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N-scale model trains aren't my life, but they do absorb a fair chunk of my spare time and funds. I presently own around 200 engines and cars, heavy on grain hoppers. I consider myself an intermediate-level modeler, with little interest in achieving perfection down to the last rivet. My greatest joy in the hobby is watching people's faces light up as they watch the trains, especially children.

The Little Layout

Yes, I actually do have a layout. This is Plan #1 from my trackplanning page, slightly altered — I used a three-way turnout on the upper level. The photo isn't the best quality, but it does show what even rudimentary scenery can do to improve a simple 2x4' layout. I'm using "glueshell" scenery, as described by Leon Honings in the Sept 1995 issue of Model Railroader, with Woodland Scenics turf and ballast. The factory with the smokestack is a Model Power kit, the brick building (a feed mill) on the top level is made from DPM wall sections, and the silver grain elevator is scratchbuilt.

The Door Layout

I'm planning a door layout, as a way of getting something bigger than my 2x4' plan without sacrificing portability. My goals are as follows:

Givens (non-negotiable):

Druthers (preferences):

This is the plan I'm currently considering. It's built on my 78x36" door, with quarter-round molding nailed onto each side (not shown on the plan) to add about 1-1/2" in each dimension without adding much to the table's weight or footprint. The plan is a double oval with extensive staging yards in the back.

Door layout plan

The layout is slightly offset to the edges of the table, to avoid the "race track" feeling. The long white object is a grain elevator, which is the layout's biggest industry and which doubles as a scenic divider. On the left are an as-yet-undefined industry (DPM Gripp's Luggage) and a team track (a concrete loading dock). On the right is a busy chemical works (Green Max kits and Kibri tank-car loading facility). Behind the grain elevator is the staging yard, with room for nine trains.

Minimum radii are 9-3/4" and 11". I've run all my equipment on them, and everything works without binding or derailing; a larger radius would shorten the main line and reduce the number of staging tracks, so the tight curves are worth it to me. All mainline turnouts are "eased" with a segment of 19" curve, to prevent point-picking and other anti-social behavior. The crossovers in front are #6 turnouts; all others are #4.

This is my pride & joy, ATSF #100, my best modeling work to date.

It's a JnJ F45 shell on a Kato SD45 mechanism. Both needed extensive modifications to fit each other. The end handrails were formed from wire. Polly Scale paints and Micro Scale decals finished the job.

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