A good 4x8 trackplan

Patrickdelaney17 Dec 16, 2013

  1. Patrickdelaney17

    Patrickdelaney17 TrainBoard Member

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    Hello all, I am switching into HO scale from n and was wondering if anyone had any input on a good 4x8 trackplan. I was planning on a small branchline of the PRR with an H-10 2-8-0 being the main motive power.
     
  2. ratled

    ratled TrainBoard Supporter

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  3. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Is your choice of a 4 by 8 dictated by space available? If there is no other alternative, it has been done many times. John Allen started his famous Gorre & Daphetid in a similar size, later incorporating it into his famous basement empire. I had an HO layout that size as a youth.

    Try looking for a book "An HO Layout That Grows". (Kalmbach Publications?) (Hope I have that title correct?)
     
  4. Candy_Streeter

    Candy_Streeter TrainBoard Member

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    I think if you like city scenes and switching then you can do a lot with 4 X 8. Fill the space with lots of track, streets, industry, housing and local business. You will have an empire!
     

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  5. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Nice scene, excellent photo!
     
  6. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

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    I agree with 'ratled' (above). There is some kind of syndrome with those either new to hobby or going to HO from another scale. I don't get why so many folks gravitate to the 4x8, flat ping-pong table at the start instead of looking into more realistic or at least ergonomically formed train bench work. I too did this as a kid in the 1950s because shelf type or layouts with aisle ways were not as dominant then as are now days. I finally saw the light after visiting my first MRR club open house. Though certainly not a 4x8, it too was very wide but used duck-unders and access hatches to get to middle. Even this became archaic over the decades. Today almost all MRRs are 'walk-around' shelf type or 'walk-around' with aisle ways. The bench work is made wide enough for tangible track arrangements while remaining shallow enough to reach to rearmost tracks without having to crawl under in case of derail or stall-out, or to manually throw a switch.
    Take a good look at other's layouts on Tboard and at 'model railroad bench work' how-to books. Also, if you have the space why not cut the 4x8 into a 2x16, then add perhaps 1x3 or 4 at end's sides to have enough room for full curves to go around toward where you came from. A dog bone shape. You don't even need a loop of track. You can make RR a point to point, using wye configurations and/or turntables at ends to turn engines around to head back; like the real one. On a 4x8 you're going to have either a circle you'll likely get tired of, or a figure 8 within the circle you'll likely get tired of...Both of these are what are dubbed 'continuals'. Other than some rapid transit, subways or trolley lines, real RRs do not go round in circles. They're point to point. The fact that you say 'PRR H-10 2-8-0' shows you are up on real steam locos and RRs. So consider a more real setting for them. Finally, forming grades on a flat surface is a big hassle compared with 'open-grid or 'L girder' bench work.
    Patrick, we're not ganging on you . We merely want to keep you from making one of the biggest mistakes in bench work you can make.
    Mark
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 17, 2013
  7. cajon

    cajon TrainBoard Member

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    Patrick
    There's a gazillion "4'x8' track plan" out there on the internet & even on this & other forums plus all the others on the internet. Just type what's in the quotes to find them.
     
  8. Wojo

    Wojo TrainBoard Member

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    Most beginners, and those returning to the hobby after years of absence are drawn to the 4'x8'/5'x9' format because there are so many venues where these plans are featured in, for instance, the Atlas Track Plan Books, the annual MR Magazine layout project etc. Most of these "entry level" layouts allow for running a train around a basic loop, some limited switching, and for learning techniques. Like several other commentators, my initial layout was a 4'x6' on casters that fit under a double bed. Amazing, what I was able to squeeze into that layout.

    Some 49 years later, I am currently operating a 5'x12' train board, with a 2'x12' extension on one side. While this enlarged version of the entry level layout is designed for "operation" or "display" and actually functions as an "Out and Back", it leaves a lot to be desired, and wastes much space. The reason I had to resort to this approach, is that my basement train room's utilities are arranged in such a manner that precludes around the wall operation. The current "temporary" layout replaced a layout that utilized wall space, but prevented me from opening windows, accessing water shut off valves without great difficulty. Ultimately, the solution to my personal dilemma is a new train room.

    Unless you have a compelling reason for limiting yourself to a 4'x8' "Island" layout, I would suggest something along the order of Scott Perry's "Heart of Georgia" layout.

    Joe
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 17, 2013
  9. JNXT 7707

    JNXT 7707 TrainBoard Member

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    Track plan interest is always in the eye of the beholder...and is really dependent on what you do with the space you have (for example Candy's interesting scene). Both continuous loops AND point-to-points can become monotonous...OR, quite interesting.
    I would agree that a 4x8 isn't an ultimate goal, but this is a "learning" hobby more than anything else, and a 4x8 can fill that niche pretty well. I started on a 4x8 years ago, took up the hobby again on a 5x11....and continued on to a 12x8 "L"....and dream of the NEXT one, which will be - more than likely - an expansion of that 12X8 incorporating the shelf concept mentioned above.
    However...in retrospect, I'm glad I started with the 4x8, because it's taken it and the subsequent variations to teach me the skills I need for my 'dream' layout...and beyond.
     
