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!

Is 4x8 still the go-to standard for first time layout builders and why?

2490 views
56 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    January, 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 728 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 3:09 PM

BRAKIE
Kevin, A 4' x 6' works but, one needs to think small like #4 switches and 40' cars and maybe a small steam engine or 4 axle diesel.

.

Yes, the latest Model Railroad project layout was a 4 by 6. It had some switching, and several amazing photo locations in spite of the small size.

.

If space was available though, I cannot imagine anyone cutting 2 feet off of a 4 by 8 other than just to show it can be done.

.

To continue the thought... When I started in N scale in 1981 the standard layout size for newbies was a 30 inch by 84 inch door. These really were structurally sound and required no benchwork. You could leave them up on a pair of saw horses with no problems.

.

Is a door still a standard for entry N scalers?

.

-Kevin

.

Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
  • 3,535 posts
Posted by cuyama on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 3:20 PM

SeeYou190
Is a door still a standard for entry N scalers?

It's one common layout size in N scale. Note that the 30"X80" dimensions are the equivalent of 4'7" X 12'3" in HO, so a much better relative size in terms of modeling than is the HO 4X8. A 36" wide door is the equivalent of 5'6" wide in HO.

The challenge of dropping feeders through a hollow-core door (which isn't really hollow -- there is filler) is about the only issue. And the same scenery and grade issues as any flat layout substrate.

Byron

Edit: corrected HO equivalent dimensions to reflect 80" HCD length rather than 84"

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
  • 3,535 posts
Posted by cuyama on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 3:23 PM

riogrande5761
But the answer is build a 4x8 frame and have a 4x8 sheet cut in half long ways an then re-assemble on to the frame as 4x8 again.

And of course, once one is cutting plywood and building framing anyway, maybe there is less reason to limit oneself to a 4X8

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
  • 3,535 posts
Posted by cuyama on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 3:33 PM

BRAKIE
A 4' x 6' works but, one needs to think small like #4 switches and 40' cars and maybe a small steam engine or 4 axle diesel. The curves will be 22" or better use 18" curves to gain room.

The HO radius issues are imposed by the width, so they are the same if it's 4X6, 4X8, or 4X12.

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
  • 3,535 posts
Posted by cuyama on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 3:36 PM

SeeYou190
If space was available though, I cannot imagine anyone cutting 2 feet off of a 4 by 8 other than just to show it can be done.

There are some spaces where a 4X8 won't fit but a 4X6 will ... of course, something else altogether might work even better as an HO layout.

  • Member since
    June, 2007
  • From: Northern Virginia
  • 4,779 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 4:17 PM

cuyama
 
riogrande5761
But the answer is build a 4x8 frame and have a 4x8 sheet cut in half long ways an then re-assemble on to the frame as 4x8 again.

Right. So the proverbial 4x8 sheet of plywood for a table top layout based on a bazillion plans might be diverted "accidentally" to something better for those who can't fit a 4x8 sheet into their car to get it home.  Isn't that serindipity?  Smile, Wink & Grin 

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Contrarian's contrarian
  • Member since
    October, 2001
  • From: OH
  • 15,773 posts
Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 4:27 PM

cuyama
 
BRAKIE
A 4' x 6' works but, one needs to think small like #4 switches and 40' cars and maybe a small steam engine or 4 axle diesel. The curves will be 22" or better use 18" curves to gain room.

 

The HO radius issues are imposed by the width, so they are the same if it's 4X6, 4X8, or 4X12.

 

That is correct of course the only 4x6' display layout I ever seen used 18" so the builder could gain some room.

It was very impressive for its size seeing the fella used 36' cars and a Roundhouse 2-6-0. IIRC it took either third or fourth place in the display layout contest.

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Central Iowa
  • 3,854 posts
Posted by jeffhergert on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 4:49 PM

riogrande5761

 

 
cuyama
 
riogrande5761
But the answer is build a 4x8 frame and have a 4x8 sheet cut in half long ways an then re-assemble on to the frame as 4x8 again.

