HO Scale 'Around the Room' layout...

NOWESTERN May 19, 2008


    NOWESTERN New Member

    Alrighty.... I've collected HO Scale PAssenger Equipment for the longest time, and the stuff I intend to keep has been sitting around unused for the better part of 2 years. Now that I have a home, and space, I intend to build something. But space, as my wife tells me, is limited. The solution is to build a 'round the room' layout. Something that I can put up close to the ceiling to keep it out of the workspace (HER office, she tells me again) but something where I can see the train running and if I were to take it down and place it against a backdrop it would hold the appearance of a full size layout. I've seen G and O scale railroads in my dentist's office, a few restaurants and a friend's house. Never seen it done in HO. How big of a project am I looking at and how difficult would it be to make the trains visible and the layout detailed enough to meet the demands I'd place on it...? Anyone ever done this? :tb-confused: I could always use ideas... The last detail, its gotta be cost effective... so utilizing what I have now... a few packs of woodland scenics grass and weeds (In various colors... I'm thinking each side of the layout would be a different season), the trees and very few buildings I have. I'm looking at starting in a month or two, so right now I'd like to set out a plan. Its not going to be a huge layout, so it shouldn't be TOO involving when it comes to decorating... I hope. Any ideas? Give me a shout. Trust me, I'm listening...

  2. Helitac

    Helitac TrainBoard Member

    Check out some of the modular threads,NorsemanJack's comes to mind although there are nuggets to be found throughout.Have fun.
  3. NYW&B

    NYW&B Guest

    At best, this would be a highly questionable arrangement and one unlikely to see much use. The necessity of taking it off a higher shelf, setting up heavy brackets to create a sturdy intermediate-level shelf and placing the layout sections on it, making all the necessary track and electrical connections, setting up the trains to run for an hour or so and then doing the whole operation in reverse, quickly grows too difficult. Its like the operation a modular club goes through for a show...but then you have at least half a dozen guys helping with the work.

    The alternative - having a shelf layout permanently near the ceiling, is even less desirable for HO. The G and O scale trains you've seen were reasonably visible from the floor because of their size. Put HO on a shelf near the ceiling and unless the track is run along the edge of the shelf, little or nothing beyond the tops of the cars will be visible from floor level (unless you have very low ceilings, or view it from the opposite end of the room from the shelves).

    If this is the only space she's going to allot you, either negotiate a better arrangement or start considering switching to a larger scale in a permanent, high location. Otherwiser you are going to end up very disappointed.

  4. Lownen

    Lownen TrainBoard Member


    NOWESTERN New Member

    Alrighty, I'll check out the forums and see. I tried negotiating again last night, and the walls might be cracking, but you never know... Second alternative is a very small layout that I know she will be okay with (I know, sounds corny and all, but me and her share the house, can't force my hobby on her or steal space from her). However a small layout limits what equipment I can use badly... I dont have very many small locomotives or short cars for tight curves. I have mostly passenger equipment.
  6. Mr. SP

    Mr. SP Passed away August 5, 2016 In Memoriam

    Around the walls

    The layout here is an around the walls shelf layout. The height of the layout is the main factor as is the depth of the shelf. Mine is four feet off the floor and is sixteen inches deep. There is a lift-out for the doorway. Your layout could be high enough to get the tallest piece of furnature under it. But I wouldn/t go much higher than five feet or so.

    Attached Files:

  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I like this idea. Variety for your eyes.

    Boxcab E50

    NOWESTERN New Member

    Not bad. I like the layout, MR SP. I might be able to go thinner if I go for something with a side by side main line. Another thing, the only thing I really dont have is anything remotely resembling snow... anyone have ideas? For the winter side I'd like to do a decent amount of snow, and I've read of a thousand ways of doing it. But I'd like to know if anyone's actually done it and can tell me what the experience is.

