Bob’s 20ft x 32ft train layout

“Hi Al,

I’m in the process of building my dream model railroad similar to dangerous Dave’s.

The room is 20ft x 32ft feet with a triple track main.

Two of which run around twice and one that runs around once. All the rail is in and the wiring half done.

I have a long long way to go and other things keep getting in the way. But I will keep at it.

I will send a few pictures that I have under separate cover.

Best Regards


20x32ft train layout

20x32ft train layout

20x32ft train layout

20x32ft train layout

20x32ft train layout

20x32ft train layout

20x32ft train layout

“Dear Alastair:

Enclosed is a shot to two cars I did, one for me with the Delaware and Hudson livery, the other for my brother in law who models the Union Pacific. These answer the question,”How does Santa get his reindeer food?”

I created the decals with the same process as I describer earlier on the pumpkin cars. As to the reindeer food, it is a dry sifted proprietory pig food mix donated by my nephew colored with some diluted raw sienna pigment.

It has the look of distillers grains, which is the by-product of making ethanol (US gasoline has 10% ethanol) from corn. It is used as silage. Ground-up rabbit food or any other dry material would work as food, including sawdust, which may even be preferrable. I top coated the loads with a flat medium to seal them.

If you can’t post, no worries, but thought you might enjoy a look.

Thanks, Al, and best wishes for the continuation of your wonderful site.”


Here are 5 pics of the layout and a diagram.

Sorry for the mess but I’m trying to ballast the outside loop.

The problem is the reverse loops and how I should wire them.

I have NCE as my DCC control although I have it running on the outside loop via DC right now.

I understand I need to insulate blocks or districts, but do I continue to wire the track the same within the district ( Blue wire on the north rail, white wire on the south rail) and use a module for seamless transition? I do not want to use a DPDT switch if at all possible.

Thanks Al”

Who can help, Dave?

And a big thanks to Daniel and Bob – please do keep em coming folks.

That’s all for today, but don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if you want to get going on your very own layout. Why let everyone else have all the fun?



Latest ebay cheat sheet is here (It goes mad this time of year – do have a look!)

15 Responses to Bob’s 20ft x 32ft train layout



  2. Chris Sylvester says:

    Wow!!!! That’s a hell of a nice job on your layout gives me a lot of good ideas thank you for sharing the pics can’t what to see the end product !!!!! Chris

  3. Roland says:

    Regarding the reversing loop, there is an electronic module you can buy (from Digitrax, I believe) that controls the power to the loop. You insulate both ends of the loop, then power it from the module. It detects the momentary short as the loco passes over the insulating fish plates and switches the power, so that other than hearing a click from its relay you don’t notice anything. Much better than a DPDT switch!

  4. Dave Lockett says:


    Continue to wire the same way and use a module.

  5. keith mathews says:

    very nice let me know if I can help

  6. Jim Carr says:

    The Digtrak module works great but you must insure that your insulated reversing loop is long enough to take your longest train or you will have problems if your cars have metal wheels.

  7. wish i had the mony to doo one not to big but ithink befor i kik the bucket i might be able to built one smal one love you posts thank you

  8. ANDY SCHYHOL says:

    Fantastic, very inspirational. I can find the large space, but I would have to put all of my living room furniture in the garage.

  9. Dave – out of choice, I would use two different colour wires to feed the reversing loop section (as the polarity can be either way round). You should be able to wire it up via a reversing loop module.

  10. James Marek says:

    Gotta say I love the Heavy Duty Triple Track Truss Bridge. Going to be a real treat watching long freight and passenger trains snaking around your layout.

    Can you post your track plan?

  11. Al, In that all your posts are a learning experience for me, I am putting all of them
    in memory..My thought is that when I get a pile about two inches thick, I’ll put out
    a hard cover book ” The Train World According to Al ” I’m sure it will sell a million
    copies worldwide I can’t do any building now, my biggest layout was 15×20, HO
    DC…Double main with 36 inch curves. I built a power pack that would handle
    seven locos in consist although the rails got a little warm. I’m a retired loco
    electrician Federal Inspector for Conrail. My favorite is the GP 38-2. 8250 as I was assigned to it …..You will never know how much you are appreciated RJL
    when new.

  12. EsK says:

    Hey Dave, for the reverse loop: You can go DCC and use one of the many options available to make it an automated reverse loop.

    I just returned my Digitrax AR1’s and got DCC Specialties Quad Frog AR1 instead. That’s because the Digitrax AR1 is an older generation auto-reverser which uses relays and they are too slow for the newer solid state controllers.

    Digitrax AR1 is a good product but if you are buying a new reverser then it’s better to “future-proof” it. So you can go in for any solid state product (not based on relays).

    Please be mindful of the fact that with a reverse loop, your train will arrive back at the switch with the switch being thrown the “wrong” way to receive the train back. Since I use Digitrax DS64 for switching, I am going to install Digitrax BD4 block detector to automate the switching so that the switch gets thrown back to the right position when the train is approaching the switch on it’s return journey.

    Hope this helps.

  13. Mike candelori says:

    I love long straight aways. Coming along nicely thanks for sharing

  14. Good luck with the project Bob , you should be able to get a few ideas from some of my video’s …then there will be 2 Dangerous modellers ? LOL …Dangerous Dave

  15. Scott J says:

    I as well use NCE, and employ DCC Specialties solid state PSX circuit breakers for my power blocks, and PSX-AR auto reversing module for my layout’s reversing spur. As well, to get by the train length limitation for my reversing spur, I put a dab of clear nail polish in the gaps where the insulating joiners are installed at each end of the reversing spur. This way,, the reversing module senses the presence of the locomotive when it moves onto the rails of the spur and the metal wheels of the wagons/carriages are not able to bridge the gaps because of the insulating properties of the nail polish. Since I use just a dab of nail polish at each end-gap, by the time it dries it not only can’t be seen, it flattens out when the polish dries. If you go this route, you may have to adjust a timing CV for the breaker module adjacent to the PSX-AR to gain flawless operation.

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