RE: Planning an attic dedicated to model railroad

#1 von mcsjohn , 28.01.2020 19:54

Hello all,

First of all let me apologies for writing in English, but I prefer this than translating to German with Google Translate. I hope this will not be an inconvenient as I am looking forward for your ideas.
Together with my wife we have decided for almost an year that we should dedicate most of our attic to a model railroad thus fulfilling a dream I had since childhood . Now I want to start the planning and after reading a lot of topics on the forum I have decided that I need your help and experience into overcoming the constraints of the space.
The space is an attic (total area about 50 sqm), currently used as storage, with sloped roof from a height of 1.3 m upwards. It has an appendix to it on one side which can be used also. The access to the attic is via a retractable stair from the floor below. There is a dry wall in the middle masking the supports of the roof (now I am wondering why we did a wall and not just mask the supports). The windows should not be permanently blocked and here I thought maybe I could build the model railroad above them, even if it will be on a bigger height. There are 4 doors in the side walls, close to the corners which cannot be permanently blocked also. An additional restriction is that there is a very long Ikea shelf which you will see in the pictures which will also have to stay in place but maybe we can build on top of it using it also like a baseboard (shelves are adjustable, so top ones can be lowered).
My first idea for the form of the layout is to be around the room, but I am open to any other proposal.

I have a long wish list but I am worried that it is just a beginner mistake or the enthusiasm of the beginning...

Please find below the filled in questionnaire and at the end some plans and pictures of the space (please excuse the mess in the pictures, but as I said we currently use the space as storage).

Looking forward for your creative ideas!
Thank you

1. Titel

2. Spurweite & Gleissystem
HO, Tillig Elite

3. Raum & Anlage
3.1 Raumskizze, evtl. auch Bilder davon
Below some pictures and plans of the space
3.2 Anlagenform (L, U, Rechteck, An der Wand entlang...)
Due to space layout, probably along the wall, but I am open to any idea
3.3 Anlagengrösse oder verfügbare Fläche im Raum
All room, restrictions to take into consideration: windows, doors, the stair, the slope of the roof

4. Technisches
4.1 Modellbahn vs. Spielbahn
4.2 Hauptbahn und/oder Nebenbahn
Open for ideas, probably both
4.3 Mindestradius (sichtbar / verdeckt)
Considering I would like to have some long cars, most preferable is to have R4/R5 equivalent curves in the visible area.
For the concealed areas I would go down to R2.
4.4 Maximale Steigung
4.5 Maximale Zugslänge
About 2 m, especially visible on a main line/parade track.
4.6 Anlagentiefe (minimal, maximal)
No preference. Maximum limited just by the low height on the slope.
4.7 Eingriffslücken / Servicegang
4.8 Anlagenhöhe der Hauptebene
If layout is around the room, the space close to the middle wall should remain unused.
4.9 Schattenbahnhof / Fiddle Yard
Any. In an extreme situation for parking the trains even the space behind the walls can be used.
4.10 Oberleitung ja / nein

5. Steuerung
5.1 Fahren analog oder digital
5.2 Steuern analog oder digital
Digital, Z21
5.3 PC-Steuerung

6. Motive
6.1 Epoche
V - VI
6.2 Bahnhofstyp(en)
1 or even 2 main stations (maybe one through and one terminus) with multiple platforms. 1-2 secondary "small" stations (through).
6.3 Landschaft
6.4 Szenerie (Stadt, Vorstadt, Land; Industrie, Gewerbe)
City like close to the main station(s), country side/mountain the rest (maybe just hill due to height limitation). A small industrial zone somewhere.
6.5 Bw (Bahnbetriebswerk), Lokeinsatzstelle (Kleinst-Bw)

7. Sonstiges
7.1 Vorhandene Fahrzeuge
7.2 Vorhandener Gleisplan (eigener, Link zu anderen)
7.3 Betrieb als Einzelspieler oder zu mehrt
My wife is very supportive, so 2
7.4 Budget
7.5 Zeitplan
I am not in a hurry, but would like to start building soon. It is a hobby which I think can keep us occupied for years to come.