    I'm thinking I'm going to go get some balsa wood so I can actually enclose the support frame of the layout (I AM going to anchor some supports to wall studs and put legs only where necessary). The truss bridge from the link I got from Lownen is impressive... That's a good idea as well. I'll start planning something out and share the final ideas with you guys when I do. The ideas so far are pretty good, keep em coming in. This is a big help.
  9. Helitac

    Helitac TrainBoard Member

    How big is this room, I'm thinking a shelf layout about shoulder high with a tilt/liftout bridge to span the door, and a waist to chest high waterwings thing in one end of the room. It depends on the size of the room, could it look like furniture? She might be more amenible(sp) if it looked like cabinets or bookcases. Do you have to share the room? negotiate!(if she won't negotiate suggest garden ) I've seen many model railroads share space with the rest of the world, if it has a bit of snap to it (nice external appearance) it blends or comes out when the time is right. Start cooking this and present her with a doable, logical, plan. I'm thinking she's not saying no,(of course I've been unsuccesfullymarried twice,and am chronicallly single, she's saying we have to share, don't make a mess). You could suggest she take up bonsai?

    NOWESTERN New Member

    LOL Well, I could suggest that. I spoke with her last night. I might be able to squeak by with a smaller layout, but I'm still kind of hoping to do something different. I've gotten this idea in my head already. I like the folding bridge Idea by the way. And Shoulder height for me might do the trick. She comes up to my mid chest standing up, so shoulder height for me might make it a little easier to sell. And yes, I could work a couple of bookcases into the scheme to hold it up. Kind of have the layout on top of them with bridges spanning the distance between them. They'd probably be unusually deep... LOL Thanks again.
  11. Larry777

    Larry777 TrainBoard Member

    Not bad all, Mr. SP. From what I can see, you've done a good job. What is your room size? I currently have a 9x12 room with around the walls trackage but it is just so small. I have some Walther's passenger cars and they're aren't going to survive on anything less than 24" radius. I'm trying to keep a minimum of 30" but then you aren't too terribly far from having a circle. I'm currently doing a "circle within a circle", which gives me a bit more running space but I'm quickly back to where I started out. Just started building this layout but I can't wait to build my next house and of course, a basement to stretch it all out.
  12. Occams Razor

    Occams Razor TrainBoard Member

    Hmmm, you could actually probably use a sturdy cable and pulley system to raise and lower your layout. I mean, unorthodox, but I don't see how such a system couldn't be designed. Maybe even with foldable legs attached underneath the layout, and fold down brackets up at it's highest point so you're not relying totally on the cables.

    Since this suggestion is so "out there" I'll add the disclaimer that I'm totally serious. The hardest part would be rigging it so that it was lifted all at the same time so as not to torque the benchwork, which would have to be built very sturdy, yet light.
  13. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I have been looking at alternatives to my planned attic layout. Due to the fact that remodeling the attic is going much slower than I would like and there is budget creep with that project, I am thinking of finishing the basement (flood free zone) office and considering a small around the walls shelf layout. It is looking like that I would now will not be able to even think about benhwork construction in the attic unitl very late 2011 or mid 2012. I don't think I can wait that long to get something up and running (been waiting years and years already). :)

    I thought about building a small N scale layout but since my main focus these days is HO, this did not make much sense to me as all of my rolling stock is HO with the exception of a couple of left over cars from my former N scale colleciton.

    The office space is small about 9'x12' but I think that this may be large enough for a small shelf layout with a single track main, a couple of sidings, with maybe a grain elevator. Rural agriculture would be the theme, not my usual urban industrial hell that I tend to plan :).

    The down side is that I would actually have to finish remodling (building) the office but I think I could complete the office sooner and at a much lower cost than finishing the attic. I will still complete the attic / train room project and I am still planning on builidng my HO empire up there.

