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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone... I am new to this board and am glad to be here.

My question... I have decided that I want to build a Lionel (O gauge..O scale ??) layout with my 12 year old son as a father son project. My space is limited. The maximum size would be 4x16. To clarify, that would be two 4x8 sheets of plywood. Given that size, would I be able to build an interesting layout with track, scenery, and switches ? I have debated HO gauge/scale since it is smaller but I am in favor of Lionel gauge/scale due to its size and and value. Thanks to all who take the time to read my post and reply. Happy Model Railroading !
 

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Oh my yes. That would be a very nice layout, and actually a bit on the big side compared to many. As seayakbill said, the four foot length limits you on the track radius you can use and that means some bigger locomotives won't fit on those tight radii, but remember Lionel and other (MTH, Williams, Atlas, etc) companies make products for four-foot and three-foot wide layouts. There will be a big choice of locos, cars, etc.

That said, if you can stretch the width to five feet, even if it means cutting back to say, 12 feet length, you might like the results more. Going more than five feet, though, can be a problem (a reach over 30 inches to the middle of the table is rather alot).
 

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Railroad Tycoon
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Hi welcome to the site.
Have you ever had a layout before?
If you could add a foot to the 4' side it would help.

Have you checked out S gauge it is just a bit smaller then O and O/27 gauge. And a bit larger then HO. It is in between those.
You can fit more into the space with S while still "almost" having the O size.

Check out this site http://thortrains.net/ there is a lot of info there and it also has some plans to look at to get ideals from. Not saying to build a layout like they show but to get a few more ideals to think about. Lots of info there.

But like always if you have a question or need to know don't be afraid to ask here.

Before you put the table in place do any electric upgrades (overhead lights, plugs, etc) first and if needed paint the walls before too.
Much easier to do without the table in the way.

Are you planning to build in the basement, attic or a spare room? Some things to think about if in the attic or basement.

Lots more to ask, but I will stop here for now.
Again, Welcome to the site. :smokin:
 
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4x16 will make a very nice O-Gauge layout. The size of O-Gauge engines and cars will make it interesting for the young folks (all of us really). Good luck with this project.
 

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Here are 2 layouts that are easily adapted for 8x16.

Text


Moving out those 1/2 straights make it conform to under 48".

Text Line Paper Diagram Drawing


You can add a connected outer loop on the 2nd one and still be under 48" wide....

Hope these can help.

Peter
 

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Yard Master & Research
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Welcome! My only thought is 027 track has sharp turns and will limit the size of your running trains. Take your time and plan it well. Currently I am working with a gentlemen with a 6 by 12. He has too many 027 turns with S shapes and reverses Derailment is a problem.,He wants four separate loops now, with plenty of action.
 

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First welcome to the forum. There are a great bunch of guys here. 4X16 is a lot of room and a lot of possibilities. I'm with T-Man n the 027. I'd go with 036 curves (if you are using Lionel Fastrack). Just keep in mind the engines you purchase have to be rated for 036 or smaller.
 

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Consider the type of bench-work to use (portable, semi-permanent, permanent, etc.), the style of layout you want (island, linear, around the walls, etc.), how you plan to run your railroad (display, operating accessories, switching, other real-like railroad operations, etc.), and the limitations caused by your layout location (basement, attic, spare room, etc.). Then, search the internet for O gauge or O scale trackplans that will fit in the area you have available. You should then get some good ideas for what you want to do.

You will also find trackplans elsewhere on this forum, and on other model railroading fora, which will also give you ideas. There are also numerous books available on how to plan your own layout as well as others that actually contain designed plans. And last, but not least, there is software available that allows you to design your space and trackplan if you just take some time to learn it.

Remember that 4x8 sheets of plywood can be cut to meet your desires and dreams for you and your son.

Chuck
 

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Rebelpirate, in your first post you said your son is now 12 years old. So my first thought is, how long will your boy remain interested in a model train layout? Some kids do, and with others, girls, cars and life take over around age 16.