 

 

Right. So the proverbial 4x8 sheet of plywood for a table top layout based on a bazillion plans might be diverted "accidentally" to something better for those who can't fit a 4x8 sheet into their car to get it home.  Isn't that serindipity?  Smile, Wink & Grin 

 

Doesn't fit in the car? No problem. Just get a friend to ride along so both of you can use a hand to hold it to the roof of the car. Laugh

Just this last weekend I met a car with people doing exactly that. It was in town and looked like maybe a half (4x4) sheet rather than a full sheet.  Still it looked like a tricky move to me.

Jeff

  • Member since
    January, 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 728 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, September 17, 2017 6:56 AM

cuyama
The challenge of dropping feeders through a hollow-core door (which isn't really hollow -- there is filler) is about the only issue. And the same scenery and grade issues as any flat layout substrate.

.

The other big problem, which I did not need to deal with, might be under the table switch machines. I used Atlas switched with the switch motor attached above the table. Completely "newbie" style!

.

I had to hurdle over neither one of those. My "door N scale layout" was all wired with light guage wire running across the table top and obscured by scenery. My father, who was a civil engineer, thought that leaving the underside perfectly smooth was a goal worth pursuing.

.

-Kevin

.

Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

  • Member since
    October, 2001
  • From: OH
  • 15,773 posts
Posted by BRAKIE on Sunday, September 17, 2017 7:50 AM

SeeYou190
I had to hurdle over neither one of those. My "door N scale layout" was all wired with light guage wire running across the table top and obscured by scenery.

Kevin,When I built a 36" x 80" HCD N Scale layout I used Atlas selectors for block control and simply drilled holes where needed and dropped the wire then used "all purpose  tape" (aka duct tape) to hold the wires and that worked quite  well for around ten years including train show displays.

While using duct tape to hold wire is unorthodox and bizarre it worked.

'

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

  • Member since
    January, 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 728 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, September 17, 2017 7:53 AM

BRAKIE
While using duct tape to hold wire is unorthodox and bizarre it worked

.

"Gorilla" brand duct tape is best thing since Champagne in a Can!

.

I use it for anything that needs to be held in place. Wonderful stuff! I can see how it would have been great for your portable layout. Sounds good to me.

.

-Kevin

.

Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Smoggy L.A.
  • 10,670 posts
Posted by vsmith on Monday, September 18, 2017 6:06 PM
I'm planning a 4x8, mostly because I plan to store it on a rope lift to keep it stored up and out of the way in the rafters. Using folding legs, 4x8 gives a nice size area without compromising alot of space.

    Have fun with your trains

  • Member since
    November, 2006
  • From: Northeast
  • 580 posts
Posted by GraniteRailroader on Monday, September 18, 2017 6:12 PM

vsmith
I'm planning a 4x8, mostly because I plan to store it on a rope lift to keep it stored up and out of the way in the rafters. Using folding legs, 4x8 gives a nice size area without compromising alot of space.

What scale is this plan designed for? 

 

As configured I see problems with grades, and very difficult transitions both for spiral easements and grade easements...assuming HO.

(Previous) 1:1 Scale railroader - N Scale Modeler

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
  • 3,535 posts
Posted by cuyama on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 1:13 PM

GraniteRailroader
What scale is this plan designed for?    As configured I see problems with grades, and very difficult transitions both for spiral easements and grade easements...assuming HO.

The potential construction, performance, and reliability challenges with this plan were discussed in an earlier thread.
http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/11/t/264625.aspx

  • Member since
    January, 2008
  • From: Big Blackfoot River
  • 2,724 posts
Posted by Geared Steam on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 9:20 PM

Those that are stuck with smaller cars can always buy a 4 × 8 trailer from Harbor Freight to haul the sacred 48" × 96"

Fortunately I live in a land of large vehicles and acreage, so hauling a pallet of plywood isn't a problem, and every man can handle a circular saw by the time they are 10, I can't relate to " I can't cut wood" excuse for the abundant number of 4 × 8 plywood plans (thank goodness)

The "sacred sheet"some liked to say is a stepping stone to a future layout, it's not the "be all, end all" that some make it out to be. It's a starter layout to learn the hobby, develop skills so when you are ready to upsize, you know what you want and how you want it.

I'm not sure why some people are so concerned about noobs starting with a 4 × 8 as long as they are doing something besides posting hogwash in forums.

