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  • Planning ideas welcomed!

    Hi folks,

    I was torn as to where to post this, in the layout planning section or here with the On30 peeps. Since it's an On30 layout, I figured here's probably the better place to start.

    I've finally cleared out my man cave enough that I can contemplate building my layout. I got bitten by the On30 bug awhile ago, and think I've found a prototype that I can sufficiently borrow from for my layout theme. The Irondale, Bancroft & Ottawa railroad was a less-than successful bridge line that ran through the Haliburton Highlands of Ontario. It's early motive power consisted of 4-4-0s that were hand-me downs (or rejects!) from other railroads. It was built to develop the resources of the area, but ultimately the volume of traffic and financing wound up killing it, like so many other rail lines during this era.

    My space is about 11 x 18', and I'd like to keep the layout itself bookshelf-ish, as I still need to store stuff in the space (books & other junk). Hard constraints are the doorway and the electrical panel which is in the top left corner. I liked Iain Rice's Blue Hills and Yonder plan, and so have adapted it to the space. I have a pile of interior doors that I thought might make good module bases. I'd like to keep minimum radius to 22", turnouts #5. I'd like to keep the shelf depth less than 30", both for reaching in, but also to maintain some floor space in the room.

    Scenery-wise, it's mostly Canadian shield, so rocks'n'trees'n'trees'n'rocks and water. The period I'd like to model, early '20s, means structures were still small-ish and largely wood. Industry on the line would be iron/graphite mines and forestry-related.

    I've hit a creative block, however. I realize being a shelf limits some planning options, but since I've adapted this plan, I've had a hard time visualizing anything else in the space. Any and all ideas and suggestions would be welcomed.

  • #2
    Hey Marcus, it looks like you are on to what will be an awesome layout. My only comment (because I am not an operator) is that it looks like you will have a tough time reaching the back of the layout near the electrical panel. Rob Chant has a continuous thread going under the layout construction forum called "free design help". You will likely get more comments there and Rob is a super guy who loves designing layouts and has lots of great ideas.




    • #3

      There are a lot of positives in your plan and also things that cause me concern. On the positive side you have allocated lots of space for industries and rural scenery. Also, you have sufficient passing sidings to allow switching realistically.

      I have lots of questions but will limit myself to a few. What is to be the purpose of the railroad you will be portraying? I assume the two areas with turntables are the extreme ends of your railroad. I’d be inclined to put these two ends more up against the walls and have a removable section in front of the panel. Is the track between the two terminals only to provide continuous running? Is being able to have a continuous run a primary design factor?

      Alternatively you could put the two terminals either side of where you show a drop section.

      Is your railroad going to transfer goods to other railroads?

      Perhaps you’re hitting a creative block because you short-circuited the design process by adopting somebody else’s track plan.


      Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. James Baldwin


      • #4
        I'd agree with Mike on turntables, particularly the one that is in the lower left. I see things getting butt ugly with it on a separate module from it's approach tracks.

        Nice thought of Mike to have them on opposite sides of the door drop or swing section, as you would have an efficient point to point system when someone walks in with cold beers.
        Home of the HOn3 North Coast Railroad, along the shores of Lake Ontario.


        • #5
          Thanks for the input folks! Like I say, I just started with IR's plan, and would like to adapt it. The theme would be the IB&O, which was intended to be a bridge line, but also service the mining and forestry industry along the route.

          Although the original was standard gauge, I envision my IB&O to be narrow gauge, as it would have been a better fit for their budget and actual traffic. I don't have the space to do a real terminal, but the prototype did have a turntable/engine facility at several stations along the line. I see this as a middle section of the route, with some traffic being generated by sources (logging, iron/graphite mines), and deliveries to the growing communities the railroad's serving.

          I would prefer a higher scenery-to-track ratio, but I'm limited by the scale and physical real estate. No sprawling mine or mill complexes here. Fortunately the prototypes buildings tended to be modest in nature, so they'll fit in what little space I have.

          I don't envision this being a portable layout, the current plan is (knock wood) that we'll be here for a decade or two, so the joints are there more to figure out how best to utilize these doors I've accumulated.

          I think part of my problem may be I've done lots of successful planning in smaller scales, but I'm not so good at compressing what I'd like into a smaller space. I'm new-ish to O scale, and while the track is HO, the rest of the spacing needs to be twice what I'm used to thinking about.


          • #6
            Marcus a couple of more comments from someone who has made most of the mistakes and hopefully learnt some lessons. Maybe!!

            The first thing is that my shelf layout is just 24" wide. I find it more than wide enough for a clumsy 0-5-0 at times. Double check the practical distance you want to reach.

            Second for my tastes there is too much track on the left module. I would suggest mocking up some buildings and coming to grips with how much real estate O scale actually take up. Even small building can be an issue.

