N Scale Model Railroad Layout

Introduction: N Scale Model Railroad Layout

About: Currently working at United Nations NYC web design, development and desktop publishing. Work at LIU as adjunct professor for web design, Ironworkers Local 40 as a foreman building skyscrapers. Taught karate ...

December 2014 a special gift comes for the boys at Christmas, well not exactly. Grandpa Bill got a N scale model train set a hobby he started in the 70's seems we have gone full circle while son Ryan and Grandson Henry experience first hand the joy of the "Worlds Greatest Hobby". A very special treat launches in Seaford Delaware.

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Step 1: The Journey Begins

Train accessories travel to Manhattan. A quick stop at a local Seaford Hobby shop added extra track, switches and scenery.

Step 2: Table Top Set Up

With an apartment in Manhattan space is often a major concern. A small N scale train seems to be in need of room to expand. A big challenge is to get material to build the layout however twice a week there is a wealth of material discarded that can easily be recycled into a new purpose. In this case a black lacquer platform bed and a pair of Ikea bookshelves along with foam board from a nearby renovation became available within 100 feet of the apartment and no need for logistics.

Step 3: A Repurposed Table Top

Thanks to the new found material and a purchase of 4 - 2' by 4' pieces of plywood using the bed slats we were able to create a larger platform and reuse the drawers by refitting the sliding rails to accommodate the new dimensions. We added a set of wheel and our new very large mobile model train platform was ready to roll and ready for our layout. There was another win-fall for this project we were able to buy new tools to work with wood to include a couple of drills, saws and layout tools.

Step 4: E-Bay the Perfect Storm

As luck would have Grandpa finds E-Bay just as time to build the layout begins. With a couple of trips to model train shows and a subscription to Model Railroader this former Ironworker has found a new way to re-live the building trades albeit in a smaller scale but equally rewarding. With a successful bid on a bunch of track some rolling stock layout begins with testing and a variety configurations. At this point the goal is to frame out a layout with elevations based around themes of models purchased to include a harbor, coal plant, lumber mill, train yard, a small town and commuter trains. Tunnels, terrain and elevations have yet to be configured.

Step 5: Moving to the Blue Foam

This might not seem so dramatic but the layout to this point is sitting on 4 modules that is theory could be split and moves as needed. The sections would be small enough to transport in a car or small van. The blue foam takes the layout up in elevation and this foam can be cut and shaped into mountains and streams for bridges to span with clever ways to slip trains in through tunnels and out again using a variety of elevations.

Step 6: Under Construction

At this time we have a large assortment of buildings and bridges to erect (wow this is like working in Local 40 again - really miss those days). We have to create the terrain and sub terrain to support our layout which will include a turntable and roundhouse in the train yard. We have purchased a Penn RR Passenger care with locos and an Amtrak Phase IV with Passenger Cars, a lot of rolling stock and Conrail and Union Pacific Diesel Engines that are unable to access the track until we sort out the structural layout.

Step 7: Next Steps

Once we establish the structure and connect the track to include wiring the switches we will have another major investment. The current layout is powered by a DC transformer which allows one train to be powered on the tracks at a time. Now there is an option for DCC which provides a digital command control using chip in the locomotives that are set to an address. These addresses are programmed into a controller which allows the operator to control multiple trains on the same track at the same time. The tracks then are full power all the time and the locomotives take the power as they are set via the chip and there is also the option to add sound. This will require the purchase of new power systems and controller plus new locomotives with DCC or DCC ready that can have the chips added. It is also possible to add DCC to existing locomotives. Here there will be a bit of learning curve. For this work I hope to join local clubs attend train shows and am developing friendships with model N scale train enthusiast.

Our humble little tabletop gift is certainly growing and I am looking forward to building out the layout and operating the trains with my son and Grandsons. In fact we are naming the layout Henry-ville and Luke Oliver Station with the RJB&JBB mining company.

As this post has been part of a class project on Instructional Design I thought I would keep it light and tell a story. The instructions for this layout are dream an idea then think it through. I created some sketches then built it out based on the material I had at hand. This was not done like a fast track construction project with architectural drawings and a set of elevations to follow for structure and detail. This project is a bit more artistic where we are able to be creative with use of material and space and see what deals are available on e-bay or at train shows or stores. There really was no budget with the only criteria to have some fun working on a project with love that you will be able to share with others. Last instruction get some rest, then come up with new creative ways to build something great and enjoy.

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    3 Discussions


    Tip 10 months ago

    If you want a great model railroad experience in N scale, try the trains, locomotives, and tracks manufactured by Kato.


    5 years ago

    Very clear details along with step by step pictures! I loved this, felt like a part of this process! Great job!!!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    You have quite the amazing setup! I've always loved model trains! Thanks for sharing and being a part of the community!