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Discussion Boards => General Discussion => Topic started by: Mr.Train on December 23, 2008, 03:27:31 PM

Title: New layout
Post by: Mr.Train on December 23, 2008, 03:27:31 PM
   I  am relatively  new to the hobby.Granted I have a 4-4-0 that if you read my other post you know has it's own set of issues. Also granting that the 4-4-0 is a HO locomotive I was wondering what, as a group of knoweledgable people you feel is the best scale for a bedroom sized layout.My only considered options are HO and N.

Title: Re: New layout
Post by: Santa Fe buff on December 23, 2008, 03:34:25 PM
HO scale is best for beginners. Lots of locomotives in different schemes are manufactured in HO scale then any other scale/gauge! Plus, it's not too big, nor too small. I would consider HO scale if you want a nice simple layout. N if you want an entire town/yard area. You can make an fairly large layout on HO scale on a 4x8 piece of plywood.

I have now idea what to ask you to chose-- that's the fun in the hobby after all! Different strokes for different folks, but HO scale does have more variety. Good luck on the hobby, and good luck with your American!


Title: Re: New layout
Post by: Conrail Quality on December 23, 2008, 04:07:22 PM
Personally, I would say go with N. You can build a far larger layout in N than you ever could in HO, and you could run long passenger trains and big diesels on an N layout that you couldn't fit on the same-sized HO layout. If you have at least a 5x7 ft area, than HO becomes a more viable option.


Title: Re: New layout
Post by: pdlethbridge on December 23, 2008, 04:20:06 PM
Go here to get free software for both scales to see what is best for the room. (

Title: Re: New layout
Post by: Jake on December 23, 2008, 06:43:10 PM
^For what its worth I do not like Atlas Right Track software at all. I prefer XtrkCAD. (available HERE ( There is a bit of a steeper learning curve, but I feel that it is worth the extra time and effort to take all of the tutorials for the program.

Title: Re: New layout
Post by: pdlethbridge on December 23, 2008, 07:39:30 PM
The original poster is new to the hobby and should take a look at all software available.

Title: Re: New layout
Post by: Jim Banner on December 23, 2008, 08:32:34 PM
Mr.Train, the first thing I did on reading your question was to check your profile to see what age you are.  I was wondering if you were of an age where condo living stopped being an alternative and became a necessity, an age which I am all too quickly approaching.  Realizing that sometime in the not too distant future I will have to give up my house and my relatively large basement layout, I too have been thinking about what can be built in a typical bedroom.

Firstly, I decided N-scale is out.  My eyesight will never be as good as it once was.  G-scale is out, much as I hate to give up my garden trains.  That pretty much left H0-gauge.  But not necessarily H0-scale.  I am leaning toward 0n30, 0-scale trains on H0-gauge track.  Being narrow gauge, the cars are small for 0-scale - they are about the size you would expect for S-scale.  So what you can fit into a given space is not a whole lot less than with H0-scale.  But the possibilities for scratch building and detailing are greatly expanded.  I have been trying out some 0n30 lately and have found some other advantages, apart from its size.  Scratch building without plastics and their toxic solvents is easier in 0-scale than H0-scale and the results stand up as well indoors as plastic buildings do outdoors.  Painting is less toxic too - craft-type latex and acrylics are too thick for the smaller scales but work just fine in 0-scale, and are cheap to boot.  Figures are big enough to work on and paint.  A bag of 100 figures, 20 each of 5 different types, can easily be modified into 100 individuals with no two alike.  A nice change from H0 where all the people on my layout have clones on your layout and on half the other layouts in town.  Best of all, 0n30 locomotives and rolling stock are now widely available at very affordable prices, thanks to Bachmann.

Title: Re: New layout
Post by: bevernie on December 23, 2008, 08:42:52 PM
 :DGREETINGS!! For my 2 cents' worth, I have downloaded both (XtrkCAD4 and RTS 8.0 FREEWARE), and I find the latter much easier to get on the board. Of course, after you get on the board, and if you want to divert from the ordinary, you may have a problem! I've still not figured a way to pattern my layout, because is has more deminsions than their options offer!
But, still, I've not even figured out how to get on the board with the other one!!(YES, I am a complete ignoramus as concerning COMPUTER LITERACY!!) Part of my problem might be, also, that I really don't read the instructions!!                                                                      THANX!!
                                                   8)                                        Ernie

Title: Re: New layout
Post by: pdlethbridge on December 23, 2008, 08:57:11 PM
Jim, you should move here to Irondequoit, a suburb of  Rochester, New York. Our 2 bed room townhouse has a full basement and I have put it to good use for my trains. Very dry plus in the summer we have air. Keeps it great for railroading. I thought of On30 but I had too much HO stuff.

