Model Railroad Design Blog

Model Railroad Bench Work Footprints

Selecting the appropriate bench work footprint for your model railroad design is one of the most important design decisions you’ll ever make.  As with all things, there are pros and cons with each available option.  The key is to know which factors come into play so that you can make an informed decision as to…


Preparing Your Train Room

One of the most common questions I get from clients is a request for tips on the best way to prepare a room for a future layout. Lighting (hint: you need a LOT!) I’m putting this first simply because it’s the subject area where folks most commonly shoot themselves in the foot.  It’s a safe…


Working Structures Into Your Design

You’ll get a much more cohesive look if you complete your design first, and then purchase your structures as opposed to vice versa.   When starting a design for a customer, it’s fairly common to hear something along the lines of, “Oh, by the way, over the years I’ve been accumulating a number of structure…


Making Model Railroad Design Features “Pay Their Freight”

  As we take a design from the conceptual to detail stage, foremost in our mind should be the realization that what we draw WE must build.   What may take a few passes of pencil on paper to draw, may take quite a while to construct.   There should be a direct relationship between the amount…


Three Common Construction Errors

Here are three common construction mistakes that will bite you in the rear if you aren’t careful.  I’ve made all of them.  Most of the other modelers I come in contact with have made all of them. Parallel Track Spacing In HO scale, a parallel track spacing of two inches is the norm (one inch in…


Planning For Success in N Scale

  In the past several years I’ve noticed a trend in the scale my customers select for their layouts.  N scale now accounts for almost half of the projects I see.  What is even more interesting is that most of these individuals are in their sixties, seventies, and even eighties. N scale has a lot…


Layout Planning, Covering All of the Bases

  When the term “layout planning” is thrown out, the image that pops into most people’s mind is a track plan with a sidebar that delineates turnout size, curve radius, and track locations.  That’s not the overall “layout plan”, it’s only the design, the technical drawing, the track plan, it’s not the overall plan for…


Should You Double Deck?

  When you look at a developing model railroad design it should be from the perspective of having the blinders off and being crystal clear as to what it entails to build, maintain, and interact with.   Only when you can say with total confidence that you know exactly what you’re getting into, the good, the…


Preparing For the Day You Have A Layout

NCE’s PH-PRO-R mounted on a component stand.  That’s the programming track in the upper left.  The power supply is seen on the bottom shelf.   The customers I see in my business often have a common history leading up to the time they contact me.   Due to time and/or space constraints they’ve gone decades, or…


Should A Layout Ever Be “Complete”?

One of the most important layout planning decisions comes early on.   Specifically, you need to answer the question, how big should I make my layout?  Not only how big, but how complex.  Model railroading is recreation.  In order to maximize our enjoyment we need to be truly dialed in to which aspects of the hobby…