Copyright 2001 T. Sheil & A. Sheil  All Rights Reserved

All Gauge Model Railroading Page

Building a Layout on a Budget

Gradual Expansions lets you build great layouts without breaking the bank!

Most of the layout books and basic manuals out there treat layouts as if they must be completed as one unit.  For the budget-minded O gauger, that can be expensive.  Good switches are expensive, and some types of O track are themselves rather pricey. You might think you are stuck with what you can afford now.  Would things not be better if you could expand gradually, as funds allowed?

Indeed you can!  This section has eight different plans of expansion for you.  Each is a series of layouts that can be expanded gradually without stopping you from running your trains.  They are easy to build, fun to run, and can be expanded as time, money and convenience permit.  By having a look at the final plan, you can start some scenery new where it will not be uprooted with further track expansion.  Likewise, you can eventually grow your layout fro ma simple set of loops to a feature-filled railway as intense as any that might be available on a big budget.  You do not have to save up and store goods until the big day when you have everything.  You can start enjoying your layout right now and keep using it even as you add track and accessories.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. All you need is a starter train set a a few extra pieces of track to get a good start
  2. Go through the layouts listed here and find one that you like
  3. You do not have to build the whole thing to the end.  You can stop expanding whenever you want.
  4. Not all layouts are shown in step-by-step format.  Some show two or more additions in one frame.  Look at them, break them down and decide which addition you want to add first.
  5. Look at the final layout to see which parts of the layout will not be changed by expansion and additional track.  You can work on scenery there now, without worrying that it might be uprooted later.
  6. 027 track is printed in brown, O track in grey, and MTH track in blue.  Some layouts use O and O27 mixed.
  7. In layouts using different sizes of curves, look carefully.  42" curves are wider and come 12 sections to the circle, 6 to the half circle and 3 to the quarter.  O and O276 curves come 8 to the circle, 4 to the half and 2 to the quarter.
  8. O switches' switch motor boxes may look like they are laying on track.  These boxes can be moved to either side of the switch.  The same is not true for all brands of 42" and O27 switches.
  9. O switches, 42" switches and O27 switches all look different in the illustrations.
  10. Track is more flexible than our layout program, so places where it look like track don;t exactly fit are really places where it can fit properly.
  11. Do not tack down all of your track.  Tack down a few pieces to start, making sure they are not pieces that will be replaced as you expand.  Likewise, do not tack down track adjacent to pieces that will be removed.
  12. These track plans are not written in stone, so adapt them as you see fit  After all, it is your railroad!
  13. Several plans here can lead to more than one finished layout.  Some have two or three possible completed track plans.  
  14. It is possible to adapt O27 plans to O by using O track, and reverting O plans to O27 by using O27 track.  Some plans can be reduced or enlarged easily, while others require a bit more effort.
  15. 42" curves are available in sizes for both O and O27 track  They are also available for MTH track systems.

The Layouts

Click each of these to see the layouts

1) Basic two-loop O27 track plan with reversing siding

2) Simple plan using O27 track and expanding the layout with O-31.  

3) Great O-31 layout with plenty of action and intriguing possibilities for expansion

4) Gently expanding O plan using MTH track, can also use O-31

5) Pleasant little O27 plan that includes 42" curves.

6) O-31 layout that adds 42" curves and very easy expansion

7) Nice O-31 plan with some O27, great for trolleys, streetcars and small trains!

8) Nifty O27 railway for trolleys, interurbans and small freight drills

9) Fun-filled, affordable layouts using only 42" curves

10) Those 42" layouts above expand easily into these great pikes

11) Here are layouts that use 54" curves for fine low-cost layouts.

12) Point-to-point layouts for a 4' by 8', for all kinds of railroading.

13) More point-to-point layouts offering a variety of action.

14) Extend the #13 Point to Point Layout to 12 and 16 feet of  action

15) Try adding to Layout #13 in another direction. Here are some fascinating track plans!

16) Using the layouts described in #12 above, we get massive layouts planned for the budget hobbyist.

17) Taking the layouts in #16, we make great long railways with many operational challenges

18) A great layout that starts with a dogbone

19) Fantastic layout with a wide dogbone at the center

20) This layout is only 3 feet wide - lots of train action for a tight space.

21) This massive O-72 layout has lots of action

22) Here we have taken to O-72 Layout to the extreme, a 25' by 25 masterpiece railway

Click here to return to O Gauge on a Budget

Click here to go to Classic Layouts for O and O27

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