Title: Re: New layout
Post by: Frisco on December 23, 2008, 09:27:29 PM
Z scale: Way to small don't even go there.
N scale:If you want mainline action N scale is great however every-thing is verry small and switching is hard.
TT Scale: A great idea but there are verry verry few products avalible.
HO Scale: The most popular scale a good size, although if it is bedroom size or smaller you probally want to stick to branch line operation. There are a lot of products made.
S scale: A great scale for more information see here.
ON30:Lots of products for narrow gauge. The size of O scale in the space of HO.
O 2 rail:Probaly not a good choice unless you have lots of space and money. I would only use it if you really want to.
O 3-rail:A great choice. It only takes a little more space than HO and has a really  nice size. It may seem a little more expensive but when you look at all the fetures it has it is not that much more.
G guage: Usaly only used for outside. It is verry large(almost too large) and would just barly fit in a normal bedroom.

I would recomend N, HO or O 3-rail for your condition.

You can do it my way and have N, HO, ON30, O 3-rail, and G. ;D

Title: Re: New layout
Post by: RAM on December 23, 2008, 09:39:12 PM
on30 or ho are go choices.  If you go with ho keep your locomotives small, no larger than a 2-8-0 or gp7 or 9.  A switching layout are great in that you can have a nice on a 18 inch by 8 to 12 feet.

Title: Re: New layout
Post by: Yampa Bob on December 24, 2008, 12:43:00 AM
My HO scale layout is built on a folding picnic table, only 42" X 86". fits nicely in our living room.  Has 2 yards and a siding for enough action to keep me busy.


Title: Re: New layout
Post by: Santa Fe buff on December 24, 2008, 01:01:11 AM
Yampa Bob,
Showing off your CEO's AC4400? :) Nice layout, I like your locomotives, that might work for me... I need only two destinations.

By the way,
Atlas standard track is WAY easier to use if you want quite a bit out of your layout, E-Z track kind of uses more space, therefore, you don't get in more track. Although, E-Z track as some advantages.

As spoken in a topic I made earlier (Ex-Preferred DCC Systems (,7373.0.html)), we discussed the E-Z Command. Which we all seemed to agree was the perfect beginners set for early DCC operators.


Title: Re: New layout
Post by: Yampa Bob on December 24, 2008, 01:30:32 AM
I installed a Tsunami 3rd Gen prime mover in the one shown, the sound is great.

The layout represents a short line from Phippsburg yard to Craig station. In two more days I get to run my new GE 44 Ton.   8)

Title: Re: New layout
Post by: Santa Fe buff on December 24, 2008, 02:02:18 AM
Sounds NICE. I'd like to hear that monster, plus, I hope you enjoy that GE 44 Ton, I heard there nice.  ;)

Good luck!


Title: Re: New layout
Post by: renniks on December 24, 2008, 01:49:01 PM
   Yampa Bob

   I see that you are using the usual  "toy train " layout on the RH side of your layout as given in most basic layout books.
   Placing the Turnout to the passing track with the curve leg as last part of curve will virtually double the length of the passing track and(more importantly)eliminate the S curves.


   Eric UK 

Title: Re: New layout
Post by: renniks on December 24, 2008, 02:24:49 PM


   A good software for layout planning is AnyRail. It is as easy to use as that from Atlas but has track libraries of virtually every system made, from Zg. to G scale. You can also mix items from different systems e.g. Atlas turnouts with any make of curve and  Flexitrack.
   You can also design a Mini layout with Ng. curves and HO turnouts. Copy and paste:-

   The free version has a limit of 50 pieces of track per layout but if you use Flexitrack between turnouts and for sidings you can still draw a faily large layout.
   If you have the TrainPlayer/Layer soft, you can directly import an AnyRail file and run trains on your layout to see if it is suitable for your intended style of operation. Beware that you could end up running Virtual trains instead of building you actual "Empire".LOL

   Eric UK

Title: Re: New layout
Post by: Yampa Bob on December 24, 2008, 03:59:27 PM
Hi Eric
Thanks, but I already considered the method you suggest and didn't like it. I make it a practice to never have the curved leg as part of the main.  On this side of the pond, it is not prototypical and presents problems for high speed operation.

I didn't get the design from a layout book, the "toy train"   >:( arrangement is a  modified John Allen "Timesaver", and serves as the required run-around, not actually a siding for long trains.

Contrary to rumor, the "S" curves present no problem for low speed switching operations, even for the AC4400 pictured. Most western railroads have S curves at sidings due to narrow right of ways. Anyway, it's nailed down and works for my operation.

My theory for layout design is, one must first develop a "Plan of Operations".  Too often a newcomer will build a complicated layout, only to discover it doesn't work as intended or anticipated.  We spent a year in planning and walking local yards, but only two days to build the layout. 

