An 8'x5' layout with 24" radius curves -
As this is my first layout I started with a design from Model Railroader
Magazine called the 'Atlanta Central'. Although this was intended
for a US prototype in the 1940s and I am intending to freelance a layout for
the South Australian Railways in the 1950-1960s I thought that the basic
plan offered a high degree of operational flexibility and some interesting
scenery without crowding the board too much.
This design was one of the few that also included an interchange and this
was an important feature as I decided to build this as a DCC layout from the
beginning and needed a programming section and also because I intended to make this layout a part of a larger
overall layout later on (see below).
Consequently I will be including South Australian like scenery and
prototypical buildings which will result in the layout taking on undulations
to add visual variety and greater relationship to the original.
I have also decided to redesign and add additional sidings to act as an on
site 'fiddle yard' and storage while also adding to the amount of shunting
that can be accomplished!
I initially decided upon a basic 8x4 layout size partly because I wanted to be able to
finish the model to a reasonable standard without locking myself into
decades of work and more importantly because this layout has to be highly
portable as we are trying to build a home and are currently renting a small house which can not house a
large sized layout.
While the original was based on 18" radius curves and lighter code
track to be true to the era, I decided to opt for Peco Code 100 and 24"
radius curves in order to reduce potential running problems.
This necessitated changing the board dimensions from 8X4 to 8X5 to allow for
the wider curves, which has been a good long term decision. While I have
left the length unchanged I can already see that the layout would benefit
from being at least a 10' long to allow greater distance between the
I wanted to include some features of the now defunct McLaren Vale to
Willunga line as this area is one of our favourite places in Australia but
the topography is only suited to a long narrow design and not a rectangular
So the design has become freelanced and will include some aspects
replicating the 'feel' of rural South Australia. A later planned extension
will hopefully introduce aspects of the McLaren Vale to Willunga line.
It has quickly become apparent that no matter how much you plan, the
reality is less often than anticipated! I can now see why some modellers
prefer just to plan - dreams layouts in the mind have a lot going for them.
Two lessons have already become patently obvious - I have seriously over
engineered the base and you simply need big spaces to do justice to the flat
open terrain I am trying to incorporate. 8X5 simply does not allow it. Nest