limited space basement

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by soat204, Nov 3, 2006.

  1. soat204

    soat204 New Member

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    Ok, I got one here. I need ideas for a layout with limited space in the basement for an HO scale

    if anyone has ideas, pleas reply
    Thanks!
  2. jetrock

    jetrock Member

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    Define "limited space." How big is the area you can use for a layout? Are we talking limited as in you only have room for a little shelf layout, or do you have a couple hundred square feet of a larger basement?

    What are your givens & druthers for a layout? All we know is that you want something in HO scale (I assume the word after "scale" was supposed to be "layout.") What era do you want to model? What railroad? What kind of equipment do you like, and what sort of scenery interests you the most? There are a lot of decisions involved in building a layout, ones that only you will be able to answer--and it's tough to recommend a way to proceed to a new model railroader without some idea of what they would like to accomplish.

    If you're just looking for general limited-space ideas, check out www.carendt.us for some idea of what can be done if all you have is a closet in the basement...
  3. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

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    Here's some additional info that's needed. Door locations? Support posts in the way? Any cabinets or washer/dryer. I would suggest that you do a reduced scale drawing of your proposed layout area. Maybe 1/2 inch equals one foot and put all of the above items, or any that I didn't mention, on the drawing. That would give you and the folks here something to work with.
  4. soat204

    soat204 New Member

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    forgive me for my grammar, I did mean to say layout. Also, the room im thinking is roughly 13 x 10 ft, and about 3 ft high or so
  5. kchronister

    kchronister Member

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    3ft high? Really? That's a tough one.
  6. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

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    Three feet high??????
  7. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

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    Eh, is that a crawl space!?
  8. kchronister

    kchronister Member

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    You now what. Now I'm interested. If by some chance we can find a way to make a 3' high space work, I've just about doubled my available layout space!

    Mind you, I don't see any way it could happen. But I'm wrong on a very regular basis!
  9. jetrock

    jetrock Member

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    "Roughly 13x10" is a beginning. It isn't the grammar that is the problem, but the lack of information. Are there stairs in this room? Can you go around the walls or do you want something for the middle of the room? Are there other basementy obstacles that must be avoided?

    And, once again, what kind of layout do you want? The easy answer, of course, is that you have room for a 4x8 layout with access on all sides, but you can do a lot more in that space if you wanted to.

    And yes, are you serious about that "3 ft. high" thing? If you were, then no, I really doubt that you could put a layout in there unless you set it up on the floor and were willing to lay down next to it and work on it by crawling around. If you aren't, then let us know how tall your basement is. I'm no stranger to short basements: mine is 6'4" high, and the door is about 5'3", so tall friends have to duck to visit. I'm planning on having a couple of chairs on casters in the room for my shortness-impaired friends. But 3' high is a bit too short for even my tastes...
  10. soat204

    soat204 New Member

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    ok, i messed up again, ive got to learn to be more specific, I didnt take the measurement of the ceiling, but now that I have, its about 7ft, and the 3 ft was the higth i was thinkin for the layout itself
    -sorry!
  11. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

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    Do you have access to any of the many small layout planning books that are available? Is there a hobby shop or model railroad club near where you live? The planning books that I'm speaking of are a great help for beginners and experienced modelers, for that matter.
    The above would be a good place to start. Also your budget for model railroading is going to be an important factor (wish we didn't have to deal with budgets but we do).
    Don't get scared away by all of these details that we are throwing at you. It's just part of the planning process. One thing about model railroading is that you will learn a lot of skills during your layout building. Everything from drafting to carpentery, electrical theory, art and on and on.
  12. jetrock

    jetrock Member

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    Okay, that's a little better. I'd still like to hear more about what sort of railroad you want. It's nice to know that you'd like it to be three feet off the ground, but era, theme, region, etcetera are all things to consider.

    The traditional pattern for model railroaders is the 4x8 sheet of plywood in the middle of the room. These are pretty easy to build, and there are roughly a billion 4x8 track plans out there (do a Google search for "4x8" and "model railroad", you'll get something like eleven thousand hits, many of which are 4x8 track plans of every sort.) There are some disadvantages, too, like sharp curves (the widest you can fit is a 22", which is fine if you like small locomotives, but can cramp your style if you like big steam or passenger cars) and limited mainline run.

    Personally I'm an advocate (some might say 'fanatic') of shelf layouts, which are built around the perimeter of a room and generally not more than a foot or two thick. These require a little more handyman skill (but not much more than an island in the middle of the room) but have other advantages, like longer mainline run, broad curves, and the ability to build them in modular sections.

    There are other sorts of track plan, too: you could build a "dog bone" layout with return loops at either end that narrow out in the middle along one wall, or even two walls, of the room.

    An important factor is reach: generally, you'll want to have no point on the layout more than 30" from the edge of the table, and ideally less than two feet. For a 4x8 or other island style plan, it generally means having the table in the middle of the room rather than up against a wall, or having it on wheels so it can be rolled around. For a shelf layout, or anything up against a wall, it means keeping shelves relatively narrow. Fortunately, real railroads are very long, very narrow things, and model railroads can do this very well, aside from the odd return loop.
  13. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

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    I'm an advocate of either of those styles.
    I assumed that 3' was the intended layout height. Most modellers build higher - at least 42", and often well over 4'.
  14. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

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    Layout height depends on how tall you are, and what scale you model. Generally, the smaller the scale, the closer it should be to eye level. In ho, I like to view my models at track level, rather than the "helicopter view" if possible. I'm 6 feet tall, so when I build my home layout, it will be between 4 feet and 5 feet at the rail tops depending on how well I can reach in to uncouple cars without damage to scenery and structures.
  15. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

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    I've allways seen it that way in the past, but I've changed my thinking. You have to figure that, even though you want to view it that way, how hard will anything else be? I opted for 38"-42" on the lower level of my layout, the end around 55" for Summit, on the upper level.

    Its the same thing whith isle space, everyone says 2-3', its all up to you, more space, means easier manuvering, and space for more operators.
  16. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

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    An example of a characteristic not obvious on a trakc plan that can influence layout height: Are you using magnetic uncouplers, or an uncoupling pick? Magnetic uncoupling allows the layout to be higher. With a pick, you need to be able to reach anywhere easily and to get a good view, so a not-quite-so-high layout is necessary.

    In his track planning books, John Armstrong gives 24" as a standard minimum aisle for a one-person layout (though he sometimes skimps on even this in his plans) and 30" as the minimum for more than one person. Most modellers who design their own layouts say that the minimum if you ever expect more than one person is 36" (note that there can be short bottlenecks, as Armstrong says, so long as most of the space is wide enough for people to pass).
  17. jetrock

    jetrock Member

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    I am 5'8" and generally find that 48" is a comfortable height for use of an uncoupling pick, although most of my layout is only 1' deep., with most of the track within 8 inches of the edge of the layout. For someone building a layout 24"-30" deep, either less layout height or more operator height would be recommended.