New member new layout design to be done

Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)

#1
I am a new member and I'm excited to get involved in model railroading. I am looking to see what type of layout
will best fit in my available space. I have access to an area 16' long & 4' wide (against a wall) with a 90 degree right turn travelling another 8'long & 4' wide. It will look like the letter " L " but buttressed against the two corner walls.

I've thought about doing an urban/city area connected to a yard and then residential/suburban area with a continuous loop around the layout. Now I am an Amtrak afficianado so I definitely want an Amtrak line as part of the design but I am open to suggestions . Any thoughts????
Thanks!!
 

montanan

Whiskey Merchant
#2
Welcome.gif Welcome to the forum. From the area you are working with N scale would probably be your best bet. I was into N scale many years ago and now have an HO layout. Your wishes would be a lot to get into that small space in HO scale.
 

migalyto

Active Member
#3
Welcome to the forum!

What scale are you looking at? Your dimensions would yield a good sized HO layout, or a vast empire in N Scale. Have you looked at track plans to see what others have done?
 

wombat457

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#7
Amtrakking,

The area you have available to you is similar to what I have available to me. What you are proposing for your layout, scenery wise, would definitely suit N Scale better. If you like Amtrak then N would definitely give you the opportunity to create a very nice layout for an Amtrak train.

Just as a comparison, I had a HO layout in the same (almost) space I am putting my N Scale layout. I also wanted to run Amtrak trains but was unable to due to their size and the restrictions with radii being too small to accommodate them in HO scale. Running Amtrak trains in N Scale in the same space, not an issue at all.

As was mentioned, think about what is important to you and what you want to run, train wise, then choose the scale that best suits that need.
 

montanan

Whiskey Merchant
#8
Tony is right. If you're looking at passenger trains, HO scale wouldn't let you do justice to passenger trains. Here's a video of my North Coast Limited and the camera is probably somewhere about 16 feet from the far wall. The train is longer than 16 feet long.


You really wouldn't have the room to build what you want in this space in HO scale. Over 30 years ago I had an N scale layout with over 11 scale miles of main line. It was great for running long trains, but unfortunately, back in the 70's the locomotives were for the most part pretty crappy, not like what is available today. N scale locomotives today run almost as good as HO scale equipment.
 
Last edited:
#9
You all make perfect sense on the N scale issue, but before I decide to "jump ship" what options would I have not just looking at my "wants" but in total in an HO scale? Would any passenger train be workable or would I be better off re thinking the entire concept? If I cant get a reasonable layout in the space then I will seriously consider going to N scale.....luckily I did not start buying equipment!!
 

wombat457

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#10
Amtrakking,

Just to be clear, you have an area 16' X 4' and another section 9' X 4', right?

I think the first thing that needs to be mentioned is Radius. Your maximum radius is going to pretty well dictate what you can and cannot (or may not) be able to run. HO virtually dictates a minimum radius of 22" in order to run any modern equipment and/or any 6 axle trucks. With the dimensions of your possible bench work, you could have 22" radius curves at either end of the bench work. Therefore, you could run almost any HO scale train, but only almost, possibly not all. Your Amtrak, and most other trains passenger and freight) would work with 22" radius curves.

"A reasonable layout" ...

What constitutes a reasonable layout is really up to the individual and must take into account what the individual wants/expects from their layout.

When I built my first HO layout I thought I had a "reasonable layout" and aesthetically it may well have been BUT it didn't provide me with the things that I really wanted - modern engines, longer trains and more opportunities for scenery. As such, I ripped the HO up and am putting an N Scale in place, a scale that will give me the things I really want.

What options do you have with HO? I would think that you could have virtually everything you wanted but in very reduced quantities and sizes. An Amtrak train (engine + 4 cars) is 52" long in HO Scale. The same Amtrak train in N Scale is 31" long. Freight trains are realistically longer but they would be restricted to probably no more than perhaps 8 cars to maintain some sort of proportion between train length and track length where as in N Scale you could probably run 15 - 20 cars and still have a sense of realism.

Scenery wise, you would be able to have some very nice features, a town, mountains, tunnel/s, bridges etc but it would be fairly close to one another due to scale. You would get approximately twice to three times the amount of scenery in the same area with N Scale; therefore, allowing you more options and to be able to incorporate more things such as industries.

