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Space for train layout

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  • Member since
    March 2020
  • From: South Florida
Space for train layout
Posted by Having-fun on Monday, December 20, 2021 8:50 PM


I have always dream of building a train layout, but was unable to do so due to a variety of reasons, but, the most important one was the required space, I never seemed to have the space. As all RR fans know, a train layout requires a substantial amount of space, so my question is: Those of you that have built train layouts how you found the needed space?





  • Member since
    August 2021
Posted by goldhammer88 on Monday, December 20, 2021 9:43 PM

Some have built a shelf system around a room.  Especially effective with N scale.

  • Member since
    May 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Tuesday, December 21, 2021 7:09 AM


I'd jokingly say if you don't have the money to buy a new house with an extra room in it for the layout, then you don't have the money to build the layout, neither...

Which is harsh, but only by a narrow margin!

Many years ago I've built a small layout 2x1.5m for my brother who was scrounging money for it from me and the rest of the family. Well he got enough money to buy a used car and we built the layout on that. It was hinged to the wall and could be lowered to hang along the wall to save some space - but that folding wasn't done very often, it's not as practical as my father, who was a big fan of that solution, thought it to be.

Nowadays there's a fad going on for about twenty years now - called a modular layout. The trick to it is you build your "land" one module at time, and a module is a piece of layout, usually a meter long and some 1/3 - 1/2 meter wide. Most importantly on both ends it has a standardized "interface" letting you connect further modules to it. Best of all, those modules could be built by your friends. This way when several modellers meet they can connect their modules together and create a layout several meters long. In my home town we had meetings where the resulting layout had more than 150 meters of track - this way you can really let your trains roll!

Most modules just have a straight piece of track on them - but really detailed. There are also modules with complete train staions on them, having scale length.

Maybe that could be something for you?

Thanks for reading and have a nice day


All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

  • Member since
    May 2020
  • From: Omaha, Nebraska
Posted by learmech64 on Tuesday, December 21, 2021 7:25 AM
I knew a kid back in the day who lived in a trailer home, not a double wide. He had a train layout in his room that he and his dad built. It was 4'x8' and was on a pulley system. When he wanted to work or mess around with it, they would lower it from the ceiling of his room. when finished, just raised it back up.. it was a pretty cool system they had.


  • Member since
    May 2013
  • From: Indiana, USA
Posted by Greg on Tuesday, December 21, 2021 8:35 AM

Florida is a challenging place for a train layout. Might be easiest to buy a basement with a house on top somewhere up in the midwest! Smile

Serously, I'll be curious to hear what others have to say. After 50 years, I finally have plenty of room (up north, that is), and I have a 5 yr case of paralysis by analysis going on. Built 18' of 24" wide along a wall, and I'm stuck. Go figure, eh?

Sometimes I think with trains, might be best to keep plans and expectations small.

Good luck, hope you figure something out.


  • Member since
    November 2008
  • From: Central Florida
Posted by plasticjunkie on Tuesday, December 21, 2021 8:40 AM

I got into N scale many years ago and built a 4'x8' layout on a rotating type wheeled frame. I could rotate the layout vertically to save room. I then got interested in HO and sold the N scale stuff and built another layout for the HO scale. 




Too many models to build, not enough time in a lifetime!!

  • Member since
    September 2006
  • From: Bethlehem PA
Posted by the Baron on Tuesday, December 21, 2021 10:57 AM

When I was a kid, my dad set up a 4'x8' sheet of plywood on a pair of sawhorses in the basement for me, and I had an HO layout set up there.  I started with a small steam locomotive-I don't know other details about the particular train, but it was made by Tyco.  A couple years later, at the Bicentennial, I got the "Spirit of '76" diesel engine set.  I added a few Plasticville houses, and even a loading dock with a gantry crane.  But I never got to the point of adding groundwork.

As I got more into building models, I laid out a small airstrip in the midde of the layout, for my 1/72 scale airplanes.

Eventually, I packed in the model railroad, and turned the table into a combination workbench and HO & 1/72 wargame layout, of the Battle of Waterloo, and a little bit of the Roman invasion of Britain.  All Airfix figures.

Today, I set up a similar display, once a year, under the tree at Christmas.  Instead a wargame, though, I set up my collection of "The Kaiser's Army/Berlin 1910".  It's a parade display of the Alexander Grenadiers (by Guard Corps), and various military and civilian spectators, from various makers, that I've painted over the years.  Here are some pics from a couple of years ago; I've added more civilians in the meantime, in the area in front of the manger:

These figures in the next couple of photos were made by a friend of mine, a fellow MFCA member, Fred Klotz, who sold his figures under the brand "Present Arms!".  The series was "Off to the Front, August 1914" but they fit in the theme of the display:

and he had a nice collection of civilians in his line, too:

That's the story of my model railroad setup.

