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Ideal table height

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Ideal table height
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, September 9, 2003 11:26 PM
I am in the planning process on my first layout since childhood. My layout is going to be about 4x14. I have 3 and 5 year old sons that are excited about the train. It seems from everything that I have seen that the average table height is 3 1/2 feet off the ground or so and I am just wondering if there is really a need for it to be so high? It would certainly be easier for my boys to enjoy if it were more at there level but there must be some reasons for the traditional height. Any feedback on this topic would be appreciated.

Joe Goeke
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Ideal table height
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, September 9, 2003 11:26 PM
I am in the planning process on my first layout since childhood. My layout is going to be about 4x14. I have 3 and 5 year old sons that are excited about the train. It seems from everything that I have seen that the average table height is 3 1/2 feet off the ground or so and I am just wondering if there is really a need for it to be so high? It would certainly be easier for my boys to enjoy if it were more at there level but there must be some reasons for the traditional height. Any feedback on this topic would be appreciated.

Joe Goeke
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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 12:00 AM
I would encourage you to keep the layout high, such as between your waist and elbow height. It will be more enjoyable for you to work on and watch; the closer the trains get to your eye level, the greater the realism and sense of being in the scene, not looking down from above. Your kids will get this feeling each time they gander at it, because for them it will be right at eyeball height.

You don't have kids that tall yet, you say? Well, you will someday, for sure. In the meanwhile, I suggest you accomodate them with a mobile viewing platform, built out of 2x6 lumber and plywood, that they stand on in order to view the trains. This gives you a layer of security and control, as it restricts where they can be and what they can touch or reach. When your back is turned or you're not around, they won't be able to drag your prized locomotive around unpowered (ruining traction tires or just getting wheels dirty), or plug tennis balls into your tunnels, or whatever else it is that young boys might try to do to a layout. As they grow, they won't need the platform, and they will have learned to respect the layout because of it; once they are at basketball player enormity, if they are still into trains, they'll want the layout up high as well.

An option you might consider is doing a two-level layout, with the "kids" trains on an accessible lower level, where everything is more abuse-proof, perhaps with trains of a different scale even. I don't know what your carpentry skills or ambitions might be, but this would certainly take a little bit of planning to pull off well.
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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 12:00 AM
I would encourage you to keep the layout high, such as between your waist and elbow height. It will be more enjoyable for you to work on and watch; the closer the trains get to your eye level, the greater the realism and sense of being in the scene, not looking down from above. Your kids will get this feeling each time they gander at it, because for them it will be right at eyeball height.

You don't have kids that tall yet, you say? Well, you will someday, for sure. In the meanwhile, I suggest you accomodate them with a mobile viewing platform, built out of 2x6 lumber and plywood, that they stand on in order to view the trains. This gives you a layer of security and control, as it restricts where they can be and what they can touch or reach. When your back is turned or you're not around, they won't be able to drag your prized locomotive around unpowered (ruining traction tires or just getting wheels dirty), or plug tennis balls into your tunnels, or whatever else it is that young boys might try to do to a layout. As they grow, they won't need the platform, and they will have learned to respect the layout because of it; once they are at basketball player enormity, if they are still into trains, they'll want the layout up high as well.

An option you might consider is doing a two-level layout, with the "kids" trains on an accessible lower level, where everything is more abuse-proof, perhaps with trains of a different scale even. I don't know what your carpentry skills or ambitions might be, but this would certainly take a little bit of planning to pull off well.
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Posted by OhioRailroader on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 12:42 AM
I would agreee that keeping it at a "normal" height would be a good idea. If it were me, I would build it to a rail height of 40-44". For me, that's always been a comfortable height. My first couple layouts when I was 10-12 were at 32"-36" and those got to be too short real fast lol. The higher layout is a lot better on my eyes and back compared to the lower ones, and I'm still relativly young lol.

The platform thought would be a good idea. And to expand on that, you can put the spring loaded casters on the bottom. So while the kids aren't on it, you can move it freely under the table and out of the way, but when they are on it the casters either have sprung brakes or the platform bottom drops to touch the floor and acts as a brake. And I"m sure you could find a lighter material than plain lumber so it would make it that much easier to move. Maybe use the recycled plastic & wood decking. It's pretty lightweight and very sturdy and strong. Just a thought.
John McManaman Ohio Valley Free-mo Website - http://www.trainweb.org/ohiovalleyfreemo Ohio Valley Free-mo Forum - http://ovfm.ipbfree.com
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Posted by OhioRailroader on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 12:42 AM
I would agreee that keeping it at a "normal" height would be a good idea. If it were me, I would build it to a rail height of 40-44". For me, that's always been a comfortable height. My first couple layouts when I was 10-12 were at 32"-36" and those got to be too short real fast lol. The higher layout is a lot better on my eyes and back compared to the lower ones, and I'm still relativly young lol.