 There is no reason to have to pay someone to design a layout for you with a hole in the middle to stand in, most builders in this hobby are already creative enough to design a layout on their own. Much ado about nothing (as usual) and the attempts by layout designers to make this harder than it really is forum fodder.

Go play with trains and stop worrying what others are doing wrong (in your opinion). Laugh

"The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination."-Albert Einstein

http://gearedsteam.blogspot.com/

  • Member since
    March, 2009
  • From: Just south of the drift ice barrier
  • 9,560 posts
Posted by Sir Madog on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 11:06 PM

Geared Steam
I'm not sure why some people are so concerned about noobs starting with a 4 × 8 as long as they are doing something besides posting hogwash in forums.

That´s hitting the nail on its head!

Amen!

   Ulrich     

People of my age don´t tan, they simply rust!


  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Smoggy L.A.
  • 10,670 posts
Posted by vsmith on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 11:54 AM
GraniteRailroader wrote the following post yesterday: vsmith I'm planning a 4x8, mostly because I plan to store it on a rope lift to keep it stored up and out of the way in the rafters. Using folding legs, 4x8 gives a nice size area without compromising alot of space. What scale is this plan designed for? As configured I see problems with grades, and very difficult transitions both for spiral easements and grade easements...assuming HO.
Yes HO, I know the issues, but train-wise I'm a bit of a masochist ;-)

    Have fun with your trains

  • Member since
    November, 2013
  • From: Ledyard, CT
  • 1,710 posts
Posted by BMMECNYC on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 5:06 PM

Geared Steam
I'm not sure why some people are so concerned about noobs starting with a 4 × 8 as long as they are doing something besides posting hogwash in forums.

Im not really.  The point of this thread was to generate discussion on if the 4x8 was still the best choice to recommend for someone starting out in the hobby.

One of the things I have noticed when speaking with co-workers about my hobby is that those who are not model railroaders now all said kind of the same thing:

"I had a 4x8 (or some such circular layout) when I was a kid, but I got bored with running a train around in circles after (some time period of time)".

Rule 108: In case of doubt or uncertainty, the safe course must be taken.
  • Member since
    November, 2013
  • From: Ledyard, CT
  • 1,710 posts
Posted by BMMECNYC on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 5:34 PM

BMMECNYC
"I had a 4x8 (or some such circular layout) when I was a kid, but I got bored with running a train around in circles after (some time period of time)".

This makes me wonder if there is some hybrid alternative that would be a alternate recommendation than the standard 4x8.

Im thinking layouts like the Rice Harbor Project railroad and the Virginian project railroad or some variation on those themes might be a good alternate suggestion to those looking to build a layout that does more than a circle.  I admit that the additional carpentry skills required may be a turn off.

Rule 108: In case of doubt or uncertainty, the safe course must be taken.
  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: 4610 Metre's North of the Fortyninth on the left coast of Canada
  • 4,538 posts
Posted by BATMAN on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 6:43 PM

BMMECNYC
I admit that the additional carpentry skills required may be a turn off.

There is a good chance that people without the tools to do the job may know someone willing to help out.

As far as carpentry skills go, I have always been happy to have people come over and help them cut up their stuff in my shop and put it together if it can still be transported afterward. I expect them to help and learn as they go. I have invited people over only to have them watch me do everything. The helpful hints part of the day was cut short. You know the part about how to screw things together without splitting the wood and such.

The ones that are eager to learn and do their own work can come back anytime and have done so, even without me here as the wife can let them in. It is silly to go buy tools if you are not interested in that kind of thing, so they can use mine anytime. (at my house)

Some people have bought me Rapido coaches in appreciation or gift certificates at PWRS which is just down the road from me. While I am happy to help out and do not expect a gift in return, it makes me appreciate the fact that they were grateful for my help. The ones that just sat back and watched me work on their stuff are the ones that I barely got a thank you out of.

 

 

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

https://www.youtube.com/user/BATTRAIN1

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 22,666 posts
Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 8:08 PM

 I suppose it depends - I would get bored with the trains running around in circles allt he time. But others would get bored making slow speed switching moves for a couple of hours. 