Next thought... are you interested in "realism" or the fun of running and operating trains. If I had wanted prototypical realism, I would have gone with HO years ago. There is NO comparison to the variety of products available between HO and O. The HO market is HUGE compared to the Lionel market. And then the Lionel market is further divided into sub-camps: scale, traditional, TMCC/Legacy, conventional, postwar, MPC, etc. For the most part, products are usable with each other, though there are liabilities and some restrictions.

It pays to ask questions first before buying something, if you have any concerns.

Most Lionel train sets are of the traditional 0 gauge type. Matter of fact, this is the real definition of Lionel. Before Lionel moved to China and could afford to do the new tooling for actual realistic scale proportioned trains, the vast majority of Lionel products were Lionel scale which is now commonly called semi-scale or traditional.

When I got back into trains about 30 years ago, I bought several starter sets. That gave me a good start with track, extra power sources and plenty of rolling stock and a few engines. Back then, the sets came with 027 track which I have remained with ever since. I don't find it to be much of a limitation because most of the products in my preferred price range run fine on 027 curves.

Also bear in mind, Lionel is not exactly honest about starter products and what will and will not run on 027 track. Many set locos and LionChief+ locos are from tooling that was designed decades ago to run on 027 curves. Lionel does NOT currently make 027 track and this could be part of the reason it will say minimum curve 031 or 036.

I would suggest to you starting with the 4x8 size, and expanding later if your son's interest grows, and your budget allows. I assume you're married and therefore may have other demands on your extra spending money.

The new "scale trend" is one of several contributing factors to prices dropping substantially on used Lionel traditionally sized trains. So there's a consideration for your future train spending. What would your wife prefer: To see you spend nearly $100 for a new train car, or $10-$20? $100 for a locomotive or $400 and up?

There are personal questions you need to answer for yourself.

FasTrack is expensive compared to tubular 027 or O. But it is what comes with all new starter sets. Though you can certainly find older (sometimes sealed) starter sets that come with an actual transformer and 027 track. Some of the sets before the recent LionChief features, came with FasTrack (like sets still do) but also came with a transformer instead of a wall wart.

The variety in 3 rail trains today is better than ever. But it is also more complicated than it was in the past, so like I said, it pays to ask specific questions about a specific product before you buy it. For example, all the current new Lionel starter sets run off DC current, but will also run off an AC transformer. BUT if you buy a conventional engine that has "Train Sounds," it will not run on DC current without ruining the sound system circuitry.

Another example: The affordable K-Line locos (Alco FA, S-2, MP-15) all run on either AC or DC current. BUT if you use most postwar Lionel transformers, they will start off like jack-rabbits. If you use the Lionel 1033, they'll start off and run very nicely. That 1033 is a great transformer to start off the hobby with... affordable, reliable and will run a wide variety of trains with its' feature of dual voltage settings to the track.

I know this is long, but getting into Lionel trains is not quite as simple as it was years ago.

The Thor Trains website was already mentioned and is an excellent place for ideas and information. Here's a direct link to the 4'x8' FasTrack layout page.

http://www.thortrains.net/marx/48fastrack1.html
 

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Rebelpirate, in your first post you said your son is now 12 years old. So my first thought is, how long will your boy remain interested in a model train layout? Some kids do, and with others, girls, cars and life take over around age 16.

Next thought... are you interested in "realism" or the fun of running and operating trains. If I had wanted prototypical realism, I would have gone with HO years ago. There is NO comparison to the variety of products available between HO and O. The HO market is HUGE compared to the Lionel market. And then the Lionel market is further divided into sub-camps: scale, traditional, TMCC/Legacy, conventional, postwar, MPC, etc. For the most part, products are usable with each other, though there are liabilities and some restrictions.

It pays to ask questions first before buying something, if you have any concerns.

Most Lionel train sets are of the traditional 0 gauge type. Matter of fact, this is the real definition of Lionel. Before Lionel moved to China and could afford to do the new tooling for actual realistic scale proportioned trains, the vast majority of Lionel products were Lionel scale which is now commonly called semi-scale or traditional.

