Friday, August 26, 2011

Determining Layout Height Part 1

Each day brings me closer to a new layout concept coming to reality. So the planning and dreaming continues, tempered with the reality of all the "other things" that will need to get done 'first' before layout reconstruction begins.

Since this proposed "combo pack" layout will be my first double-decker layout and also my first attempt at combining two different scale layouts in the same space, I'm going to be doing a lot of  "...Put that section up there and see how works out..." kind of decision making.

As I've stated in previous posts, I plan on mounting my HO scale Big Island Rail on top and the On30 combo logger/sugar plantation railroad below. I want my HO layout to be about at eye-level, which for me, at 6'3" tall, is way up there compared to most folks. Since I seldom have had visitors to my layouts, I haven't had problems with building my stand alone layouts at a taller height. Currently track height on my HO layout is at 55" and I'm looking at mounting the restructured HO layout at around 63" above the floor. This is a few inches lower than actual eye-level for me.This will help see all the tracks and throw switches without having to feel my way around the layout. I'm probably going to adjust this height as I get in and see how much ceiling room I have and how tall I want the On30 layout to be (more on that in a minute).

How much space I'll end up with below the HO layout's bench work and how tall the new On30 layout will be will, obviously, have to be worked out. How much "Sky" do I need above the On30 layout (for photography, in-person viewing, etc.)? Some thoughts....
I will likely build some roller platforms for myself to stand on so I can work on the taller HO layout and have "height-challenged" visitors stand so they can actually see trains! I think a solid base with those cool retracting rollers like on library step stools would work well. Since the main focus of the new Big Island Rail HO layout is continuous running around the room with limited switching operations,  I'm hoping the taller stature of the narrow shelf-style layout will work just fine. I do plan to have some industries around the HO layout to switch - such as the large bulk sugar trans-load facility that is currently located on the large Hilo Harbor peninsula. I also plan to build a sugar mill complex off the layout room above the work bench that is already in the basement in the new home. This will also contain a few staging tracks for inbound trains and act as a small yard for the sugar mill.

In the past with my taller layouts, I would have loved to have spend hours unending in the train room, building or running trains, but a lot of times the thought of spending a few hours on my feet after working all day (on my feet) just wasn't something I looked forward to. Plus, the older I get, the thought of sitting and running trains sounds better and better all the time! The thought of putting this new On30 layout at rolling stool or drafting chair level is pretty inviting!

More on the new layout to come in Part 2.

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