Sunday, March 8, 2020

Great Help for Designing and Building a Shelf Layout

Soon after taking down my large (17 by 21 foot) double deck (at one time triple-deck) layout, I joined three Facebook groups dedicated to shelf layouts—like the one I am building now.

My goal was to pick up some ideas, get some encouragement, maybe even show off a bit of my work.

Micro/Small layouts is a group is for anyone who doesn’t have a spare room or basement to devote to a layout. (Which isn’t me, but they still let me join.) People don’t need a layout to participate.

HO Scale Shelf Layouts defines a shelf layout as something that utilizes a narrow shelf of various depths and may or may not be supported by legs. It is linear in design and could be around the room or along the walls. (That is more like what I am doing.)

And Shelf Layouts, Switching Layouts and Layouts for Small Spaces is pretty much just what it says in the title.

It was a great decision to join, for the following reasons. 

First, it reminded me again of how great these Facebook groups are (even if you, like me, am ambivalent about Facebook and its growing power over our lives).

Unlike model railroad magazines, which only show the best layouts in North America (or other countries), Facebook groups are open to anyone of any skill. You get to see such a wide variety of modelling, from beginner to expert.

Everyone is welcome, in other words.

Second, model railroad magazines devote their precious real estate (pages) to finished layouts—you aren’t going to see lots of photos of layouts under construction. But Facebook enables people to post photos at all stages of the process. You can learn a lot by seeing benchwork!

Third, the modelling comes from all over—Canada, the U.S., the UK, Europe, Japan. It is great to see so many different styles.

Fourth, the groups allow people to ask questions. Some people show the space they have and ask others for ideas—and get them. And some modellers, like Rob Chant of The Journal of Model Railroad Design blog, post plans and suggestions on the Micro/Small Layouts group.

Fifth, what a creative bunch model railroaders are! Some of the layouts are just tracks in boxes. One folds down from the wall. 

Others are one switch, a spur and an industry—all the space someone had. Some people make intricately-detailed dioramas.

The need to build a layout of any size or kind is strong—and many people are up for the challenge, if the meaning of the word “layout” is stretched in different ways.

These groups (there may be others) have been very helpful and inspiring to me as I created my new Gateway Spur, an HO scale switching layout. You might enjoy them, too.