8. Anhänge



A picture from construction time

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RE: Planning an attic dedicated to model railroad

#2 von ET 65 , 28.01.2020 22:24

Hello Marius,

welcome to the planning forum.

That seams to be a lot of space for a layout. I do not want to destroy your plan but I want you to consider some aspects you will find here. Unfortunately these thoughts are in German. Maybe you use a translator like deepl.com (or what do you prefer?).

Some thoughts on your information in the questionnaire:

I agree with you if you choose a layout along the wall. It should be the best. Layout as a dog bone or a circle? In case of a dog bone you need one area where you have a full circle for changing the direction. With radius 3 + 4 (I prefer even a larger one with minium 600 mm because of Weinert or Model Loco steam locomotives) you need minium 120 cm for diameter which can be placed half a meter in front of the double windows.

And these windows are the main problem. They need cleaning and maintanance. I do not want to cover them.

Ah, yes, covering is another thing I want to point out. All parts of the layout (frame, plates, simply everything) must pass through the floor hatch. The IKEA shelf may give you an idea what you are trying to do.

And the IKEA shelf could be part of the layout or the basis for lowest level.

What you should consider beside your plan is having progress. What I want to tell you it is better to go on step by step and be successful than trying to build the whole layout at once.
If you do not have any expirience in building a layout of digital it makes sense to focus on a test layout at first.

Good luck



Hallo Marius,

Willkommen zum Planungsforum.

Das scheint eine Menge Platz für ein Layout zu sein. Ich möchte Deine Planung nicht zerstören, aber ich möchte, dass Du einige Aspekte berücksichtigst, die Du hier findest. Leider sind diese Gedanken auf Deutsch. Vielleicht benutzt Du einen Übersetzer wie deepl.com (oder was bevorzugst Du?).

Einige Gedanken zu Deinen Angaben im Fragebogen:

Ich stimme Dir zu, wenn Du ein Layout entlang der Wand wählst. Es sollte das beste sein. Layout als Hundeknochen oder als Kreis? Im Falle eines Hundeknochens benötigst Du einen Bereich, in dem die Züge einen Vollkreis zur Richtungsänderung haben. Bei Radius 3 + 4 (ich bevorzuge sogar einen größeren mit mindestens 600 mm wegen Weinert- oder Model-Loco-Dampflokomotiven) benötigst Du mindestens 120 cm Durchmesser, der einen halben Meter vor den Doppelfenstern platziert werden kann.

Und diese Fenster sind das Hauptproblem. Sie müssen gereinigt und gewartet werden. Ich würde sie nicht abdecken.

Ach ja, das Abdecken ist eine weitere Sache, auf die ich hinweisen möchte. Alle Teile der Anlage (Rahmen, Platten, einfach alles) müssen durch die Bodenluke hindurchgehen. Das IKEA-Regal gibt Dir vielleicht eine Vorstellung davon, was Du vorhast.

Und das IKEA-Regal könnte Teil des Layouts oder die Unterlage für die unterste Ebene sein.

Was Du neben dem Plan beachten sollten, ist, dass Du auch Fortschritte machst. Was ich Dir sagen möchte, ist, dass es besser ist, Schritt für Schritt vorzugehen und Erfolge zu haben, als zu versuchen, das gesamte Layout auf einmal zu bauen.
Wenn Du keine Erfahrung mit der Erstellung eines digitalen Layouts habst, ist es sinnvoll, sich zunächst auf ein Testlayout zu konzentrieren.

Viel Erfolg!


Übersetzt mit www.DeepL.com/Translator (kostenlose Version)

Tried to reduce to the max Ich weiß, nicht immer einfach, aber einfach kann ja jeder.
Was noch fehlt? "Ein Sack voll Zeit"

ET 65
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RE: Planning an attic dedicated to model railroad

#3 von memento , 29.01.2020 00:01

Hi Marius,

welcome to the forum.

I know that Heinz (ET 65) is very experienced in planning layouts, especially big / complex ones, so his advice should be very helpful for you.

Myself I am more the small or even micro layout builder. Now I am about to start building a modular layout and when I saw the pictures of your attic, that's actually exactly what came to my mind ... you said you are a beginner, and also the space you have available just "screams" modular layout to me. Your space is long, narrow, and also at least where the long shelves are, you can't really go multi-level. That all is the perfect environment for railway modules ...

