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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Since I was a kid, I always wanted to build a train layout. In the past, I had a small N-gauge oval track, then built inglenook switching layout (also in N-gauge). Then years passed and now I have time and resources (read: some disposable income) to build another small layout. Problem is that I lack space so coffee table layout is pretty much what I can build. Can't go with point to point shelf layout along a wall or bigger (i.e. 4x8) layout. Now, the problem is that I got older, my eyesight is not what it used to be so N-gauge, which is pretty much the biggest suitable scale to run on a coffee layout, is too small for me. Can't see myself building such a small layout details. On the other hand, HO is too big unless I want just a smallest circle track which will get boring pretty quick. Getting old really sucks. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I did more research on the HOn30. There is not a lot of locomotives or rolling stock and whatever is available, it is priced pretty high. There are some conversions from N-gauge locos but they involve mostly 3D printed shells that require painting. Not sure that with my limited experience, I would be able to pull a fully functional layout off. Unless, I am missing something.
 

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I did more research on the HOn30. There is not a lot of locomotives or rolling stock and whatever is available, it is priced pretty high. There are some conversions from N-gauge locos but they involve mostly 3D printed shells that require painting. Not sure that with my limited experience, I would be able to pull a fully functional layout off. Unless, I am missing something.
drabrina;

How about a layout that slides under a bed, or gets stored in a closet, when not in use? A hollow-core door makes a good layout base. We "elder statesmen" don't kneel or crawl very well, so an under the bed layout should have folding legs to raise it up where we can sit in a chair & run it. Home Depot sells the doors, and also folding metal legs. I glued a 1x4 across the hollow-core door at each leg attachment point. The little layout shown below is one I made for my seven-year-old grandson Hudson.
Another possibility is to use hard extruded insulation foam board for a layout base. The advantage is that though rigid, it weighs almost nothing, and is very easy to handle. Maybe it could sit on a dining room table when you want to run trains?

As for the eyesight, this 74 year old N-scaler finds an optivisor is a great help.

Traction Fan
 

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First, if you can lay claim to getting old, you're doing pretty darned well. If you have few limitations, no co-morbidities, and can get some good light overhead (or from the side using construction lights on stands), you can have a good time. If your dexterity is what limits you, run an S or O scale locomotive on a switching puzzle.

I just turned 70, and I have one serious issue (paroxysmal and persistent atrial fibrillation), but I can still enjoy my trains, still build a layout if I must (I have a good one now), and I couldn't see myself without the trains to run over to the garage and to have some fun.

Perhaps you could adjust your expectations. If you started on a simple layout, even a plain oval on a table, you could be up and running a larger scale locomotive inside of ten days. It would be better than nothing, and wishing it were not so.
 

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What about a small switching layout. Perhaps one depicting a wharf scene. Maybe a factory feeding loaded cars to an imaginary main. Streetcar layouts can be fun and can be made rather small.
 

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I am not familiar with HOn30. I did some reading and if I understand, the track is N-gauge so I could use Kato Unitrack, correct? Everything else is still 1:87 so buildings, locos and rolling stock are HO scale, right?
You could use N Unitrack but the tie size and spacing won’t be right. HOn30 track is available and is correctly sized. Peco makes a starter set. Yes, everything is HO scale.
 

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I have the exact same problem as the OP. That's why we're building an HO layout in sections. We can take up just a little space to work on it but on a good day we can connect them together outside and run trains.
 

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drabrina;

How about a layout that slides under a bed, or gets stored in a closet, when not in use? A hollow-core door makes a good layout base. We "elder statesmen" don't kneel or crawl very well, so an under the bed layout should have folding legs to raise it up where we can sit in a chair & run it. Home Depot sells the doors, and also folding metal legs. I glued a 1x4 across the hollow-core door at each leg attachment point. The little layout shown below is one I made for my seven-year-old grandson Hudson.
Another possibility is to use hard extruded insulation foam board for a layout base. The advantage is that though rigid, it weighs almost nothing, and is very easy to handle. Maybe it could sit on a dining room table when you want to run trains?

As for the eyesight, this 74 year old N-scaler finds an optivisor is a great help.

Traction Fan
You could also use a folding metal table under the bed but you would need something to make it slide easier, maybe some of those discs for moving furniture. I have one that is 30"x72" and the legs fold under it. It also folds in half but that's not really helpful for a permanent layout. You can probably get it at Walmart
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Unfortunately, not much space to hide layout under a bed.

I am still intrigued by the HOn30 gauge. I did check out the Peco's starter kit in HOe which I assume is the European equivalent to HOn30, correct? The basic layout would fit a coffee table and should work for me when expanded a bit. The availability of engines and rolling stock is scarce here in US but I should be able to import something from Europe as I have family members there. I do not need much as the layout will be enclosed behind the glass so I don't see myself changing rolling stock or motive power frequently. All other items like buildings, trees, etc should be no problem as they are in HO scale.
 

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I agree about N scale being simply too small to see well (for someone whose vision is in decline).

Even HO can be hard for me to discern smaller details unless the lighting is bright and I have my "close up" glasses on.

If N scale is "too small" to be practical for you, then it's time to "move up" (literally) to HO, and find something that can work for you.
 

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Agreed - N is too small, HO takes too much space. I'm doing HO anyway, sold off the gym equipment in the fourth bedroom home-gym, so I have room to build a 4x8+.

When I was in my late twenties I built a rather large N-scale, back when there wasn't much selection. You can cram a lot of layout in a reasonable space, easy to fit curves, etc. But I decided way back then that I would move to HO as it was just so much easier to do and see detailing. We moved a couple of years later so the layout got torn down and stuff sold off.

Now thirty years later, I'm finally ready to jump in again. Space is still an issue, and we may be up for a move in a year or so. I'm doing a 'small' HO layout with the thought of either taking it with me to be part of a larger round-the-room layout, or scrap it and start over after moving across the country. I always said when I got too old to ride motorcycles then I would build another model railroad.

I would do a shelf or diorama in HO before I went back to N. But that's just me, and now I need readers to see really small detail. Getting old is no picnic. LOL
 
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