Not everyone has the space or the desire to build a basement or large room filling layout. Large layouts come with their own set of issues, from cost to the amount of time that it takes to get it up and running, large layouts can become overwhelming and cause the owner to wonder if building a model railroad is worth it at all. That is where the bedroom sized layout comes in, it can be more easily achievable as each task is completed quickly and seeing progress will keep the owner motivated to complete the layout. In addition, a small layout needs less operators so each operating session is more personal with the crew. When planning a layout, how many operators are available in your area to attend ops sessions? If you live in a remote area like I do, coming up with enough crew members to run a large model railroad can be a frustrating experience. With a small layout I only need a two person crew to operate so getting operators is much easier.
My friend Jeff recently invited me to visit him and another friend Chris that have built bedroom sized layouts. In the past year Jeff switched to HO from N scale after visiting my layout and seeing how much operations could be possible on a HO scale bedroom sized layout. He was amazed that I could hold a 2 to 3 hour ops session on my small layout.
Jeff’s layout is based on the Aberdeen Carolina and Western Railroad in North Carolina. He has designed an around the walls layout with a center peninsula in his spare bedroom. The model railroad operates point to point with an interchange yard and several industries along the line. He recently completed all the track work and is starting to build structures and add scenery.
After visiting Jeff’s layout we headed over to Chris’ house. Chris also has built a bedroom sized layout based on a local railroad located a few miles from his house. The model railroad runs on shelves around the perimeter of the room, leaving the center portion open. Chris also has the option of a removable liftout section for a continuous run when hosting visitors. The line is normally operated point to point with cars being transferred to and from the Southern Railroad on an interchange track. He selected the transition era to operate both steam and diesel locomotives and his key structure is a mill complex that has ties to his family.
One of the scenic features that stands out on Chris’ layout are the weeds and grass covering the track and ballast. It took a lot of trial and error to find the right combination of grass and weeds on the tracks to give it the look he was after, but still be able to have the locomotives operate. Chris has done an excellent job of capturing the run down and poorly maintained track as seen in his photos of the prototype.
For me, a small bedroom sized layout is a perfect size. Not too large to become overwhelming, but big enough to provide plenty of operations. There are a lot of excellent bedroom sized track plans that can inspire you to create your own layout. If you have been putting off building a layout until you had a large space, maybe give a bedroom sized layout a try. You never know, it might be the perfect size layout for you too. Bigger is not always better when it comes to model train layouts.