Model Train Layouts & Track Plans

Home THE EYE - 3' x 5' N-scale Layout of Brian

One compact N-scale layout with 3 concentric ovals and shunting area in the center.


Scale & Size
Scale: N (1/160)
Size: Very Small
Dimen­sions: 153cm x 92cm; 60" x 36"; 5′ x 3′
Area: 1.41m2; 1.68yd2
Time & Theme
Epoch/Era: IV, V, VI / Modern
Theme: Fictional
Location: Somewhere in United States
Scene: Plain
Tracks & Route
Trackage: Bachmann N E-Z (Nickel-Silver)
Type: Closed Route
Line: Triple, with Branch(es)
Min. radius: 286mm; 11.3"
Max. grade: 2.5%
Turnout angles: 14° (#4)
Features & Control
Traffic: Passenger, Freight, Shunting/Switching
Power supply: DCC (JMRI)


I got back into model railroading after a long time (20 plus years), I read about it for a while and decided to take the plunge back into it after I received Bachman’s Golden Spike train set as a Christmas gift. I had expanded the set with some track on a table top and I decided it was time to take the next step and upgrade to a more digital version of DCC to take advantage of the more advanced decoders that I had installed in my Kato SD70MAC (Digitrax 144k1e) I was looking for a more economical solution to the DCC controller while still being able to program all the CV options offered by advanced controllers. After looking around on the internet I found the SPROG 3 DCC controller. For almost $100 less than the leading controller I was able to control and program all my trains at the same time. SPROG 3 requires a PC to run JMRI through the controller but I already had a PC lying around and it also allowed me to control my layout using my iPad with either VNC or through the WI Throttle app.

I had limited space but used SCARM to create a 3’x5’ setup for my layout. I used a standard 3% Styrofoam grade kit to create my hills and I’ve found that my Loco’s can pull around twelve to fifteen cars before they started to slip on the grade. I’ve had some issues with Bachman switches but I’ve found that a little filing to ensure they are perfectly flat resolves most issues with train derailment. I used Styrofoam, Spackle, and wall plaster patches to create the mountain and terrain. The materials that I used all came from a combination of my local hobby store, Home Depot, & Walmart’s craft section. I used fairly standard techniques and acrylic paint to create the various earth tones needed for the desired effect.

The layout consists of 3 lines in a simple circle with electrical isolators between each of the switches to avoid any short circuit issues. The switch line is also electrically isolated to avoid any issues, it was a little redundant but I wanted to be sure I didn’t have any issues. I ran 2 sets of feeders on opposite ends to ensure good circuit continuity and isolated one of the switch lines with a double pull, double throw switch for programming purposes. For the bridge portion I used 3 pieces of atlas track (5”) soldered together for appearance. I used an 1156 car light bulb to protect from short circuits by soldering it into the end of the circuit before I connected it to my SPROG 3.

Description by Brian Whitaker

Project: Operational Layout   
Author: Brian Whitaker   
Designed with: SCARM
Posted on: 30 Mar 2017
Views: 25215
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