Plan Critiques

Post your track plan/layout design here if you would like to have members of the LD SIG give you a critique. Once you have added your track plan or design here, also go add a topic thread to the LD SIG Forum with the same name as your layout page: HO - Siskiyou Line - Joe Fugate and mention you've posted a new design to the wiki layout critique section. You'll get more traffic if you also post a direct link to your track plan wiki page here in your forum message.

To post your plan here, click Add child page, below. Name your plan as SCALE - Layout name - your name and then edit away!

HO - Frisco River Divison - Cape Girardeau & Southwestern - Keith Robinson

Please take a look and tell me what you think.  This layout is an attempt to reproduce what was in Cape Girardeau, Mo  in 1950 with a focus on switching, supported by through-train operation from north staging (St Louis) or south staging (Chaffee).  The MoP action was local from Scott City into the west end of Cape Girardeau.  The yard and mains belonged to the Frisco with Frisco servicing everything other than the MoP spur into west Cape.  The MoP had track rights from the MoP junction with the Frisco, into the Frisco yard (for servicing west Cape).  Marquette Cement had a large limestone quarry across the main as did Federal Materials (crushed limestone).  Marquette had their own GE 44ton engine that also hauled clay cars out of the river bottoms to the plant on a single track.  Facing point and trailing point switches are illustrated as they existed.

Frisco River Div - Cape Girardeau & Southwestern Final.pdf50.15 KB

HO - Tempe Industrial Lead - Michael Powell

I'm still trying to find a prototypical pike, one that is managable to build but interesting to operate. I've based this idea on a number of visits I've made to the actual location, plus refering to the 2002 UP track charts, and of course hours of peering at Google Earth and Bing Maps.

A potential 16' x 10' purpose built shed could be available for this pike...

Givens and Druthers

  1. Southern Pacific, 1990s time slot (can accomodate current scene with patched or UP locomotives)
  2. Phoenix metro area
  3. motive power GP38/40 or 40/60 combos (want to include SD40s and 45s, but can't figure out how to include a worthwhile section of mainline)
  4. minimum #6 turnouts
  5. traffic - general in reefers, box cars, lumber on center beams, plastic pellets in bulk hoppers, cement hoppers, fuel tankcars
  6. DCC control, single operator
  7. domino construction
  8. no tricky benchwork and hidden staging (any staging out in the open)
  9. minimal scenic effects

This bit of urban freight railroad wanders south from Tempe Junction, and finally peters out a little way south of the Loop 202 Santan Freeway…

On the way, it visits various industries that see a handful of cars each. Not many cars, but plenty of variety – tanks, coil cars, box cars, lumber racks, shorty cement hoppers, 100t hoppers for plastic pellets… The plan stays pretty faithful to the prototype, including having the spurs correctly oriented. West Chandler has been flopped though, so the tank tracks are on the east side of the lead not the west. Having the spurs face the right way should help operations be more prototypical – now all I have to do is find out how the prototype operates!

Starting from Tempe Jct, follow the line south (clockwise) round the room until you arrive at West Chandler Industrial Park. Each time you’re facing the pike, south is to your right and you’re facing east. I’m absurdly pleased at this bit of geographical sincerity, as I’m sure it will help the sense of a line that goes from somewhere to somewhere else, not just round a room. Theoretically, if a 100 foot+ linear space became available, I could unplug the LDEs, substitute some straight ‘fillers’ for the bendy bits, and replicate the branch in all its spindly glory.

Ops remain a bit of a mystery – I’ve heard traffic on this line, but always late at night/early hours of the morning. I’m guessing the profusion of grade crossings may have something to do with that, but I really don’t know. And just how many trains traverse this line? One a day? Three a week? I’ve never seen anything moving, just the switchers slumbering over at McQueen and various freight cars lolling about in the sun.

My biggest concern with this pike is that basically there is only one out and back local to operate, which strikes me as a bit limiting in the amount of real estate that is available. I've tried a few ways to combine a piece of the mainline so that I can run haulers that interchange with the Industrial Lead, but have gotten stuck.

