Model train track planner

Jerry’s been back in touch already – he’s a serial model train track planner, taking an impressive four years over his plans.

(Oh, if you’re looking for someone to plan your layout, please just mail me.)

I’m always saying a little planning goes a long way, and Jerry certainly pushes that point.

He’s put together the below to answer your questions on his first post: Jerry plans his model railroad.


Thanks for posting my plans. There were some questions that folks asked that I thought I should respond to.

Greg Marples – Yes, it was sad to let the Caddy go but we know it went to a good home – a Cadillac collector that we know who will give it a good home.

We’d had it for about 30 years and it won several awards in local car shows.

It was just time to move on from that part of our lives. I also appreciate the insight about architectural engineering tables. I’ll look them up!

Rob McCrain – Thanks! Your YouTube channel is VERY helpful!

I’ve been working on the track plan for about 4 years now. It evolved based on your and other members’ posts that made me think about what I was trying to do with the railyard, the idea of point to point passenger and freight service, etc.

As for access to the back, I purchased a vertical creeper such as truck enthusiasts use to get into the engine well. That part of the layout has puzzled me for some time.

I think the solution is to build a hatch:

Access Problem #1 – 7 foot span from edge of table to back wall. Vertical creeper won’t allow deep enough access. This area is supposed to be very flat or gentle slope with cattle grazing pastures.

model train track planner with hatch

model train track planner with hatch

Access Solution #1 – Hatch outlined in green, approximately 4 feet x 4 feet. The hinge placement allows it to lift out of the page and arc toward the bottom of the picture. Disguising the transition might get tricky, especially around the Kriesviadukt embankment, I suppose.

I realized some time ago that there would be difficulty accessing the furthest reaches of the Roundhouse and adjacent diesel fueling station. I’d planned to build an access window into the new wall. It might be a double sliding plexiglass window or I might just start with a hinged panel that swings up outside the new train room.

The trick will be making the scenery / backdrop integrate seamlessly, so I guess I’ve just talked myself out of the plexiglass window.

A horizontal board that can be supported by chains around the opening will allow me deeper access to the railyard, similar to the vertical creeper, because there is a stairway right outside the access hatch / window where the creeper can’t go.

I should still be able to reach deeply enough into the roundhouse area with the vertical creeper.

model train track planner with hatch

George Zaky – I had difficulty using the AnyRail spiral feature, so I resorted to using a combination of short straight tracks with decreasing radius curves to represent the spirals.

I also tried to make sure that the “X-Crossover” switch beneath “Filisur” has a flat 1-foot approach on the same plane as the crossover switch at each of its four entrances. I did the same with all of the other turnouts on the layout.

I was trying to keep the grades at 2% but found that difficult to accomplish with my desired 24” height differential within the confines of the 18’x24’ room. My research revealed that Marklin HO locomotives can handle up to a 4% grade because they’re equipped with rubber tyres on each side of the driving wheels.

I’m certain I’ll need to make height adjustments to accommodate the catenary on the spirals. Thank you for the input!

I’d intended for my original post to include an image of the entire planned layout in 3D. I either forgot to send it to Al or perhaps he couldn’t make it fit as he put together the webpage. In any event, here’s another try. If anyone has ideas or suggestions on how to redesign for these obstacles, please just mail Al!

model railroad track hatch

Thanks for everyone’s kind comments. With luck, I’ll be able to post another update before the end of 2023!


A big thanks to Jerry the model train track planner for answering your questions.

I thought I’d post now while it’s still fresh in our minds.

That’s all for now.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get going on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

6 Responses to Model train track planner

  1. Paul Kurutz says:

    A while ago you did a article on position signals how to build them and wiring could you send me the article.

  2. Rob McCrain says:

    It looks like you’ve solved the access problem. I had a creeper at one time. I couldn’t handle the pressure on my chest for more than a minute or two. Instead, I started the scenery at the middle and filled in as I built outward. I also avoided track in the inaccessible areas so I wouldn’t have to retrieve rolling stock after a train derailed etc., or clean track I couldn’t reach. You will get it all worked out. I went through at least 10 different track plans for Farland before I developed the one I built.
    Rob McCrain

  3. Greg Marples says:

    Regarding your disguising your access hatch in your pasture/ farmland area, it is easier to make edges that aren’t straight and square disappear in the scenery. I made a smaller hatch in my layout a flat (ish) field of row crops and disguised the edges in the drainage ditches, brush, and fence rows that naturally surround such things. Just something to consider. I do wish I would have hinged mine, even though it’s much smaller. Lifting it out is awkward.

  4. Glyn Jones says:

    Great description Jerry- I found the access windows the only way around getting to scenery or derailed rolling stock at the back of the layout. I’m still working on the scenery over these and blending can be tricky but it is achievable. Whilst it’s true that Marklin locos have traction tires to help with steep gradients I had difficulties with my DB 18.4 S3/6 Rheingold loco on 4% grades on my old layout. I had to add some adhesive weights to the floor of the cab to increase traction when it was hauling a full set of Rheingold coaches. On the new layout I have done what you have tried and that is to stick to a maximum of 2.5% at most. Good luck and a great track plan you have there!

  5. Rod Mackay says:

    Brilliant planning, I’m just a bit puzzled you are going to such trouble to build Filisur and Landwasser in HO when the Rhaetian Bahn is metre gauge and most of the stock you could need for it is available from Bemo, or am I missing something? Such a lovely railway!

  6. Jerry Treich says:

    Rod Mackay,
    No, you’re not missing anything. I just had so much already invested in the Marklin HO stock that it never occurred to me to look for properly scaled, true to Rhatische Bahn models. We’ll have to chalk it up to artistic license, I suppose! 😉

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