N Scale HCD Layout Plan

Discussion in 'N Scale' started by StrasburgNut, Nov 17, 2008.

  1. StrasburgNut

    StrasburgNut TrainBoard Member

    Hello all,

    After going to a small local, train/hobby show today, the fever for moving forward with my layout has intensified.

    I tried to create a few different plans on Atlas RTS 8.0, but none to my satisfaction. Actually, I had trouble trying to create a loop and some switching on it without it looking too crowded. Maybe it is just me. So I tried a point-to-point with some yards and switching.

    Here are my "givens and druthers":

    Era: Transition (late 50's to late 60's)
    Locale: Small fiction shortline off the Pennsylvania Raliroad mainline.
    Purpose: Passenger service between the two towns I intend to have on the layout.

    1. Coal. I do not have to necesarily HAVE a coal mine on the layout. I can always have a line that goes into the mountains that delivers the full hoppers and take the empty hoppers to and from the mine. But it would be nice to model!
    2. One or two local manufacturers that rely on the shortline. One will make furniture (this manufacturer makes the most demanded name in furniture) and the other will make widgets. Both are a nice excuse to have box cars of all different roadnames on the line at different times. Eventually, this manufacturer will have its own box cars!
    3. Beer manufacturer. Come on, what better way to sit there and switch around some tankers and beer reefers than to sit back and enjoy a frosty cold one at the same time?
    4. "Expert" Loco Repair Facility. Different locos from neighboring lines will be coming here for repair. (Thanks to Glenn Woodle for this idea! )
    Geography: There will be some inclines, hills and cliffs. Plus a small river/large stream can make for some intersting modelling.
    Layout dimensions: L-Shaped layout. 66" x 90" x 32". (The 32" depth is what I am shooting for right now.)

    Without further adieu, here is my plan. Please critique and suggest away! (One layout has the height markings on it, the other doesn't so it is easier to look at.)

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 17, 2008
  2. Ed M

    Ed M Passed away May 2012 In Memoriam

    Well, I'm no expert on designing layouts, but a couple things jumped out at me. remember that these are based on my likes, and may not be applicable to what you're thinking about.
    1. Although you say transition era, I'm assuming you plan on using only diesels as there's no provision to turn steam locomotives (wye or turntable or reversing loop).
    2. Do you plan on more spurs for your industries? The plan appears to have two small yards, with the only spur coming off the yard on the right side. That wouldn't be my choice for where to locate industry sidings.
    3. Just my point of view, but I find pure point-to-point tough to do on a small layout as the run is so short. If you do stay with point-to-point I'd reduce the size of both yards. Add an interchange track (even if it's just for show) so that you have some source for cars coming from or heading to the outside world.

    Good luck, I'm sure you'll get a lot more and better comments.


  3. StrasburgNut

    StrasburgNut TrainBoard Member


    This is a work in progress. I posted for any and all criticisms as I am hitting the wall when it comes to designing on RTS 8.0. I can draw on paper and all, but I am never to sure if the scale is right or if the curves are the proper radii (overly hard on myself?). I guess all beginners have this problem.

    Thanks for the comments. I will consider them when I have time to sit down for version 2.
  4. Ed M

    Ed M Passed away May 2012 In Memoriam

    I did my layout design using an earlier version of RTS. It works well for small layouts like this. It takes a while to get the hang of using it, and I never did get beyond the basics. It had a lot more features that I never worked out. But once you get more used to using the basics it makes revising designs and moving sections around or inserting new stuff a lot easier than using pencil and paper.



    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 17, 2008
  5. maxairedale

    maxairedale TrainBoard Member


    A few questions

    • Is this a walk around layout or along the wall? If the layout is against the wall you are going to have a very hard time reaching the yard on the left side and the track on the back. The original section of my layout is a 24 inch deep ell. Reaching the corner is a pain.
    • Do you have children or plan to have? I know that is getting personal but children want to see trains go around and around, they don’t understand the point-to-point operation
    • Are the trackside customers the two located in the 2nd row, 3rd column next to the yard?
    • No passing siding? One could be put below the track on the top edge. Another customer could be located there.
    • How do you plan to turn the steam locos?

    I just went back to reread your post and I see that Ed addressed some of my questions also.

    As of drawing with paper and pencil, you can get a template for model railroad design. Most hobby shops that have a larger train section will most likely have one. Check out this website http://www.some train store.com/product_p/ctt-6000.htm The common scale that I have seen and have one is ½ inch = 1 foot. It will give a good idea what will work on paper. After you get you scale drawing the way you like transfer it to a 1:1 drawing if you can. I have never been able to get the RTS to work for me.:thumbs_down:

    The above comments are my thoughts and they are for consideration only. I do not mean to imply that what you have drawn is wrong.

