Designing the Layout (Part 2)

Hello and welcome to the blog where I share about my new hobby, building an HO Scale model railroad. You will find tons of photographs of train layouts all over Google, Pinterest and plenty of videos on Youtube. Many “purists” will try to mimic an existing real life locale, using photos to ensure realism. While I can see the attraction, my space that is devoted to my train layout is not conducive to a large, concentrated scene. Instead I am choosing to run mine around the perimeter of the space. Here is my photo from the first layout post. 011

TweetsieSince that time, which was early January I have been blessed to see a couple of layouts in person. Actually more like 4 or 5, if you count the three at the Asheville, North Carolina Train Show and my recent visit to the George L. Carter Railroad Museum on the campus of East Tennessee State University, in Johnson City, TN. At the railroad museum they have static displays that are massive. One is under construction to recreate the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina line affectionately called the Tweetsie.

This is a HUGE layout being constructed by the railroad club that helps to staff and manage the museum The Mountain Empire Model Railroad Club. I talked with one of the members while visiting on a day my daughter traveled to E.T.S.U. to try out for a choir scholarship and he told me there was specialists for every phase of designing the layout. My poor Alpine & Clinchport Railroad will not enjoy such experiential knowledge, but Youtube is only a few clicks away. I have found a wealth of knowledge in video form here that has given me food for thought.

One thing that is true about this endeavor to create my layout is that I am doing a considerable amount of mental math to ensure I get every ounce of use out of the wood I have decided to cut up for assembly. I bought three pieces of 4 ft x 8 ft plywood, three times what you see in the photo above, and so far I think I will use every inch without waste.


One of the challenges with the layout design I have chosen and pretty much chiseled in stone (wood) is that I have to make the most out of every inch of space. One of the features I want to try to recreate from real life is the Copper Creek double trestles near my mother’s hometown of Clinchport, Virginia. The top trestle measures 185 feet from the creek below and stretches 1160 feet from end to end. In HO scale this translates to a track height from the table of twenty five and a half inches with a length of thirteen feet. So what is the problem? Well the height I think I can get with a mountain or hill on each end, but the thirteen feet length matches the longest wall length of the space I am devoting to my layout. I think my solution will be to half this measurement in the interest of space and I will still have an impressive display. Using two 36 inch pieces of flex track will also work very nicely, allowing me to have solid pieces of supported track to connect the trestle with.

Right now I am on hold with more layout work because we are in the depths of spring and between readying for a Prom Dinner and Prom After party and then a large 4 kid  Graduation Celebration Party I have absolutely no free time to work on anything  inside. I think it is a good problem because even when I am doing physical labor outside such as mowing or re-doing flower beds I am still mentally thinking about what I want to do on the layout. I find this process really productive when I am trying to write on either blog posts or my fiction novels. I consider it a form of editing, to keep from wasting words or time and materials.

I invite you to come back for Designing the Layout (Part 3) which will show the tables complete and perhaps some track laying underway.






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