  10. Patrickdelaney17

    Patrickdelaney17 TrainBoard Member

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    After stripping down my old n scale layout with its extension, I can make an L-shaped layout each with their own 4x8 sections. I'm in college right now so I'm just experimenting with things right now until I move on past school.
     
  11. mikelhh

    mikelhh TrainBoard Member

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    I started with a 9x5 and I got a ton of enjoyment out of it, as I'm sure you could with a well planned 8x4. Unfortunately I'm no expert there. I hope you find one that works for you.
    One thing I will suggest though is to consider installing a full length scenic divider in it, as I did on mine. That would give you two entirely different locations and would add to the sense that trains are actually going somewhere. For example one side could be rural, with a small industry or two, the other could be urban. This gives you great interest and diversity in the terrain you' have to model. In my case, half of it was UK 00 scale the other US H0 with continuous running.

    One more thing that improved my layout was curved turnouts. As the track rounds the bend, the curved turnouts help you access the innards of the table, giving you longer sidings.

    Great shot and modelling, Candy. The placement of trees and buildings adds a lot of mystery.

    Mike
     
  12. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    Agree with everyone that 4x8 isn't always ideal, but don't ever think it can't work. I agree with mikelhh, get a Scenic divider and used curved turnouts. If you can make it a 4'6" by 8'6" do so as well. Anything to broaden the curves, but don't ever think you can't get enjoyment from a 4x8.

    Heck, I've been model railroading for 20 years and I just picked up a 4x8 layout for free that I plan to rework and add an extension. It fits in my space without impacting other garage needs and I can do what I want with it in the short term.
     
  13. mikelhh

    mikelhh TrainBoard Member

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    Another thing I just thought of to enhance it - attach a hinged extension like i have on my current A to B layout. Mine is only 10 ins wide, and as long as the layout is high. It's attached with a brass piano hinge and supported by a single leg.
    It provides an off-layout destination, and in my case it gives me enough headroom for another run-around option.
    The extension can be as pretty or as ugly as you like. Mine's ugly. When in use it blocks a door.

    [​IMG]

    Mike
     

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  14. Pacodutaco

    Pacodutaco TrainBoard Member

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    4x8 layouts definitely have a place in model railroading but as said many times before, most older modelers gravitate to walk-around layouts etc. to add more variety and possibilities that are limited by the 4x8.
     
  15. Geep_fan

    Geep_fan TrainBoard Member

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    See if you can find a copy of Ian Rice's "small, smart, practical trackplans". There's a nice 4x8 layout in the beginning with a cut out in the middle so you sit in the middle of the 4x8 with a swing in door. You literally could fit the layout in some closets and still have room to play with how he designed it.
     
  16. lars128

    lars128 TrainBoard Member

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    I agree with most of the posters here. The only 4x8's that were even remotely interesting to me were MR's Soo Line Red Wing Division and the Valley Forge Central for the NMRA meet in Philadelphia. Both of them are probably pre 2000.
     
  17. ratled

    ratled TrainBoard Supporter

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    There is nothing "wrong" with a 4x 8 but if you look at the alternatives, say David Barrow South Plains Industrial switching layout ( MR September 1996), you can get just as much(if not more) layout and provide better use of space. Although something like this won't give you the roundy round it will give you the sense of going somewhere and you can even get operations for 2.

    http://www.trainboard.com/railimages/showphoto.php/photo/157536/title/img-22031/cat/2485

    ratled
     
  18. lars128

    lars128 TrainBoard Member

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    The South Plains District is one of my favorites and inspired my current layout plan. The only bad thing about is the abundance of switchbacks.
     
  19. ratled

    ratled TrainBoard Supporter

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    "Yea but" - Lars I'll give you that but when comped with a 4x8 I'll take it any day. Just used it to show an alternative in roughy the same space and still have more space. The HOG would be better too.

    Any pictures/track plan of yours? Loved to check it out
    ratled
     
  20. lars128

    lars128 TrainBoard Member

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    http://www.trainboard.com/grapevine...-Switching-Layout-Design-Looking-for-Opinions

    I'm in the room prep stage right now on this one. I've been in my current house for 2 1/2 years. I initially had a 15 x 24 space that was given up for a guest suite / family room when my wife became pregnant with my son. This layout will be located in my office.

    Unfortunately 2014 may be a year of changes. I may end up deciding if I want to relocate to move up in my agency or find a new job and stay in my current home. The layout will have domino-like construction so I will be able to move it regardless. Overall I'm pretty happy with the design and would like to move ahead with it even if I have more space at my disposal in the future.
     

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