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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

I have always had a passion for trains which was passed down to me from my father and his father. I have a fair amount of HO scale DCC locomotives and rolling stock, as well as a few buildings and a digitrax system. The first issue is right out of college I am living in an apartment and the only real location I can build any sort of layout will be along a wall in my garage. The second issue is that my current place of living is temporary, and I am wanting to have fun with the layout but not get too attached to it. The third problem I am running into is my other hobby, building my car, also takes place in the same garage. In order to compromise I really am limited for space. I am going to have about 14' of 8" wide shelf with two 16"x16" squares on either end. This is obviously not enough room to have a full functioning mainline, operations, etc, but I am not sure I would be 100% happy with just having a switching layout. while I know 8" is hardly enough space for 2 tracks, I would still be able to make an engine facility at one end and fueling stations and a few spurs for rolling stock. This would allow me to focus on really getting into weathering and building my skills for later when I get more space for a permanent layout.
This leads me to my other idea, starting with a totally new scale. Z scale to be more precise. The smaller size intrigues me and there seems to be a decent sized following for the size unlike 10 years ago when I first got big into HO scale. While I would not go DCC, I would simply want a loop style layout kind of like a dog bone, but with only one side bowing out. The ends being a 16" square would allow plenty of space to get a z scale train all the way turned back around, and have some nice long straights for passenger trains/ Japanese bullit trains to fly down.
What do you guys think? Both sound fun, and while I would love to continue to build my HO collection starting off with Z scale sounds pretty cool to me as well. I will post some pictures and diagrams after this post!

Happy modeling everyone!
 

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Since your living in a temporary residence I would hold off on the trains unless you have another room to run a small layout maybe on the floor.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Nothing wrong with starting with a basic loop! You can always add to it as you go. If Z-scale intrigues you, by all means have at it! Welcome to MTF, by the way!
Thank you! I am excited to get started!
Since your living in a temporary residence I would hold off on the trains unless you have another room to run a small layout maybe on the floor.
Forgot to mention, was going to make it modular for easier transportation and disassembly.
 

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A poster named Andreash started two HO threads in the My Layout Forum; Birth of a New Empire and a Winter layout. The first is on a 2x2 platform and the second on a 2x4. You may find some good ideas there.
 

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If you already have HO DCC locos, I would stay with HO and build a point to point switching layout/branch line..You don't need to be able to make a 180 deg turn, back, to have a realistic RR. Many real short lines/branches, engines go outbound and return inbound by running in reverse if line is say 5-20 Mi..
Double track mains look shorter than single track mains. You could though depict an interchange where your RR connects to 'another' RR and the outside world..That too can be your staging track, hand removing (0-5-0 ing) outbounds and replacing them with new inbounds at very end of shelf.
Far as N and Z.. N is tolerable but harder to work on than HO and doesn't have as many choices of cars, locos as HO.
Sorry Z people, but to me, personally, Z is just plain too small..
 

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OP: I would agree with the previous poster. Z is incredibly small. You might want to view an actual layout before you make any purchases.

Since you are in an apartment and will most likely move in the future, sectional roadbed track would be the way to go. You can simply disassemble it and pack it up. Kato is a good choice in N and HO. There are probably comparable products in Z.

If you decide to build in Z you can get great advice and information from the members here in the Z scale section of the forum.
Good luck and have fun.
 

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Apparently finances aren't in question here. I like your idea of going temporarily to Z scale to satisfy your train appetite. But as size of scale decreases, the effects of dirt and dust increase. Setting up a Z scale in the same garage where you're doing car work concerns me. Fuel and oil vapors settling on the track, as well as dust from any grinding or sanding could make headaches for you. Putting tarps or sheets over the layout would alleviate some of that. Good luck with your decision!
 

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If it were me, I would start working on a series of modules in HO scale, that can be taken down and stored when not in use. I think you would find Z too small, and unaffordable for someone just starting out, unless you have financial help from elsewhere.

You could also look at suspending a small layout from the ceiling.
 

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FWIW, a 40' freight car in Z is about 2.75" long and an 85' passenger car is a little over 4.5" and I'm guessing probably only about 0.5" wide. Good luck with whatever you decide.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
After doing some reminiscing about my father I have decided I really would like to continue in HO scale, that way I can use the trains we both used to play with. After spending an hour or so in my garage and doing a lot of measuring, I got a bit of a brainwave. I am thinking I will do some sort of an HO scale shelf layout, about 18" wide and 18' long. In order to save room in the garage I am going to create a hinge system to allow the layout to fold up against the wall when not in use. Then all I would need to do is throw a tarp over the folded up layout to protect it from any dust, debris, and other derailing issues from working on my car. Now time to do some research on shelf layout track plans!

I have never done DCC turn outs before, and am not sure where everyone is buying DCC friendly ones. Any links or advice on this?

