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Housatonic Railroad 4x8 Track Plan

Housatonic Railroad

A Portable 4x8 Layout

Track Plan At A Glance

Layout Theme: Canaan, CT
Layout Type: Portable Layout
Size: 48"x96" w/ 24"x24" extension
Scale: HO Scale
Era: 1998
Track: Code 83
Turnouts: N/A
Min. Radius: 18"

Article by: Jim Spavins
Published: December 1, 2015

For the month of December, I will be exploring the good old 4x8 style layout.  This size layout is a popular beginner size layout because it is simple to go to the home improvement center, purchase a 4x8 sheet of playwood plus a set of sawhorses, and then setup an oval of track. A lot of model railroaders start with this style layout, even me, and it is a great learning experience.

This 4x8 style layout featured here takes the design to the next level.  In this case, the core 4x8 layout is broken down into four sections - two 2'x4' end sections and two 1'x4' connecting sections.  An additional 2'x2' extension is added onto to handle this particular design.  This allows the layout to be taken apart into smaller sections and stacked into a pile with a 2'x4' footprint.  By doing so, the sections can be stored easily or moved in a smaller vehicle.

The track plan is loosely based on the town of Canaan, CT, in the summer of 1996.  At this time, a fairly new shortline - called the Housatonic Railroad - had their headquarters in the Canaan Union Station and had their shops just a bit south along Route 7.  This town was the midpoint on the railroad with an interchange in Pittsfield, MA, to the north with Conrail and to the south in New Milford, CT, with Guilford.  Each day, the crew would either head north or south, depending upon the traffic needs.

The first order of business before heading out of town, was to switch a short branchline in Canaan which headed east along the former Central New England railroad to a limestone plant.  The operation could take about an hour to start up the locomotives, head up the branch to switch the industry and then finally hook onto the train which had been left back in town before heading out to their destination for the day.  All of this work could be simulated on this 4x8 layout.

The basic track plan covers some of the railroad highlights of the area - from Canaan Union Station, the enginehouse, and the limestone plant.  While the layout is a loop, operationally, the road on the bottom right of the plan can be considered the break point for the operations - with the switching lead to the plant and the enginehouse ending at the road.  Obviously, the loop can just be used when you'd want to just enjoy running trains round and round.

Housatonic Railroad Photos

Photos from around Canaan, CT, in the summer of 1996. | Photo by Jim Spavins.


For Track Plan Tuesday's, I am digitizing all of my old track planning notebooks and sharing the designs here on the website.  To see all the plans, visit the track plan home page at: jimspavins.com/jimstrackplans.