Don't Wait - Build That Layout

I was thinking last night as I tossed and turned about what I learned from my various train layouts.

My first layout was an oval of O-27 for my Marx freight train. I was too young to realize what i could have learned from this one.

In 1954, while I was a high school freshman, I switched to HO. My first loco, my first HO purchase at all, was a Mautua Booster, an 040T steam engine. Then I started building various freight car kits. I soon had to see my collection run. I had a card table, a rickety card table. But i laid cork roadbed in a circle and two pieces of Atlas flex-track on top. Probably 15" radius. Eventually I had so many cars, about 15 or so, that the engine was right behind the caboose. One thing I did learn - the places where the rail join need to be straight or smooth curves. The thing I didn't learn then was that I liked to see trains go round and round.

Then for a long time I had no layout, until I was married to wife #3. She kicked butt and I built a 4' by 6' twice around with two passing sidings, one spur and all the turnouts wired. Cool. One train could go round and round unattended and two could go round and round if I acted as a dispatcher. And the scenery was great.

But even then I didn't really realize I like round and round. I thought I liked operation switching industries and the like. So the next layout had round and round but a few more industries and grades - and was disappointing. Much less scenery, the electrical work was not complete. It wasn't fun. 

I still hadn't learned. My next layout was pure operation; round and round was not possible. It worked, but it wasn't as much fun.

So, my point is, build that first layout. Don't wait for the perfect plan or the perfect space. There may be room on a card table LOL And if you don't like that first layout think about why. Need scenery, need to see trains run, need to do "real railroad work?" Whatever. try and have fun and learn so as to improve your next layout.  
MPsslavetommy MPsslavetommy
70+, M
5 Responses Jul 24, 2010

Good story! I had a layout as a kid and then a much improved one at 30. That one I had to leave when we moved. The new owner made it part of the deal.

My son just moved out of the basement and my wife said I could have the whole thing except the laundry room!!!!!!!!!!!!yeah!

You are right, learn something from each and finally get what you want. Thanks

Thank you

I like your philosophy. I am guilty of putting off until I think I have to perfect plan for the table I built. I do like to see them go round and round too and that is why I want a long main line so the train can go round and round. I do like sidings and would love a helix but I don't think it would fit in the room I have The ceiling slopes on both sides of the room and peaks in the middle. What I have is a bonus room over the garage. I do have a lot of space in our attic that I was told could easily be made into a room and what is great it would not have any windows to contend with and straight walls. That too is holding me up. I hate to build something and then have to tear it up but I think I will build and then move it. I made the table so it could be taken apart easily.

That's something I still need to work on, too. For my last layout. I didn't use benchwork. I arranged some do-it-yourself kits for storage units that looked quite nice in front. Do not remember brand name. Meant to go in closet , you could make the interior shelves or drawers, if shelves then you could but doors on. Really nice. My wife's idea. Then we laid the foam/plywood/foam on top, just rested it.Lifted it up an inch or so to put in the wiring with slack enough the connections to the DCC bus were in back. Worked really well and provided nice storage as the layout was in the dining room. (My wife was very cooperative)

LOL - You bet<br />
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My last was a shelf so I could reach every hand throw - although the tail of the wye in the corner was a stretch. You could use hand throws until your teack layout is permanant.

You have a good way of doing it. All of mine were pretty permanent and almost impossible to change except the last one It was built on a foam insulation board/plywood/foam insulation board sandwich so the track was relatively easy to move, DCC so not many wires, and hand throw turnouts so no switch machines to move.