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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all.

My name is Brian and I'm looking to set up a train on a table that's roughly 12 feet by 3 feet. I'm looking for suggestions about the ideal scale for such a table size. I did briefly have a very tiny train set, probably the smallest generally available scale, and I had a problem finding signs and houses, etc., that weren't too big for it. I'd like to use a scale for which I could easily find doodads to run alongside the tracks.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

PS I should add that I really like the idea of having lights in some of the trackside buildings, as well as street lights and things, so any ideas on that subject would help as well.
 

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Brian

Welcome aboard...you have a big bunch of train guys who will be glad to help you get started in our hobby.

12 X 3 is an unusual size for a train layout. The controlling factor is the space needed for a curve radius that
can accomodate today's locomotives and cars. 3 feet wide is a tad too small for all but N or Z scale.
A 4 ft width can barely fit an HO 22" radius which many
consider the minimum for smooth and realistic running, 5 ft width would be better.

There is, however, what we call a switching layout. That would fit nicely on your 12 X 3 bench.
You can't start a train running and sit back and watch it, but you can have hours of challenging
switching operations...moving cars from trains to freight users and the like.

Lighting buildings, street lights and signs adds color and realism to a layout. There are
LED and incandescent bulbs ideal for these purposes. Usually you power them by
a discarded wal wart or old DC power pack.

One tip for lighting buildihgs: You must 'BLACK OUT' the walls, roofs and floor so that
your light comes only thru the windows. This is done with a combination of thick black
paint, black electricians tape, and pieces of card stock.

Let us know when you get your plans more complete so we can help you with
what ever question you may have.

Don
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, Don. Given the narrow width of my table, maybe I should stick with the tiny scale train (Z I think it was) and just accept the fact that I'll have to search a little harder for trackside props of the correct size. Plus, I'm more into the idea of perfecting a realistic layout (with fields, streets, buildings, and lampost) than I am in working with switching operations.

Thanks for the tips. I'll report back when I've made some progress.

PS I'm wondering if anyone's invented light-containing battery-operated props (ideally for Z-scale) that can be lit up or extinguished using a remote control (like houses with light-containing interiors, street lamps, etc.) That sounds far less daunting to me than running wires around the layout and figuring out how to conceal them.
 

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Actually, wiring for lights is very simple. Each buildng or light standard would have a pigtail that goes thru a hole uinder
the table where it would connect to a 'bus' carrying the power. Use 'suitcase' connectors to make this simple and easy.

Don
 

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Hi Brian, welcome to the site.
Is it possible to make it 4' x 12'? 3 1/2' x 12'?
Even at 3' I would think an N scale layout would fit, and you have more choices of buildings and things.
I think N scale would be better then Z scale.
I only have a small N scale table now, you could fit 4 or 5 of them on your 12' table. :)

Other " true" N scalers should chime in and give advice.
Not too many model Z scale here.
 

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Hello all.

My name is Brian and I'm looking to set up a train on a table that's roughly 12 feet by 3 feet. I'm looking for suggestions about the ideal scale for such a table size. I did briefly have a very tiny train set, probably the smallest generally available scale, and I had a problem finding signs and houses, etc., that weren't too big for it. I'd like to use a scale for which I could easily find doodads to run alongside the tracks.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

PS I should add that I really like the idea of having lights in some of the trackside buildings, as well as street lights and things, so any ideas on that subject would help as well.
Brian;

Given your 3' table width, and your desire for buildings, signs, and other accessories, I would strongly recommend N-scale. N-scale is the second most popular scale in the USA, second only to HO-scale. Z-scale is the smallest commonly available (though there actually is an even smaller size called T-scale.) Z-scale is limited in selection of items, particularly for an American railroad based layout. The locomotives and cars work as well as other scales, but there isn't all that much available, and it is very expensive. Due to the popularity of HO and N scales, there is much more available and the cost is lower. You might check out www.walthers.com or www.modeltrainstuff.com or www.trainworld.com to see what's available , and at what cost, in the various scales. Ho-scale, and the scales larger than HO, won't fit on a three foot table, if you want to have continuous running. The curves are simply too wide to fit. T-scale is in it's experimental infancy, and even finding any trains, let alone any accessories, may be quite difficult. The files below are some I wrote for new modelers ("Newbies") planning their first layout. Look through them if you like. They may provide some useful information that will help you make some decisions about what you want, and how to build it.

Good Luck & Have Fun!

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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N scale is very doable on a 3' width. Narrow gauge HO is also possible given the shorter length of most locomotives and rolling stock.

For something of the table size you have I would love to build an Rhätische Bahn HOm mountain layout. Modelers in this gauge often use a background about 2' in from the front edge and run the track around the ends of the scenery background through a mountain portal to complete a loop...except you don't see the back side of the layout.

Out in front you might have several switching tracks with a station, small freight area, a helper engine track to spot a few freight wagons, engine shed, and station tracks. Also included may be a few residences or a Gasthaus or restaurant.

You aren't stuck with having to constantly keep a train moving back and forth, but it appears that one train leaves and another comes along in a minute or two. Switching can be done on one train while the other train can be a through train or make a short stop at the station for a few passengers.

As an example of one possibility:

 
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