Evolution of a N Gauge - 3' x 5' Layout for the absolute beginner

Advanced Plan for the not so absolute beginner

Utilizing a hollow core door to the full

As this project has progressed over the last few months, it became clear that the original layout lacked a few features that I, and a few others, would like to see in an operations orientated layout. It also became clearer that one of the major stumbling blocks for the beginner was constructing the bench work.

This version of the Tutorial Layout (or A&PA Railroad as it is often referred to) overcomes the bench work issue by utilizing a standard Hollow Core Interior Door. Most people can locate one, locally, for a reasonable price, and a set of folding table legs will complete your basic foundation. The layer of foam is then laminated to the tabletop, as a basis for your layout. Doors come in various sizes, and this plan is designed for a door of 80" x 32". If you can’t find a door of that size, use a larger, not smaller, one. The extra area will enhance the scenery.

The extra length allows us to include two additional features, which greatly enhance both the operations and the scenic treatment of our layout.

  1. The yard has been expanded to include a turntable, locomotive inbound and outbound tracks, and both sanding and fueling facilities. In addition, the "Yard Lead" and the "Arrival/Departure" track are separate from the passing siding, which will greatly improve flexibility, and ease congestion on the main line.
  2. The Harbor has been moved outside the loop, and a car float dock has been added (the red tracks are on the barge), providing us with a dynamic and believable interchange point. If the barge is made removable it can act as active staging, by swapping out loaded barges. By moving the harbor tracks to the layout edge, we also eliminate the need to get ships under our bridges, leaving us with a much more believable river scene that can act as a source of water and power for our food processing plant.


 The heavy black line down the center of the plan is a scenic divider; it could be a double-sided backdrop or a row of tall structures. Either way it separates the two scenes and brakes up the basic oval shape. The transition is hidden, by forests on the harbor side, and by the overpass on the yard side of the divider.

This version of the plan would be ideally suited to DCC, so I have made no attempts yet to provide electrical blocks. I may do so in the future, however, as an example of using a combination of local and mainline cabs.

I hope that this version of the plan will interest those who have been looking for something a bit more advanced than the original. It is still suitable for beginners, in that it involves no grades, and can be built in manageable sections as time and funds allow. If you would like to build this layout, then go ahead, but please keep us updated of your progress at n_tutorial@onelist.com (Refer to the Index Page for subscription information).





Copyright © 1999 - 2000 – C. A. Roper

Last updated Tuesday, January 25, 2000

No part of this text or plan may be reproduced, in part or whole, other than as an aid to building a layout for your personal use, without the express permission of the author. For information or to give feed back contact caroper@iafrica.com.