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Iron Horse Railroad Museum Track Plan

Minimalist Model Railroading Case Study #9

Iron Horse Railroad Museum

Capturing the Essence of a Railroad Museum

Track Plan At A Glance

Layout Theme: Railroad Museum
Layout Type: Permanent Layout
Size: 10'x11'
Scale: HO Scale
Era: Any
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:

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.

National Railroad Museum

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...

The Space would be used for...

Money would be spent on...

The Skills required to build the railroad are...

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.

Minimalist Model Railroading Case Studies

Capturing the Essence of Railroading

Introduction - Minimalist Model Railroading

Case Study #1 - Claremont Concord Railroad
Scale: O Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #2 - CP Rail's Kicking Horse Pass
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #3 - Trolley Museum
Scale: O Scale        Size: 2'x6'

Case Study #4 - N&W 611 Excursion
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #5 - CS Industries
Scale: O Scale        Size: 10'x11'

Case Study #6 - Sono Tower
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #7 - Boston and Albany Railroad
Scale: N Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #8 - Central Yard Engine Terminal
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #9 - Iron Horse Railroad Museum
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 10'x11'

Case Study #10 - MM&R Timber Co.
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 10'x11'

Case Study #11 - Springfield Metro
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 10'x11'

Case Study #12 - South Station, Boston, MA
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #13 - Canaan, CT
Scale: N Scale        Size: 10'x11'

Case Study #14 - Chas Chemicals
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #15 - Westerly, RI
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #16 - Connecticut River Drawbridge
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #17 - Valley City Viaduct
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #18 - Wood River Railroad
Scale: O Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #19 - Portable Shortline
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #20 - Charter St. Steam Plant
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 8"x15'

Case Study #21 - Eastern Scenic Railroad
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #22 - West Springfield Yard
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #23 - Good Ol' 4x6
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 4'x6'