Alex Bogaski recently started construction on his new Farmrail “South End of the Grainbelt” layout. The layout is based on the Farmrail/Grainbelt System in Frederick, Oklahoma. You can visit Alex’s Okie Rails website where you can learn more about his layout, the prototype, and subscribe to his blog. Here is a link to his website;
Like many model railroaders, Alex has limited space in his house for his layout and it shares space in a multipurpose room. In addition, he has to move frequently due to his job, so any layout that he builds needs to be portable. To meet those criterion, Alex designed his 11’ X 10’ 6” L shaped layout using Ikea IVAR shelving units that are 44” tall. The Ikea shelves provide a stable base for the layout, and storage for his hobby supplies. They also give a nice finished look to the layout, helping it blend into the room décor.
When designing his track plan, Alex looked for inspiration to those model railroaders that design realistic track plans. One of the most notable is David Barrow, and his Cat Mountain and Santa Fe layout. David also designed the South Plains District, an L shaped layout that appeared in a series of articles in 1996 in Model Railroader Magazine. David’s track plans are linear, once through the scene designs, that highlight the operations of the trains. There are no complex switching moves required, and are very realistic by leaving space between the structures and scenes.
As you can see from Alex’s hand drawn track plan, the layout is very well designed and follows a simple linear design. The plan accurately replicates the geographic area that he is modeling with lots of open spaces. Just because you have a small layout doesn’t mean that you have to cram everything in that you “think” you want. It takes a lot of self-discipline to realize that not everything is going to fit. This is where you have to edit the track plan down to the parts that you really need. Select a few key structures or layout design elements (LDEs) that place your layout in the era and geographic area you are modeling, then arrange them as realistically as possible on your plan. By leaving some negative space between structures and scenic elements it helps the layout look more realistic and you’ll be pleased with how it looks and operates.
As you work on your layout, simple things like keeping the layout base free from tool storage, and painting the layout base and fascia help the layout look more finished than it is. In this view of the layout it looks very nice and complete, even though Alex still has a long way to go before finishing the layout. I look forward to following Alex’s progress on his layout and hope that you subscribe to his blog to see the steps he takes to complete his layout.