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I am in my mid-sixties and have just recently become interested in model railroading. I was big into slot cars as a kid, and was looking to get back into that when I found was drawn more to model railroading. I have been spending hours researching my new interest.

Right now I am attracted toward building a layout, scenery and buildings. Prototyping is desired, but free scaling is acceptable if necessary. All my reading indicates that switching/operations will be more rewarding than watching my trains go around in a loop.

My question is, as a solo model railroader with room for a N gauge door size layout, will I be able to set up a layout with interesting and challenging passenger operations? I grew up on the east coast and find passenger and commuter trains much more interesting and attractive than freight trains. Is a small track plan passenger layout feasible?

Any suggested references for passenger switching or operations would be greatly appreciated.
 

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I have no suggestion for you except to use the largest radius that you can for your layout especially for passenger service. Your trains will look much better on larger curves.

My layout is all passenger service too.
 

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I am in a similar boat just starting out and I've noticed that a lot of single board layouts use tunnels at the corners or ends of the board to hide some of the tight turns. Others use hidden lower levels to turn trains around e.g. one called "That Famous 4x8 in HO"

http://www.scarm.info/layouts/track_plans.php?ltp=178

The best way to look at that layout is to download the .scarm file, load it up in Scarm, and then hide one or more layers so you can clearly see what is on each level.
 

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N Scale Passenger Trains on a Door

I am currently doing just that -- building a passenger-oriented N scale layout on a door -- and one piece of advice I would pass on is to get the 36-inch wide door instead of the 30-inch. This will allow you to use slightly larger radius curves, which will work better with long passenger cars. My main line is made of 15-inch and 13 3/4-inch radius Unitrack, and the minimum radius is 12 3/8. I couldn't have done that on a 30-inch door.

But even a 36 by 80 inch is tight. Passenger trains -- the really cool, sexy ones like a full-sized Super Chief -- are long. That Super Chief is 12 cars long, plus 3 or 4 F units to pull it. It is literally half the circumference of your biggest possible oval. You are going to have to selectively compress to fit it onto a door.

As far as operations . . . well, I like watching trains go around, so I have a double oval main line. But I also am building a 4-track union station with passenger platforms where each track can hold 5 or 6 cars plus a locomotive. But there's not a lot of switching to do, so I will also have a couple of yard tracks where I can make up a freight of grain hoppers and maybe some box cars.

And that's all the advice I feel qualified to give right now. I only just two days ago laid out what I hope is a final track plan. It is a variation on Atlas's N-9 Multiple Track Arrangement scaled up because the door is a bigger base. Should work OK for fiddling with passenger trains.
 

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I would agree with Clovis -- the 36x80 space, even in N scale, is limiting enough that it's hard to really do justice to realistic operations.

Is that REALLY all the space you have, or are you limiting your thinking to things that amount to a pre-made table top? Consider this: a 4x8 sheet of plywood is 32 square feet of layout, and with a 2'wide aisle all around, has a footprint of 96 square feet. If you take that same space, and build a two foot wide "donut" around the perimeter, you get 64 square feet of layout space in the same footprint. If you don't want the donut, even a C shape, two feet wide, maybe with little blobs at the ends of the arms to accommodate a turnaround loop, or even an E shape can give you more options.

Just some food for thought.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I’m just starting to plan this. Thank you for the input. I was wanting to start simple and small, but I think I can manage a C shape.
 

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I’m just starting to plan this. Thank you for the input. I was wanting to start simple and small, but I think I can manage a C shape.
If you can manage an 'E' shape, you can use the middle bar of the 'E' to model the wye tracks going into St. Louis Union Station. The main line would run up and down the back of the 'E', and trains would back into the train shed.

I have seen it back in the fifties/sixties, and it was impressive.

 

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That St. Louis Union Station is amazing. I suspect something like that is way past my abilities. I’ll have to look at city station layouts others have done and see if they fit in my space-time-finance budget.
 

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That St. Louis Union Station is amazing. I suspect something like that is way past my abilities. I’ll have to look at city station layouts others have done and see if they fit in my space-time-finance budget.
Well, you're right: that layout would be complicated and expensive to build, but not beyond anyone's abilities. Just take it slow and work carefully.

I support your decision to start on a smaller scale, though. You'll probably find, as you do your first layout, that you'll want to do some things differently. Most of us have started over, many of us more than once (I'm on #8, if you count the two I built as a teenager and the two I helped my son build). But be willing to stretch for something that you will enjoy, rather than "settling" because something seems too complex.
 

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You can have some great operations by just focusing on passenger trains.

If possible I would do a double loop on the main board and add a wye coming off the main line to the passenger terminal. Sort of a 'L' shaped layout.

