Givens and Druthers
#1
This is the “Givens and Druthers” that the late John Armstrong used when designing layouts for people. It’s a very useful way to clarify your thoughts about what you want to do with your model railroad.

Givens and Druthers

(Railroad Name)
Scale:
Gauge: (Std, Narrow)

Prototype: (the railroad you want to model)

Era:
Region:
Railroad:

Space:

Describe Space e.g. basement. Provide diagram showing Overhead clearances and any obstructions or limitations.

Governing Rolling Stock: (Biggest planned)

Relative Emphasis: (move the V)

|______________________V_______________________|
Track/Operation .................................................. ..Scenic realism
|_________________________V____________________|
Mainline Running .................................................. ........ Switching

Operation Priorities: (rearrange as required)

1. Passenger Train Switching
2. Helper District Operations
3. Main-Line Passenger Train Operation
4. Long Freight Train Operations
5. Engine Terminal Movements
6. Local Freight Operations

Typical operating Crew: ______

Eye Level (Owner) ___In.



Add to this any features required or intolerable (e.g. duckunders, multiple levels).
David
Moderato ma non troppo
Perth & Exeter Railway Company
Esquesing & Chinguacousy Radial Railway
In model railroading, there are between six and two hundred ways of performing a given task.
Most modellers can get two of them to work.
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#2
John Armstrong's form covers most of the information that a layout planner needs. There may be a lot more that could be added -- the experience and skill of the builder. Special information, say, that the layout will be operated from a wheelchair, should be added at the bottom.
Examples of the form and the layouts produced from it can be found in most of Mr. Armstrong's books.
David
Moderato ma non troppo
Perth & Exeter Railway Company
Esquesing & Chinguacousy Radial Railway
In model railroading, there are between six and two hundred ways of performing a given task.
Most modellers can get two of them to work.
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#3
Guys,

Time and again I see and read where a modeler bites off more then he can chew while following guide lines found in a layout book or the newest MR catch phrase "Dream,Plan Build...Bigger is not always better.

What happens?

Simple most throw their hands up in disgust,some even quit the hobby...


What to do?

Realize your limitations and go from there and plan your layout accordingly and realistically based on your limititions,space hobby funds,skills and allotted time and then follow the advice given by John Armstrong.
Larry
Engineman
SSRy

“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.
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#4
I would add to what Brakie has said by advising anyone who has a club nearby to join, even if only temporarily. I was frustrated in planning various layouts because I always seemed to have less space than I needed for my "dream layout." Then I joined the modular club and discovered that I found running trains around a layout to be boring no matter how big the layout was, and we were 120 feet by 60 feet at the National Train Show last summer in Anaheim. I like switching industrial districts. My dream layout might be 60 feet by 120 feet of industrial districts, like Josh's MET, but I can spend hours switching on a 2 foot by 12 foot shelf, so I came to the conclusion that a big room full of track and trains just isn't for me. I would never have found that out without operating on a large club layout, whether a modular layout that is set up differently every time out, or a permanent club layout.
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#5
I guess the expression, experience is the best teacher, really applies here. There's no question that being part of a club, fixed or modular layout, will help the individual decide on whether they like "operation", or running a train on a loop of whatever size.
The experience will also give insight to what we do not want to have or do, including things like "duckunders", hard to reach "problem" track, scenes that just don't work, etc.
With a modular layout, there's the probability that operators will have to take turns on the layout. One of the members of Lake County Society of Modular Engineers, has several modules that make up a yard. He spends his "off layout" time, making up the train he will run, "when his turn comes up". He gets the switching operation, and the "run through", both.
With the experience gained form club membership, the "Givens", and the "Druthers" can more easily be determined, and set down as the guidelines for planning the personal layout. The "givens", being the physical.....size, shape, cost, accessibility, etc.. the "druthers", being what you want to do, within the limitations of the "givens".
Experience? check.
Givens? check.
druthers? check. Now, where's that track planning guide, CAD program, it's time for the nuts and bolts!
We always learn far more from our own mistakes, than we will ever learn from another's advice.
The greatest place to live life, is on the sharp leading edge of a learning curve.
Lead me not into temptation.....I can find it myself!
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#6
A couple of thoughts:

Armstrong omits personal preferences or standards that often become drivers in the layout design. One example is choice of uncoupling method. Using skewers or similar "reach in" devices exclusively for uncoupling really impacts (or should impact) the layout design. Skewer uncoupling pretty much eliminates an eye-level high layout. Even at chest height, reaching across main lines to uncouple cars on a spur can be detrimental to trains passing by on the main. Vertical scenery (tall buildings, etc) can also challenge one's ability to uncouple at the desired location.

The choice of Sergent couplers, with having to ensure an open knuckle and possibly align knuckles for coupling, again dictates easy access to coupling (as well as uncoupling) locations. OTOH, automatic couplers such as Kadee or MT don't couple very well on curves. The LDSIG guidelines say you need the curve radius to be about 5 times the car length for reliable automatic coupling.

