Ideas needed for "N" Scale Shelf Layout

Discussion in 'N Scale' started by Cruikshank, Jul 2, 2004.

  1. Cruikshank

    Cruikshank TrainBoard Member

    Hi,, I'm building my first layout in 30 years and my first that is not an HO on a 4x8.

    Because of space restrictions it is N scale and a wall mounted shelf type layout. I completed the Basic Benchwork this weekend, and have a loop of unitrack up to get my Running trains Fix. All is well, I plan on adding a 2" foam base, and then using Woodland Scenics Risers etc.

    I've already received some great plans from a forum member, but I need to make it fit in a reduced space.

    Here is What I basically Have:

    Here are some Pics that may help you see what I'm up against. Hope it helps. Dave




    My goal is an Anthracite Region RR based on the Reading. A coal hauler. I want to be able to continuously run 2 trains to amuse myself and visitors, but also have switching and real operation when that gets boring. I would like to have the two loops or whatever on two different levels, by that I mean separated by 1-3 ". In my home area the Reading and Pennsy ran along the creek separated by about 20-30 vertical feet. The Reading was right along the creek, the Pennsy took the high road. I want two coal mines, a small company town, the feeling of Mine country Appalachia style. Tunnels and trestles would be great. The layout height is 50". I like the Basic loop I have but it's just a starting point, I'm open to all suggestions. I will be using Unitrack. I was able to have trains running in about 20 minutes, no derailments, I like that. It is basically 10 long by 24" wide, but the far left end cuts down to 22" wide because It has to clear a window. There is a small "L" 15.25" by 24". I also made a small dogbone on the far left to increase the radius to 13 5/8". The max width at that dogbone is 33". I have thought about adding a yard off of the "L" but It needs to be removable because there is a closet door right off the "L". All dimensions are caused by restraints in the room.
    Since it is mine country, and I really don't know what I'm doing I'm open to a 3% grade to get to the mine spurs. So please fire away. Control will be Cab control with Blocks, Don't have the $$$ for DCC right now.

    PS: more info I'm sold on the Unitrack because I have a fair amount of it. I bought a pile locally from a guy getting out of N Scale, and I bought another group off of Ebay., and then some new stuff at the LHS. I'm also sold on DC for now. I purchased (2) MRC Tech II power packs for under $15 and a Better Spectrum power pack came with the Unitrack. Also while 3 of my 5 engines are DCC ready they need decoders and the other two would need hacks. Keep those cards and letters coming. Thanks, Dave

    Thanks, Dave

    [ 02. July 2004, 08:05: Message edited by: Colonel ]
  2. steamghost

    steamghost TrainBoard Member

    Keep in mind that with grades on the main line, you reduce the number of cars you can pull. 2% means about half the cars you can pull on flat, with 3% about 1/3. Yet, that's mountain railroading, and you can doublehead engines. I'd try to keep it to 2% or less. Let the scenery, bridges and tunnels, suggest the location.

    See if you want to run the loads out/empties in system, which means you need a destination (power plant?) with hidden track shared with a mine. With a ridge or some kind of view block you could even end up at your "destination" at tidewater. You've got lots of room to do a lot of things.

    BALOU LINE TrainBoard Member

    The Problem I always run into with grades is a space issue. Remember what goes up must come down so you will need two grades (unless the upper level doubles back on itself). On small layouts it is hard to avoid the rollercoaster look of a basic up and over figure 8. Using 2" of rise as a minimum to make good tunnel clearance, you will need:
    2% = 8'
    3% = 6'
    4% = 4'
    For me personally 2% is a maximum, steeper is just to toy like, not to mention affecting pulling power.
    It seems you have a paradox to deal with; steeper grade mean shorter trains, yet for coal you will want the longest train posible.
    I realize these aren't really answers, but things to think about in your designing proccess.
  4. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

    Two vague and not-well-thought-out comments....

    Ten feet is plenty long enough, its the ends that get you.

