How to Design Model Train Layouts: Tips and Techniques

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Duration: 3:02

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Designing and constructing an impressive model railroad is no easy task. It takes many years, much thought and plenty of patience to develop a layout that is both easy on the eye and well operated. Figuring out how to design model train layouts also takes learning from the innovative experts who have taken the hobby to all new levels, determining what what works for your specific preferences and what you want to avoid. In this lesson, host Allen Keller visited the workshop of master modeler David Barrow to get a behind-the-scenes tour of David’s layout of Cat Mountain & Santa Fe Railway and to discover how to design model train layouts like an expert.

How to design model train layouts

You may have learned in a previous video from our series with David Barrow that this expert modeler prefers to use module construction for his layouts, allowing him to modify and expand his railroad at any time. When you learn how to design model train layouts, you may decide to do the same, so it’s important to first map out your layout and then transfer it to the full-scale version.

To help you figure out how to design model train layouts, David walks you through a step-by-step demonstration for creating a scale drawing of a sample layout that utilizes modules. You’ll learn the proper technique for determining the size of your modules and the width of your aisles, as well as other important aspects for how to design model train layouts.

One of the major benefits of using module construction in designing a railroad is that you can always remove individual modules and make room for more. This allows you to experiment with different components in your layout, including various trackage, scenery and controls. With David’s expert tips for module construction, you’ll learn how to design model train layouts in no time!