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.



  • Member since
    February 2005
  • From: Nashotah, WI
Posted by Glamdring on Tuesday, December 21, 2021 7:21 PM

My local historical society has a railroading club associated with it, and they have a sizable layout in the museum that they keep up and running for display.  Maybe check if there is something like this around you to scratch the itch if you can't find the room for a layout of your own?

At one of their open houses, I remember someone had a full working layout on an old recycled standard sized wood door.  I think it was in N scale, but may have been smaller.  It had a small town on half of it, a country side with a lake and fields on the other, and several train tracks running on it in various loops.  It was extremely impressive, wish I had taken some pictures of it.

Supposedly it had been buiilt for and featured in one of the major railroading magazines years ago.


"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." 

  • Member since
    January 2007
  • From: Narvon, Pa.
Posted by fox on Tuesday, December 21, 2021 10:12 PM

When I was in grade school, my dad and 2 uncles put 2 old doors together on horses in the back of our basement. It was a small row house so it wasn't a very big area. They set it up with pulleys so it could be raised up to the ceiling when not in use. That was the extent of our "O" gauge set up. It stayed there until we sold the house and then it was broken down and kept in boxes until I sold it all back in the late '80s. 

Jim Captain

Stay Safe.

 Main WIP: 

   On the Bench:  1/48 Tamiya - Vought F4U-1A Corsair for Group Build 'Absent Friends' 50%                                                                   1/48 Encore Models - A-37B/OA-37B Dragonfly 50%

I keep hitting "escape", but I'm still here.

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: USA
Posted by keavdog on Tuesday, December 21, 2021 10:26 PM

I haven't done anything with model railroad stuff since I was a kid - and  back then it was set it up, play with it for a couple hours, then tear it all down and put it away lol.

San Diego has a model railroad museum down in Balboa park that's pretty cool:

And there's Anderson's nursery that has an awesome garden railroad:




  • Member since
    August 2021
Posted by lurch on Wednesday, December 22, 2021 8:44 PM

I want to do a train layout but I also want to intergrate a roadrace set with it. But thats for another time for now.

  • Member since
    August 2020
  • From: Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia.
Posted by Dodgy on Friday, December 24, 2021 4:43 AM

I'm still dreaming about it.

I long to live in a world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned

  • Member since
    March 2020
  • From: South Florida
Posted by Having-fun on Monday, January 3, 2022 9:08 PM


I'm still dreaming about it.



You know what? So do I..................

  • Member since
    March 2020
  • From: South Florida
Posted by Having-fun on Saturday, November 19, 2022 2:49 PM



I'd jokingly say if you don't have the money to buy a new house with an extra room in it for the layout, then you don't have the money to build the layout, neither...



My house is considered to be of comfortable size (About 3,400 square feet under air condition) but, my Admiral monopolize most of it, My territory is limited to a small room were my office resides and were the model workbench is located, and maybe the back porch, as long as I do not make much of mess on it.


Maybe I should start a coup against the Admiral and take over more territory, but, I am afraid that such Action will make the Admiral to lock the main bedroom door. (LOL)


So, I am just stuck.




  • Member since
    March 2022
  • From: Twin cities, MN
Posted by missileman2000 on Sunday, November 20, 2022 12:53 PM


Some have built a shelf system around a room.  Especially effective with N scale.


Or again with N scale  you can almost duplicate the classic HO 4 x 8 layout with a 2 x 4.nnIt will be a bit smaller, and less scale area, but you can still create a scene and trackage.  Two themes for this are an industrial area and a seaport.


  • Member since
    July 2003
  • From: Building models on my kitchen counter top~somewhere in North Carolina
Posted by disastermaster on Wednesday, November 23, 2022 12:03 PM

I still have all my 027 Lionel sets from the mid 50's starting when I was about four or so. They came from Santa and Mrs Clause every year.

On the kitchen counter somewhere in North Carolina

  • Member since
    August 2021
Posted by lurch on Thursday, November 24, 2022 4:49 AM

I guess I am lucky. My ADMIRAL supports all my hobby interests. She even encourages them. I bought an old 25 ft camper for my workshop. I to am inerested in doing a train layout with a roadrace set intergated with it. Looking for another camper for that. Its an idea that she came up with ,going to be some work to convert it but I am going to give it a good try to make it work. Also have to heat it for the winters here in northwest wisconsin can get on the very cold side.


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