Rob’s finished his big curve layout

“Hi Al,

I have labored and triumphed. The Big Curve Project is complete and trains can now ride around it’s great arcs. I replaced several small radius and choppy curves to acheive a smooth slope and curve from the crossover bridge to the prairie section of Farland. I hope it will yield great views of trains when the scenery is installed. It will be a while before I start the scenery process, however. For a while, I just want to enjoy running trains.


A big thanks to Rob. I enjoy his tutorials.

Seems like my boy’s prints are like buses – they all come along together. He’s added an office block and department store to the collection.

Actually, there’s a funny story behind them, but I’m really pushed for time today. Next time!

Short and sweet today – got to press on.

Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.



24 Responses to Rob’s finished his big curve layout

  1. Colin Pryce says:

    Well done Rob! Those gentle curves are much more pleasing and realistic when long coaches sweep round. Often see coach ends nearly at 45 degrees with the following one. I look forward to the next step of lanscaping. Colin.

  2. Jaaques Shellaque says:

    Or, you could just “eyeball” it and then “fiddle” until it
    finally works (the “Emperor Nero Method”)(Been there?
    Done that?). Congratulations. I’m impressed.

  3. Chuck says:

    Wonering why the reason for the elevated run?

  4. claus says:

    makes me go green with envy – I wish I’d have that much space! Just have to stick with my little n gauge layouts, unless I wish that my wife evicts me….

  5. Gary D says:

    Rob, Nice end result. I’ve been following you on this project and glad to see you got it figured out with the curve and elevations and now the trains run like you want. Now the fun part of scenery comes in. Your one video of track side signals was inspiring too. What is the size of your layout?

  6. Archie Conde says:

    Nice job Rob. Your excel table was a good idea. I have a grade that is 12 foot long and calculated a 2% grade. I used a 12′ 2×4 and ripped it on a tabIe saw. I am using all wheel drive HO engines so it will not slip on the grade. Nice work.

  7. jack says:

    I love the detail that you present to us on each stept.Rob could you show us each step, from start to finish of you compleat lay our or is there a vido that I may purch on how you have created this project

    Thank you
    God Bless

  8. Rob McCrain says:

    Gary, the layout is 13 feet x 22 1/2 feet. The big curve is on the 13 foot end. Rob

  9. Peter Jones says:

    Brilliant Rob, a great job that looks fantastic once the trains started running. Will you be doing any landscaping tutorials?

    Peter “the mackem”

  10. Colin King says:

    Very nice Rob, love the detail and effort that your putting into the layout. Must be very rewarding, keep it going and look forward to the next phase. Colin.

  11. Paul E Geigle says:

    Too much info and way over the top. You made your curve project more difficult than it had to be. As I look back on my own layout, I’m glad I took extra time to simplify everything.

  12. Chris says:

    Having never made a model train layout this is how I went about the problem. I designed my layout in HO scale on a computer program call AnyRail which also allows for gradients in the design. From there I exported the file & converted it to EPS format at actual size. The file was then printed onto PVC banner material which included the track codes of each section of track on the printout off a wide format printer. I used this life size template to make the odd shaped table I needed & then place the PVC template on the finished table to lay the appropriate track where indicated. Once all the track was laid I just slid out the PVC print from under the laid track & then fixed the track to the table – easy peasy!

  13. THOMAS says:


  14. Stephen Bolton says:

    Brilliant work Rob. Love it. At 6:00 on the video though, it looks like you have a rail/fishplate out of alignment on your passing loop, is this causing any problems?

  15. Andrew Lee says:

    Thanks, it’s really good. Can’t wait to see it fully finished. It will make a great layout.


  16. Ray Appenzeller says:

    Nice work and layout! I cannot wait to see the landscaping.

  17. D.B. Lewis says:

    I like the tip about making accurate shims for changing elevation.

  18. Rod Mackay says:

    Down here in South Wales we have had generations of coal mining and very few railway gradients are still so precise, Rob, lovely job you made of it but I have to say that’s the first time I’ve ever seen a micrometer used for baseboard work – you must be an engineer!
    Up in Staffordshire where we still have a lot of salt mining, it’s fascinating to see how as each new dip appears the signals, overhead line structures etc., have had to be packed up and up on concrete plinths and such, as the railway has been ballasted up near to the right levels again.

  19. The end result seeing the trains running nicely is satisfaction nice work looking forward to the how tos on the scenery.

  20. Barry Pearlman says:

    Just a minor correction to a comment above. The measuring device is called a “vernier” caliper. A micrometer is similar in that it also a precise measuring instrument it works somewhat differently. My dad was a machinist and I have inherited both his venier caliper and micrometer both of which came in a wooden case; it is circa the 1930’s!

    I am an engineer and sometimes we engineers have to use a method called the “SWAG method”. SWAG is an anachronim for “Super Wild Ass Guess”!


  21. jim morris says:

    I wish i had your knowledge. Great job. Jim

  22. John says:

    well done your curves look wonderful I have admired your track plan from the small photos I’ve seen in some of your presentations. Would it be possible to get a copy of your track plan? Or for that matter the any real file that it was designed with? Anyway keep up the great work I love your videos and I look forward to seeing more of Farland Howe

  23. Rob: Job well done. Love the detailed info you gave on HOW YOU worked your situation to suit you. [Rise/run = % of slope] or Rise=height divided by run=length always equals percent of slope. Your slope appears to be exactly as you planned for the 4 trains you ran across them. Do NOT know your speed that you must keep for a regular con’sist; but, the true test will be starting at the lower end and starting whatever engine that will pull the number of cars selected without losing traction at the higher elevation. This will help you determine how many of what type and the engine to use to perform your ideal action. I love your attention to detail as a military engineer myself. Keep sharing your great works. Harold Jr.

  24. dan o wiseman says:

    wow finially a running train or two , great work , my garden is very wet this year but the trains are low and dry in basement , great big curve rules thanks

Leave a Reply

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