Model Railway Forum

Go Back   Model Railway Forum > Model Railway Construction > Track Layout & Design

Track Layout & Design Help with designing your track work

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 15-04-2018, 10:21 PM   #1
ScottC's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Staffordshire
Posts: 38
ScottC is on a distinguished road
Default Struggling with the design...

I'm currently planning my layout using the RailModeller Pro app on my Mac however am not finding it the easiest to use, but also my lack of creative intelligence isn't helping.

My layout will be going in the loft, which measures 17ft x 9ft. I have all the baseboards in place which are 69cm wide (They fit between the roof trusses so that's the max width I could have without cutting around them).

I would like to have a main station with 2 express lines and a coal mine that incorporates a working conveyor with a line that runs from the mine down to some sidings, where a shunter can make up a train for a main line loco to take them away. I also have a Peco turntable and Train shed which I would like to utilise. I would like to include some elevation and am thinking of using the Woodland Scenics 3% incline to do this, but would also like to create some tunnels too.

With the loco's and rolling stock I have, i'm setting my layout around the time of the end of steam and beginning of diesel, with the odd exception (don't we all?!).

It will predominantly be steam and more of a preserved railway feel rather than a period operating railway, however I have got to a point where my mind has gone blank.

I've looked at loads of track plans online, but any help is appreciated! I've attached a plan of my baseboard layout to give you an idea. Track Pic

ScottC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15-04-2018, 10:37 PM   #2
Part time idiot
Walkingthedog's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: HAZLEMERE, Bucks
Posts: 10,435
Walkingthedog is on a distinguished road

Sorry but I didn’t look at any track plans, I copied nobody. I decided what I wanted on the layout got some track and started building it. Changed things that didn’t work and discovered things that I hadn’t thought of. The only thing that was set in stone was the position of the turntable. Very enjoyable and I had two circuits down and trains running within a few hours. I wanted trains moving asap.
NURSE,the screens!

Last edited by Walkingthedog; 15-04-2018 at 10:38 PM.
Walkingthedog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15-04-2018, 11:43 PM   #3
Mixed Signals

Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Manchester
Posts: 83
Mixed Signals is on a distinguished road

A friend who has lots more experience than me used Anyrail for his track plan and amended the plan 58 times before laying a track. I downloaded the software (free for the base level) and played with it a bit with a few layouts.

Then I decided to just start laying track on a loft layout not too dissimilar to yours.

I've amended it just seven times before getting it very near where I want it.

One approach would be, if you can visualise where you want the key area's and then start with one circuit and build sidings etc, after that you can progress from there.

Last edited by Mixed Signals; 15-04-2018 at 11:45 PM.
Mixed Signals is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-04-2018, 07:13 AM   #4
Senior Member

Join Date: Mar 2018
Posts: 157
Lexicaltje is on a distinguished road

You've got an awful lot of space there to make something quite amazing.

I would do a number of express lines with interchanging points and big stations with sidings and engine sheds etc... But it needs to work logically and you need to think how the scene and scenery are going to work with what you lay down.

But like the other guys have said, by all means design something, but get laying track. Because as soon as you do you will change your mind and find things that do and don't work.

You could always check out for some inspiration or read some magazines. I got the idea for my layout from a magazine.

Good luck!
Lexicaltje is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-04-2018, 07:57 AM   #5
minipix's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Somerset, UK
Posts: 92
minipix is on a distinguished road

Pinterest is another place you can look for inspiration. And don't forget to look at other scales too - I got the idea for my layout from an N gauge design and reimagined it as OO.

Advice I've heard elsewhere is to think about whether your layout will make sense logically. For example, if you're transporting goods, try to make it a worthwhile journey (i.e. don't just deliver it next door). If you're transporting passengers, try to make it look like the stations are in different towns or locations. Essentially, try to imagine and model an entire world, not just the track.
Frontington and Backwoods Steam Railway (WIP):
LocoSound - sound effects for DC model railways:
minipix is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-04-2018, 08:04 AM   #6
RogerB's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Dorset
Posts: 4,789
RogerB is on a distinguished road

Hi Scott. It seems to me you are being defeated by a complicated piece of track design software and facing the challenge in designing for, what most of us would consider, a huge space. I have used SCARM with good effect for many layout ideas and find it to be very easy to use. I picked that software as it was free. There is still a free version but it, and the paid for version, only work on Windows.

