Help! Layout plans

EvanD Sep 10, 2020

  1. EvanD

    EvanD New Member

    It's been over 30 years since my last layout, which was HO and never quite got going. However, I seem to have the perfect storm right now:
    • With the pandemic I seem to have a lot of time available
    • Kids (twins) just started college
    • Wife wants a new coffee table, which would be good for board games for up to 8 people
    That sounds like a great opportunity to put a 3'x6' layout inside the coffee table to me! So I started messing around with AnyRail again and came up with this. I'm new to Z-Scale, and might as well be new to model railroading as a whole, but I'm enthusiastic to learn.

    My plan is Z-Scale, DCC, Atlas Turnouts and Flex Track.

    That being said, I know little enough to not know what I don't know ;) so I'm hoping to get some advice, critiques, and overall knowledge here.


    bostonjim, Kurt Moose and Hardcoaler like this.
  2. rray

    rray Staff Member

    Looks fun for a coffee table layout. Make sure you can access all track for cleaning. I like the Atlas track.
  3. Zscaleplanet

    Zscaleplanet TrainBoard Member

    My $0.02 worth: Lots of good continuous loop running ability from what I see, especially for a coffee table layout. I am not familiar with AnyRail, but might need to look into it.

    Coffee table layouts by nature always tend to go in a flat manner, but anything you can do to add a bit of elevation here or there would add depth. Granted, you have the tunnels going, so that certainly dictates mountains, but not necessarily track elevation.

    Just me, but I would replace what appears to be a neighborhood in the upper right hand corner, with a small center of industry, or small town with an iconic main-street appeal. Kind of a hub of alternate activity apart from the trains themselves running. Even if just a small yet busy Main Street and a few side roads, and then small homes along the fringes of the town.

    For the lower left and yard area, I'd add more loading dock based buildings, and have a few semi's backing in, or unloading in the area doing load transfers at the buildings.

    As for the lake, a few cabins sprinkled here and there, would add some visual appeal and like.

    Final thought on a coffee table layout, but I'd incorporate some new advance LED lighting somehow, in order to bring the sun out in "Coffee-ville". Either along the edges, or somewhere such that it adds warmth to the layout. Internally lighting the buildings is also a plus.

    Just some rambling thoughts.
    bostonjim and Kez like this.
  4. mdvholland

    mdvholland TrainBoard Member

    Hi, some more cents here:
    - consider bringing the elevation not in the left hand corner, but somewhere in the middle... A range of mountains that more or less separates the left and right part of your layout, creating two "worlds", with maybe different themes (rural / urban; or flat / mountainous).
    - consider creating some sidings, so you can run different trains without having to take them off the layout. Brings variety and interest to the layout.
    - create a storyline for your layout and the connected industries / spurs: what is produced where and what logistics are involved - raw materials coming in, half products moved to another location, final products to harbour or onto (invisible) marketplaces, etc.
    - do you plan to run just freight trains or also passenger trains? Maybe a passenger stop somewhere? or a commuter station near the suburban sprawl? You could either put the AZL passsenger trains to use or the Budd RDC..

    bostonjim, Zscaleplanet and rray like this.
  5. bostonjim

    bostonjim TrainBoard Member

    I like all of those ideas. The layout looks great and could accommodate lots of these features. LED's are a must. It is almost unlimited what can be done with them. They are really small, but bright. A raised viaduct with underpasses can add some depth and interest as well. It looks like you are off to a good start. Jim
  6. Mr. Trainiac

    Mr. Trainiac TrainBoard Member

    I think the mainline is great. The complexity in such a small space is impressive. The only thing I would question the enginehouse by the yard. You are using a switchback to access the two-track shed. Why not just build it right off the first switch that branches off the yard and eliminate the switchback in between?

    You could then take that piece of track and use it to make another industry or car-spot somewhere. You could add another yard track or another siding on the branch that leads to the rectangular building on the bottom left.

    Overall, I think the focus of a coffee table layout is to watch trains run rather than switching operations, so I think you did well with the mainline. There are enough sidings for a bit of operation/train storage, but on a side note, make sure to include some kind of uncoupling system. A layout under glass doesn't allow for a quick 'reach in' to fix something or uncouple cars. It would probably be inconvenient to take the top off every time you wanted to handle cars.
    bostonjim likes this.
  7. JoeS

    JoeS TrainBoard Member

    That’s a neat plan and it gives you a little of everything. My only concern would be turnouts right after a curve if your running in the direction into the points. Just make sure tracking is perfect there.
  8. Curn

    Curn TrainBoard Member

    My concern with this layout is that you have two different continuous loops, and I’m assuming by the size of the layout, that each has a 145mm radius curve. This will limit the use of some longer rolling stock. So if you took the track that is just below the pond, and maybe moved it above the pond, and widened the curves used, you would have 1 loop with a 170mm minimum radius for longer equipment. At least the 170mm will allow 50 foot boxcars.
    bostonjim likes this.
  9. EvanD

    EvanD New Member

    Thanks everyone for all the great advice!

    Quick note to Zscaleplanet: while I used AnyRail for the tracks, I used different (non railroad cartography) software for the scenery/buildings, so please don't make a purchasing decision based on my results. I really like AnyRail, but I find it a bit weak on scenery.
    Unfortunately, my wife is pushing back hard on my plans. She realized (and rightfully so) that my plans would delay her coffee table for a solid 6 months. I have no real space for a layout in my house right now, so I'm toying with the idea of making a 2'x4' tiny layout and buying her an "interim" coffee table. This way I can get some experience making a layout and she can see how awesome it looks (I hope) when it's done and get on board for the coffee table.

    Thanks again to everyone for the advice, but I just don't know when this (or something similar) will happen now.


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