Other Layout Designs

Over the last few years, I have created quite a few layouts before coming up with the current design of Wrightsville Port - mostly all in N scale. There are a couple or so in HO for some of the friends as well. Some of these I liked, some I didn't, because of my personal preferences and constraints. Here I am going to put a few favorites with a little bit of descriptions. I might use these ideas later if I have a chance to grow my current layout or build another layout and connect to the current one. On the other hand, given how fickle-minded and impatient I am, I might look for something entirely different.

If anyone is interested to use any of these ideas, please feel free to. But I would appreciate if you please let me know about your progress, as I would love to see how these plans come to life. :)

All trackplans are designed using Atlas RTS free track planning software and other sketches are done in MS Paint.

Givens and Druthers

Primarily all my designs are for tight budget and space, but not too confined. I have always tried to keep operating and visual interests on top of everything. Here I am going to provide a 'flexible' givens and druthers - these are definitely changeable as per liking and situation, even considering myself.
  1. Size: ideally within 6X3 for N and 8X4 in HO - if they are tabletop. For shelf, not more than 15-18 inches for N. I have designed some layouts  in 10 foot long space as well.
  2. Turnouts: 
    1. Brand and Operation: Peco electro-frog with under the table switch machines - controlled remotely from a control panel - no hand thrown turnouts (Please note that this is a costly demand. Compromising here can eventually free up a good amount of cash)
    2. Number of turnout: Due to my prejudice towards remote control Peco turnouts, I need to keep the number of turnouts under control - ideally 12-15. You'll notice that this factor does limit some of my design criteria.
  3.  Strong operational aspects: I like operation - especially in small space.
  4.  Passenger operation: I like passenger operation, even if it's a single RDC! So tried to include this for most of the layouts. But even if it's not mentioned, one RDC can be included in any layout, isn't it? Well almost... :)

Transfer Layout (N Scale)

Inspired by Harlem Transfer in New York, I designed this for small space with off the shelf turnouts. Those who are familiar with rail-marine transfer business know that the transfer companies were busy entities since end of 19th century till 1960s, and New York had seen quite a few remarkable transfer facilities in the first half of the 20the century. All these transfer facilities had very complex track work packed in a very tight space - even by the prototype's standards. Yes, even 9-3/4" curve in N scale would be perfectly prototypical (if not broad) for these facilities. For prototype information, please visit: http://members.trainweb.com/bedt/indloco/ht.html

The biggest challenge for modeling these to the scale is lack of commercially available turnouts, as mostly all commercially available turnouts will be bigger than what it should be - closest could be Peco insulfrog small radius ones, may be. I have designed this with commercially available Atlas number 4 turnouts and tried to keep it as tight as possible. But even with a LOT simplified track design, this can be a very interesting layout in terms of operation and can have visually exciting urban scene:

N Scale. 4.5X2.5. 6" grid

Notice that round freight house in the center which can be a unique structure for this layout. A small staging/cassette on the left hand side corner will make the layout operational - but it can also be connected to another shelf layout. I have purposely omitted a runaround, because the circular track around the freight house itself can work as a functional runaround!
For those who might be interested for more prototypical representation, Tim Warris has taken up a very similar project (actually more complex in nature) for Bronx terminal - and trust me, it's hell of a project! He has also developed tools for hand laying very complex tracks, especially keeping these type of layout in mind: http://www.bronx-terminal.com/?cat=9

Rookie's Run (HO Scale)

This one was for a friend in AMR. A very simple, straight forward, starter layout in HO, can easily be transferred to N. Requirement was to create a small HO layout in minimal space with continuous running and interesting switching option. A turntable and roundhouse was a must. Additionally, the layout must have option for a decent town scene. I created some interesting over and under action using Gum Stump and Snowshoe concept. Layout also has an option for future extension.

HO Scale. 6X4. 1' Grid

Port Layout (N Scale)

This is a part of my unfinished designs - but good enough to be published. Primary idea is modular design and expansion. The primary module is a 3X3 switching layout - meant for a corner. Rest two modules are in fact extensions and these can definitely be modified/extended as per wish.

The intriguing part is definitely the wye - and I personally liked the unique shape of it in a relatively tight space and with pretty broad curves. With a little bigger space (6 inches on each side) the central square module can actually become a very interesting switching layout by adding a couple of more siding and/or switchbacks

Modified Vignette Pike (N scale)

One of early attempts of layout designing. This layout is basically squeezing a John Armstrong modification of Atlas N-108 plan - so two times the squeezing from the original!

My challenge was to fit it in a 5X3 area. So I have indeed removed quite a few sidings and spurs - keeping the basic elements intact. The central ridge acts as a scenic divider, one side representing a small yard with more operating elements and the other side providing more scenic options. Minimum 9-3/4" curve.

