Making Maximum Use Of The Space Available For A Model Train Layout



For the majority of model railroaders, the space they have available in which to build the model train layout they originally envisioned is often inadequate. There are some obvious solutions that are easy to incorporate at the very onset of construction, and the most common of these is to model in one of the smaller scales.

With that said, however, this does not deal effectively with the problem of limited space. Where it is true that the smaller scales will allow the hobbyist to build a layout, it does not allow for an expansion of any given layout. There are some solutions to this problem, and each of the following suggestions can serve the model railroader well.

I want to acknowledge that I recently wrote an article for this website which addressed the problem of building a layout in a small space which included a variety of suggestions for dealing with this issue. This article however, will go too another level, and explore some ideas which you may not have considered. Let’s take a look at some of these possibilities:

1. Although, building a multi-level model railroad may not be for everyone, it is never-the-less, an effective way to deal with building a layout in a small space. In essence, when you build this type of layout the result is two different levels that you can run your trains on. The resulting benefit, is that you will be able to significantly increase the operating capabilities of your railroad, and most important of all, do so with the existing space that you already have.

2. Everything begins, therefore, with the type of bench- work you construct in order to effectively build a multi-level model railroad. The best and most effective method for building a bench work which will support a multi-level layout is the l-girder method.

With some research, you’ll discover that this type of bench work will allow for the greatest level of flexibility in design, and an added benefit is the ease by which you can add scenery elements and variations in the grades for your trains to travel on.

L-Girder Description: L-girder benchwork is named for the inverted “L”-shaped beams which carry the load. L-girder allows tremendous flexibility in design for odd-shaped and multi-level layouts. With its open structure, it is easy to add scenery both above and below track levels. L-girder can be built with little experience and a few simple tools.

3. The solution for getting your trains from one elevation to another with a multi-level layout is through the construction of a helix. The helix can be described in no other way than as the perfect elevator for moving your trains from one elevation to the other. They can be challenging to construct, but the final reward out weighs the effort and the challenge of building a helix. One helpful tip before you begin a project of this type is to take a look at the real life counterpart.

Where it may not be possible to travel to various locations to observe and photograph the prototype…..you can always rely on the internet to provide you with a solution to this challenge. Not only can you find inspiring pictures, you can also find multiple instructional videos to help guide you in the construction of a helix for your layout.

4. If you are a model train hobbyist who would like to increase the number of trains that represent your railroad, a multi-level layout also offers you the opportunity to add one or more staging yards. In these staging yards you’ll be able to store more trains, and you’ll be able to provide more operating destinations without taking away space from your mainline runs or open scenery.