  6. Switchman

    Switchman TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I've used RTS7.0 for my layouts but I'm noexpert. Why I can't even do flex, elevations, or any of the fancy stuff. Just the basics.

    I like the point to point layout. It's well done, with room for industry and scenery.

    As far as suggestions go, here's something for your consideration.
    1) On the north central side perhaps a bypass track to allow an outgoing to wait for an incoming train
    2) On the west-south side in square two perhaps add a single industry spur at about 45% angle.
    3) The east side two track spur opposite you yard. Perhaps changing it by splitting it, one north-east and one straight east.

    These suggestions are for your consideration only. It's your railroad.
    See ya
  7. maxairedale

    maxairedale TrainBoard Member

    I forgot to mention that you properly will not get the track plan correct until after you have laid some track and made changes after running some trains. I recently added a section to my layout. I had spent the better portion of a month doing full size mock ups. On my first attempt to operate on the new section, I removed two turnouts and relocated a third. Operation is now better in the addition.

    What I'm trying to say here is to plan on making changes.:confused3:

  8. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Welcome to the HCD Layout Society! :D :D

    I like the ides, but I noticed that at one town there is no way for a locomotive to run around its train. It's good to have escape turnouts for your locomotives so they lead each way. I would also try to keep the yard tracks and sidings level- looks like you're planning that.

    Are you planning to run steam or diesel?
  9. StrasburgNut

    StrasburgNut TrainBoard Member

    Wow, the more I think about it, I wonder what I was thinking when I posted those plans. Horrid!

    Well, it looks like I have some serious work to do.

    I think I know what one of my problems is. When laying the track in RTS, I see a 6" straight and a nice long stretch of board and I think that stretch should be as straight and long as possible. Not true! I need to re-adjust my thinking.

    Also, a few of you so far have mentioned run arounds/escape turnouts, passing sidings and additional spurs. Can some help me determine what length is a more realistic but more importantly pratical looking siding? A 40' reefer is a little over 3" if I recall correctly. So If I want to put 3 40' reefers on a siding to serve a warehouse/distributor, I should plan on two six inch straights and maybe a 3 inch straight and then a "bumper" section? Am I making my sidings for industries too long?

    What about passing siding length? Will three six inch straights be too long?

    I will try my hand at a few more plans tonight. Let the fun continue!
  10. Ed M

    Ed M Passed away May 2012 In Memoriam

    What about passing siding length? Will three six inch straights be too long?

    Too short. A passing siding needs to be able to hold a complete train (barring exotic "sawby" maneuvers). So you need to think about what would be a typical length train for your railroad (including locomotive and caboose). Obviously some will be longer and some shorter, but it you want to pass two trains, one needs to be able to fit into the passing siding.

    If you say that a typical train on your layout would be 3 cars plus locomotive and caboose, then you're talking about a siding of at least 20". 40' cars are really 3-1/2" over the couplers, plus allowing at least 6" for the locomotive.

    Maybe on a small layout you can just decide that you'll only run one train at a time (not unrealistic for a small railroad) and therefore not need a passing siding.


  11. Harron

    Harron TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    By the way, this should be moved to the Layout Design forum. I'll ask an admin to do so. Looking forward to your next revision.
  12. StrasburgNut

    StrasburgNut TrainBoard Member

    Okay. Good advice given and I tried my hand again several times to get a decent layout on RTS based on the advice. But, they just seem over jumbled.

    So, I took a step back and used the K.I.S.S. principle. I set the layout to be 80" by 32" and made a basic oval for roundy round running and included an interchange track and some industries. But, no engine facility. I guess I can make that the expansion!

    Well, here it is. I am looking forward to any comments and suggestions on improving this.

    Attached Files:

  13. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Not bad at all. The only chage I could see to make would be to change the turnouts at the bottom to where trains go from main to siding- the way they're set up now doesn't seem to work very well.

    Is this layout going to be along a wall, or will you have access on all sides? If it's out a ways from the wall, you're in good shape. If not, there is a reach issue with the back end.

    We have a member here on Trainboard who built an awesome HCD featuring the Pennsylvania RR that had no engine facilities- you could always assume that's "off the layout" eslewhere.
  14. maxairedale

    maxairedale TrainBoard Member


    This drawing offers the chance to expand in 3 directions and become part of a larger layout. Three possible interchanges, 2 passing tracks, 6 customers, a loop to make running times longer between customers.

    Since I don’t run steam other then for special events, so I don’t need one, but a turntable could be put at one end. If you have a little room for expansion, it could be on a short extension added to the right or left edge at the bottom. See attached image The blue dot is the turntable??? Or as friscobob pointed out the engine facility can be off the layout someplace.