So, that's where things lie at the moment, over to you guys!

HO - Torsney/Grohs RR - Bruce Torsney

Trainboard WEST ViewTrainboard EAST View

I'm more interested in an "operational" layout as compared to a "Scenery"  oriented one. My track plan is from Atlas's "Big Track Plan Book," HO35, Berkshire Valley Route; the size is 4 x 12 feet. I have included an original schematic and photos of my own upgrades.

I have revamped the yard to include an arrival/departure track. I did this by simply adding two turn-outs to the two longest tracks. I also added five storage and a run around track. On the opposite side of the twelve foot section, from the yard and original reverse track,  I've added a second "reverse track." I've removed two of the short 9 inch bridges, in favor of one 18 inch one. I did this to open up this "East-end Property" for some kind of switching operation. At the West-end (west=left) of the property, inside the second loop I would like ideas for some type of "action" industry to place there. For my last track modification to the original 4 x 12 layout, I want to reconnect the West end of the yard back to the Main Line.

I also upgraded about half of the switch machines to Tortoise. Each upgrade has an "electrified frog" and bi-colored LEDs to show the switch position.

Turnout Upgrade 006 (Small).jpg67.01 KB

HO-Union Pacific Freelance-Jermie Arnold

This layout is inspired by a layout I liked in MR Magazine.  I have adjusted a couple of things, but it still has some issues.  The Main line is red, with Yard and station lines in Brown and staging in Yellow.  The Red line is a graded line of about 2.5-3% most of the way.  I have added a blue line that decends back to the 0" elevation.  Any thoughts or criticisms would be helpful.   Also this layout will be in my garage and I would like to lift it up out of the way, possibly in two halfs during the winter months.  Any thoughts on storage?  Thanks for taking the time to look this over. 

Jermies new layout 2.png332.07 KB

Museum Plan 1

See attached of a plan for the space I spoke of in a previous entry that showed the available space and dimensions. If I know what I was doing, I could have combines them...


Museum Plan 1.pdf65.65 KB

N - PRR Catskill division - Erik Wejryd

This is a trackplan representing a part of a freelanced extension of the PRR from Wilkes-Barre PA to Schenectady NY.

The PRR wanted - at least in my history writing - to gain more traffic from the New England area. At the end of the 19th century, all bigger cities in the northeastern quadrant of USA had a connection to PRR apart from Boston. The Catskill division was completed in the first decade of the 20th century, while the tunnel-connection to Manhattan and Long Island was made, in a coordinated attempt to reach further northeast. In Schenectady yard facilities were shared with B&M, that also had interrest in the construction of the link to PRRs mainlines.

A part of this division - from East Branch by Delaware river to Arkville - was actually built by Delaware & Northern. There is also a branchline from Grand Gorge Jct to Oneonta, where it connects to D&H. This railroad too existed as Ulster & Delaware that streched from Kingston by Hudson river (NYC), passed Arkville and Grand Gorge and ended in Oneonta. It was incorporated into NYC in the 30's. In my freelanced world, D&N was purchased by PRR together with Ulster & Delaware's track Arkville - Grand Gorge - Oneonta (the other half of U&D ended up as NYC-track). The rest of Catskill division was built de novo by PRR.

Margaretville serves as a small classification yard for locals on the Oneonta branch and turns to Arkville where the chemical industry (fertilizer) and the NYC-interchange have the busiest spurs. In Margaretville there is a freight house, a team track and a spur to the agricultural co-op, that has a grain elevator and a warehouse that recieves food and produce and is sending cauliflower during the season.

There is also a branch to Pooncha (extending from the yard lead) where there is another grain elevator and a small factory for locks and safes.

