodframes first (open-grid), and built the lift-up last. The system shuts-off when I lift the bridge, so there are no risks for my locos.  I often catch myself trying to run a loco while the bridge is up... I can be so absent-minded!  I think the effort is worth it.

Simon

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Posted by bearman on Friday, April 05, 2019 10:07 AM

I also think a plan view of the room with the dimensions and locations of the doors is in order.  Otherwise it is back to strong consideration of switching to N scale, which may end up being the case anyway.

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by IDRick on Friday, April 05, 2019 10:09 AM

Simon,

Quick thread hijack, have you written up a description of your lift up bridge and included pictures?  I would love to read your approach!

Mike,

A 4x8 can be fun (for a while) if you have access to all four sides but around the walls gives you far more options in designing the layout and a better us of available space.  Perhaps you could you use the lift up bridge as Simon suggests.  Pocket doors are a possible solution for eliminating space losses due to inward swinging doors.  Good luck!

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Posted by cuyama on Friday, April 05, 2019 10:26 AM

Sharing room dimensions and locations of the doors would help others help you. Rehanging one of the doors to swing in a different direction might help.

This 8X8 HO layout is designed for a room where a 4X8 wouldn’t even fit, but one corner is open for the door swing.

Good luck with your layout.

Byron

Tags: HO 4X8 , HO 4X6 , HO 8X8
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Posted by emdmike on Friday, April 05, 2019 10:28 AM

My room is roughly 9' by 9' square. Scale is HO and no, going to N isnt an option for me for a few reasons.  The closet door could be dealt with in one form or another, but the door into the room I am stuck with.  And its right in the corner so any type of removable section would be curved. So a 90' curved, drop in section would be needed to bridge the door swing area.  A duck under is not allowed per my wife who needs in there from time to time(file cabnets are under the layout).   I can manage with a 4x8, I just keep turnouts and such at the rear to a minimum.  I more like to just sit and watch a train run and enjoy my brass diesels.  If I stay with the IC theme, then I need 22" radius curves for my SD70.  I tested it yesterday at the local shop on thier Kato Unitrak loop and it ran flawleslly.   If I go with Susie Q, the C430's will handle down to 15" radius industrial cuves ok.  So a 4x8 will allow both engines to run.  Right now I am leaning toward the IC, since I can actually railfan that line on a day trip from home.  A loop around the table, small town at one end and a large grain elevator and Co-Op to give me a bit of switching.  It would also be a bit of a scenery divider if I go with the modern Walthers one with silos on both sides of the headhouse.  I will have to make some changes to the wall frame so the layout shuts only 3/4 of the way to give room for the grainery.  Here are my two reasons i am staying with HO, OMI IC "Death Star" SD70 factory painted and lighted.

 

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Posted by emdmike on Friday, April 05, 2019 10:32 AM

Byron, I do like that track plan, but I would have to put the benchwork very high up as my work bench is in that room as well, and 18" radius isnt going to agree with that big SD70 pictured above.  I am trying not to restrict myself to 4 axle diesels if possible, been there before and hated it.  And even the Susie Q has big units. But right now, the IC theme is leading due to being able to railfan much of the line thru Illinois in person, not so much the Susie Q as its so far from home. 

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Posted by dknelson on Friday, April 05, 2019 10:37 AM

emdmike

I am stuck trying to decide what to do in my small room, a typical 4x8 table is wall locked on 3 sides with access from one side only.  Around the wall shelf style is a challenge due to two doors that open into the room both in the same corner(one each wall at that corner of the room).  Continious running is desired, so we are back to the 4x8 that dominates the room.  ...   Mike

 

Yes a challenge.  Tony Koester (editor of Model Railroad Planning) has often said that while the "good old" 4x8 is time honored in the hobby it is actually a very poor choice in many ways even for beginners who like the ease of just buying the thing and framing it up.  Why?  Well one thing: you can't reach across it, because the practical limits of reach are about 30 inches and as a realistic matter, there are things which require dexterity like soldering feeder wires which are impractical at the outer limits of those 30 inches.  20 inches is more like it.  As a consequence, you need access from all four sides.  Unless it is on wheels and can be rolled out easily I suppose.  Otherwise it has to be in the middle of the room which actually leaves a great deal of square footage that isn't even needed for aisles.  Wasted space that could have been used.  Not to mention electric cords from the wall that create a tripping hazard.  That was my first layout in the basement.  