Delayed action uncoupling usually requires 2 car lengths of straight track to work reliably.

Where spurs or switching locations connect to a main that is not level requires a system to hold in place the portion of the train left on the main while the rest is switching. This is not always a trivial task. The easy way out is to have track level in all places where coupling/uncoupling and spotting of cars is going to take place. But this can drive layout design significantly.

How turnouts are thrown is another driver of location of spurs and sidings. Manual throws attached to the turnouts have the same limitations as reach-in uncoupling.

The choice of walk-around or central control (if pre-determined) is going to drive the capability to conveniently conduct switching operations at various locations around the layout.

Finally, I like to think in terms of longest train lengths during the design process. The longest train length drives passing siding length, staging siding length, distance between towns, yard drill track length, yard departure/arrival track length, and the length of some yard tracks, too. Failure of any of these to be long enough will create permanent operational bottlenecks, or restrict the longest train length to shorter than anticipated.

Fred Wright
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#7
I think people sometimes forget to consider realistic time and money budgets. While we're encouraged to "dream big", not everybody has the resources to build ginormous, complex layouts. And if you do have the cash and time, do you have the additional time and energy to maintain the layout?

MRRing is great but it's not the only thing in (my) life and resources are finite.
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#8
jcj380 Wrote:I think people sometimes forget to consider realistic time and money budgets. While we're encouraged to "dream big", not everybody has the resources to build ginormous, complex layouts. And if you do have the cash and time, do you have the additional time and energy to maintain the layout?

MRRing is great but it's not the only thing in (my) life and resources are finite.

I totally agree. Time. You may have the motivation, but if you lack time, you can't accomplish nothing. I only recently discovered how this factor should always be on top to be sure you get the satisfaction to "finish" what you start.

Matt
Proudly modelling Quebec Railway Light & Power Company since 1997.

Hedley-Junction Club Layout: http://www.hedley-junction.blogspot.com/

Erie 149th Street Harlem Station http://www.harlem-station.blogspot.com/
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#9
Actually I think this subject is bigger than one might think at first glance.....time,space,budget,experience, personel preferences are all things that are influenced by a myriad of factors. From my own personal experience my own personel rule when layout building is..." Less is more". By that I mean....for example, smaller baseboards are better than big baseboards, a smaller overall layout( that can be expanded in the future) is better than trying for a basement empire all at one go. Less trackwork in a given space is very often better than dense trackwork in the same space ( on many levels, from tracklaying,to ballasting to operating to electrical/mechanical faults)....etc. Etc......but thats just me.....I really think though that too often new folks just getting into the hobby get sucked into the build it big mentality and end up getting overwhelmed and leaving the hobby.
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#10
Genetk44 Wrote:Actually I think this subject is bigger than one might think at first glance.....time,space,budget,experience, personel preferences are all things that are influenced by a myriad of factors. From my own personal experience my own personel rule when layout building is..." Less is more". By that I mean....for example, smaller baseboards are better than big baseboards, a smaller overall layout( that can be expanded in the future) is better than trying for a basement empire all at one go. Less trackwork in a given space is very often better than dense trackwork in the same space ( on many levels, from tracklaying,to ballasting to operating to electrical/mechanical faults)....etc. Etc......but thats just me.....I really think though that too often new folks just getting into the hobby get sucked into the build it big mentality and end up getting overwhelmed and leaving the hobby.

Gene, all we hear about is the success story of some large layouts... but you rarely hear about the majority failing. Funny we call them "dream layout" because it's really what they are to most people: dreams. Each time I see some guy wanting advice about a track plan, most people start to fill every empty space with new track, industries and such. Poor guy, he's just starting in the hobby and we make sure he will never grasp anything. As good as dumping someone in stormy sea believing he'll learn to swim! Good luck!

There's no fun in playing a game in which you never win a match. It's fun to have a worthy opponent or a good challenge, but at some point, you get satisfaction from achieving something and moving forward. Trying to build 50 locomotives, 500 cars, 260 square feet of scenery and building an entire town is something out of range for most people. You never finish anything, feel no sense of satisfaction and start to doubt yourself and your skills. A really slippery slope... I restarted to have fun in this hobby when I cast away my improbable dream and focus my energy on a few very things that meant a lot to me. So yes, less is more... and I would say: less is more time and resources to make things right.

Matt
Proudly modelling Quebec Railway Light & Power Company since 1997.