Thank you everyone for your input and advice, I am certainly taking notes!
 

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Since you talked about doing modules you could go with a wider layout if you use removable or foldable legs. With doing that you can stand them against the wall when you want to work on your car.
 

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Hey, I had Z years ago. It is tiny, and a lot of fun, but in my experience a curiosity more than a true model loco scale. Too small.

I'd build what HO layout you can, but not put a lot of money into buildings and material you can't take with you.

There may be something in this idea. I worked well. Years ago I built an N-gauge layout for my middle son, that folded. When folded up it was basically a box that was 20 inches by 60 by 4 inches deep, and the top of the desk in his (very tiny) room. The hinges were along the front (a piano hinge). The back of the desktop would lift up and the whole thing hinge out until it was a 40" by 60" layout with a 2" rim/wall around it. I had no real trouble trimming track well enough that trains ran across the small gap where it opened in the middle, as long as the track section was straight. He had it for years. He could do his homework on the desk and then when finished open it and run his trains. I wish we had kept it, or at least pictures.
 

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After doing some reminiscing about my father I have decided I really would like to continue in HO scale, that way I can use the trains we both used to play with. After spending an hour or so in my garage and doing a lot of measuring, I got a bit of a brainwave. I am thinking I will do some sort of an HO scale shelf layout, about 18" wide and 18' long. In order to save room in the garage I am going to create a hinge system to allow the layout to fold up against the wall when not in use. Then all I would need to do is throw a tarp over the folded up layout to protect it from any dust, debris, and other derailing issues from working on my car. Now time to do some research on shelf layout track plans!

I have never done DCC turn outs before, and am not sure where everyone is buying DCC friendly ones. Any links or advice on this?

Thank you everyone for your input and advice, I am certainly taking notes!
I have a garage shelf layout that is 17' long with a 16" wide section 6' long, a 5.5" wide section 5' long so I can open my car door, and another 6' long section 11" wide. It's mounted on shelf brackets. I have passing sidings on both ends to enable the loco to run around.

Great idea using the trains you shared with your dad.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
After another couple hours in the garage measuring, cutting card board, and trying again, I realized that in order to get the height I would need to install this (I have always wanted to build this model): https://www.walthers.com/diesel-house-kit-9-1-4-x-16-7-8-x-6-1-2-quot-23-5-x-42-8-x-16-4cm I would need the layout to fold up over half way of the total width and that would be a royal pain to get all the track lined up properly. So I decided to do this...

It is 12' long, 11.5" wide in the skinnier area and 15" wide towards the garage door. As of right now I will have the locomotive facility at that end and a small switching yard at the other. The track is over 5' off of the ground, so I (at 5'6") have no issues moving around the vehicle. A small step stool is used to get to the appropriate level. It also clearly avoids the car, so no car working space is taken up at all. While this solution was definitely a compromise, I think it will work for running some trains.
Some simple sturdy bench work was installed, I am not too worried about warping since the layout potentially wont even be up for a long enough time for the wood to warp too badly. I also threw up an easy backdrop, the seams are noticeable but for $15 worth of picture frame backer it is easy to put up and take down. And it looks way better than exposed plywood and 2x4.
Thanks again for everyones input, I appreciate it. I'll update this thread as I get stuff done, whenever that is!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
If it were me, I would start working on a series of modules in HO scale, that can be taken down and stored when not in use. I think you would find Z too small, and unaffordable for someone just starting out, unless you have financial help from elsewhere.
I have done modules in the past, and still have one sitting in my garage, but the issue I have with doing that is once they are build I have nowhere to store them. I had to build my workbench around it and its sitting on an old set of wheels.
You could also look at suspending a small layout from the ceiling.
I thought about that too, but I wouldnt sleep at night knowing something big and heavy is hanging right over my baby lol
 

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"While this solution was definitely a compromise..."

I think everyone in model railroading has dealt with compromise and now you are on the way to a layout.
 

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I have done modules in the past, and still have one sitting in my garage, but the issue I have with doing that is once they are build I have nowhere to store them. I had to build my workbench around it and its sitting on an old set of wheels.
You could build a couple of frames up in the rafters of your garage and store them up there. Looks like you have lots of room.

I thought about that too, but I wouldnt sleep at night knowing something big and heavy is hanging right over my baby lol
If you make it big and heavy, you did something wrong. Frame it in 1x4 pine, give it one L girder joist (a 1x2 glued and screwed perpendicular to a 1x3) every 20-24", and use extruded styrofoam panels for the surface, and it will be quite light. Make gussets out of 1/4" plywood to selectively reinforce the corners.

My son's 8x8 L-shaped layout is built this way, and it can be lifted by 2 people, one on each long side. Weight-wise, ONE person could probably lift it, but it's a little awkward.

I sympathize with not wanting to risk the car, but where there is a will, there is a way.
 
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