You do not mention the actual size of the room, just that it is small.  I think I can visualize the door situation, which is actually maybe a good thing -- if both doors are in the same corner then at least you have contained the area of door interference.  Doors more widely spaced would be an even worse problem from a planning perspective.  Perhaps there are windows or closets that also interfere?  If everything else is available I think you might be in better shape than you think.

My own feeling is that continuous running is over-rated as a layout feature but then I am a local switching type with less interest than most in passenger trains.  Tony Koester says the best thing to do with a 4x8 sheet of plywood is have the lumber yard rip it in two so you have 2x8 sheets that can be made into an L shape.  This allows a modest yard at one end and lots of industrial switching everywhere else.  But yeah - no continous run.  Except in N.

Another layout shape is the dog-bone -- wide ends, narrow middle, continuous run.  [Edited post; I wrote this while Byron was posting his own reply and track plan, which is very like a folded dogbone, and wisely leaves access areas - duck unders] But you still have to remember those access issues.  You wouldn't want the widest parts (the ends of the bone) in the corners because that kills access.  You'd want the thinnest part in the corners.

A one ended dogbone with just one wide end cannot feature continous run, but can at least feature a "here to there" run for actual trains that aren't engaged in local switching.  John Armstrong's book Track Planning for Realistic Operation has some ideas along those lines.   

Speaking of Tony Koester, Model Railroad Planning had multiple articles years ago where a large number of authors and track planners were challeged to create a layout for a very small bedroom with a door and the closet as interference.  You might want to seek those issues out because each of them had to deal with the issues of access and at least some of them did include continuous run.  [Edited post - again notice how Byron's plan accomodates the swinging door(s)].

If I had these limitations for layout location and layout size, I think I'd reluctantly abandon continuous run as a requirement, or as mentioned, consider N scale.  Each layout you build doesn't have to be the layout of your dreams.  

Dave Nelson

 

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Posted by snjroy on Friday, April 05, 2019 11:03 AM

IDRick

Simon,

Quick thread hijack, have you written up a description of your lift up bridge and included pictures?  I would love to read your approach!

Mike,

A 4x8 can be fun (for a while) if you have access to all four sides but around the walls gives you far more options in designing the layout and a better us of available space.  Perhaps you could you use the lift up bridge as Simon suggests.  Pocket doors are a possible solution for eliminating space losses due to inward swinging doors.  Good luck!

 

Here is a good discussion on the topic:

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/11/t/272349.aspx

Mine does not involve a curve, but it is doable as shown by Wayne. And as noted by others, a wall-mounted design brings in more possibilities with respect to curve radius. Mine is only 22" radius, but I could have easily gone to 24 or even 30. I just did not want to sacrifice the space (I also have plans for an HOn3 loop in there, and an HOn30 mine operation - a short one!).

Simon

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Posted by IDRick on Friday, April 05, 2019 12:47 PM

snjroy

 Thanks for the link, very helpful!  I like the idea of a lift-up but it would need to be rebust as it would be used many times during an operating session.  I'd also have to lag the layout to the concrete floor to keep things aligned as that part of the layout would not be against the wall.  Thanks again.

 
IDRick

Simon,

Quick thread hijack, have you written up a description of your lift up bridge and included pictures?  I would love to read your approach!

Mike,

A 4x8 can be fun (for a while) if you have access to all four sides but around the walls gives you far more options in designing the layout and a better us of available space.  Perhaps you could you use the lift up bridge as Simon suggests.  Pocket doors are a possible solution for eliminating space losses due to inward swinging doors.  Good luck!

 

 

 

Here is a good discussion on the topic:

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/11/t/272349.aspx

Mine does not involve a curve, but it is doable as shown by Wayne. And as noted by others, a wall-mounted design brings in more possibilities with respect to curve radius. Mine is only 22" radius, but I could have easily gone to 24 or even 30. I just did not want to sacrifice the space (I also have plans for an HOn3 loop in there, and an HOn30 mine operation - a short one!).