    Have you considered a 'loop to loop?' With one loop on the bottom, wind around in some manner gaining altitude and a reverse loop on the top? If you make some of the connecting trackage double-track, you can increase train length and make it look more "main line".

    Second concept would be to physically separate the two railroads - two different ovals with vertical separation - because that happened a lot in the Lehigh Valley area - and they didn't necessarily connect. You can have some fun with ballast & track contrasts, equipment, etc., possibly no grades at all, but at the sacrifice of two short loops instead of one longer main line. I'm thinking about the area around Palmerton, for example.
  5. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

    Here's the spot I remember: Palmerton, PA

    I think there's three railroads here in the Lehigh Gap, (LV, CNJ, LNE I think) plus the Chestnut Ridge RR shortline. And the shortline connected them - no direct interchanges. Lots of vertical separation of main lines on hillsides on two sides of the river.

    Here's a cool historic web page on the spot, too:

    The tightest, most vertical, highest-volume, wildest spot on the Anthracite railroads I've seen.
  6. Colonel

    Colonel Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Here is a design of my first stage of my current layout which features a signle loop that dogbones.


    For more info you can go to my website

    Cheyenne Sub-Division
  7. Cruikshank

    Cruikshank TrainBoard Member

    Thanks Colonel and others for the reply. Love the site, you have really put a great layout in a relatively small area. I, like you plan on starting small and then growing it when more space, time and money become available. I figure that the size I have now will allow me to build a quality MRR without getting bogged down by too large a project. I'm off to view a Modular layout tomorrow at the PA RR museum. It's based on the Reading so I should get some good Coal Mine RR Ideas.

  8. cuyama

    cuyama TrainBoard Member

    Hi Dave

    If you already have a plan you like, it might be helpful to tell us what you like about it before we make a lot of suggestions that may not fit.

    I understand that you don't have much choice on the left, but is your long-term plan to keep the mainline right at the edge of the benchwork the rest of the way around?


  9. Cruikshank

    Cruikshank TrainBoard Member


    Byron, I have a plan from a member of another group. It was from when I thought I had two hollow core doors in an "L" to work with. I since then was reduced to the wall/ shelf unit. When I get a chance later, I'll post what he sent me and my ideas which are just scribblings.

    The new twist. I asked my Wife for some ideas last night. She surprised me and said why not expand out. SOoooo I got another 6 feet off the "L" to work with. The Twist is it needs to be semi-permanent. I will be crossing a closet door. So I need ideas on how to ADD 6x2' off of the 39" L and have it be removable in a pich if we need to get in the closet. We plan on cleaning it out except for LONG TERM storage so we won't be going in often. Sincve I'm using Unitrack, I thought about using dowels to join the two sections and then use the expandable track sections from Kato to join the two pieces. Any better ideas. This extra 6' gives me room for a YARD [​IMG] Thanks, Dave
  10. disisme

    disisme TrainBoard Supporter

    You could always replace the swing out door with a roller shutter, then use the door for your railway extension [​IMG] As long as you use the closet for long term storage of small stuff, theres no need to ever move the railroad [​IMG] )) Just roll up the shutter, grab it, roll it down again, and no clearance issue for a swing-door required [​IMG] Ahh, if only it was that easy [​IMG]
  11. cuyama

    cuyama TrainBoard Member


    Would still be interested in the background info you mentioned earlier if you have a chance to post it ... along with a sketch of the "new frontier". Might make it easier to offer a suggestion or two.


  12. Cruikshank

    Cruikshank TrainBoard Member

  13. Colonel

    Colonel Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Go with the Anthratcite Creek it looks really interesting with lots of switching capabilities.
  14. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

    That Anthracite Creek plan is exceptional. It captures the areas well and communicates the theme of the layout and the region well. Looks like kinda a bear to build, but we're here for ya!
  15. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I'll also go with a preference for the Anthracite Creek plan. Same reasons as already offered.


    Boxcab E50

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