Layout Eye Line

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Section Hand
Jim: I'm at 5'10 or 11" or there a bouts.

I'm one of those who believe model railroads look the best when viewed at near eye level rather than looking down on the layout and that why I suggested 48-50 inches for the upper level of the new layout. On my CM&NR there is a section of the layout that's almost at eye level and it adds a new dimension to viewing this section of the model railroad.

Saxeville Tunnel.JPG


Greg , don't you find that by viewing at eye level you miss things that are further back , especially if they are smaller than items in front of them?


Section Hand
Jim: The added height of the layout adds I believe more dimension to the layout and the illusion of distance. There's is a lot of layout below the higher areas of the layout to maintain interest. The turnouts leading into the mine hoppers are hidden from view, but the signals on the mine structure indicate the turnout's position for the operators to properly spot or pick up the coal cars under the hoppers.

The average viewer can see the is the rolling stock and locomotives on the mine yard tracks, but not the tracks themselves.


I want to call attention to the items at eye or that are above eye level like the mine structure.

Jim, the entire layout isn't at eye level which would make it hard to operate, maintain and construct.

The Saxeville Interchange is high, but the operator can see the locomotives and rolling stock and all the turnouts have dwarf Green over Red signals to aid the operators through the turnouts.

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Well-Known Member
When I built my current layout, I wanted it to be visible to grandkids and young neighbors' kids, plus I wanted to be able to view it sitting as well as standing. I have a base height of 32-1/2" with a grade that goes uphill to 36" above floor level. When I am standing, this gives me an airplane view of the 12 x 14 layout of about 200 scale feet above the "ground"!


Active Member
The way I got it is that 96% of the time we see trains from the side more than below or above them... So the logic then is to build at least a large portion of the layout at about chest or shoulder height where we only need to bend down a tad to view the model from the side. So the question is: Is this concept to be based on my own height or a shorter or a taller person's height ? Or, do we want to look down on the entire thing ? There's no rule. It's up to each of us.. Personally, I do like it high up.. One reason I don't care much for modular-club layouts is seemingly always looking downward on everything..
Many thanks to
Greg@mnrr, jim81147, trailrider, and MHinLA
The original reason for asking was my RxR is a 2 tiered TOMA layout. HOWEVER, both levels are on top of each other. Facing in the same direction. That takes up a lot of wall space, as railers need to climb over each other for OPs. Also when my son and I upgraded to the second version he was only 9 YOA and 4'9". He is still tall at 45 & 6'8". My two youngest guys (a 3 YOA & a 4 YOA grandson) are both about 2' to 3' tall. With three other grandsons 10 - 18 YOA are from 5'8" up to 6'9". And a Son-in-Law at 6'5". Me I'm 5'9" on a good day. So the sight line has a great variance.

The current benchwork is made up of rehabbed Lower Kitchen Cabinets. Which are 36" cubed. The upper level is cantilevered off the wall at 57". With a trackbed at 60". Great for the tall guys or us OLD guys. But my arms are starting to ache carrying the wee ones.

Thanks to you guys, and SCARM, I think I have my 2020 upgrade plan.

Yank everything off the walls. New drywall. Build a ramp around the outer edges of the room. From floor height up to 4' elevation along the wall.

I'll go the Thrift Shops, Habitat for Humanity ReStores, ReClaimed Building Warehouses, Uncle Sal's, & Goodwill. I'll buy a couple truckloads of Upper Kitchen Cabinets. They SEEM to run from 12"H - 40"H x 20"D x 36"W. Glue and Screw them to the wall as our stock yard and surround "helix"ish track climber. Dismantle the current upper layout. Saving what I can. Turn the Lower Layout Cabinets inside (backside) out. (There's a job.) Putting the lower level as a walk through "X" layout.

Then come the supports for the upper section????? SCARM knows I want the top deck to be above the bottom. But facing out towards the ramp side. This way Railers can be at about a 6-7' height level. See the entire trackage. And not have to climb over the lower level guys trying to run consists. I'll most likely need to build a track side-to-ramp inner curve decking to move around?

The layout already has a Helix from the lower deck to the top. I'm going to attempt to salvage it somehow. Or maybe a turn around loop at the end of the line????? The lower deck is already a 2 track main. Maybe SCARM could come up with something for the upper?

Well thanks Guys. I have got a great start. Now let's find out if I can pull it off.

"It's not where you start, it's where you finish. And I'm gonna' finish on top." ~ from SEESAW, lyric and music by Cy Coleman

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