These are some track-level photos of my most recent HO scale train layout. It was a “shelf-style” layout, which simply means the room I was using was too small to have a free standing layout supported by its own benchwork legs. I used a model railroading magazine specifically for benchwork and just followed sketches to build the shelf supports along the wall.
My first obstacle was trying to figure out how much room I had for the loops on each end of the layout. I didn’t want to build a “down and back” type of track plan. I wanted to allow the trains to run continually, and wanted to be able to run two trains at the same time. So, I ended up with a detailed two-line track plan with several sidings and a couple freight yards to choose from. What I ended up with was a 22 inch outer line radius, and an 18 inch radius on the inner curve. One mistake I made was not allowing enough room through the entire curve for two trains to run side-by-side. I had to make sure the two trains did not run through the curves together. I won’t make that mistake again.
I don’t run passenger trains, so the entire layout was built for freight operation. Most of my buildings are manufacturing style, as a few can be seen in the photos. Although I enjoy operating the trains, my main focus is scenery. As you can see in the photos, the layout was not finished, as there were plenty of bare spots where there were neither roads, grass, or weeds. But, that’s just part of the hobby. The work is never finished.
I used “flex-track” which comes in 3′ sections. I used code 100 rail, which has to do with the fine detail of the rails. For my use, this code works great and it is less expensive. I only use nickle-silver track as it does not corrode as quickly as brass. I don’t know of anyone who uses brass track for serious layout construction. The flex-track works great for my layouts. I have never tried scratch-building track, either with a tie-strip and rails, or by hand laying ties. It’s too much work.
Model railroading is a great hobby. There is just something about trains that have captured my attention my entire life. I take every chance I can get to watch trains. Unfortunately, I don’t live close enough to any operational lines to allow me to watch every day. I am really looking forward to starting my next layout.
Working on trains always makes me think of coffee. Speaking of which, it’s time for more. Coffee, that is.
– Dale Parsons