Hedley-Junction Club Layout: http://www.hedley-junction.blogspot.com/

Erie 149th Street Harlem Station http://www.harlem-station.blogspot.com/
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#11
Less is more? I see a lot of people on here building small layouts that are works of art, and then get tired of them right away and rip them up and start over to build a different one. To me this is a waist of time effort and money. A long time ago I decided I wanted a large layout that more than one person could operate on. I made no plans for an entire layout but built scenes I liked on modules with folding legs that could be stored until a permanent space became available. Each year I built what my time and hobby budget could afford. Today I have a 70% complete layout that a club operates on Wednesday nights. All my time and money spent is still there. Model Railroading to me was always looked at as a lifetime hobby and not something that had to be finished in a set time.
Robert
Modeling the Canadian National prairie region in 1959.
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#12
Prairie Trains Wrote:Less is more? I see a lot of people on here building small layouts that are works of art, and then get tired of them right away and rip them up and start over to build a different one. To me this is a waist of time effort and money. A long time ago I decided I wanted a large layout that more than one person could operate on. I made no plans for an entire layout but built scenes I liked on modules with folding legs that could be stored until a permanent space became available. Each year I built what my time and hobby budget could afford. Today I have a 70% complete layout that a club operates on Wednesday nights. All my time and money spent is still there. Model Railroading to me was always looked at as a lifetime hobby and not something that had to be finished in a set time.

Robert...each to their own and you are entitled to your opinion. What I found interesting in your comment where these 2 phrases.... "A long time ago I decided I wanted a large layout......" And " Today I have a 70% complete layout....." Which is all fine and good...that is your modelling philosophy and if it suits and makes you happy...great.

And others do like to build a layout to completion,operate it for a short time and then either sell/give it away or rip it up and start a new layout....so what is wrong with that? If it is the way they get pleasure from the hobby who are we to judge?

However my comment was directed at the idea that we have, especially in N. America in particular, as the only way to enjoy the hobby is to build a huge basement layout....when in fact there are multiple ways to enjoy the hobby. Lets not forget also, some people, no matter how motivated they may be to have a really big layout may be constrained by lack of available space, even if they have the time,energy and or money.

In my particular case, as in so many, I started with a 40ft long by 2.5 ft wide around 3 walls baseboard....I got the track down ,wired and ballasted and then realised it was going to be at least 2 more years of work on scenery and details before it would be anything close to scenic completion....it overwhelmed me and I was ready to give up...until I met Shortliner,Chris Ellis and Model Trains International and they taught me about small,compact, manageable layouts. That saved the day....instead of being overwhelmed I now saw a way to accomplish all my various goals in the hobby....from building baseboards and models to wiring,scenery,weathering and yes operations....and the small switching layout I built all those years ago is still the one I operate today. If I want something bigger I go to my local club. So yes, less can very well be more.
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#13
Well said, Gene - I proudly admit to being a serial layout builder - I enjoy building layouts to see if I can improve them and make them work more efficiently - and then get intrigued by another track design/layout/idea/way of doing something, and go off to explore new paths/ideas. It keeps the hobby fresh for me
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#14
It's a bit surprising to see that it has been almost SEVEN years since my last post here ! Eek

During that seven years, I have come to accept that my hobby isn't "model railroading" but model building. Ships, Planes, Sci-Fi, Scenery, Rockets, Rolling stock, trees, shrubs, detailing ........ and on, and on.
Every "big" thing, like a layout, involves just about all those things.

I settled on modules, for two basic reasons.
Each module is a small space, that can be detailed extensively, and is limited to just what track-work will exist in that space.
In my modular choice there are only two tracks required, to be able to connect with other modules in the group. Once the 2' X 4' module, with the two mainline tracks, end to end, is built, any other additions/modifications to it, are a personal choice. ( [i]I chose to go 30" X 4', to increase water area[/i] )
The lower level, dual gauge loop ( Standard , and 3' ) was my choice, as it added some extra bridges. The "Waterfront"/ harbor concept gave me space for displaying my "other hobby" model ship building.
The upper level "required" track, and the lower level "optional track" can be seen here, with SHS & D 3' gauge 2-4-4-2, with a box car and Caboose crossing the rolling lift bridge, over the Kennequogue River.
   
Yes, the bridges are all kits, most all of them "modified slightly", and there is 7-1/2 scale Acres of water....and.... yes I grew up very close to water, and boats, and then spent 20 years U.S.Navy. My two tours of duty in Maine, was the inspiration for the "waterfront scenes".
I recently saw an article about Pete Seeger's "Clearwater", a Hudson River Sloop, going through maintenance including the replacement of some hull planks. I had the rare opportunity to watch her construction, launch, and departure on her maiden voyage. It's personal experiences like those, that I can draw on for modelbuilding "inspiration".
Modules at show:
   

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We always learn far more from our own mistakes, than we will ever learn from another's advice.
The greatest place to live life, is on the sharp leading edge of a learning curve.
Lead me not into temptation.....I can find it myself!
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#15
We all seem to fall into the same dilutional trap where we think bigger is better and then find we have a hard time coming to our scences. 35
Lynn

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Great White North
Ontario,Canada
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