 If you are bored of roundy-round running, cut the plywood in half the long way and make an 2x16 linear or 8x10 L shaped switching layout. Or even a 2x8 and save the other half for something else. Any of those has room for enough switching variety to keep you occupied for hours. And all of thoose take up less floor space than the 4x8 island. Just no option for continuous running. (in HO - in 2 feet of width you can cram in 10" or 11" radius N track)

                                 --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • From: California
  • 3,918 posts
Posted by DSchmitt on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 8:31 PM

BMMECNYC

 

 
Geared Steam
I'm not sure why some people are so concerned about noobs starting with a 4 × 8 as long as they are doing something besides posting hogwash in forums.

 

Im not really.  The point of this thread was to generate discussion on if the 4x8 was still the best choice to recommend for someone starting out in the hobby.

One of the things I have noticed when speaking with co-workers about my hobby is that those who are not model railroaders now all said kind of the same thing:

"I had a 4x8 (or some such circular layout) when I was a kid, but I got bored with running a train around in circles after (some time period of time)".

 

The never got beyond playing with trains and so did not become model railroaders. 

Model railroading has many facets beyond running trains in a circle or even operating trains. The range from learning about railroads to planning and building layouts with all the skills learned and tallents developed in doing so. 

 

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

  • Member since
    June, 2003
  • From: Culpeper, Va
  • 7,504 posts
Posted by IRONROOSTER on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 8:53 PM

BMMECNYC
One of the things I have noticed when speaking with co-workers about my hobby is that those who are not model railroaders now all said kind of the same thing: "I had a 4x8 (or some such circular layout) when I was a kid, but I got bored with running a train around in circles after (some time period of time)".

I think that's the critical point.  You either give up at this point or you move into model railroading.  You may still run trains in a circle, but now with the perspective of a railfan.

Paul

If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
  • Member since
    November, 2016
  • 123 posts
Posted by Lonnie Utah on Thursday, September 21, 2017 5:51 AM

SeeYou190
"Gorilla" brand duct tape is best thing since Champagne in a Can!

 

Anen. I wouldn't be without it in our Airstream.  I drove across Wyoming with a busted window on it once upon a time. Gorilla tape, a piece of cardboard and a tarp did the trick. Held up just fine at 70 mph.

  • Member since
    November, 2016
  • 123 posts
Posted by Lonnie Utah on Thursday, September 21, 2017 6:01 AM

And as a newbie in this hobby I'll add this. Many model railroaders make many of us that have a 4x8 feel almost ashamed, embarrassed or inferior because of that choice. I did enough research thst i knew the limitations going in. My decision was made by other factors. Mainly because I did have a kid and the ability to walk around the layout was critical to us.

  • Member since
    June, 2003
  • From: Culpeper, Va
  • 7,504 posts
Posted by IRONROOSTER on Thursday, September 21, 2017 7:33 AM

Lonnie Utah

And as a newbie in this hobby I'll add this. Many model railroaders make many of us that have a 4x8 feel almost ashamed, embarrassed or inferior because of that choice. I did enough research thst i knew the limitations going in. My decision was made by other factors. Mainly because I did have a kid and the ability to walk around the layout was critical to us.

 

Most people in the hobby started with a 4x8 - I know I did.  It's an easy way to get into the hobby without spending too much money.  It's also the most popular size for MR's project railroads over the years.  And yes a lot of people are very down on the 4x8.  But this is a hobby, go with what works for you.

Good luck

Paul

If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
  • Member since
    September, 2017
  • 1 posts
Posted by wankerrr on Thursday, September 21, 2017 7:57 PM

All I know is I have tried for years to build a 4x8 and everytime I saw something I liked by the time I got supplies together there was another layout I liked better.

 I live in an apartment now and like most dwellers I can't bore hole in the walls. So my dining room is the proud home of a 10x10 shelf railroad that I have Frankenstiened myself from parts of track plans that I like.

 It will never be another Gorre and Daphetid but I have the track down and this weekend I tart wiring.

 Farthest I have ever made.... 

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!
Popular on ModelRailroader.com
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Search the Community

Users Online

There are no community member online
ADVERTISEMENT
Find us on Facebook