The platform thought would be a good idea. And to expand on that, you can put the spring loaded casters on the bottom. So while the kids aren't on it, you can move it freely under the table and out of the way, but when they are on it the casters either have sprung brakes or the platform bottom drops to touch the floor and acts as a brake. And I"m sure you could find a lighter material than plain lumber so it would make it that much easier to move. Maybe use the recycled plastic & wood decking. It's pretty lightweight and very sturdy and strong. Just a thought.
John McManaman Ohio Valley Free-mo Website - http://www.trainweb.org/ohiovalleyfreemo Ohio Valley Free-mo Forum - http://ovfm.ipbfree.com
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  • From: US
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Posted by Puckdropper on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 1:04 AM
My layout is at 48". It's a bit much to do some detailing on the *spoken erriely* Far Side of the Layout!

A simple stand fixes the problem. (Btw, I'm abt 5'6") It looks much better than my old ones at 32" and below.

The advantage to the 48" is you can cut 8' dimensional lumber in half and have no waste.
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Posted by Puckdropper on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 1:04 AM
My layout is at 48". It's a bit much to do some detailing on the *spoken erriely* Far Side of the Layout!

A simple stand fixes the problem. (Btw, I'm abt 5'6") It looks much better than my old ones at 32" and below.

The advantage to the 48" is you can cut 8' dimensional lumber in half and have no waste.
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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 6:16 AM
I would build it short enough for your boys. If possible, use a modular construction so that you can raise it later if you want. That way your sons will have full access to the layout, which is important in feeling like an equal participant with Dad. These are golden years with your boys, enjoy them.
Paul
If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 6:16 AM
I would build it short enough for your boys. If possible, use a modular construction so that you can raise it later if you want. That way your sons will have full access to the layout, which is important in feeling like an equal participant with Dad. These are golden years with your boys, enjoy them.
Paul
If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
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  • From: US
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Posted by MAbruce on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 6:36 AM
Keep in mind that the higher you make it, the narrower you will likely need to make the layout because you won't be able to reach as far in (unless you like balancing on chairs or step stools).

It's all a matter of how tall you are vs. how deep your layout is, and how much of it will be up against a wall. I have an “L” shaped layout that is in a corner of my basement, and set the height at 42” (I’m 6’2”). Even then, there is a smaller section of my layout that is 4’ wide which makes reaching to the back difficult.

But make it too short, and you will be making frequent trips to the Chiropractor! [:D][;)]
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Posted by MAbruce on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 6:36 AM
Keep in mind that the higher you make it, the narrower you will likely need to make the layout because you won't be able to reach as far in (unless you like balancing on chairs or step stools).

It's all a matter of how tall you are vs. how deep your layout is, and how much of it will be up against a wall. I have an “L” shaped layout that is in a corner of my basement, and set the height at 42” (I’m 6’2”). Even then, there is a smaller section of my layout that is 4’ wide which makes reaching to the back difficult.

But make it too short, and you will be making frequent trips to the Chiropractor! [:D][;)]
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Posted by AltonFan on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 10:50 AM
When I was planning to build a layout, I decided to set the layout height so that the trains would be eye level when I was seated. (For me this came to about 48".)

Dan

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Posted by AltonFan on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 10:50 AM
When I was planning to build a layout, I decided to set the layout height so that the trains would be eye level when I was seated. (For me this came to about 48".)

Dan

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Posted by Kent on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 11:05 AM
I must being doing something wrong, I built my layout at 36" and I'm happy with it.:)

Kent Timm, author of ZugDCC for Lenz XpressNet DCC
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Posted by Kent on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 11:05 AM
I must being doing something wrong, I built my layout at 36" and I'm happy with it.:)

Kent Timm, author of ZugDCC for Lenz XpressNet DCC
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Posted by AltonFan on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 1:12 PM
QUOTE:
I must being doing something wrong, I built my layout at 36" and I'm happy with it.:)


Well, that's the key. If you're happy with it, and it works for you, you've succeeded! Congratulations!


Dan

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Posted by AltonFan on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 1:12 PM
QUOTE:
I must being doing something wrong, I built my layout at 36" and I'm happy with it.:)


Well, that's the key. If you're happy with it, and it works for you, you've succeeded! Congratulations!