N Scale. 5X3. 1' grid

N scale - Around the wall, sectional and portable Harbor Layout - 2 freelanced designs

Well, this one might not be your conventional layout design, but as I imagine it, it might be a very interesting and satisfying layout if built properly. Primary objective of this layout is sectional and phased approach - suitable primarily for people who might move frequently, have space and budget constraints, but dream of a BIG layout (yeah! someone like me... sigh! )

The style of these type of design is freedom of thought, free flowing concepts and change in desire over time - keeping the starting theme constant... so that you can start with something, and then grow as you like and as your situation permits.

The starting theme for me is an around the wall harbor and town scene in one corner of a 10 ft. wall. There are four sections (Marked with the red lines in the plan) in this initial plan. Now for me, I wanted to add a radically different scene with a scenic divider on the left. I added a big trestle, a river and over and under action with a grade of 3.5%.

N scale 6" grid.

Now this layout is capable of giving a very nice run for the trains - not too short, not too long. But what if you want to have longer run without permanently blocking real estate of your small apartment?

What I thought is just a free flowing development of small sections that can be stored away when you need the space and just attach them to the main layout when you just want to see trains running. These small sections will have permanent backdrop.

N scale 6" Grid

The biggest challenge that you might encounter for this layout is the benchwork. My idea is simple 10mm ply on 1" X 1.5" wooden brace with wooden folding legs for each section. There has to be strong joints between each section of this extra part and I think clip joiners in all four corners of each section should be good enough, given these sections are light and small in size. Notice that when these extra sections are removed you can add a replaceable staging track to keep the operation intact.

Hornby OO layouts:

My good friend Rohit has a huge collection of Hornby OO stuff, and I was working on designing two layouts for him. These layouts are designed in Anyrail free version (less that 50 pieces of track ;) ). Rohit has very tight constraint on the display space of his vast collection of passenger trains and long locomotives.
The challenge was to build a decent size passenger station, along with a small yard and some switching options within a non-negotiable space of 10' X 4' and possibly use lesser space than that. I used standard Hornby tracks for these designs.
Clay cross junction:

This is a simple display layout, with two large platforms, a decent sized roundhouse, a couple of industries and long stretch of tracks to display passenger trains and decent sized goods trains. The staging is one level down, connected by a helix. overall space used in this layout is much smaller than 40 sq. feet since i reduced the width on the  left by 2". This one can actually be used as a module of a bigger layout in the future.

Fleetwood logging and mining layout:

This is a small OO layout built on 48" X 38", which is even smaller than my N-scale layout! 14.65" Limiting Radius wont let you run longer rolling stocks/engines. This one is designed to display Rohit's smaller Hornby rolling stocks and engines.

Although small, there is enough action and a very good opportunity to build decent scenery in this small space. the layout has 3 levels, the town of Fleetwood on ground 0, a large mine on the 2nd level and a scenic logging section around the layout. Enough opportunity to build a proper town scene in the middle as well. As usual, I kept provisions for expansion and staging yards as seperate attachments.

Spokane, Pasco and Wallace in N scale:

Kenneth Gentili's Spokane, Pasco and Wallace is in my All time favorite list for a long time - I love the intricacy, and ingenuity of the track plan, creativity, space utilization and uniqueness of the overall plan, vast possibilities in terms of operations and scenery... it is a complete layout, I say. Here is a very rough sketch of this master piece in N scale - all Atlas Code 55 track. I have modified the theme a little bit - replaced the lumber yard in Kenneth's plan with a oil refinery, the yard in the town of Spokane with a modern freight terminal - but overall feel of the layout remains the same. And this design can be adapted to any theme and era without much problem.

Statesboro Blues!

My new N scale friend in the city, Aritrim (he is also an avid die cast model car enthusiast - http://www.scalemodelcarz.com) is planning for his first layout, and the crazy planning freak I am, I just couldn't stop myself from re-installing RTS and start drwing lines immediately! After all, at the moment, he is the only person in my city for whom I can design something in my scale - so I am bound to be excited.

Well, let's start with givens and druthers - area - 8' X 6' - L shaped - it won't be easy for him to spare much room and make a U shaped layout. There are two pillars in the two corner of the 6' wall along with a window. He is primarily looking for some opportunities to switch as well as some long run, as much as possible within this area. He can's really spare much room to have a 2' deep layout, blocking 24 sq ft of real estate, so it had to be as slim and thin as possible.

For this design I gave preference to Atlas C55. I wanted to include continuous run with a small staging and a yard (he likes the yard view), some small industry, one oil refinery (he loves tank cars!) and some over and under action with possibility to run two trains at a time).

Well, just like my other layouts, my approach was to build a complete imaginary layout with some lose knot tied to some real world. While searching for the right prototype and a name, I was listening to my favorite Statesboro Blues by Allman Brothers Band, and that's when it hit me! What about Statesboro Railroad? But a quick online search told me that Savannah and Statesboro RR was decommissioned back in 1950s and all that is left of Statesboro railroad is a small spur now (www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPdpH8gpqK8).