You could begin with a "dogbone" style layout comprising of three modules. Two modules = two loops (left and right, obviously ) and the center module, maybe (for a start) 2-3 metres long, would be your first station. Nothing would keep you from adding some length for the "loop" parts to be able to use them as a fiddle yard as well.

Heinz is off course absolutely right that the loops should not be too tight. But on the other hand, you could make those "semi-permanent", just put some R2 and R3 set tracks together and you have a loop that is only about 1 metres wide. You can still go wider, or even remove the loops altogether, in future.

That center module with the station, however, would be permanent. Thise one does not need to be the biggest station ever – given that you have so much space / length available, your layout eventually will have at least 2 or maybe even 3 stations if it is finished ...

I see you live in Belgium? There is also a nice Benelux modelspoor forum:


I love steam trains from Belgium, the Netherlands and France, the only reason I did not join that forum some time ago is that it would severely distract me while building my German layout.


PS. Heinz' deepl translation looks remarkably good to me so I'll also give it a try below!


Hallo Marius,

willkommen im Forum.

Ich weiß, dass Heinz (ET 65) sehr erfahren ist in der Planung von Layouts, insbesondere von großen / komplexen, so dass seine Ratschläge für Sie sehr hilfreich sein sollten.

Ich selbst bin eher der kleine oder sogar Mikro-Layoutbauer. Jetzt bin ich dabei, eine modulare Anlage zu bauen, und als ich die Bilder Ihres Dachgeschosses sah, kam mir genau das in den Sinn ... Sie sagten, Sie seien ein Anfänger, und auch der Platz, der Ihnen zur Verfügung steht, "schreit" mir einfach nach einer modularen Anlage. Ihr Raum ist lang, schmal, und auch zumindest dort, wo die langen Regale sind, kann man nicht wirklich mehrschichtig arbeiten. Das alles ist die perfekte Umgebung für Eisenbahnmodule ...

Sie könnten mit einem "Dogbone"-Layout beginnen, das aus drei Modulen besteht. Zwei Module = zwei Schleifen (links und rechts, natürlich ) und das mittlere Modul, vielleicht (zunächst einmal) 2-3 Meter lang, wäre Ihr erster Bahnhof. Nichts würde Sie davon abhalten, den "Loop"-Teilen etwas mehr Länge zu geben, um sie auch als Fiddle Yard nutzen zu können.

Heinz hat natürlich völlig Recht, dass die Schleifen nicht zu eng sein sollten. Aber andererseits könnte man diese "semi-permanenten" Gleise machen, einfach ein paar R2- und R3-Gleise zusammensetzen und schon hat man eine Schleife, die nur etwa 1 Meter breit ist. Man kann in Zukunft noch breiter gehen oder die Schlaufen sogar ganz entfernen.

Das Mittelmodul mit dem Bahnhof wäre jedoch dauerhaft. Das muss nicht der größte Bahnhof sein, den es je gab - wenn man bedenkt, dass man so viel Platz / Länge zur Verfügung hat, wird Ihre Anlage irgendwann mindestens 2 oder vielleicht sogar 3 Stationen haben, wenn sie fertig ist ...

Ich sehe, Sie leben in Belgien? Es gibt auch ein schönes Benelux-Modellspoor-Forum:


Ich liebe Dampfzüge aus Belgien, den Niederlanden und Frankreich. Der einzige Grund, warum ich diesem Forum vor einiger Zeit nicht beigetreten bin, ist, dass es mich beim Bau meiner deutschen Anlage stark ablenken würde.


PS. Heinz' Deepl-Translation sieht für mich bemerkenswert gut aus, also werde ich sie auch unten ausprobieren!

Übersetzt mit www.DeepL.com/Translator (kostenlose Version)

Bf. Loitzerwald – oder: Wieviel H0 geht auf 120x30 cm?
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RE: Planning an attic dedicated to model railroad

#4 von E-Lok-Muffel , 29.01.2020 09:25

Hello Marius,

I also wellcome You to the Stummi-Forum.