Dan

  • Member since
    November 2001
  • From: US
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Posted by MAbruce on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 1:47 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by kentsoftware.com

I must being doing something wrong, I built my layout at 36" and I'm happy with it.:)



It must be due to the medication you're on for the back pain... [;)][:o)]
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Posted by MAbruce on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 1:47 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by kentsoftware.com

I must being doing something wrong, I built my layout at 36" and I'm happy with it.:)



It must be due to the medication you're on for the back pain... [;)][:o)]
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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 4:29 PM
I'm planning on a 48" to 52" for main line with hidden return loop under that but still 45" above floor. Leaves room to work under layout and lots of storage for all those kits i've accumulated but haven't built yet.
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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 4:29 PM
I'm planning on a 48" to 52" for main line with hidden return loop under that but still 45" above floor. Leaves room to work under layout and lots of storage for all those kits i've accumulated but haven't built yet.
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Posted by BR60103 on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 10:24 PM
There are a bunch of considerations.
The best viewing is generally considered to be eye level.
For operating and switching, it's easier if you can see over the trains.
For building and maintenance, you need to really reach over the trains.
Are you planning a major railroad or a single sheet of plywood? If you're making it on one sheet, I think you might consider doing something with changeable legs, so that you can raise it as they grow. Make it at eye level for the younger one, and have it so the older one can operate it. You'll be able to reach over it easily. As they grow, you can lengthen the legs. You can sit down on the floor to run it too.
You'll probably change it a lot as they grow up, possibly replace it a few times.
(My layout comes up to my armpit and I knock things over if I don't get a stool to reach.)

--David

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Posted by BR60103 on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 10:24 PM
There are a bunch of considerations.
The best viewing is generally considered to be eye level.
For operating and switching, it's easier if you can see over the trains.
For building and maintenance, you need to really reach over the trains.
Are you planning a major railroad or a single sheet of plywood? If you're making it on one sheet, I think you might consider doing something with changeable legs, so that you can raise it as they grow. Make it at eye level for the younger one, and have it so the older one can operate it. You'll be able to reach over it easily. As they grow, you can lengthen the legs. You can sit down on the floor to run it too.
You'll probably change it a lot as they grow up, possibly replace it a few times.
(My layout comes up to my armpit and I knock things over if I don't get a stool to reach.)

--David

  • Member since
    July 2003
  • 141 posts
Posted by Kent on Thursday, September 11, 2003 5:23 AM
QUOTE: Originally posted by MAbruce

QUOTE: Originally posted by kentsoftware.com

I must being doing something wrong, I built my layout at 36" and I'm happy with it.:)



It must be due to the medication you're on for the back pain... [;)][:o)]

Actually I don't bother with pain killers much, they don't work for me any more. I've taken too many over the years, bad back, knees, headaches,etc. Ive even had Tylenol 3 fail.

Kent Timm, author of ZugDCC for Lenz XpressNet DCC
  • Member since
    July 2003
  • 141 posts
Posted by Kent on Thursday, September 11, 2003 5:23 AM
QUOTE: Originally posted by MAbruce

QUOTE: Originally posted by kentsoftware.com

I must being doing something wrong, I built my layout at 36" and I'm happy with it.:)



It must be due to the medication you're on for the back pain... [;)][:o)]

Actually I don't bother with pain killers much, they don't work for me any more. I've taken too many over the years, bad back, knees, headaches,etc. Ive even had Tylenol 3 fail.

Kent Timm, author of ZugDCC for Lenz XpressNet DCC
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, September 11, 2003 10:51 AM
QUOTE: Originally posted by kentsoftware.com

I must being doing something wrong, I built my layout at 36" and I'm happy with it.:)




Yea, but according to the note at the bottom of your post you have to remember that is about sixty-six inches in HO Scale, a pretty good height for wiring under the layout. - Ed
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, September 11, 2003 10:51 AM
QUOTE: Originally posted by kentsoftware.com

I must being doing something wrong, I built my layout at 36" and I'm happy with it.:)




Yea, but according to the note at the bottom of your post you have to remember that is about sixty-six inches in HO Scale, a pretty good height for wiring under the layout. - Ed
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, September 11, 2003 3:16 PM
My layout is 54" high which allows me (6ft) to sit in a chair and work on the wiring and switch machines under the table with ease. My grandchildren, 5 & 6, stand on platforms so that they can operate the trains but not touch the layout. It is working out fine.

The idea of making it one piece so that you can raise it as they grow is a good suggestion.

It's important that it is fun for the kids of all ages.
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, September 11, 2003 3:16 PM
My layout is 54" high which allows me (6ft) to sit in a chair and work on the wiring and switch machines under the table with ease. My grandchildren, 5 & 6, stand on platforms so that they can operate the trains but not touch the layout. It is working out fine.

The idea of making it one piece so that you can raise it as they grow is a good suggestion.

It's important that it is fun for the kids of all ages.

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