            Third. Some of your sidings are very short. I had short sidings. Still have them. But I found even a Bachmann coach takes up a lot of space when you consider the clearance you need for passing traffic not to clip it.

            But keep in mind. I never planned anything. It just happened on my layout. Next time I would do a whole lot more thinking before I started again.



            • #7
              Hi Marcus,

              I am not going to add any suggestions, since most were covered all ready. However, could you please confirm the dimensions of your room? In your description you mention that the room "is about 11 x 18'" but the drawing shows a room 21-feet long and a little of 11' wide. If you have to chop 3' feet off that design, it isn't going to work in your space. I will try to offer you some suggestion, but I will need accurate measurements so I know my suggestion will work in your space.

              Take care,



              • #8
                Thanks Rob,

                The drawing dimensions are correct, my recollection isn't.

                Do you have XtrkCAD? I can attach the room file that has the accurate locations of the windows and doorway.

                Bruce, I'm painfully aware of how much real estate O scale structures eat up, I've mocked up a few with foam board. The left hand side, in Rice's original plan, is a town with a standard-gauge interchange. I'd like something yard-like just for the pleasure of sorting cars and making up trains.


                • #9
                  Hi Marcus,

                  I use 3rd PlanIt, but I can import your image file and work from it, that's how I noticed the 21' wide space. Are you open for all suggestion, or do you just want to tweak the plan above?

                  Take care,



                  • #10
                    Marcus sometimes the fun is in just winging it. I know on my layout I'm obsessed with building stuff. All my open space now isn't open space!



                    • #11
                      Rob, I'm open to any ideas, so long as they fit the general givens & druthers.

                      Bruce, I've never been satisfied with my attempts at winging it. For me the layout just wound up as an incohesive mess. I've always been happiest when I've started with a theme and a plan and followed through with it.


                      • #12
                        Hi Marcus,

                        Well I tried to come up with some ideas for you, but there are not many ways that the "door" modules can be arranged in your space. And since the middle of the room is off limits, I really can't do anything much different than you all ready have. I did duplicate your plan, and placed a few small O-scale structures, so I know you do have room for them, although you might have to adjust the track a bit in places.

                        The only thing that concerns me (and it has all ready been mentioned) is the width of the bench work on the west wall. I really didn't understand why it is so wide when you stated in your comments that you didn't want and shelf wider than 30" (which is a good choice).

                        I also did a bit of research on the IB&O and I think that it has a very nice narrow gauge flavour to it. Along with the ore and timber traffic, you can also have cattle being shipped as well from a couple of places along the line. If it were me, I would certainly want to include some sort of staging to represent both Howland Jct. and Bancroft.

                        Good luck with the project, I will be watching your progress.

                        Take care,



                        • #13
                          Marcus 'winging it' has the a real potential to go wrong. Your thread is of great interest to me. We have a house move coming up in the near future. It seems I will be restricted to a room about 12 x 12. So this thread can only help me as well.

                          I know I have made mistakes on my current layout by 'winging it'. I didn't attend to the backdrop until it was too late. I didn't leave enough room for buildings. Some of my sidings are way too short to be practical. Not enough room to park rolling stock. And locos. And even though I want a point to point layout I still need/want a continuous run capability even if it's just for running in locos.

                          But hey. Would those here who got their layout right the first time please step forward.



                          • #14
                            Thanks for trying Rob! Though the door modules are there, I'm not above cutting them down, or putting in something else to make the layout more useable. I just figured if I can make them work, it's less material I have to buy.

                            What if I were to take you off the leash, as it were, and say, OK, there's the space, 22" min radius, #5 min turnout, 36" minimum aisle width... with the IB&O theme?

                            As for the section on the left, although I drew it with a straight edge, I'd probably a) narrow it a bit, and b) curve the edge of the layout to make it easier to reach in. I'm 6'3", with 37" sleeves, so a bit of a reach here and there isn't a big issue. I also figured I'd likely have a hatch or liftout near the electrical panel.

                            I like the idea of staging, but I'm not sure how I would work it into the space without having it hidden on a different level, which would work if I were doing open-grid/L-girder benchwork, but a bit more challenging with the domino idea. I suppose I could make the shelves deeper and have the staging behind a scenic divider, which is something I can play with, but then I worry about it becoming a maintenance headache.

                            I'll noodle around some more, but for whatever reason, whenever I start doodling, I seem to wind up with variations on this theme. Kinda like an ear worm... so I've got a layout worm?


                            • #15
                              Keep in mind, you also may have unrealized reach access from both sides of any module by your door entrance
                              Home of the HOn3 North Coast Railroad, along the shores of Lake Ontario.