Shelf Layout Idea

Project, Trains

I’ve been mentally planning a shelf layout project for quite some time and I believe have even alluded to it on this very blog but never described it very much. Chris Mears’ posts on Location and Control are a large inspiration to post about it and hopefully start designing it in earnest.

The major inspiration is Lance Mindheim’s article in the May 2015 Model Railroader, the Los Angeles Junction shelf layout. The track plan is basically the same (some minor modifications and basically mirrored to fit my space).

As with the article layout it will be 12 inches deep (except the corner) and I’m a bit torn but currently leaning towards a backdrop and valance. I’m thinking of using track shelving but using the layout itself to hide them. The shelf itself will have a clean fascia that is stained to match the other trim in the room and will be tall enough to hide the shelving bracket. A bottom panel will be installed to hide the brackets from below and give it a cleaner look.

The valance will be basically the same except house some lighting for the layout. It will also be tall enough to hide the brackets. The tracks will not extend below the shelf or above the valence and between the two they will be obscured by a simple backdrop. I am looking to go with the forced perspective route so the trains are at eye level but since I have kids that would be interested in operating I’ll aim for a level that I can achieve sitting in a stool so it’s more feasible for the kids to see.

The plan with the fascia and valance are an attempt to basically make it more respectable since it’s not just a train room anymore but a regular room that also has some trains in the corner. This also means I won’t be able to dawdle with the scenery like I usually do.

The theme is winter in a somewhat city/industrial setting. I’m looking to achieve the a gray day where you get the feeling snow is imminent. Being Minnesota based and a fan of the DM&IR I’ll probably try to find some inspiration from Duluth. Unless luck is with me it will be a freelance location rather than a specific location.

This post has kind of been a big wall of text with no pictures which is a little different than my usual style. I plan to next start drawing some ideas for how the benchwork will be assembled and then (a little further out) in the future working on little display pieces to test scenery techniques and eventually building it.

One of the other things I want to try is more detailed track laying, I’ve spent far too much time staring at Proto87 track with the tie plates. At least one of my display tests will give it a try.

See more posts about this project here.

7 thoughts on “Shelf Layout Idea

  1. I don’t share this to discourage, only to educate. Check out Greg Amer’s trials and tribulations with Proto87, especially turnouts, flangeways and wheelsets. Seems everything has to be just perfect to be reliable.

    1. I’ll check the blog out but I appear to have thought one thing and implied another.

      My intention was to use Proto87 stores tie plates and ties on regular track and fast track built turnouts. In other words take some cues from P87 in track detailing not going full bore fine scale

  2. I liked that LAJ plan too. It speaks to my minimalist tendancies in layout design and its ability to use the space to tell the story of that spur, beyond just the turnouts.

    Where Mindheim has popularized plans like these using the locale he draws so much inspiration from I find I tend to equate the two together and it had never occurred to me (painfully, embarrassingly, obvious now) how it could be cast against so many alternate locations. Bringing it north is neat.

    I like the idea of setting it in a cooler time of year. Winter layouts are already thin on the ground but I don’t recall ever seeing one set in an urban environment. I already like the way that plans, like these, encourage the operator to incorporate more steps from the real thing and adding a few more challenges from when the ground is frozen would be interesting.

    Looking forward to seeing where this goes.


    1. I’ve always wanted to do winter (I’m a bit crazy in that I typically enjoy snow) but I don’t know if you remember this part from the plan there was a bit of abandoned track along the longer part of the L. My idea was to have it be abandoned from an industry standpoint but not by the railroad as it makes a convenient place to park non-revenue equipment like a snowplow or MOW equipment. It won’t be connected to the track or be live but will be a place to park MOW equipment as dynamic scenery as it’s easy to swap out a spreader with a russel plow or crane etc between sessions.

      This gives me a place to park all that MOW type equipment that I want but don’t really need 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.