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340 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am planning to build a 4ft6 by 5ft6 layout in OO.
It shall use 10mm plywood for the baseboard top and will be propped up on its side when not in use.
It will be probably be DCC and I am planning on getting a Bachmann E-Z Dynamis as the layout is unDC-friendly.
Any advice on the plan will be appreciated.


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2,202 Posts
Dare I suggest a 're-think'' regarding the plan?

your central 'circle' of track is going to be very tight of itself a VERY limiting factor.....certainly as far as stock is concerned.

consider placing those spurs/sidings on the INSIDE of the 'main line'....?

This will allow the 'circle' to become of much easier, wider radius.

the limiting factor regarding your max radius is the 4 foot 6 inch board width.

allowing, for example, around 2 inches of board outside of any running line, then that dimension comes down to 4 foot 2 inches.

[I had 3 foot 6 inches, by 5 foot, folded in came down to around 1 1/2" round the edge...that makes around just over 19 inch radius for the main running lines.....not quite the tightest radius available from any set track]

So in your case, the 'main line'' the loop/circle, could come out to a tad over 2 foot radius as a curve.

what I do suggest is that, by using 2 foot radius, nominal, and avoiding a ''straight line'link to the other use a gentle curve, flex track??...

however....the main benefit of using 2 foot radius curves is, the inner runaround track [left end] is going to be eased, in terms of radius.

[My runaround loop, or ''passing track'', literally commenced half way round the curve , on the width of board...and returned at the other half is effectively ''double track''...... for one long half....has a nasty reverse curve in the middle of the loop....unavoidable if two platforms were to be got 'in' requested by No 1 son...]

For realism.....if that's what you're after.......better to have a 'few' long sidings.....than many short ones???

we have a 'bay platform road' off inside ....capable of holding at least two parcels vans, plus a smallish loco........with another 'long' siding coming off this, at the throat..[surplus old peco wye point...very short, very useful bit of track.]

now, because said no.1 son decided he wanted a TURNTABLE............I ended up rigging a kickback siding from next the wye point, round into the central board section......and a peco turntabel, with several roads off, into a shed, etc.....

there is also another spur, from the inner passing loop parallel to the 'main'.....originally a loco servicing track, complete with redundant..apparently.....

plenty of room for continuous running...two trains possible.....with a third loco shunting or playing on the yet.....simply a basic Gaugemaster black box, with a peg fitted to prevent 'overspeeding'...and a port for one of my handhelds, should Daddy get a chance to play

so..I advise, biggest oval you can fit spurs INSIDE oval...although there would be room outside for the odd one.......unless your planning to replicate Jersey City docks?

· Premium Member
4,843 Posts
Hi Ben,

I'm afraid I have to agree with Alastair. Not only will you find the radii very tight, and possibly even impossible for some locos, you may find that you very quickly run out of operational interest. In addition, you will find it difficult to reach the far corners of the layout when it is set up. Based on 'Murphy's Law' it is virtually guaranteed that a loco wil stop in the most inaccessible position on the layout. I am assuming that the twin trach along one edge is a Fiddle yard.

Have you had a look at any layout books for ideas ? C.J. Freezer has published many layout design books and I have had a quick look in his '60 Plans for Small Locations' and found the attached layout which could easily be modified to suit your available space. By squeezing the length down by 6" and stretching the width from 4'-0" to your 4'-6" you could get everything in and have plenty of scope for landscaping. Also, with having a central control well, everything will be within reach.

Have a look and give it some thought.

Map Font Rectangle Slope Parallel




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1,081 Posts
Thanks for the thread and the replies. Am in a similar position have 4, 4x2 base boards and want to maximize usage but not make the layout 'boring' for the grandchildren to watch the trains, hence the need for a complete run around the layout. Must say I hadn't thought about omitting the centre of the layout, which would free up more base board material for additional track.

I was drawn towards Brilliant baseboards as the frame. Their big advantages is that they can be carved to give valleys etc. however in a modest set-up the valley wouldn't be much wider than on coach so not really a big feature. Cost to provide 4 baseboards about £250 plus legs. So bought a twin laser circ saw from B&Q for £69 (reduced from 99) to make own base board frame. SWMBO is really keen to get cracking so eyes down this weekend.

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2,202 Posts
I don't have ''60 plans'' to hand at the moment....but....our small layout is based [loosely] on one of the first two plans in the book, the simple oval, passing loop and two sidings ...

[turntable is an ''add-on'''not 'unfeasible' even on a small layout, as with clever stage oval, and kickback siding, disappearing into tunnels, or under bridges......''suggests'' that the turntable is at the 'end ' of a far bigger complex, which is off-stage.......and actually bears no relationship to the original, 'on-view', station........somewhat like a 'preserved' line? Gives son an opportunity to have, on line, many more engines than such a small layout should comfortably accomodate?]

There IS an issue with central operating wells.

A good idea ....especally on should take into account the size, and number, of people who will occupy that central space at any one time?

[The NMRA actually tabulate aisle widths, as a guide.]

take into account there may be a need to be standing up for long periods places a strain on folk.....

and 'sitting'....for example, bar-stool style.....takes up a remarkable amount of 'space'?

This CAN be mitigated somewhat, if one raises the overall height of the layout?

[layouts do look so much better if being viewed from around eye level, or just below......useful if one has issues about the OO track gauge?

Raising a layout to a more elevated height also has advantages regarding under-layout storage, furniture, workbenches, etc.]

I also have a 'liking' for an oval layout idea I first spotted in Scale Model Trains mag, years ago.........and Railstimulator's idea caused me to remember...the idea was.....if a 'central well' type layout wasn't feasible, then another way of achieving a similar effect is when stuck with a 'solid' partition the baseboard down the centre...[or offset, or diagonal, choice is endless].......basically having two separate [scenically] layouts,each linked by the oval, continous run......I built one years ago, around 4 foot by 2 foot 6" rectangle, oval squeezed in, with a coalmine on a hillside on one side....with loading tracks, etc.....and a totally different scene on the other.....OK,so the sole loco was a small switcher, BUT.......operation was excellent as one had an originator, and a destination.....linked by as many laps of the oval as one wished.......but neither side could be seen from the other, from normal viewing angles.....[Heljan or Pola coal mine kit.....and if I recall, a quayside and tippler thing on the other.]
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