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Steel Trail Odyssey Track Plan.

Steel Trail Odyssey

O Scale Portable Model Railroad Design

Track Plan At A Glance

Layout Theme: Various
Layout Type: Module
Size: 81.5"x81.5" (18"x63.5" Sections)
Scale: O Scale
Era: Various
Track: Code 148
Turnouts: N/A
Min. Radius: 36"

Article by: Jim Spavins
Published: October 20, 2015

This month will be Round and Round October - a series of three portable model railroads simply designed for trains to go around in circles. These plans are focused on building display layouts to go to train shows and feature highly detailed scenes.  Operations is a secondary priority.

The second plan of the month is for a two rail O scale modular railroad - yes modular railroad.  Unlike most modular railroads which are designed so they can be set up infinitely, this layout can only have four sections at a time. While the layout can only handle a limited number of sections at a time, it can be expanded infinitely since an unlimited number of sections could be constructed for the layout. The theory is that this layout would be meant for someone who enjoys building.

At the time I sketched up this plan, I had a somewhat limited space for a layout.  Since I enjoy building, I wanted a design which would allow me to keep building beyond the space I had available.  With this plan, as sections are completed, they could be setup with the layout and other sections stored away. If the layout was set at about four feet high and placed on top of a stack of module sections, 28 could be stored within the footprint of the layout! (Note, the sections can be flipped and stored face to face so a pair of modules only takes up a little more volume than one by itself.)

In addition, the layout is also designed to go on the road and be setup at train shows.  The overall size of the layout means it can be tucked in at most events.  Part of the problem with standard modular layouts is that sometimes the smallest layout which can be set up is actually too big for some venues.  For example, my club has trouble setting up a layout smaller than 12'x20'.  This is really tiny for what we do but that can be a bit big in certain situations.  Sometimes, smaller is better.

Since new layout sections can be added any time, a different layout can eventually be displayed at each train show.  Sometimes display layouts can start to feel a bit stale when they are displayed year after year with little updates.  By having a layout which is intentionally designed to have a new section added each year, folks coming out to the shows can see something a little different each time the layout is displayed. 

The actual design and theme of each module section could vary widely.  In the sample plan above - I was going to build a number of scenes which tell the journey of my history within the hobby of model railroading - hence the name "Steel Trail Odyssey."  For example, the module on the right, would be version three of the Centennial Modules factory - for all the modules I have built through the years.  The MOW area on the bottom portion of the layout would feature numerous details related to the time I spent working as part of a track gang.  Of course, there are literally an infinite number of possibilities for what could be added to these sections.

Steel Trail Odyssey Module Standards. | Drawing by Jim Spavins.


Above is the standard plan for each modular section.  Each layout section is 17.25"x62.75" with .75" wide trim which brings the overall dimensions to 63.5"x18".  A backdrop of 46"x12" is set on the back of the section.  The track is Atlas O two rail 36" radius sectional track - there are three full sections and one half section per module.  The track is set back from the ends of the module so that a half section is used as the connector track between module sections. 

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.