Given you have purchased Railmodeller Pro I think I would take a hybrid approach. Print your baseboard and draw the tracks in by hand using the parameters you have set yourself. I would start with the basic lines and leave the complicated bits for later on when you have developed the ideas a bit more. When you have something that you think is about right you can either get some track and lay it out, or put it into the software. Either will let you know if it is going to fit the space available and the software, I imagine, will give you a parts list if you need it.

I looked at lots of track designs but I have to agree with the others on here, there is no greater pleasure than designing, and building, your own.

Take your time, do it in bite-sized chunks and enjoy it. There is no one right method. Good luck, let us know how you get on. R-
I'm not sure if I have loads of free time - or I've just forgotten to do something really important?
OO Gauge : Train Controller Gold via Elite : Block sensors via CTI : Servo motors for points : 9 Locomotives

Last edited by RogerB; 16-04-2018 at 11:23 AM.
RogerB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-04-2018, 11:15 AM   #7
Seasoned Modeller
[steve]'s Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: In a village in Derbyshire
Posts: 186
[steve] is on a distinguished road

Hi Scott,

I too struggled with my design. I came up with a layout, based on one I'd seen elsewhere and tweaked to fit the space I have and posted up the layout diagram - I received good feedback from forum members who helped by suggesting moving points to maximize siding storage, scrapping parts to make it more prototypical (still not 100% sure what that means ) and generally helped me hone the design... I now have a layout that gives me interest.. I'm still not 100% sure on the design and keep being tempted to rip it all up and start gain (I have about 2/3 wired in properly and all holes drilled for point motors...).

I would disagree with others on this post in that in my experience, I don't have the vast knowledge some have into what makes an 'interesting layout'. Enthusiasts generally understand in detail how real world scenarios work and how track layout should be and can use this knowledge to design/build a layout that both looks the part and is interesting to run.

Personally, I enjoy the running of trains and scenic side of model railways - the building of baseboards, track planning/laying and wiring is a necessary evil for me and causes me great worry - could I have done it better in the space I have!

I'd be more than happy to use an existing plan if it fit my space perfectly as it's tried and tested to be interesting to operate!

Anyway, my suggestion would be to take a screen shot of the layout you have (or sections of it) from your software and post them on here - people tend to give more feedback when they can see the actual plan and gives everyone a starting point.

I'm known for procrastinating far too much about these things, but one thing I need to convince myself of is that nothing is ever final, all layouts can be changed/tweaked as you go even if it means filling in some holes in the baseboard and drilling new ones!

Good luck with whatever you decide on, it'll be awesome in the space you have!


Slowly slowly catchy monkey...

Visit my as yet un-named Layout Build thread
[steve] is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-04-2018, 01:14 AM   #8
ScottC's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Staffordshire
Posts: 38
ScottC is on a distinguished road

Thanks all for your advice.

I've spent the last week of evenings and weekend up the loft getting some track down and now have a complete loop as a starting point to work from.

The loop I have is pushed out as far towards the back of the baseboards as I can go and it'll likely be used as a slow line, with access to Engine sheds and a turntable etc.

I'm planning on putting in at least two more complete loops and then see what room I have to put in a village or two and my intended coal mine - this should still be ok as it will be elevated.

Still thinking though...!
ScottC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-04-2018, 09:08 PM   #9
Mr Bones
Mr Bones's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Canterbury
Posts: 953
Mr Bones is on a distinguished road

I fully agree with Steve above. I found creating a layout plan very hard as I know very little about how railways work - strange hobby for me I hear you say! - I took inspiration from various sources and have tweaked the design many, many times. My biggest problem is I see things and decide I want that on the layout and start tweaking again

The only advice I could give is to think hard about what you want from your layout. Then what you want on your layout, turntable, bridges, types of station and how many, goods yards etc, the list is endless. Then build from there. Start simple and then expand, which is what it sounds like you're doing.

As others here have said, post your plans on here and ask for advice. I was incredibly nervous doing that for fear of looking daft. Instead I found support and good advice. They actually don't bite - well maybe some do, but just a little
A common mistake people make when designing something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

Last edited by Mr Bones; 24-04-2018 at 09:09 PM.
Mr Bones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-04-2018, 09:14 PM   #10
Part time idiot
Walkingthedog's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: HAZLEMERE, Bucks
Posts: 10,435
Walkingthedog is on a distinguished road

Get track down and go from there. Decide where some things are going to be, engine sheds, turntable for instance and then build the layout around them. You can move them a bit but not too much otherwise you’ll be chasing them around the board for days.
NURSE,the screens!
Walkingthedog is offline   Reply With Quote


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 12:32 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.