When I got back into trains about 30 years ago, I bought several starter sets. That gave me a good start with track, extra power sources and plenty of rolling stock and a few engines. Back then, the sets came with 027 track which I have remained with ever since. I don't find it to be much of a limitation because most of the products in my preferred price range run fine on 027 curves.

Also bear in mind, Lionel is not exactly honest about starter products and what will and will not run on 027 track. Many set locos and LionChief+ locos are from tooling that was designed decades ago to run on 027 curves. Lionel does NOT currently make 027 track and this could be part of the reason it will say minimum curve 031 or 036.

I would suggest to you starting with the 4x8 size, and expanding later if your son's interest grows, and your budget allows. I assume you're married and therefore may have other demands on your extra spending money.

The new "scale trend" is one of several contributing factors to prices dropping substantially on used Lionel traditionally sized trains. So there's a consideration for your future train spending. What would your wife prefer: To see you spend nearly $100 for a new train car, or $10-$20? $100 for a locomotive or $400 and up?

There are personal questions you need to answer for yourself.

FasTrack is expensive compared to tubular 027 or O. But it is what comes with all new starter sets. Though you can certainly find older (sometimes sealed) starter sets that come with an actual transformer and 027 track. Some of the sets before the recent LionChief features, came with FasTrack (like sets still do) but also came with a transformer instead of a wall wart.

The variety in 3 rail trains today is better than ever. But it is also more complicated than it was in the past, so like I said, it pays to ask specific questions about a specific product before you buy it. For example, all the current new Lionel starter sets run off DC current, but will also run off an AC transformer. BUT if you buy a conventional engine that has "Train Sounds," it will not run on DC current without ruining the sound system circuitry.

Another example: The affordable K-Line locos (Alco FA, S-2, MP-15) all run on either AC or DC current. BUT if you use most postwar Lionel transformers, they will start off like jack-rabbits. If you use the Lionel 1033, they'll start off and run very nicely. That 1033 is a great transformer to start off the hobby with... affordable, reliable and will run a wide variety of trains with its' feature of dual voltage settings to the track.

I know this is long, but getting into Lionel trains is not quite as simple as it was years ago.

The Thor Trains website was already mentioned and is an excellent place for ideas and information. Here's a direct link to the 4'x8' FasTrack layout page.

http://www.thortrains.net/marx/48fastrack1.html
A friend who is a independent Lionel tech and dealer told me pretty much the same thing when I was getting back into the hobby. It helped a lot in my decisions. Except for Thor Trains.;)
 

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I agree with everyone else. 4x16 can give you a lot of options. One of the things that I would recommend is think about the vertical dimension and tunnels. They can make a smaller track look much larger.

Here is my 13x5ish layout. One of the things that I tried really hard to get away from was symmetry. I wanted it to look very different from each view and I think I succeeded.


I only wish I had thought about that third dimension and added a second level for another train to run up there. At this size I can't do a transition as there is not enough space. I may still figure out a way to do it now that my other project is complete.
 

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I agree with everyone else. 4x16 can give you a lot of options. One of the things that I would recommend is think about the vertical dimension and tunnels. They can make a smaller track look much larger.

Here is my 13x5ish layout. One of the things that I tried really hard to get away from was symmetry. I wanted it to look very different from each view and I think I succeeded.


I only wish I had thought about that third dimension and added a second level for another train to run up there. At this size I can't do a transition as there is not enough space. I may still figure out a way to do it now that my other project is complete.
I like your layout.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Agent027
thanks for your reply.
to be totally honest, although I want to involve my boy in this project, it really is something I have personally always wanted to do. I want to involve him when he has time and is available but selfishly I want to have the layout i have always dreamed of.
True, school activities, cars and of course girls will take him away from our project but I will cherish the brief times we will spend together. I'm addition, last time I mentioned this project to him he expressed interest.
Furthermore, I am looking to get involved in a safe hobby that will take advantage of my electronics knowledge and will be an activity that I can be involved with for the rest of my life.
your thoughts and insight are always welcome ...
 
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