Simon

 

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Posted by emdmike on Friday, April 05, 2019 12:54 PM

I am well aware of how hard it is to reach across a 4x8 table.  This is one reason the rear track would be simple and straight from one end to the other with NO turnouts to keep derailment chances to a bare minimum.  My room is rougly 9' by 9', but also has a work bench and file cabinets in there that have to stay.  My need for 22" curves about locks me into either an around the walls shelf set up with the nearly impossible (for me) to build corner lift out curved section, or the 4x8 hinged at the rear to fold closed against a raised frame on the wall.  Any layout in this small room dominates it and leaves little room to walk, no mater what I chose.  I am looking at a very basic track plan, 22" curved loop, small country town at one end with a large grain elevator switched from the front of the layout, passing siding along the front as well.  Mostly a layout to just watch a train go around, which is what I enjoy anyways.      Mike

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Posted by IDRick on Friday, April 05, 2019 1:12 PM

snjroy

  

IDRick

Simon,

Quick thread hijack, have you written up a description of your lift up bridge and included pictures?  I would love to read your approach!

Mike,

A 4x8 can be fun (for a while) if you have access to all four sides but around the walls gives you far more options in designing the layout and a better us of available space.  Perhaps you could you use the lift up bridge as Simon suggests.  Pocket doors are a possible solution for eliminating space losses due to inward swinging doors.  Good luck!

 

 

 

Here is a good discussion on the topic:

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/11/t/272349.aspx

Mine does not involve a curve, but it is doable as shown by Wayne. And as noted by others, a wall-mounted design brings in more possibilities with respect to curve radius. Mine is only 22" radius, but I could have easily gone to 24 or even 30. I just did not want to sacrifice the space (I also have plans for an HOn3 loop in there, and an HOn30 mine operation - a short one!).

Simon

 

 Thanks for the link, very helpful!  I like the idea of a lift-up but it would need to be rebust as it would be used many times during an operating session.  I'd also have to lag the layout to the concrete floor to keep things aligned as that part of the layout would not be against the wall.  Thanks again.

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Posted by angelob6660 on Friday, April 05, 2019 5:02 PM

A found one of Cuyama layouts that has the same radius and footprint of your room.

Layout

Although it doesn't show switches, town, and industries. Replacing regular turnouts with curved ones. It will be a starting point if the workbench area works out.

Modeling the G.N.O. Railway, The Diamond Route.

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Posted by maxman on Saturday, April 06, 2019 10:41 PM

Take the doors off.

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Posted by emdmike on Sunday, April 07, 2019 10:33 AM

I could do that with the closet, but not the hall door as we dont want our 4 dogs in there when we are not home.  The benchwork that is in place right now, supports 15" radius and 18" radius curves. I have been trying to secure a second Alco C430 in NYS&W yellowjacket colors.  If I could pick that up, I would stick the big SD70 on ebay to recoup the cost of the 4 axle Alco.  This would give me three 4 axle diesels to work the line.  If I go this route, the layout would have flavor of the Utica branch of the Susquehanna in the late 1980's/early 1990s just before ditch lights were installed.  If the C430 falls thru, I do have a line on a GE 8-40B, which I know will handle the tight curves ok as I used to have one.  So bit of a holding pattern right now while I see how the motive power shakes out.  If I proceed with the IC layout, then a fold down 4x8 set up will have to be built to support the 22" radius curves.  But this time I will make the fold up layout table out of lighter material(wish they made 4x8 hollow core doors!).  Last version was a tad heavy to fold up to the closed position.      Mike

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Posted by maxman on Sunday, April 07, 2019 12:34 PM

Can you re-hinge the dog-out door to open out instead of in?

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Posted by emdmike on Sunday, April 07, 2019 1:47 PM

We tried that before and it didn't work well.  I did manage to secure the needed Alco C430, so I am going to try to use the benchwork that is up now.  Tight curve not withstanding, some scenery work will help hide that part a bit I think.   

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Posted by Colorado Ray on Sunday, April 07, 2019 9:11 PM

Hi Mike,

Can you take the door off and then use one of those temporary child-proof gates that folks use at the top of stairways when you need to keep the dogs out?  They use compression bars to keep them in place so they are easy to remove and replace.

 

Ray

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Posted by emdmike on Monday, April 08, 2019 4:58 PM

Solved my problem for now, made a connecting bridge to allow a 22" radius loop, yet let me pop up inside the middle to access the shelf.  Trains are running on a temporary look of old Atlas track.  

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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, April 08, 2019 8:46 PM

emdmike
Solved my problem for now, made a connecting bridge to allow a 22" radius loop, yet let me pop up inside the middle to access the shelf. 

