Going Beyond A 4x6 Model Train Layout
By B. Murphy
On a 4' x 8' table you can handle every layout possible on a 4' by 6' table, with plenty of other variations. There are also many interesting layouts that can't possibly be managed on a 4' x 6'.
Of these, one of the most popular is the Figure Eight, to which you can add a siding or two if you want.
Another good 4' x 8' layout consists of two connected circles.
There is a lot of variety here, but even more is possible when your table can be a little wider. Five by nine feet is a popular size. This is the size of a regulation ping- pong table.
Most lumber yards don't carry plywood panels of these dimensions. They can
usually special order panels made specifically for ping-pong tables, 5' x 9', but they
come in only 3/4" thickness, which is heavier than you need.
They're also fairly expensive compared with other plywood panels. None of the wallboards are supplied in this size.
You can build your table of tongue-and-groove fir or pine, and make it any size you want. Or you can add on either side of a regular four-foot-wide plywood panel a strip six inches wide, attached with shelf brackets, to bring the width of your board up to five feet. You might consider this possibility when examining layouts that will fit a 5' x 9' table.
Layouts with grades of enough height to allow one track to pass under another are exciting, but inclines must be fairly steep, even a 5' x 9' table, although it can easily be done with the power and traction found in the latest locomotives.
Some train manufacturers also put out trestle sets, each trestle a little higher than
the next one, so that you can make one track elevated above another easily.
While these may not be as realistic as graded landscaping, they enable you to have more variety of operation and layout before you reach the stage of building scenery and sculpting your own bit of earth.
Regardless, there's plenty to keep the new builder of a model railroad busy and happy, even when he works on a small table. In addition to the laying of track in a chosen pattern and the running of trains over it, there are accessories, buildings, signals and lots more.
And in each of these categories there are so many possibilities that you may have a hard time deciding which to get or make first. This decision will be easier after you have done some thinking about the nature and special character of your private railroad empire.
About the Author:
Bill Murphy offers advice about designing, building, maintaining and repairing model railroads at the Model Train Report website. Find out more about building your own model railway - sign up for my free "Model Railroad Design Secrets" e-course at http://www.modeltrainreport.com/course/