Toy Train Layout for the Grandkids

When I found out my grandchildren were going to visit, I decided to throw together a little toy train layout for them to play with.

I went on eBay and found two Toys ‘r Us promotional Lionel train sets, one from 1982 with an operating Geoffrey car and one from 1992 with a nice illuminated caboose. Both sets, with shipping cost less than $100.

I used Lionel Fastrack for the outside loop and O27 tubular track for the inside loop (mainly resorted to the tubular track for accessory activation). The older set had a cam that attached to the track to operate the “ducking Geoffrey” and I added a 153c contactor to operate an early 1990s semaphore and dwarf signal. There are two manual switches on the O27 loop with an accessory on each route.

The Fasttrack loop has two O36 remote switches, and doesn’t have any operating accessories, but I added a K-Line whistling train station between the two switch routes. but I added a late 1990s Linex operating oil derrick and some yard lights to the table for interest.

I’ve got a bunch of Plasticville buildings that the kids can place wherever they want on the table (although with two different loops, there are more buildings than will fit). They love rearranging the city and transporting people (from a Safari Ltd. “Toob”) and cargo on the train cars from one side of the layout to the other.


Smith-Sherlock Store Has Old-West Charm

Smith-Sherlock General Store

Turn-of-the-Century Structure Exudes Old-West Charm

Perfect for Turn-of-the-Century Model Railroad Layout

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Smith_Sherlock general store, South Pass, Wyoming

If you are modeling a turn-of-the-century railroad, our free plans of the Smith-Sherlock store in South Pass, Wyoming are the starting point of a perfect structure for the commercial district. It exudes that old-west charm with its log construction on three sides and frame construction on the false-front facade. Even if the period of your model railroad layout is later, the store would be great as an abandoned building harkening back to an earlier era, or a museum (the use for which the real building is currently tasked).

Industrial Buildings Add Purpose to Model Rairoads

Put Your Model Railroad to Work Hauling Freight

Industry gives your model railroad purpuse

Grain elevators fit into almost any model railroad theme

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Armour’s Warehouse, a typical grain elevator.

To maintain a hobbyist’s interest, a model railroad layout must be about more than watching a toy train chasing its tail around an oval of track. Prototype railroads exist for a purpose: to move freight and passengers from one point to another. A model railroad designed to simulate the same purpose will be much more interesting, and more likely to remain an active part of a hobbyist’s leisure time activities. To simulate the movement of freight, a model railroad must have freight producers and freight consumers; in other words: Industry. But how do you decide what industry to model on your layout? Grain elevators can fit in just about any model railroad theme. Anywhere there is a flat patch of land, farmers will try to grow crops on it. And every region of the country is in need of a constant source of grain to feed its citizens. And when it comes to grain elevators, Armour’s Warehouse in Seneca, Illinois, the largest and oldest of the remaining grain elevators on the Illinois and Michigan Canal, provides an unmistakable silhouette. Grain elevators such as this one served as an “intermediary industry” between producers and consumers. They were storage facilities for grain brought by local farmers for shipment to large “terminal” elevators in major cities, which shipped to bakeries or packagers for smaller wholesale or retail quantities. Our Armour’s Warehouse Free Plans page offers high-resolution downloadable plans that can be printed out to any scale, giving the model railroader everything he needs for a scratch-building project that will make his or her model railroad layout stand out from the crowd.

Basic Model Railroad Types to Consider when Designing Your Track Plan

Model Railroad Layout Track Plans

Can Be Classified Into Three Types

Understanding Model Railroad Track Plan Types First Step in Designing Your Model Railroad Layout

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A point-to-point model railroad plan

Most model railroad sets come with a simple loop of track, which allows your train to run continuously, without your constant attention.

However, if you want to expand your model railroad layout, you may want to make some changes to the track to make it more interactive. To do this, it’s time to think about model railroad track planning.

When it comes to model railroad layout track plans, nearly all can be classified as one of three main types. Once you understand these basic types and the operational advantages of each, designing your own track plan becomes much easier.

Our Basic Model Railroad Types page shows examples and describes the pros and cons of each type.

Benchwork for Our O Gauge Model Railroad Layout

New Page Posted

Building Benchwork for Our
O Gauge Model Railroad Layout

in a Spare Bedroom

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Benchwork for an O Gauge Model Railroad layout.

After deciding where to build a model railroad layout, one of the next steps is to decide how to build your model railroad layout.
There are many styles of model railroad benchwork (the tables on which the model railroad track is laid), and we chose a simple, modular design that allows us to build it in a garage and simply assemble it in the spare bedroom.
Check out construction details of the benchwork for our O Gauge Model Railroad Layout in a Spare Bedroom.