Though the Translations above looks great I prefer to do my conversation in foreign languages myself, therefore I apologise for my mistakes in advance.

You want to build a modeltrain-layout in Your attic, what a great idea!
The attic looks pretty on the pics, very neat, if You have done that Yourself I have confidence, that You can build the layout the same way, neat, I mean, that is what Your wife will ask for! Every scrambeled wooden edge, every dangling cable will ruin the ambience!

Therefore I wil pledge for a layout which will blend within the room and does not consume such an amount of space than a Module-Layout.
I would prefer a layout that is limited to the long ikea shelf, You have here at least a length of nine Meters, sufficient for a vast station with platforms over 3 meters long.
Problem is, that the shelf seems too high to build the layout right onto it, so it has to cut down. Optimum for the main level would be 90-100 cm, so You have 30 cm of height for Buildings, trees and a vertical background-poster. Besides You have the opportunity to breakthrough the backwall, to keep the U-turns/loops at the ends of the layout not too wide and build the return-track behind the wall (simple circle-layout)
The lower the layout the more space You get behind the wall, even for separate storage tracks, one track 8 meters long can store up to three trains in a row... so one extra track for each direction can store 6 trains, if You also fill the run-thru-track You have capacity for 12 trains. For further storage You can use the wall in the middle, in form of storage-tubes like Train-safe, which are very nice for display aswell.

That are only my thoughts about Your space, You see everyone has a different point of view, so You can choose, what ideas You prefer...

kind regards

PS: I will not ad the same text in German, because its for Your eyes!

Meine MOBA-Mottos: "Freu(n)de beim Fahren" oder auch "De Zooch kütt"
mein Trööt: Im Rheintal ist es schön
und neu in der Planung: DEO

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RE: Planning an attic dedicated to model railroad

#5 von mcsjohn , 30.01.2020 07:23

Thanks for the warm welcome and your recommendations and suggestions

Heinz, thanks for the article on accessibility, it contains many of my concerns I already have and even more to consider. For sure I want to build it one step at a time, but what I want is to have a plan as clear as possible what I can do in the end. As I said I see this as a multi-year project. Of course I would conceive now might be changed in the years to come either by new ideas or due to restrictions not taken into consideration at the beginning.

Thomas, no I don't live in Belgium, but in Romania. The first color is blue not black Any way I also thought about modular but not in the sense of many small modules but to have some sections ready "to play" and to build step by step until the full layout. I am sure a beginner in large layouts because I never had the time and space needed for such.

uLi, I also think that the Ikea shelf should be lowered (cut the legs, remove some of the shelves), but going behind the wall on the back of the shelf is not so great because behind that wall are air conditioning installations for the rooms below and also the space as you can imagine gets lower and lower. For now I am able to crawl in there without issues, but with time, getting older I don't think I will be able to do it so much Train-safe on the middle wall

Looking forward for more ideas

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RE: Planning an attic dedicated to model railroad

#6 von memento , 30.01.2020 15:20

Hello Marius,

sorry for mistaking the colors of the flag. So my welcome goes to Romania instead

Yes, "modules" does not need to mean that they are really small, like that they even could be transported in a normal sedan car, or something like that.

But if you have such a great space available, it still can make sense to break down the project in some big "modules", like one station first, then build the next station later etc. Depending on the type of trains and traffic that you want to have on your layout (main line? branch line? modern times? old times ...?) and how "realistic" you want to go e.g. regarding the switches or the platform length, I reckon that a good-looking station will be anything between 2-3 and maybe 5-6 metres in length, in H0.

It is always nice if you can start operating the first parts of a big layout, even though many other parts are still not finished yet.

You say it is a multi year project and it is very good if you already think about the times where e.g. crawling under the layout will become a big annoyance. With 25 years you don't mind about crawling in many corners but that changes if you are older than 50 or 60 years

For example, if I had your space, I would also consider building an open fiddle yard on the same level than the rest of the layout. The fiddle yard does not need to be hidden under the layout. That makes troubleshooting so much easier!

Here's just one example that I found, where someone built an around-the-wall layout on one single level with an open fiddle yard:



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