In a recent comment, reader Brian Termunde wrote,

I’m curious as to your layout height: I tried to do a search, but I can’t seem to find anything. Would you satisfy my curiosity?

I haven’t actually addressed layout height on this blog because my experience is that it’s very much a personal preference. Some prefer layouts to be quite high – others want them comfortably low.

I can see advantages and disadvantages to both. Fortunately(?), my layout height was pretty much pre-determined for me by my layout room.

My layout is built in a basement room – and I must deal with the main heating ductwork that runs lengthwise down the middle of the room. It’s boxed in for a nice appearance and dust-free environment – but it still made a huge impact on the design of my layout.
Ductwork-Room Entrance photo Duct-02_zpsec014a85.jpg

Ductwork-Lynn Valley photo Duct-01_zps864893d8.jpg

My basement floor undulates a bit, but the average height from floor to railhead is 48 inches. The ductwork in the photos above is 69 inches above the floor. When drawing layout plans for my space, I determined pretty early on that standing under this ductwork would not be a comfortable experience. Therefore, the only way to use the space effectively was to build the layout under it. Port Rowan is aligned below the ductwork in the room, as shown here:
Ductwork-Port Rowan photo Duct-03_zps7bbc78ac.jpg

The railhead height of 48 inches works fine for me. It’s high enough that I’m not stooping to view the trains, but low enough that I can comfortably reach in to uncouple cars in the Port Rowan yard. And with a valance drop of approximately 16 inches from the ceiling, or 5 inches below the ductwork (to shield one’s eyes from the layout lights), I still have a decent “window” between fascia and valance through which to view and operate the layout.

Brian – thanks for asking the question. It was a good one!

4 thoughts on “48″

  1. Interestingly, I didn’t know my layout height either, it being similarly a product of the space. I wanted to have quite a bit of storage under the layout plus a workbench with lighting for it, so I ballparked it early in construction. Though I’d actually like to have some more grades with the operational challenges they bring, my railhead varies only from 50″ to 52″. I have a branch proposal that may bring those grades in later!

    • I had the same storage consideration, David. I wanted to be able to stack two layers of storage tubs under the layout. That dictated the minimum height of the bench work. The ductwork dictated the maximum.

  2. My Shelf layout will be a little higher as it will be built over existing bookcases which are 48 inches tall; I plan on mocking it up prior to committing to a certain height. My layout will be primarily switching and in N scale, I want it to be close to eye level, but still able to reach in to uncouple (it’ll only be 12-18 inches deep, so that shouldn’t be too much of an issue, but again, the mock up should help make sure it’s livable.

    Thanks for the reply Trevor!

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