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Beginner, just starting to investigate the hobby. With limited space I thought I would go N scale, but after a visit to a hobby shop I realized it was too small for me, so I am now looking at HO.

I am intrigued by Scot Osterweil’s Highland Terminal. It’s 6’ x 1’ . I enjoy puzzles, so I think I would enjoy a switching layout. I also like the idea of building structures. I could go to 2’ wide problem for larger buildings, but with a layout like this, wouldn’t the visible side of most buildings still be the rear for loading and unloading, with the street entrance facing the wall?

I have read several threads about scenery and switching layouts. I guess I want ideas and reassurance that a small switching layout has interesting scenery building options as well.

Oh, and I think I want to go late 40s early 50s so I can go with 40’ boxcars.
 

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A common solution for a switching layout of that size is to make it a shelf layout... literally a shelf attached to the wall. This helps with the scenery because you have a natural backdrop (the wall) and there is only one side the layout will ever be viewed from.

To accommodate the narrow size, buildings along the back can be cut so only a small part of their face is real, and the rest of the building can be painted on the backdrop. You can also paint background buildings to provide more apparent depth.

I'm getting started on an L-shaped shelf layout which is 1' wide and 6' along each side. There's not a lot of room for buildings so the ones I have will be fairly small, but it does allow room for some vertical elevation to add more interest, and I'll have a short river which allows for a couple bridges. It really depends on how much track you plan to pack in, and how much empty space is left free for scenery and structures.
 

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Structure suggestion:

Shelf layouts are very cool...
Between house-moves I had a semi wraparound 'shelfie' in an apartment (approved by the landlord).
Since then I found a perfect structure kit for a layout terminal or a shelf switching layout:
The FOS Burdick Freight Dock.

Footprint is 1x8", and it fits between tracks.
FOS kits are superb in quality, and fairly easy to build. A little expensive, but worth the reward.
rs=w_600,h_600 (2) (1).jpeg
 

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Obviously with a small layout, you're not going to have as much room to play with structures and scenery as you would on a larger one, but they're definitely a great choice for people with limited space and a love of realistic operations.

Even in HO scale, you can get a lot of stuff on a 2x8 layout.
 
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