    For another idea on a plan take a look at this posting http://www.trainboard.com/grapevine/showthread.php?t=101089 by GregK It is a 2X4 foot layout.


    Attached Files:

  15. StrasburgNut

    StrasburgNut TrainBoard Member

    I have the benchwork set for 32" depth. There is still plenty of room in the front, so the layout can move closer towards the front, or I can build it on a 30" deep door. I figured more space is easier to take away from than have too little and start over because of lack of room! :tb-shocked:

    It will be against a corner wall, the back and left sides will be against a wall, but if I cahnge to 30" deep, is this still okay?

    I am going to assume right now the facilities is off the layout along the interchange, right now.

    I also have another plan drawn out that I have to put into RTS, so when I finish, I'll post that.

    I think I got the operational basics down based on my most recent plan, don't you think?

    Also, the true depth of the room is 6.5', so, if I have a U shaped layout, with one side 28" deep and the other side 24: deep, I will have an aisle of 26". Is this a sufficient aisle width?

    I will also draw up a schematic of the room in RTS when I can and post it as well.
  16. Ed M

    Ed M Passed away May 2012 In Memoriam

    In part, the depth question depends on the height you plan to have your layout at. The higher the layout, the more difficult it is to reach across. At about 40" high (+/-) I think you can reach across 32"+ just to retreive a car or maybe rerail something. But construction of the layout is another story. For me, anything over 24" deep is going to be difficult to build and scenic. Imagine trying to lean over and ballast track at arms length.

    If the layout can be moved around during construction so that you can reach the back side it will be a lot easier for you.

    Only if you're a very skinny person and plan to stay that way. Even then, it's tight and you'll have trouble if you have anything (control panel, car card holders, etc) hanging on the side of the layout.

    But you're making progress with the design. Takes time, but it's a worthwhile investment.


  17. StrasburgNut

    StrasburgNut TrainBoard Member

    I can move it. I intend to mount it on the wall undrneath with large shelf brackets. So, loosen a few screws (hey, I already have a few of those!), and voila! Moveable!

    Skinny? Um, kind of, sort of, um, in between? I eat well, but I can touch my toes!

    Thanks for the encouraging words. It does take time. I have been planning this for about three years now. Well, reading books and asking questions.

    Ed, I was looking at you rail images and your layout. Nice work! Makes me realize I can do something nice in a small space. What type of grade do you have in the middle there? It is interesting to see it go above and under itself to make it work. I might be able to incorporate some of those design elements into my layout.
  18. Ed M

    Ed M Passed away May 2012 In Memoriam

    Well then, you're ahead of me. I can still see mine, but that kind of flexibility is unfortunately long gone.

    You'd do well to learn from mine (my mistake, that is) and not emulate it. The grade on the inside curve (at zero passing under the bridge) is about 3%. It's okay for my short trains. The outside curve is unfortunately nearer 4%. I wanted the yard lead flat, and should have started the grade as soon as I passed the spur at the lower left hand corner of the layout. For some unknown reason I continued to run flat for another 18-20". That makes all the difference in being about 4% instead of 3 and change. That's waaaayyy too much for typical N scale steam. Plus, at the top of the grade, where the bridge is, the transition back to flat is too abrupt. The combination of these little errors continues to haunt me.

    If there ever is a "next" layout, I'm planning on having a max of 2% grades. In fact, in one dream of the layout, the track is perfectly flat all around. And I have the land rising and falling to provide an illusion that there is some grade to the line.


  19. pachyderm217

    pachyderm217 TrainBoard Member


    Here are some markups for your consideration. I don't have as sharp an eye for operations as many here on TB do. However, there are a few things I think will make the trackplan more user and modeler friendly.


    Leave room between the mainline curves and the end of each siding for some time of view block such as trees, topography, structures or backdrops. View blocks enhance the sense of distance by isolating scenes.

    Since I consider myself more a modeler than trackplanner, I see your trackplan as a set of scenic opportunities. Force the eye away from some areas with dense tree cover. Draw the eye to key scenes of activity at the industries/destinations along your sidings. Separate key scenes visually to develop an illusion of distance.

    I think this will be a rewarding layout to build. As Ed said above, you have at least 3 locations from which to expand. That flexibility may give you opportunities later that are unforeseeable now.

    This trackplan will work best as an island layout, but not shoved against a wall. Given that, consider a freestanding double-sided backdrop somewhere down the middle. That will provide even more scenic opportunity and illusion of distance.

    Indeed, you are making steady progress. Keep asking a gazillion questions. The really sharp folks here on TB have helped me more than I ever expected.
  20. theskunk

    theskunk TrainBoard Member

    I like the above idea where you eliminate the straight track -- but how about having the two parallel sidings go straight down toward the bottom right... this would break up the scene and have those not be at 90 angles of the board at all.

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