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Large Space, Small Skills


Just because a layout is large doesn't mean it has to be complex. The plan above is well suited for somebody with ample space but entry level skills.

Modeler’s typically enter the hobby at two points in their lives, either during the teen years or at retirement. Those coming into model railroading later in the life do so with many more resources than their teen counterparts. On the surface that can seem like a good thing but, more often than not, it can be a case of the proverbial “having enough rope to hang yourself”. The sixty or seventy something retiree often has ample space and funds to commit to grandiose plans that he has yet to acquire the skills to execute.


Early success and momentum is crucial when it comes to building passion for the hobby. On the flip side, hard to build elements can create construction quagmires that bog a person down as they face one construction challenge after another. The key to success is to keep the first effort simple, something that falls together easily.


There is a natural tendency to associate layout size with simplicity, particularly those that follow what I’ve written. Small equals simple, big equals complex. That is not necessarily the case. An experienced modeler with limited space can create a complex and challenging railroad that doesn’t require a large footprint.


But, it works both ways, you can have a large layout that is relatively simple to build. Today let’s take a look at that. Complexity and build time comes from a few areas: turnout count, grades, complex bench work footprints, large bench work widths, large urban areas, and dramatic vertical scenery. If we manage these aspects, we can keep the complexity manageable.


The plan above occupies a relatively large space. However, it's been designed to be very simple to build and operationally sophisticated. It's an opportunity for the hobbyist to get up and going quickly and learn new skills. If you build this design, you won't be bored, I promise! If after several years you outgrow it, then it would be simple to keep the bench work in place, and build something new on top of it.


Some suggested materials:

Sievers bench work (The bench work width on the plan above is 24 inches)

Two inch extruded foam sub-roadbed base

Atlas code 83 flex track for the straights

Atlas 24 inch sectional track for the curves (pn 150-536)

Atlas number six turnouts (you'll need (4) lefts pn 563, and (6) rights pn 564)


Note: For the sake of simplicity, turnouts would be thrown manually.

Curves are simple when you use sectional components such as these made by Atlas.


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