At the end of the day though, what you consider to be a reasonable layout is in the eye of the beholder, the individual. Which ever way you look at it, you really do need to think about what you want and what your expectations are. Trust me, there is nothing worse than building something because it is convenient while for going what you really want. Doing it that way may please you in the short term BUT you will always want what it is you REALLY want from your layout.

Hope this helps and believe me, I'm not trying to pressure you into one scale or the other. I'm just taking into account the things you mentioned you wanted, as that is important and necessary and a must. At the end of the day the decision is yours but hope the comparisons I mentioned might help you to choose.

Good luck and look forward to seeing whatever you choose.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

migalyto

Active Member
#11
Tony, and Chet give sage advise!

Another thought would be........If a 4FT depth is all you have, a 22.5 radius is probably all you can achieve. It probably wouldn't be a great radius in HO for long passenger equipment. Another plus of going N is Kato makes a lot of passenger equipment, and it is really nice. Kato locomotives run like sewing machines. I found N scale to small and fragile for me with my crampy hands, so I made the switch.
 

wombat457

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#12
Migalyto,

Thank you and I should have mentioned the Kato engines and passenger cars, they are what I have for Amtrak in both scales and they do run extremely well.
 

cajon

Active Member
#13
Amtraking
There's already a gazillion track plans on the internet & MR forums. Do a Google search using the parameters you've already given. When you find some you like post them here for comments. If you go with HO your Amtrak cars will need at least 28" R curves so the ends will need to be 5' wide. But you should be OK going N scale. There's more cars & locos available in HO scale, but if you're not too picky N scale should work. Do an internet search for the types of equipment in both scales to see what's available.
 

wombat457

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#14
...There's more cars & locos available in HO scale, but if you're not too picky N scale should work...

I beg to differ ... there aren't too many HO models that aren't available in N Scale and with just as much detail to the naked eye as well.

To suggest those of us who choose to have N Scale aren't picky is an outrageous statement to make.
HO isn't the "B all and End all" of this hobby.
 

cajon

Active Member
#15
Well beg to differ with you Tony. Have seen many HO & N scale layouts at MR shows. The variety of HO Models is FAR greater
than N models.
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
#16
You all make perfect sense on the N scale issue, but before I decide to "jump ship" what options would I have not just looking at my "wants" but in total in an HO scale? Would any passenger train be workable or would I be better off re thinking the entire concept? If I cant get a reasonable layout in the space then I will seriously consider going to N scale.....luckily I did not start buying equipment!!
How picky are you about the equipment? Companies make HO scale 85' passenger cars (thinking IHC and Concor here, and older Rivarossi & AHM) that have the trucks mounted on the couplers so they can make the sharp curves (even 18" radius). However if you want the body mounted couplers on the higher quality cars like Walthers and Rapido you would have to find a way to make at least two blobs wider than 4' on either end of that space. The section wider that 4 feet doesn't have to be huge, just enough to deal with a cord of the widest part of the circle.

Another option is what they call "shorty" cars. Athearn passenger cars are shorties. I think ConCor also makes shorties. This means a prototypical 85' passenger car is modeled at 72' or so. This helps them turn tight corners.

If you don't mind either of the above options you can definitely go with HO.

On the other hand, here is the end of one of my Walther's true scale 85' passenger cars. Note that the minimum is 24". My experience shows they need greater than that (more like 28"). I am doing a layout for my office that I used 28" minimum just for this reason.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
#17
Amtrakking,

Just to be clear, you have an area 16' X 4' and another section 9' X 4', right?

I think the first thing that needs to be mentioned is Radius. Your maximum radius is going to pretty well dictate what you can and cannot (or may not) be able to run. HO virtually dictates a minimum radius of 22" in order to run any modern equipment and/or any 6 axle trucks. With the dimensions of your possible bench work, you could have 22" radius curves at either end of the bench work. Therefore, you could run almost any HO scale train, but only almost, possibly not all. Your Amtrak, and most other trains passenger and freight) would work with 22" radius curves.

"A reasonable layout" ...

What constitutes a reasonable layout is really up to the individual and must take into account what the individual wants/expects from their layout.