The part I'll be building is Margaretville, Arkville and maybe Stamford on the Oneonta branch. The rest is represented by half-hidden staging (Schenectady and Wilkes-Barre), a fiddle-yard (Oneonta) or on-layout-staging (the NYC interchange and the Pooncha-branch). The layout is set in the late 1950's after the transition to diesels. Sidings and staging on mainline allows at least loco + 10 40'cars + cabin. The Oneonta branch maybe will allow slightly shorter trains. I will use Peco code 55. Medium turnouts on main and sidings, short ones in yards. Minimum curve radius is 12''.

The trackplan in full size is attached. I have the possibility to insert an 8' x 1' section between the staging and the fiddle yard, so it's possible to build Stamford on the Oneonta branch too. This part will be fairly straight forward I think, so I haven't put so much effort into the track arrangements here yet.

The trains i plan to run is something like:

  • 1 or 2 inbound freights from Schenectady and Wilkes-Barre, terminating in Margaretville in the morning and going back in the evening.
  • 1 turn Margaretville - Oneonta fiddle yard and back. This won't be able to handle all the traffic to the chemical plant in Arkville.
  • 1 turn Margaretville - Arkville and back.
  • 2 through freights - one in each direction - that might stop in M for urgent pickups/setouts. These might pass the layout several times if desired.
  • The Pooncha-turn is represented by the Margaretville-switcher bringing the cars on the yard lead in the morning and heading away last thing on the op-session.

A few things bother me:

  • The staging is on a 1,5  - 2 percent grade and the turnouts might end up in vertical curves which might be a problem (or what do you think?)
  • Should I include one more yard track?
  • It's a drawback that the trains pass the Arkville scene twice, but I can live with that.
  • The lack of passenger traffic. Maybe I'll include a pike-sized one running from south to Oneonta and back. Staging capacity is limited, though.
  • Is the whole thing believeable??? Would there be a classification yard in such a place and is it ok to include a freight house in this small town? I'm from Sweden with quite vague knowledge about North American railroading and geography, trying to pick up what I can from magazines etc. Please share your comments!!





Catskill trackplan.JPG172.87 KB
Catskill PRR map.JPG158.08 KB

North Coast Electric Rwy. design & ideas-Chris

 Welcome to the North Coast Electric


 I just opened this page and will start adding content later today.  I could use some help with the design.  Here's a few teasers of what I'm us to.  Thanks. - Chris


Northcoast Electric.png354.48 KB

Sn3 - Durango, Rico & Northern - Jon Stetz


The Durango, Rico and Northern Railroad was conceived in the late 1800's as part of a network of rails and stagecoach lines designed to tie together the mountain ore towns between Durango and Rico and points North originally surveyed by Thomas Wigglesworth in 1881 for the Denver and Rio Grande, the route is generally believed to be the product of Otto Mears as part of the Rio Grande Southern. The line left Animas City, North Durango, ran severval miles up the Las Animas River Valley, then up the North fork of Hermosa Creek and down Scotch Creek just South of Rico. From there, it followed the Delores River, through the Lost Canyon and over Cimas Pass and then back to Durango. Although the Rio Grande Southern did build from Durango to Ridgeway via the Delores River route surveyed by Wigglesworth, the Rico to Rockwood branch was never built and remained a stage line and later a logging road.

The Denver and Rio Grande already had a existing line from Durango through Rockwood and on to Silverton. The Durango, Rico and Northern would have ran from Rockwood to Rico via Hermosa Park, then the East fork of Hermosa Creek, then down Scotch Creek, to Scotch Creek Junction with the Rio Grande Southern. It is this branch that is being recreated and modeled here on this web-site and in SN3 as it would have appeared in the years spanning 1940-1949 in Southwestern Colorado.

The DR&N, all it's references and descriptions are based on research material from the Rio Grande Southern construction as well as the Denver and Rio Grande during the 1890's and later years. During its construction, the DR&N had enough foresight to lay 50 pound rail, build heavier bridges and more adequate grading than was needed in 1891. This foresight paid off as the line was able to utilize its own C-16’s and the heavier K-27’s it leased from Denver and Rio Grande over the years.

For more progress/information on this layout, please visit