Tiny miniatures are the most fascinating things, huh? Well, I can’t say I blame you. There is nothing so cool as little tiny trains. These miniature beauties really can make for a captivating model training experience. Another wonderful thing about these tiny trains is that they are so miniscule you can for all intents and purposes fit them anywhere. Let’s think a little bit about how we could use them in different spaces:
The smallest N scale dimensions:
This is the least demanding layout that we can use for these little guys. See that little table over there where you have that plant, that’s enough space for it. All you can get from this miniscule space though is a fairly basic loop the loop. We could maybe do a figure 8 or have two concentric circles, but that’s about it.
Pre-fab n scale scenic highlights:
N-scale is so small it is hard to work with. Craftwork is definitely out for these little guys but don’t worry, several companies offer lines of pre-fab accessories. A good way of adding interest to your n-model railroad layout is to hand over your hard earned money for some of these and add them to your layout. Atlas is perhaps one of the best makers for accessories in n-scale.
3’ x 3’ N Model with lake and bridge crossing:
If you can get just a little bit of extra space then you can make things a lot more complex. It doesn’t seem like much but it makes a humungous difference. You will need a dedicated train table to do this, but if you place a lake at the center of your track you can have the trains circling it and bridging its tributary at the edges. This makes for a really captivating scene in a really uncompromising space. I wouldn’t recommend trying it in a space any smaller than this however. I’ve never seen this work in a smaller space.
Every trip starts with a first step and every model train layout with a simple loop:
An ideal way of constructing your track is to increase it piece by piece. So you might begin with a layout similar to our 3’ x 3’ design and then when you are ready add another 3’ layout to it. You might extend a mountain range down the length of table so that your train snakes along next to it and then crosses through a tunnel at its middle. This is also a great way of adding variations to your landscape as you go. Little ranchos or perhaps a chapel by the side of a tributary can really make for a varied and captivating scenic experience.
N scale gives you the most possibilities for the least amount of space. Just try to think outside of the box and make your track plan both fit your space and to realize your imagination. If you find a particular landscape fascinating, construct it. Others are likely to find it wonderful as well.
You’re right it’s not a very huge area. But it does match the minimum requirements for a HO model train layout: it’s 4’ x 8’ and that’s all you really need to get started. It also has some nice aspects. It’s by a natural light source where it gets some morning light. It’s clean and dry. The frig is close by so you won’t have far to travel for a beer. So here are some ideas for making it better:
Get a solid Model Train Table:
Having your tracks on the ground is a very bad idea. You can build a strong table or countertop on your own. There’s lots of drawbacks to living with a track that are permanently fixed to one area. It’s a lot better to design a track display that we can relocate when we are called on to do so. Really good hobby tables can be located by just doing a simple search on the internet. These tables are crafted to connect to each other in such a way that you can fill almost any space as you would like and so that if you have second thoughts about your design at a future date, they are easily altered into new shapes and into new dimensions. Sturdy, light, portable—they’re everything you want in display table. This third feature is particularly useful for model train fanatics who like to go to model train get togethers. If you move, being able to keep your set up roughly as is can also be a big relief.
Keep your HO model train layout to the basics:
Don’t try to do too much with such a limited area. You fundamentally have a choice between three separate layouts: a basic oval, a figure 8 or concentric circles. They’re all about equal in regards to benefits and drawbacks. The basic donut shape gives you some room on the interior of the design so that you might have a big HO model railroad town in the middle. The focus will fall largely on the craft and artwork involved in your craftwork. A figure 8 creates four distinct zones for your space but they will be much smaller. Concentric circles tends to be the golden mean between the first two track plans. You could place a round house at the center and pretend this is a rail yard. You can also add other trains to your roundhouse in the middle to really freshen up this design. These are all good starting set ups and none of them foreclose on any future track possibilities. The oval and concentric circles are especially well suited to later emendation.
Use the angle of display to make a larger sense of space:
The corner of your layout forms an apex to a triangular viewpoint that can really increase the sense of depth if used well. Paint fading mountains and starry lines along the back walls to further optimize this effect.
Finally, use accessories like structures and uneven topography to create a greater sense of contrast:
Another way we can trick the viewer into thinking that our display is larger is to add accessories like tiny trees and little hills or piles of pebbles so that the train is at times obscured from sight. If you work this effect right you will really enhance the viewing experience.
Remember that this is just the first step toward your model train empire. It won’t be long before you master the skills to create really awesome model train displays.