When I built my first HO layout I thought I had a "reasonable layout" and aesthetically it may well have been BUT it didn't provide me with the things that I really wanted - modern engines, longer trains and more opportunities for scenery. As such, I ripped the HO up and am putting an N Scale in place, a scale that will give me the things I really want.

What options do you have with HO? I would think that you could have virtually everything you wanted but in very reduced quantities and sizes. An Amtrak train (engine + 4 cars) is 52" long in HO Scale. The same Amtrak train in N Scale is 31" long. Freight trains are realistically longer but they would be restricted to probably no more than perhaps 8 cars to maintain some sort of proportion between train length and track length where as in N Scale you could probably run 15 - 20 cars and still have a sense of realism.

Scenery wise, you would be able to have some very nice features, a town, mountains, tunnel/s, bridges etc but it would be fairly close to one another due to scale. You would get approximately twice to three times the amount of scenery in the same area with N Scale; therefore, allowing you more options and to be able to incorporate more things such as industries.

At the end of the day though, what you consider to be a reasonable layout is in the eye of the beholder, the individual. Which ever way you look at it, you really do need to think about what you want and what your expectations are. Trust me, there is nothing worse than building something because it is convenient while for going what you really want. Doing it that way may please you in the short term BUT you will always want what it is you REALLY want from your layout.

Hope this helps and believe me, I'm not trying to pressure you into one scale or the other. I'm just taking into account the things you mentioned you wanted, as that is important and necessary and a must. At the end of the day the decision is yours but hope the comparisons I mentioned might help you to choose.

Good luck and look forward to seeing whatever you choose.
I am the idiot in the class.........ready to go, but not sure where I'm going!!! LOL

All advice is taken with my understanding that all of you on this board have much more experience individually much less collectively than I.
Let me paint you a picture of what I envision for my layout......
Being able to sit and watch the action with day & night lighting .
If having structures maybe including a small city scene, maybe a suburb.
Having an Amtrak train running....some have even suggested doing a large station.
Having modern control panel (with DCC capabilities).
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Sirfoldalot

Plucked Tailfeathers
Staff member
#18
Amtrakking- Do you have a "real" name?
There are no "idiots" in this hobby - it's just that there are more out there, on the other side of the fence, than they are in here!
The only "dumb" question is the one not asked!

If I ever get another layout - I am going for the "shorty" type cars. I had rather have 8 short cars than 6 long ones on a train.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

wombat457

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#19
...ready to go, but not sure where I'm going...

That's pretty much how we all began. There are so many options and so many different things to be considered it can get confusing and make it difficult to get a start on something, anything.

Why do you think yourself an idiot? Believe me your not, your doing the smart thing by looking at your options and making a decision based on those options and good information.

From what you restated above and regardless of what scale I model in, I truely believe that your best option would be N Scale, I think at the end of the day you will be happier being able to run full size trains the way you would like to and not have to "cut corners".

One other thing with N Scale, you will be able to do a far more interesting track plan with more track options for sidings, spurs and so forth. Anyway, as said, at the end of the day it is what you want and not what I or any one else would want.

Being able to sit and watch the action with day & night lighting
I would therefore suggest having as much running track, perhaps double line, so one lap doesn't end just as it starts.


If having structures maybe including a small city scene, maybe a suburb.
You will more than likely want structures to create a level of realism and you'll be surprised how those structures will expand and evolve, especially when lit up. With N Scale, you'll at least twice the opportunity to have a good size town, residential area. Not so much in HO.

Having an Amtrak train running....some have even suggested doing a large station.
Amtrak pretty much demands a station capable of an Amtrak train. That requires room and for a full Amtrak, N Scale is your only option if you don't want things to look crowded.

Having modern control panel (with DCC capabilities).
By a modern control panel I am assuming you mean a new DCC system. NCE offers a very good complete DCC starter system capable of running 4 trains at once for around $150

Lastly, as mentioned, there are absolutely NO stupid questions. The worse thing you can do is NOT ask and try to stumble through something.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

otiscnj

Active Member
#20
My advice is that if you are all ready in HO, don't switch to N. You could use 24" radius curves, perhaps making the tables a few inches wider where you're got a 180 degree curve. You should be able to do something very nice with that amount of space. Good luck!
 



ModelRailroadForums.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com