Depending on the era you are modeling head-end cars would need to get switch out of the train and spotted. Express cars for REA, baggage cars, mail (RPO), diner cars need to be cleaned and restocked.

If you have enough room perhaps a couple of your favorite railroads could share the terminal. Some cars, especially RPOs, might be interchanged between railroads.

You probably will want to do some research into passenger trains before starting construction.
 

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Also interested in zeroing in on passenger trains. I have no issues building a layout that looks complex. aka a multi level, yet has simplicity when you actually build it. I am thinking my upper level being just for the passenger train and completely independent of the other two levels. I have stumbled across a couple of layouts that work for me but am incredibly interested in modeling the Tehachape Mountain area. not so much the loop but after the fact with the 10+ tunnels
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I appreciate all the input. I think I’ll keep the passenger operations layout as a “someday/maybe” project. I’ve moved on to investigating other options.
 

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Passenger trains are possible

I appreciate all the input. I think I’ll keep the passenger operations layout as a “someday/maybe” project. I’ve moved on to investigating other options.
Late4Dinner;

I too am a passenger train enthusiast. I'm lucky enough to have more length available (17') but I have less width (16") on most of my railroad, and nowhere is my layout more than 3'-4' deep. That St. Louis passenger terminal was impressive, but you can choose a smaller, less elaborate, passenger station too.
I like the Milwaukee Road's electric operations, and passenger trains. I settled on Seattle Union Station which had only six platform tracks, and some basic auxiliary tracks for head-end cars. There was no wye, or turntable, nearby; so the station was a simple stub-end affair with trains backing in.
My 90% of N-scale size model of Seattle Union Station is shown below. The station was owned by Union Pacific, and the Milwaukee Road was a tenant. Name passenger trains from both these railroads used Union Station.
Right across the street, King St. Station hosted the Northern Pacific and Great Northern passenger operations. Since I don't have room for two medium-sized city passenger terminals, "King St. Station" will consist of a structure flat and a hidden staging yard.

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:

Seattle Union Station concourse end 2.JPG

Seattle Union Station side view.JPG

Seattle Union Station showing scratch built interior.JPG
 

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Thanks

Wow! What a great looking station!
bpiperjr;

Thank you for the compliment on my model of Seattle Union Station. I was fortunate enough to be able to make several personal photo-taking visits to the real station, which has been beautifully restored, and listed in the national registry of historic places. The same is true for King St. Station, which sits right across King St. from Union Station.
So many great railroad stations have been destroyed in the name of urban "renewal." A giant Thank You to the city of Seattle for preserving, and restoring, both of these beautiful structures!

Seattle Union Station no longer sees trains arrive or depart. The actual tracks have been taken up, and a modern (ugly) green glass office building now stands where the tracks were. The actual station building, as duplicated in my N-scale model, is now used as a public meeting hall, and leased for social, & corporate, events. The photos below are some that I took of the real Union Station. The last photo shows King St. Station, seen from just outside the door of Union Station.

It's quite unusual for the city terminals of four competing giant transcontinental railroad companies to be so close to each other. Very handy for me, as I can quite legitimately operate the Northern Pacific's "North Coast Limited", and the Great Northern's "Empire Builder" along with the Milwaukee's "Olympian" and "Columbian" and the Union Pacific's "Cities" passenger trains, all on the same layout!
King St. Station is still an active passenger station with both Amtrak, and local "Sounder" commuter trains arriving and departing, the station daily. If you ever travel to Seattle, be sure to visit both these landmarks.

My model version is still not finished. I have added more detail, like the skylight grids, the green tile "wainscoting" with the gold stripe at the top, a much simplified version of the arch lighting in the prototype's barrel-vaulted ceiling, and the wall-mounted lighting fixtures, since those photos were taken.
One of the features that I could not reasonably duplicate was the unusual floor made up of thousands of 2" hexagonal tiles, shown in the photo. I settled for a more conventional, 12" square tile, checkerboard pattern floor. My model is by no means a completely accurate miniature version of the prototype station. I made many compromises in prototypical fidelity to make a practical model of so complex a structure. Stil, I think it's "good enough" to represent one of the grand stations of a bygone era.
The platforms, umbrella canopies, ice house, (for express refers) and the Railway Express Agency building flat, have all been built, and are now in storage, while I renovate the station's trackage.

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:

Union Sta. benches long view.JPG

Union Sta. big window.JPG

Union Sta. blank door & light fixture.JPG

Union Sta. people entering.JPG

Union Sta. skylights.JPG

Union Sta. floor closeup.JPG

Union sta. side view medium range.JPG

Union Sta. view of King St. station.JPG
 
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