    Office Around The Walls Shelf Layout Proposed Details:
    1. Room size about 9'x12'
    2. Proposed Shelf Height 55" to 56"
    3. Single Track Main Line with only a couple of inustries
    4. Rural Agriculture theme - Midwest (corn, corn, and probably more corn)

    Office Remodling needs:
    1. Drywall - office current is only framed walls
    2. Have to decide if I am going to use existing cheap florescent lights or purchase and install more eye pleasing light fixtures. Even if I decide to use the existing lights, I will have to re-install them after the drywall is installed.
    3. All electrical is already complete
    4. Finish wiring / install jacks for ethernet (Cat5e) and Coax for Cable TV. Cable wiriing is already in place. Ethernet is currently temp patch cables.
    5. Thinking of carpet squares glued directly to concrete.....not sure on this one.
    6. Oh and of course taping, sanding, and painting.

    Cost wise I am thinking I should be able to keep this pretty cheap. Time wise, not sure.

    Am I insane for thinking about doing this or should I just hold off and focus everything on getting the attic done hopefully before 2012.

    Attic project I am looking at about $7000 from where I am at to get it 100% ready. I may have $7000 available for this project in September 2011, over a year from now and probably would not get it done until Decemberish 2011.
  14. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    HIGH layouts?
    I am going with about 5 foot for an N scale shelf layout, average 16 inches deep,which allows a fair amount of storage underneath. But it does require -I claim it is a "stoop-under" rather than a "squant and crawl under". Still not ideal...
    And it is mostly MY room, with some of her STORAGE. Okay for watching, with my chin just over the ground. Needs a ladder for a lot of the construction-- or removal of sections.

    I won't claim it would work for you and your situation.

    I have seen G-scale layouts just under the ceiling. Okay for watching trains run around and around. Hard to see and appreciate. You won't see anything EXCEPT the train and the background.

    How about 6 foot above floor? Could you get away with it? This would allow somewhat viewing of the scene by an average guy-size adult and only a tilt of the head for room entry for that same guy, and none for a shorter person. This assumes there is not a major problem with ann inward opening room door. Would need a step stool to "really" see the scene.

    How about 6 foot 6 inch elevation, just above average height residential door?

    You might kick these ideas around. Or since they are basketball- loop height ideas, maybe you could DRIBBLE them around a little.
  15. Dave Jones

    Dave Jones TrainBoard Supporter

    I have an "around-he-walls" layout - save for one wall! That wall had three (3) door openings and no way I wanted to build 3 bridges or lift-out sections. So it's basically around 3 walls and two feet off the "bad" wall.

    I used 24" and 30" hollow-core doors as the base for my layout. Were I to do it again I believe that a 10" or 12" shelf would really be sufficient. That would allow enough width for passing tracks and trackside industries - even a "foreign" road crossing with interchange.

    As for height, taller than your wife and tall enough to clear the tallest piece of furniture. Of course, if allowable by the lady of the house moving same to another room would be a possibility. Keeping the layout a about your chin height would give you a very good view of your trains as they traverse the layout and a tall bar-stool would even allow you to sit comfortably.

    Some inexpensive wall brackets, some 2" foam and you could be in business.
  16. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

    My last layout was at 5' high and worked quite well. My wife wasn't thrilled with it, because it was hard for her to work on, but It worked well for my 6'1" self.
  17. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Well, I am going to do it. I am going to build an around the walls layout in my office. I will start a new thread soon so as to not continue to Hijack this one.
  18. Specter3

    Specter3 TrainBoard Member

    I was going to ask what were her plans to do with the room? That would be pretty major in the planning I think. I would think that layout benchwork the same size as the objects underneath them would be ok. 12 inch shelf over bookcases and a larger chunk over say a desk. Of course this would have to be finished on the underside quite well. A couple of step stools in various heights for working and running it. More lighting mounted on the bottom of the larger section to illuminate her "desk, wrapping table, scrapbooking pad, whatever". Of course this may preclude you from using the area at the same time. If she is going to be in there a lot, consideration would be needed to make it workable by both of you at the same time. Is she sensitive to repetitive noise(mine is), dust(ditto), extra non related people being around while she "works"? Anyway, I was in your position without the prospect of an attic in the future and I bit the bullet and sold the lifetime collection of HO and went N modular. Hated doing it at the time but 6 years later am thankful I went ahead and did it.

Share This Page