Model Train Layouts

The layout I grew up with was a 4 foot by 8 foot table. The general layout was a figure 8 with a track connecting one side of it to be able to switch directions. There was a mountain on one end which had a few tunnels in it. The uppermost tunnel had a double wide trestle bridge which went over the whole layout from one corner to the opposite, at an angle. There was a station at the top of the hill which it connected to.

The hill sloped down around the 4 foot edge and came to a small river which split the layout in half at a slight angle. The train could either turn right before the bridge to enter a small yard, or cross the bridge and follow the stream on the other side. The other side of that bridge was also where another split was to go into the mountain and switch directions on the figure 8.

The yard was one of my favorite parts. It was just a few tracks since there wasn’t much space but all the switches were wired to a control panel and I loved flipping the switches and changing cars around.

Continuing past the yard and crossing the stream was a tunnel which would bring you to either the top bridge or the track for switching directions. There was another tunnel right by it from crossing the stream earlier which led to the upper bridge. But before that tunnel was access to a coal yard for a mining company.

That’s about as well as I can remember it to be able to describe it by typing only. I thought I had some pictures of it somewhere but I can’t seem to find them anywhere.

When I was in high school I tried building a layout by myself. It was a 4 foot by 8 foot table, because it was easy for me to buy a sheet of plywood and put legs on it. I didn’t have any hills of anything because I didn’t have the tools or materials to make them at the time. I don’t remember what the layout looked like because the drawings I had for it are long gone and I never took any pictures.

I do remember it being a big loop with some other tracks coming off in different spots. It was mostly just to get used to the radii which I could bent the track at, and the angles which tracks came out at switches. My main goal with at that point was to figure out what I would need to do in terms of electronics for different scenarios. I tried having a spot to change which direction the train would go around the loop so I could try wiring it correctly. And I would figure out the best way to split the layout up to only be wiring certain tracks at a time so I could have multiple trains on the layout without accidentally running one which shouldn’t be moving.

It was around that time when I found out about DCC (Digital Command and Control), but I always enjoyed doing it with DC (Direct Current) so that’s how I planned everything. I suppose since there is such an increasing availability of DCC products for HO scale I may decide to use it in the future. From the small amount I’ve read it seems like it at least makes it easier to run the wiring to power the tracks.

A couple years ago I drew out some more plans for various layouts I wanted to try building in the office at my old house. One of them was just a big loop with a yard in the middle. The far straight-away was elevated just to keep it separated from the yard but there wasn’t much else to the layout. The point of drawing it out was mostly just for me to figure out track spacing and turnouts for a large yard for if I ever get the chance to fill a room with a huge layout.

I also had one based on a logging company in Canada, which I would like to redraw to fit in my new house if I ever have the time and resources. It would work well for the space I have because it would basically be a shelf layout, sticking out from the wall only a foot or so, so it wouldn’t take up the whole room.


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