3×6 N scale layout

Mike’s been in touch with his 3×6 N scale layout:

“AL, I am not retired yet but the kids are grown and I thought I would get back into it too.

Years ago I built an HO layout with the kids, worked and played on it for around 10 years. Now with a 13 year gap I thought I would do a n scale.

I took a couple layouts I liked and combined them and came up with this. I learned a lot with the old layout and want a solid track plan that works.

Do you think the attached n scale layout, 3X6 DC wired work good?? I need some opinions about it.



3x6 N scale layout

Now on to Martyn who has made a start with his layout:

“Hi Alastair,

I’m not new to model railways, always loved the hobby, but never really managed to set anything up myself, other than a loop on the carpet!

So for Twenty or so years, I’ve been “Making a Start”.

I had various bits and pieces that were collected over the years, but never the space. Indeed, space is still an issue, but I’ve decided that if I don’t get clever with the space that I have got, then that “Making a Start” will never happen.

Both the kids toy room, and my office, are about the same size and back onto each other. The toy room has been a tip!! So I must either sell the kid, sell the toys, or compromise! I’ve chosen the latter, and a few hours work to build some framework and tidy up the toys has left me with a bit of space to start!! This area will house the loop/fiddle area and part of the circuit that will then extend into the office – (through a small hole in the Drywall stud).

There are a few photos of the toy room showing the start of the build.

The office part of the layout is a little more tricky – The layout will be suspended from the ceiling and will climb down it’s own ropes when in use, to be retracted back up when I need to work!! A 12V winch with steel cable will provide the locomotion here. But that part is very much still in my head. So for the time being, I will concentrate on the toy room area.

My layout will be “Anything Goes” rather than a specific period. It is a single track, and will be fully automatic – (apart from the separate shunting areas and sidings). The scenery will come later, and may not be that specific. I want to get as much track on the layout as possible, so there will not be much space for housing estates, towns, fields and roads etc. but I will do my best when the time comes.

A pdf view of the layout is attached – I have used AnyRail to create it loosely as a schematic – There will be a bit more flexibility in it rather than using standard curves and straights.

DC is what I understand, I am not one of the converted yet, but DCC looked to be a big investment for what I want the layout to do.

My first thought was automation of the passing loops, so I started to think about the control – I wanted a train to run into a free part of the loop and release the next train from the loop, and so on. So with a bit of trial and error, I finally settled on something that works really well. It use 16V AC power from a transformer, a CDU, (as I would be firing several points simultaneously), glass reed switches combined with relays, Peco PL10 point motors, and PL13 on/on sliding switches attached to the base of the motors.

I have a video showing it’s basic operation, using drawing pins, (thumb tacks), in place of the reeds/relays which I have yet to purchase.

The plan is to use a acceleration module on the loop, which will gradually reduce speed as the train enters the loop until it is caught by the isolation rail, then the train that is released will slowly accelerate out of the loop. Another reed/relay set further around the layout will set the inward points to their correct position based on the position of the outward points. I’ll put in a set of control panel switches that allows me to stop automation and/or release trains from the loop at any time.




model railroad

model train

model railroad

(All images are clickable, by the way.)

Next on to Peter, and it’s a really good comparison of the different size in scales.

So Mike is planning a 3×6 N scale layout, Peter’s is 12×24!

“Hello Mr. Lee ,

Not sure you remember me but we had some emails back and fourth about a year or so ago . Hope all is well.

It has been good , getting your emails and notes from other hobbists , looks like a good following, you put Daves layout on a lot, he has alot of good tips and hes got a nice layout.

I’ve been doing HO scale for about 60 plus years and still going stong , when I lived in Brooklyn , we only rented so i was limited in space but with 3 children I managed a few layouts, nothing big but all hand done.

We moved out to New Jersey about 10 years ago and we bought our first Home at our retirement age, what a time to do it right, but we got it with a little basement and my wife gave me 1/4 of it for my hobby.

In about 2 years i had a 14 by 18 foot HO scale layout and it was a lot of fun but in 2011 we got introduced to IRENE, you remember the storm everyone said wouldn’t happen but it did, my base filled just about to the ceiling, with water, last it all but was able to salvage some, lost 2 cars in our driveway my mother-in-law was taken out of the house in a boat. When i get a chance and if you’ll permit me i can send you some pics.

I thought for sure that was the end for me with Trains but my wife insisted you have to build another and with that said I did, this one is 12 by 24 feet, 6 outer loops, 3 inner loops, a
freight yard of 4 live rails. I can run 9 loops at the same time , I am attaching a few pics and hopefully you will allow me to send more when you say it is ok .