I'm only teasing, but I couldn't resist quoting one of your posts:

"It is YOUR layout and if someone desn't like it you help them thru the Exit."  :D

Happy Holidays.  In 18 hours and 30 minutes I get to run my new GE 44 Ton.  8)

Title: Re: New layout
Post by: Santa Fe buff on December 24, 2008, 04:43:48 PM
I was considering a layout plan given by a booklet for a 4x8 layout. It seems very nice.

Yampa Bob,
I'm sure Santa believes you deserve it...
< ;)>


Title: Re: New layout
Post by: Jim Banner on December 24, 2008, 05:01:32 PM
Eric, I have often used the curved portion of a turnout as the mainline in places where it led to smoother operation.  In some cases, I even curved the short, normally straight section next to the points to form a smooth, uninterrupted curve throughout the turnout.

Usual prototype practice where there is lots of space is to use the straight route as the main and the curved route as the secondary line.  But keep in mind that the prototype uses much longer turnouts so that their S curves virtually do not exist.  As modellers, we have to make compromises in our cramped spaces, just as real railroads do when they are in cramped spaces.  As modellers, we go even farther in our compromises, using impossibly tight curvature and S curves in our tracks and then using truck-mounted couplers to compensate.  Unfortunately, this compensation goes only so far.  If you try to back a train of say 50 cars, all equipped with truck mounted couplers, through an S curve or just about any other curve, the forces involved serve to twist and derail the trucks.

On my layout, operation is Job One.  Realistic track work is farther down the list.  It has to be - I just don't have room for 10' radius curves and number 10 and larger turnouts.  So I find it easy to justify using turnouts "wrong way round" if it means I can use body mounted couplers and back long trains through complex point work.  Your priorities and results may differ.   

Title: Re: New layout
Post by: Yampa Bob on December 24, 2008, 05:51:19 PM
Obviously my tiny layout wouldn't win any prizes. I only present it to show that a modeler can have a lot of switching fun on a very small footprint.

Our original intent was to start out with the minimum required, then add on later. However, once the layout was set up in the living room, we decided that any increase in size would not be practical.   

Since the picture was taken, we added a Bachmann Companion station on the left side (far corner) so my wife and I can both enjoy the layout. She works the Phippsburg yard while I concentrate on Craig.  With a lot of practice, we have developed a fairly realistic operation.  Running a small layout presents many challenges, which just adds to the enjoyment.

I interpret "Selective Compression" to mean that WE select the compression to suit our needs. When opinion differs, I simply invoke "Rule Number One". 8)

Title: Re: New layout
Post by: pdlethbridge on December 24, 2008, 06:23:46 PM
I have one main line turnout using the curved side as the mainline. I Have no problems with it as normal operation allows for backing into the siding.

Title: Re: New layout
Post by: SteamGene on December 24, 2008, 06:34:01 PM
Mr. Train, you have had some very good pieces of advice given to you.  One thing to consider is the shape of the bedroom.  A round the wall in HO could be very good - if room allows it.  I was going to do that until I figured that between the doors, window, and wall shape, it just would not work!
Another thing to consider is what you want to do.  I'm afraid I'm still not sure N scale steam is as good as it could be.   

Title: Re: New layout
Post by: ebtbob on December 25, 2008, 09:42:18 AM
Good Morning All,

       Merry Christmas!!!   Let me chime in on this topic.    In a bedroom,   if choosing between HO and N scales,   there can be any number of things to consider.   One thing that has not been discussed is maintenence.    The ONLY reason to consider N scale is the fact that much more can be done in any given space.   Just remember,  the more railroad you have,  the more track.  The more track,  the more cleaning and what is the one topic that constantly is discussed here?    You got it,  how do I clean my tracks easily?  More is not necessarily better.


Title: Re: New layout
Post by: Conrail Quality on December 25, 2008, 11:03:12 PM
Bob, have you ever actually done anything with N scale? If you have (which you obviously haven't), you would find that N scale is actually much more mechanically reliable than HO. Modern N scale locomotive mechanisms are actually designed to eliminate as much maintenance as possible, such as the split frame eliminating wiring and solder, and so on. Couplers in particular are much easier. I have never had an N scale coupler fail or need to be readjusted. With HO, it happened quite frequently, even with Kadees! All this by far makes up for the minor amount of time one spends cleaning track (I only need to do it every few months). I'm a former HO'er who switched to N, and I have no intention of ever going back.


Title: Re: New layout
Post by: Mr.Train on December 26, 2008, 03:46:45 PM
 Thanks. This has been very valuable. I have pretty much made my decision on N even though I already have a small HO thing. Now I just need to figure out some of the details and get started on cnstruction and shopping.