That works. Well done!

Dave

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Posted by emdmike on Monday, April 08, 2019 9:18 PM

When I retrack with Kato Unitrak, I plan to make the connector section removeable with metal dowel pins to align it at each end.  I had the SD70 running prior to taking my wife out to diner.  Ran well with no problems, even on the slightly warped track thats just laying on the table at the moment.      Mike

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Posted by emdmike on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 6:01 PM

As I am going to keep my layout analog control, DCC is nice but trying to sort out programing or even basic consisting really jacks up my anxiety, I picked up a near mint MRC Railine 370 with the copper colored metal case.   It was burried in some other junk HO at a shop down near Indianpolis.  I absolutely love the old copper color, metal case MRC throttles.  I still hope to find the single throttle with the twin lighted meters in near mint condition one day.  While the little Railine 370 might have been a bit small in the days of Athearn blue box motors, with modern can motors, it has plenty of power and on pulse mode, will make my OMI diesels crawl.  Should look good once I get my Atlas block and turnout controls mounted up.    Mike the Aspie

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Posted by emdmike on Saturday, April 13, 2019 10:24 PM

Here is a bit more progress, picked up an grain elevator, feed mill/Co-Op and a single stall engine house at the train show today.  I also got the rear facing air horn installed, the Ex NYS&W C430s at one time had air horns on each end instead of up on the roof due to overhead clearance issues.  I model them as the were prior to the horn being relocated up on the roof behind the cab.  This is 3006, Nathan P2 blairing for the route 20 crossing on her way to the feed mill, then to the elevator with a couple of empties.  

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Posted by emdmike on Monday, April 15, 2019 7:09 PM

Another picture, got my painted C430 today and thankfully they run well together.  Now I can start on scenery, new track and so forth.  The unpainted unit goes off to the professional painter in a few months and will be numbered 3006, the factory painted one is the 3000.   Mike

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 12:54 AM

emdmike
got my painted C430 today

Nice paint job!

Dave

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Posted by emdmike on Thursday, April 18, 2019 10:07 PM

Its a factory painted unit so it better be nice, but Thanks!  But I can say that it might go to ebay later this year as the theme to my layout is evolving.  Sort of started with finding that nice scratchbuilt grain elevator and the feedmill buildings at the show last Saturday.  Followed by finding this at one of the Indy hobby shops.  I grew up with around a shortline here in Kokomo that ran two ex BN GP10's (1410/1416).  I have the massive beacon and front glass numberboard off 1410 in my collection to this very day.   

  Sooo, the GP20 I bought fits my mind's eye for power on a grain hauling shortline set in IL or IN.   It will also fit in my engine house, which is at a friends house getting some paint work and weathering.  The GP20 will go into BN Cascade green, with the cab side logo/lettering patched out and my shortlines reporting marks added.  She will be grimy and dirty, fresh from the locomotive reseller(Precision National got many of the GP20s).  I have been buying grain hoppers slowly, got 3 of them now, 2 Athearn blue box ones and an Accurail one.  My elevator tracks can hold 4 on each track for a total of 8.   Also going to stay with Atlas track as Kato doesnt have everything I need in their HO track line up yet.  So a case of cork roadbed is needed unless someone has a better option for roadbed.      Mike the Aspie

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Posted by SPSOT fan on Friday, April 19, 2019 12:49 AM

You seem to change you ideas for a layout often! That’s a common problem, I do too!

I think Atlas over Kato track is a fine idea, atlas track looks much better when ballasted as opposed to Kato track whos built in roadbed can look unrealistic once scenery goes in around it. Also Atlas makes flextrack! An alternative to cork it this black, foam stuff woodland scenics makes. Not saying it’s better, I have little experience with eathier by you don’t have to soak the woodland scenics stuff first.

Being a river counter for a bit, ex-BN low hood geeps (like the brass one you’ve got) are (I think) classified as gp9r not gp10, gp10 is a rebuild by IC in the Paducah shops, for both IC and other railroads but not BN to my knowledge.

EDIT

You brass model is actually an early low nose gp18, likely factory delivered with low nose. The NYS&W has one that stayed the same for like 50 years. The factory delivered gp18s are identified by the single peice central window frames (most rebuilds used the more common two piece design) and a downward slanted nose (rebuilds usually use a flat nose).

Regards, Isaac

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