It is still a work in progress but I love it , alot of items are hand made some with card stock, plastics and other items i toy with . For 1 example the balast used around the tracks ,
is cat litter, but I believe most hobbists do that.

I will end here and hope to hear from you and what you think of Peter’s layout Pics.

Pic #17 is a veterans memorial that I contructed , I am a Vietnam Vet

Thank you ,


12x24 HO scale layout.

A huge thanks to Mike for sharing his 3×6 N scale layout, to Martyn – and an even bigger thanks to Peter.

And Peter, yes, please send more pics, we’d love to see them.

Peter’s layout brings me nicely to the brand spanking new ebay cheat sheet (loads much quicker than the old one).

You can only get a layout Peter’s size by buying smartly – have a look at what’s availble now on ebay. It really does go mad at this time of year.

That’s all for today, folks.

Please do keep ’em coming. And if you’re worried everyone else is having all the fun, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

PPP Or more N scale layouts here if you prefer.

27 Responses to 3×6 N scale layout

  1. NJ Mark says:

    Great photos. Thanks for the inspiration! Cheers! NJ Mark

  2. Victor Koyano says:

    Wow, nice city. So that’s where Jefferson Memorial is located. Kitty litter for ballast?! Hope it wasn’t used. As a teen, l used flour and water to make paste, l thought. I sprinkled Lifelike grass on it. Bedroom layout. It started to stink and mold formed. Mold finally died but I learned not to skimp on money. I wasnt the brightest star in the Solar System….Thank you for the view and story.

  3. John Worobel says:

    What do you guys do to keep dust from accumulating on your layouts ? you guys are really talented in your layouts and I enjoy seeing all the pics, all y’all take model railroading to the next level

  4. Don Mebius says:

    Great photos!
    I have a question regarding your city – how do you access the center section to create the scenery, service the trains, if needed, etc?
    I am working on a layout currently but have the need for a wide platform.
    Thanks for your help, and thank you, Alastair, for this incredible information exchange!!

  5. Eric says:

    Peter great work, your layout looks large, more pictures please.
    Mike, have you got enough space to raise your track in a 3*6 layout, sounds as if your inclines are going to be a little steep?
    Happy modelling
    Eric (Leeds) UK

  6. Gary Rund says:

    All I can say is wow, fantastic layout.

  7. John Gasper says:

    Please send more pictures!! close ups and better lighting so we can see the fantastic detail.

  8. paul vogel says:

    Love your layout………beautiful work ! Paul Ohio

  9. pretty koool layouts fellas
    lots and lots of detail makes them interesting
    keep em runnin fellas
    stjohn from long beach calif

  10. Robert Miller says:

    I have been using Kitty Litter for my last 3 layouts and have not had any problems.
    Got the idea from this Blog…

  11. Robert Brady says:

    great layout must have a great wife too to allow all that room,lol. My wife said that’s as far as you go buddy,yes dear.

  12. Cary Price says:

    Great posts today! From folks just getting started to Peter’s fully developed and amazing layout. thanks to all for posting! Cary in KY

  13. Ross Johnston says:

    Great articles by all but I especially want to say well done to Peter. Your resilience after IRENE is fantastic. I definitely want to see more and also a layout plan if possible. Cheers Rossco Adelaide, Australia

  14. Martyn – Looks like your get-up-and-go has finally taken hold. Good for you. Your grand plan and layout are very interesting. And though it sounds like you never had an actual layout, it doesn’t appear that your “new to the game.” Your electrical and automation plans speak of a confident skill set. And I really like the idea of using a portal through the sheetrock between rooms to split off layout areas. This could allow for a complete change of locale with scenic changes… Go or it! Good luck. – Arnie – Staten Island, NY

  15. Hi Mike – your 3×6 N plan is interesting. In fact, I believe you incorporated parts of the same layout I adapted with modifications back in 2007; that is, an old Atlas SV&GS track plan in their book “Nine N Scale Track Plans…” which may still be in print. I think it’s very do-able. But I wonder if you’ve considered or settled on an era. Given the limited space, the curved sections I would guess be limited to radii of 9 3/4″ or 11″. If so, you would likely run rolling stock of the 50s into the 60’s and early 70’s. Modern locomotives, some passenger cars, longer intermodal, tanker and flat cars would have overhang around these tighter curves. Also, I was wondering how you are intending to use the 4 parallel lines along the bottom length. Is this for industry, passenger service or just a fiddle yard? The parallel tracks seem too close together to accommodate any structures or passenger platforms (?) I hope my comments are somewhat helpful in giving you some direction. But regardless, even if you just want to simply run trains, DO IT AND ENJOY IT!. – Arnie – Staten Island, NY

  16. Rod Mackay says:

    Martin, I bet you’d get a lot more actual use out of your layout if you could accommodate a fixed shelf arrangement in the office, something you have to clear the decks and winch down from the ceiling and link up to operate is going to seem like too much of a faff when you have the odd ten minutes to spare. And that 08 class is just begging for a nice little terminus to shunt.

