Track Plan At A Glance
Layout Theme: Railroad Museum
Layout Type: Permanent Layout
Scale: HO Scale
Track: Code 83
Turnouts: No. 6
Min. Radius: 30"
Article by: Jim Spavins
Posted: May 17, 2016
Published: December 31, 2012
There are a lot of modelers who have a diverse range of interests when it comes to the hobby of model railroading. They have an appreciation for a number of different eras, railroads, and equipment types that settling on one particular railroad to build a model of seems a bit stifling. However, the prototype offers a perfect solution to combine all those wide ranging interests into one coherent layout theme: a railroad museum.
For a model railroad with this theme, the essential features of this design should include:
- Display Areas for Equipment
- Train Ride
- Museum Building
The layout design presented above uses much of the layout space for displaying railroad equipment. The turntable and display tracks fill the top wall with a substantial number of places to display all kinds of equipment from various eras. The mainline around the walls offer a brief train ride typical of many railroad museums to give visitors a taste of riding the vintage equipment but without the length of a typical scenic railroad. A second smaller station is at the opposite end of the line from the main museum area. This could hold a few more displays giving the train a purpose to shuttle visitors from the main museum and station to this secondary station further down the line.
Presenting the Railroad
This layout should be attractively appointed with spot lighting highlighting the equipment and structures on display. This type of railroad lends itself well to the shadowbox/diorama approach to layout finishing since operations are limited thus limiting the amount of light needed in the non-layout areas of the room for operators. This style of layout will truly put the focus on the equipment for which so much time and effort has been expended.
Operating the Railroad
Operations on the railroad are simple - back and forth between the main station and the secondary station. This could easily be accomplished with many of the commercially available off the shelf reversing units. My guess is the person who would build this type of layout would be more interested in building equipment than operations. Assuming the workbench is built under the layout, having a simple train just working back and forth mindlessly while working on the next project may be just as enjoyable to some as switching is to others. This is part of understanding what the most enjoyable aspects of the hobby are to you discussed in the introduction to Minimalist Model Railroading.
The station at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, WI. | Photo by Jim Spavins.
Resource Use on the Railroad
For this railroad, the goal is to capture the essence of a railroad museum. Here is how these resources would be used to accomplish this goal for the Iron Horse Railroad Museum design:
Time would be spent...
- Building Railroad Equipment
- Laying Track
- Building Structures
The Space would be used for...
- Displaying the Railroad Equipment
- Short Train Ride
Money would be spent on...
- Locomotives and Rolling Stock
The Skills required to build the railroad are...
- Rolling Stock and Locomotive Detailing, Painting, and Weathering
- Structure Construction
As mentioned previously, this type of layout would suit the individual who enjoys building and detailing rolling stock and locomotives. However, the nice part about this railroad is that it can easily be adapted through time with changes or improvements in the layout builder's skills or interests. If a piece of the layout needs to be improved - maybe from a kitbashed structure to a scratchbuilt model - it's no problem and in fact probably an eagerly awaited project. Even if the builder's interests shifted from say, equipment of northeastern US railroads to those of the southwest, the scenery could be easily changed to reflect its new local with a few revised structures included. This would open up even more projects to build and extend the life of this railroad and keep most of the resources of time and money focused on the activity of building rolling stock and equipment.