But I liked the name too much to go back now - so here is the story: What if Statesboro RR survived? Survived till 80s or 90s - the time that we are trying to capture. Online search revealed that modeling an oil refinery near Statesboro will not be too inappropriate. Though the area is primarily coastal and plain land, there are some small hills where I can hide my sharp curves. This consideration gives another advantage - keeping the theme intact with prototype buildings, roads and other artifacts, I can design the railroad the way I want it - because I really don't have to restrict myself to the exact dimension of the prototype as it was in 1950s - who knows, if the railroad would have survived, it might have looked exactly the way I design it today - 50/60 years is a long time!

So here is the layout:

As you can see -the 8' wall portion is actually pretty thin, except the loop. Even that has been kept at a minimum depth possible. Smooth, broad curves on the mainline with #10 turnouts and curved turnouts, smaller #7 and #5 in spurs. Long, curved yard giving a unique view of the trains, a long, curved stone viaduct over the yard making the view even more interesting. A large area to model the oil refinery with plenty of detail. Two passing sidings in front of the yard for plenty of action and operations, as well as a big junction type look. There is also enough area to model a small passenger station right in front of the yard if that's a requirement. The layout will be divided in two 6' long sections - depth will vary as the tracks take turns on the layout.

The only challenge would be the tight loops if longer locos are running - but longer locos can travel a considerable length by bringing cars in to the Statesboro yard directly from Savannah without hitting the tight curves, and going back the same way. Also, if there is any possibility to in crease the loop radius to 11", then most locos in N scale would run pretty good - even the Athern Big Boy!

Here is the 3D plan with basic outline:

Traffic will be primarily freight - long train of oil tankers in and out of the refinery, mixed freight from other industries, may be some small container delivery to the large freight terminal, and plenty of opportunity to run a variety of through trains, including short passenger trains.

Crazyspike and Weirdfork Railroad - A Kato Unitrack Layout

Just in case you're wondering about the name - just don't!

Well, this is also for my friend Aritrim for whom I designed the Statesboro, GA Layout. As in case of most of us, he needs a layout now with less space and which can be constructed in comparatively less time and requires less effort.

So we decided to go for Kato Unitrack - the best choice for snap fit tracks, and if you are a good planner, you can complete laying track and complete wiring over a weekend and start running trains (honestly, I often wonder why I didn't go for that option while building Wrightsville Port!).

The available space has been reduced to 6'X2' - so it is basically a small layout category in N scale. However, I am not a big fan of 10" minimum radius unless you can justify the tight curve for a special operation/prototype design, so I increased the width by 4 more inches to make it 6'X2'4". It is a very simple design for a starter layout, with plenty of opportunity to add future sections on both the sides. Basic single line continuous run option with two passing sidings - quite a bit a of switching option as well, including some switchback operations. Scenery should be primarily urban scenery with some opportunity to model small hills and plant some trees - especially to hide the curved tracks.

Here is the plan:

And here are the parts:

Gum... Stump... and Mud Shoe!

My good friend Aritrim is keeping me busy with the layout designing activities. His constraints get tighter every time, and I always have a new puzzle to solve! Little he knows how fun it is for me to design layouts - not that I am very good at it, but it's fun nonetheless.

However, I have very strong feeling that this one will be the last one for him, except a few minor changes here and there down the line - because his bench work is set and done. The final area of the layout stands at 71" X 10" - A true shelf layout.

After some discussions, the design I turned to was the famous Gum Stump and Snowshoe - originally a 6'X1' switching layout in HO. This is a long term favorite of mine, in fact the most favorite among the famous classic switching layout like the Time Saver and Inglenook. Not that I dislike the other designs, but the appearance of two levels and over and under action always fascinates me. So I took this concept and incorporated a few of my own, given I have nearly double the space that Chuck Yungkurth had considering the scale.

The first thing I wanted to incorporate was a double track mainline, with a decent amount hidden underneath as staging. Switching or not, I cannot imagine a layout without that imaginary connection to the 'outside world'. Also, I had reversed the orientation of the layout, the top level being on the right than left - this also meant I required one additional switchback move. Also, I wanted the top level to be at the forefront, so that the staging is well hidden from the viewer, and there is an opportunity to add a bridge or a viaduct of decent length, underneath which the mainline appears to the viewer.

Here is the final design. No time for beautification or 3D, so this is it for now. Hope to revisit this later and make it more presentable:

Unnamed - 1

Nothing fancy with this one. This is the last and final design for my good friend Aritrim. The objective is to have simplistic, yet prototypical train movement (nothing overtly complicated), and an overall look and feel of a small yard - all in the available space of 72"X10" with option of future expansion. Kato Unitrack with 20202 and 20203 turnouts (longer ones). Here is the final design - Good luck Aritrim with this build! :)