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Old 10-26-2011, 09:16 PM   #1
Subway Fugitive
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 42
Scales Modeled: HO and N
A "practice" layout for rookies

I remember seeing a video of a person who built a small train layout and they stated that it was a practice layout to gain experience needed to build something more ambitious. I got the urge to run with this idea and build a 2' x 4' traction layout featuring a small downtown in the front of the layout and an elevated rural area in the back of the layout. It would be something that I could put on a shelf in my small apartment.

In preparation of this project I picked up a Bachmann Peter Witt. The seller listed in the N scale section of ebay but when I got it today I noticed that it was HO scale which is fine as the ultimate goal is to build an urban layout with streetcars on a 4' x 5'10" piece of OSB which will slide under my futon frame when not in use.

Before I do anything I will get a copy of the Traction Guidebook for Model Railroaders.

Do you see any value in building a small layout in order to gain experience or should I just dive in my bigger HO layout and learn as I go?

I will be adding to http://www.trolleydodger.info tonight.
Thank you,
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Old 10-26-2011, 10:08 PM   #2
tjcruiser's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 16,642
Scales Modeled: Prewar Lionel O ... and some dusty HO
Images: 64
Great idea to build a smaller layout (in scope) as a trial run. Many, many modelers go down that road (sometimes unknowingly) with a first layout, only to scrap it and tackle something more ambitious ... with more experience under their belt.


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Old 10-26-2011, 10:14 PM   #3
pookybear's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: House
Posts: 652

This is a really good idea if you are completely new to the hobby. Lots of
things can be learned very quickly by building a smaller layout first and
moving up to something larger later. Or better yet make a modular layout
that can become part of your larger future layout.

Here are some good pointers for your first try from an old publication
of kalmbach isbn 0-89024-534-7

since you are building small and doing traction.

Do not cram too much into one space, keep it simple.

Do not use too many switches remember you have to maintain all of
those switches. Use just enough to get the job done and no more.

Do not place all tracks parallel to other tracks or the edge of the layout
this makes everything look smaller.

Do not make the edges of the benchwork straight slight curves and lines that follow the scenery will make the layout look larger instead of just
a set size of a piece of board.

Also plan your layout on paper first and run it in your mind, you will
find problems that way. After you find a setup you like just set up
some track if you can on the floor and run it again. If that works start

I hope this helps,

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Old 10-26-2011, 10:39 PM   #4
Subway Fugitive
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 42
Scales Modeled: HO and N
I like the idea of a module as I could use the models I currently have but if I connect that to the 4" x 5'10" OSB board I have I might not fit in my own apartment! The more I know the more questions I have....
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ho scale , n scale , streetcar , traction , trolley

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