Why another model railway design website?
I decided to add this section to the site because over the years I've produced many layout designs for very small and microlayouts. Some of which have been published on the internet and in the model railway press. Some others have even been built. But many languish unseen on the hard drive of my computer or in one of my many sketchbooks. So I thought I'd share them along with some of my thoughts on my approach to layout design. I love reading books and articles about layout design. I like to get inside the designers head and know how and why they produce the designs they do. Perhaps after reading how I go about planning you'll be inspired to build one of the layout designs featured here. If you are drop me a line and let me know.
You'll notice to the right here "The Inspiration box" that will appear on every page with links to pictures that are relevant to or inspired the design. Perhaps they'll inspire you to build your own model.

The Inspiration box - Layout planning and design resources. My personal favourite sites about the design an operation of small layouts.

Micro/Small Layouts for model railroads
- Carl Arendt's website. THE online reference for small model railways

Layout designs.com - Another well put together site full of interesting trackplans of varying sizes

Shunting puzzles - A website devoted to the puzzle layouts the "Inglenook" and "Timesaver".

My Approach
Layout design is a very personal thing. Everyone has their own approach and I am no different. You may even think mine a little unusual. Initially the designs come in the form of something I choose to call
"layout imaginings". I can see the layout or a scene on it in my minds eye. Often in very clear detail. This is generally the result of having been looking at pictures of railway scenes, wether it be in books or on the internet. There is so much inspirational material out there. Though I have been known to see an arrangement of buildings by the roadside as I've been out. Then for no apparent reason when I get home decide that the scene was suitable for a layout. Then I have to go back and take some photographs of the scene.
So once I have that "imagining" its important to get it down on paper as soon as possible so I don't forget it. I always keep a sketch book close at hand. If the design fires me up I'll work at it a bit more. If not I'll file it away for later.
This phrase "Layout Imaginings"
I didn't know what other word to use. I could have used "visions" but that makes me sound like some kind of psychic/clairvoyant. Which I don't think relevant for model railways. But to date every layout I've built has had its roots in some kind of "imagining". This view of Wold Farm Mushrooms is what started the development of that layout.
Working the design up.
Lets say I'm fired up by the sketch where do I go from after that?
I'll carry on with a few more sketches from other angles to get a feel for the whole thing. Everyone always said I was good at Art and I spent four years at Art College so drawing has been and always will be my first line of attack.
Sizing a plan
Something you'll notice on these designs is a lot of the time they aren't sized. At this stage of the design that's not really relevant. A six inch radius curve is just that, wether you model in Gn15 or On30. By the same token a PECO set track point is about 6 inches long it won't change length because you adapt a plan from Gn15 to 1:35n2. Building sizes are the things that change.
Once I decide on a scale/gauge combination then I'll decide on the size.
Look again to the right at the Wold Farm mushrooms sketch. You don't really need to know what size the model is. I decided to build it in Gnine but I could have just as easily opted for Gn15 or 0:16.5
Track versus scenery
I should make it quite clear that I am drven by the look of the layout. The scenery, setting and presentation of a layout. It is very unlikely that you will find designs consisting of boards crammed with track here. Though I do find inspiration in some of these "track heavy" designs and have reworked them to my own ends.
That is just a personal preference. I feel that a small layout has to work harder to keep either the operators or the viewers attention otherwise interest will fade quickly.
Careful design of the scenery and setting will keep peoples interest. Perhaps a train appears from around a building or is momentarily hidden from view by a lineside hut. Just like if you were stood at the lineside in real life.
Operating features are another good way to keep peoples interest up. An operating crane for example for unloading wagons. Even something as simple as working signals or doors that open and close as if by magic keep the interest.
Interesting settings and operating features will appear a lot in my designs here. I hope you'll like what you see here.
This is the final sketch of Wold Farm Mushrooms. I messed around with the shape to make it more interesting to look at. But all the elements that I wanted, the tunnel mouth and the LNER lineside hut are still there. The only reason I drew an accurate trackplan for this layout was that it was being entered in the rmweb competition which dictated that the layout had to be under 6 square feet. With such a weird and wonderful shape I had to make sure I was within the limits. Otherwise I would have reached into my store of pink foam offcuts, thrown some bits of track down and messed around until I came across a size I liked. It was also difficult to gauge the size of the layout with such a large feature as that tunnel mouth. I was afraid that being so large it would overpower the model. Luckily those fears were unfounded.
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