    Mike, yeah that looks do-able and interesting. You might want to add the odd short sidings round the main line, so many wayside stations had wagonload traffic, ones that come to mind were strawberries, fish, hides (ugh), milk tanks, it makes the route seem longer if you have the odd train that stops places to shunt.

    Peter, such perseverance to start all over again, well done!

  17. Hi Peter,

    Great stuff! Any chance of a track plan?

  18. Terry Miller says:

    Noticing Martyn’s notes on his layout going through a wall into the office I happened to remember an article I saw years ago. The railroader wanted to do the same thing but was concerned about there being a hole in the wall should he decide to his house. He solved the problem very simply: A standard electrical outlet box (the metal cases you put wiring, switches and outlets in) is a perfect size for an HO railroad track. Should you need to tear the layout down, a standard blank face plate screws onto the box and covers the hole. and It looks like it could have been a phone jack or something to new owners..

  19. tom in az says:

    Great stuff guys i`m very envious. Tom in Payson AZ

  20. Kelvin Bland says:

    Looks a good layout but would spreading out the two crossovers in the station area give you a bit more flexibility?

  21. Frederick Gevalt says:


    Great layout! Inspiring to see such a large layout, especially after the Monsoon that was Irene. I’m a Viet Vet as well – where were you located there? T’would be entertaining to model the old French railway along the Vietnam coast….would be a technical breeze, since everything was blown up and not moving….you could concentrate on building scenery! LOL!

    Fred (Boston)

  22. gene says:

    I read this site every morning and continue to wonder why people want to go on sites to see track plans ? Why wouldn’t you just make something that fits your space and lay it out the way you want it to be ? Then there are those who ask about the scale , WHY ? Any layout can be sized for any scale, can’t it ? This is not to be taken as criticism , only for understanding.

  23. Martyn,
    Everyone needs a starting point…. perhaps more sidings for industries, just a suggestion.
    But I would recommend going with DCC… like you I didn’t understand it, but went with it anyway, still a newbie in it, but learning more about it and love all the possibilities of it….. the sound cards add so much more realism… and wiring is simple… I purchased the Digitrax system…
    It is YOUR layout so you build it your way… BTW it’s a never ending hobby so enjoy the build and keep us updated… Richard of Oklahoma

  24. Will in NM says:

    That’s an impressive start to your multi-room layout. I am curious about some of the places where the track plan seems to have crossings on curves — will the curved tracks pass over or under the crossing tracks? If not, it might be hard to find curved crossings unless you plan to hand lay the rails. Anyway, it looks like a good track plan with lots of mainline running on all those loops.

    Your 3×6 N-scale track plan looks like a good starting point for an interesting plan. It looks like you’ll be able to easily run two trains in the same or opposite directions and the long passing sidings allow for more complex operations. Also, you could always add a fiddle yard at the front without much trouble should you desire more switching operations.

    I am so inspired by you story and all that you have accomplished in rebuilding your layout after the destruction of Irene. Your photos are excellent and show how much fun you’re having creating your model railroad world. As others have asked, how do you get to the center of a 12 x 24-foot layout to work on track and scenery?

  25. Erick says:

    Looks amazing?. I hope mine turns out that good.

  26. richard rudolph says:

    Two super articles. Great work!

  27. Rich B. says:

    If it comes up, I never put picture of, it’s a ‘13 Boss Mustang here. Just picked up in some way. Both layouts one the start and other maybe finished are both excellent examples today. Many of the comments are also very noteworthy. Saw that Arnie (Staten Island) was here, maybe working on his new layout also? Can’t wait to see that!
    Straight DC power may be overbearing with the first layout shown. Yet DCC may be an expense not needed or wanted, all about the journey not the destination as $$ always. Being an operator, full attention will be needed there also with switching and short circuits. Guess it’s all part of the self-challenge pastime… postpones the dementia anyways for a few years. 🤣

    Regards, Rich

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