Model Railroad Design Blog

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…


Let Time Drive Your Layout Design

Bloomington, Indiana in N scale.  After years of work, I still had less than a third of the scene finished.     Many years ago the stars aligned and space and resources became available to build my dream layout, an N scale version of the Monon Railroad in the county I grew up in.  The…


Add A “Drill Track” To Your Yards

Drill tracks are a key element in model railroad yard design because they allow the yard switcher to work without fouling the main line.   When it comes to designing a yard for your model railroad, give some thought to how you’ll keep the activities of your yard switcher separated from passing trains on the main…


Model Railroad Bench Work Height

How high should I make my bench work?  As a model railroad designer, the question comes up frequently. It’s an important one as it will determine how comfortably we can interact with our layout.  The short answer is, armpit level.  This means that for must of us we are looking at something in the range…


Know Thyself

Just as idle doodling and sketching can be relaxing,  so can casually roughing out model railroad design sketches.  The initial stages of model railroad layout design can be exhilarating, filled with promise and the untarnished vision of the perfect model railroad that surely lies ahead.  It’s easy to be consumed by this experience and immediately…


Curb Your Enthusiasm

Curb you enthusiasm.  Well….not so much curb it but at least keep it in check.  The early stages of a model railroad project are generally when our enthusiasm is at its peak.  We have a clean slate in front of us and the possibilities seem endless.  What fun lies ahead.   Since planning and design occur first,…