The Design of Small Model Railways

A compact track plan - revisited

A compact track plan - revisited
[215×85 cm²]
 Wayside Halt
 Container terminal
 Storage sidings

Layouts laid on hollow-core doors are popular in the USA. The door is put on easels and the woodwork is ready. The construction can be bought ready-made and relative light and portable. When studying the plan of Bill Baron “A compact track plan” [Hayden, Bob: Track Planning Ideas from Model Railroader] I wondered if it’s possible to design a H0-layout that fits on a door. The largest door available in the DIY-market measures 215x85 cm². This is quite sufficient for a N-scale layout, but fairly tight for a H0-scale layout. Bill’s plan can be reduced to make it fit. You’re forces to use 36 cm radius curves, but you’ve seen more of those. An oval fits on the door, when all other tracks are pointing inwards. There’s no station but I’ve found some room for a wayside halt . The most important part is the central industrial terrain. I’ve drawn a goods shed  and a container terminal . The latter can be operated remotely (digitally) for an extra play factor. The storage sidings are allocated at point . Goods cars can be moved from the industries to the sidings. New trains can be made there and brought back the industrial terrain. You can also run around a locomotive.

 This photo of June 6, 2009, shows the Rangierbahnhof Seelze in Germany. The sheer size of these goods yards make them impossible to model. But they’re fun places to watch the shunting of freight cars.

Rangierbahnhof Seelze
Designed for beginners?

I believe this plan is suitable for beginners, i.e. children. The track plan can be laid in half a day. You can re-use all the tracks form the beginners set. I would add a vertical edge to the door, in order to prevent trains from falling down after derailing. There’s no need for custom made pieces of track to be cut out off flextrack. Some authors recommend using a in-between layer of foam. This will reduce the noise levels because a hollow-core door can amplify noise dramatically. You can also dug out ditches, thus creating a more interesting landscape. Personally, I’m not really happy with such a solution, because you can make a pit easily when accidentally leaning on the foam layer. This is a risk, especially with children. When u use tracks with roadbed, like Fleischmann track, Märklin C-track or Roco Roco-Line, you can simply screw the tracks on the fascia. The scenery is be made easy when using out-of-the-box building kits. I expect no special problems. The landscape can “grow” with your experience. First a simple scenery which you can replaced by a more detailed one.

I normally don’t give part lists with my designs. When you build a track plan without changes from the book, you won’t get a feeling for the alternative possibilities. Everybody is free to copy a track plan. But by redrawing the design you’ll learn how the plan sticks together. Even worse, on other plans I’ve applied special pieces of track you’ll have to measure and cut yourself. I’ve made an exception for this plan. I’ve included an overview of the sectional track used and a parts list (in Dutch, as generated by the design program). As always, this plan has been designed with Fleischmann Profi track.

A compact track plan - revisited
23×Fl-6101  Rechte 1/1
 8×Fl-6102  Rechte 105 mmFl-6107  Rechte 10 mmFl-6116  Stootblok
10×Fl-6120  Bocht R1 - 36°
 5×Fl-6138  Tegen bocht - 18°
 2×Fl-6164  Engelse wissel links
 4×Fl-6170  Wissel links
 4×Fl-6171  Wissel rechts
Folding construction  Folded up
 Folded down (not in-use)
 Background flips up
Folding layout

Because a hollow-core door has room for hinges and the door is self-supporting, you can get tempted to use the door as a base for a folding layout. But when you’re planning a folding layout has to consider the risks. Even if the weight is relatively low, the total weight be several kilograms. When a layout unexceptionally crashes down, things and persons can be damages severely. Especially with children around I would be extra careful, but you cannot always supervise your children. I cannot take any responsibility for the consequences when you build a folding layout.

An alternative might be not to fold the layout down but up. A cross section can be seen at the left. This implies that, when the layout is not used, the door cannot fall down. The total construction will look like a low, shallow cupboard. You’ll have to take care that the supporting legs are sturdy enough to avoid a crash when the layout is folded up. An extra feature is using the backdrop as the top of the cupboard. You cannot put things on the top, but you won’t have unused space in the cupboard.

Despite the risks a folding layout could be the only solution for a model layout for you. But where there’s space for a folding layout, there’s also room for a bookshelf layout. Later I’ll present plans of that category.

And a variant

In due time you start pondering how to improve such a trackplan. And because this plan has lots of industry, you’re tempted to increase the number of loading tracks. And now again I’ve choosen to put loading tracks at both sides of the goods shed. This way you increase the number of tracks without increasing the number of buildings. Too much structures would make the scenery overcrowded. But you’ve to lay a turnout in the street and that is not a beginners’ job.

A compact track plan - revisited

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