Model railroad planning ideas

Greg’s been in touch with more model railroad planning ideas.

Well, when I say update, he seems to be having just as much fun planning his layout as building it.

Personally, I think he’s doing the right thing. A little planning can go a long, long way.

If you want to get up to speed, his last post is here.

“Well, as I was developing the switching area on the left side, I realized that I had one spur facing in each direction.

That meant there was no way for the steeple cab loco to get to the other side of the cars being spotted.

I had three choices: get rid of the switching altogether (Nah!), keep all the spurs facing in the same direction (maybe, but not a great idea) or build a runaround track.

Here is my first attempt.

Model railroad planning ideas track

While this is doable, it is starting to infringe on the Waukegan area. So I put in some streets to help define the separate areas.

Putting in the streets gave me a better idea of how crowded it would be, so I eliminated one of the railroad interchange tracks. It was only there for scenic purposes anyway.

XTrkCad also allows me to add some buildings. They are just 2 dimensional, so you are looking down at the roofs. I drew the Main Street Station, City Classics 5 story buildings and Walther’s Merchants Row 2. They are all drawn to accurate dimensions on the Chicago side.

The runaround seemed to be causing some problems for me, so I tried a version with both sidings facing the same way.

Model railroad planning ideas track

And you can’t have spurs without industries on them. So I did some research as to what industries were served by the North Shore.

I used northshoreline dot com and found a complete list of businesses served by the North Shore and tried to find those types of businesses.

I was looking through Walther’s catalogue and found the Grocery Distribution kit.

This kit has the perfect look for this area, so I drew it and put it in.

model railroad planning ideas

But that didn’t leave much room for an industry on the second spur. But Walter’s Interstate Oil doesn’t have a fixed footprint. It comes in three parts, so I started to work that in.

model railroad planning ideas

After looking at it for a couple of revisions, I realized that the Grocery Distributors is a huge building.

So in an effort to save space I will use Suydam’s Day and Night Hot Water Heater factory.

That is a big building too, but the spur runs INTO the building, instead of ALONGSIDE the building. That is a big space saver.

 Model railroad planning factory

I can also cut off the last two sections of the building to help it fit even better. And I also already own the kit, so it saves money as well.

The pictures are not my building. I have an unbuilt kit.

So without showing you every tiny change I made, I fit in the runaround and Ravinia Park.

I planted a few trees, added a whistle stop in the upper left hand corner.

The grayish streets will be asphalt, the reddish streets will be cobblestone and the tan roadway will be gravel.

As I was looking through Walther’s catalogue I came across their Urban Embankments. These things just shout “Chicago!” So sorry Al, your flats (which I have already paid for) are being replaced.

Also, being raised higher than the rest of the scene, it should add visual interest.

And if I put a passenger train on top instead of a freight train, I have one more stop for the streetcar to make.

I’m just not sure yet, whether they will be single or double track. The street level track will pass into the opening and become hidden.

I’ll probably wait until I start planning the trackage full size before I commit to the width.

I named this XtrkCAD file “SecondTryPretttyGood”.

Think it’s done? Hah! Model railroads are never done. Watch for the next update.


And now on to Peter who is making good use of his retirement:

“I have been enjoying your posts for a while and decided it was time for me share my efforts with you.

I rekindled my interest in railways when I retired 5 years ago and having a reasonable space in the garage dug out all my old models from 50 years ago and bought some new track.

Needless to say I still have lots to do but here are a few photos.


model railway viaduct

model railway viaduct

model railway viaduct

model railway engine shed

Next, Cassio.

He’s never a man of many words – I think it’s a language barrier, but what a layout:

A big thanks to Greg for sharing his model railroad planning ideas. Some folk just like to jump in, others like to plan. Both are fun.

That’s all this time folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if you want to get planning, and get going.



13 Responses to Model railroad planning ideas

  1. John Birch says:

    Well done, Peter. i love the viaduct with grazing sheep below.

  2. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Cassio A really well modeled railway well done.. It is both interesting and well designed. This I think does show a common problem, nothing to do with Cassio’s build but a fault by the manufactures of the locos and rolling stock. In particular the freight cars just look like plastic boxes on some bogies. There is very little if any realism in the finish. I do appreciate that not everyone has the skill or time to age their stock. I do think the manufacturers could do better even in the standard finish. It does look like plastic. I’m not sure if the colour is part of the plastic injection or applied later. If its applied later then they should be looking at developing a less plastic look/finish or why not offer 2 options one as it comes and one aged. Ok it may cost a bit more for the latter but I think the manufactures would be surprised at how popular it would be.

  3. Tony, Kitty Hawk, NC says:

    Peter- your stone viaduct and crumbling barn have really motivated me- they are very well done!
    Greg – looks like a great plan, can’t wait to see it in action!

  4. Franco428 says:

    Excellent work. Very impressive and realistic.

  5. Robert Brady says:

    Greg I also have the upper level station. I added lights under roof
    The Critic

  6. james says:

    Wow! Cassio’s layout really shows the variety of locomotives used by the Union Pacific. Some unusual equipment represented on his layout.

  7. I have to agree about the rolling stock, plastic which one has to paint to get the old realistic look of old. Which reminds me that when I first started building my HO setup, you had spike’s to hold the track down. Probably not available now. Truly enjoy the work all of you do. Would love to go to Germany where they have that ” out of this world ” setup,

  8. Erick says:

    Pretty neat i say.!!!!

  9. Robert says:

    I opened the blog and the very first two pictures were reminiscent of old downtown Evanston, Il. With the old Northwestern 400 rolling through.
    Great job Greg..

  10. Paul says:

    Very well done. Realistic. Must have taken a good bit of time to create and assemble..I liked the variety of engines and rolling stock. Thanks for your presentation

  11. CARL ANGDAHL says:

    Peter. That viaduct is a masterpiece. Great work.
    Casio. Beautiful track work and ground cover modeling. Too bad that tunnel portal is 2-dimension and paper cutout looking. Overall great looking layout. How big and what scale? Looks room size. I agree with Colin, the manufacturers are missing the boat by not offering pre-weathered equipment. Would be very popular.

  12. Berniedoc says:

    Railroading is a universal language. He speaks volumes.

  13. Alabama Mike says:

    Peter, your work is amazing. You have a great talent for scenery. I love all the scenes in the photos you posted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *