What’s an Achievable Layout?

As the title suggests, this blog will focus on what I call Achievable Layouts.

There are plenty of designs in the popular press and online for multi-deck basement-filling layouts that require a dozen or more operators to work properly. These can be fantastic layouts, but they’re not necessarily achievable – not for everyone.

Many people don’t have the space to devote to such projects. In our dream worlds, a hockey rink would make a great layout space – providing you turned off the ice-making equipment (and let it drain):
Hockey Rink photo RinkInterior_zps2ad979f2.jpg

But in reality, a small basement or a spare room is about the limit of the space many people can afford to devote to the hobby. And that’s going to feel really generous if current housing trends continue. In Toronto, where I live, the majority of new housing starts are downtown condominiums:
Toronto-Today photo WellingtonCondos_zps4ff823eb.jpg

For those living in the sky, a shelf in a room used for non-hobby purposes is probably the most they can devote to a layout.

Even if space is not an issue, many people just don’t have the time such huge layouts require to build and maintain. I made a conscious decision with my own layout space to not pack it full of track and structures – because I want my engagement with the model railway hobby to be fun, not yet another job I have to do.

The result – Port Rowan in 1:64 – is a very modest undertaking, with just eight track switches and less than two dozen structures to build. Yet, it’s very rewarding to build and operate. It’s easy to host guest operators, and easy to run by myself. And I enjoy having a full life outside the train room.

On this blog, you will find some designs or ideas for layouts that I feel will provide a rewarding hobby experience without becoming a maintenance nightmare, a money pit, or a time suck. I prefer to build layouts that are both prototype-based and realistic in execution, so those are the types of designs you’ll find here. Some will be general ideas and sketches – others will be more complete designs.

If this sounds like the type of layout you’re looking to build, then I hope you find something useful in this collection.