You ONLY eat there?

Once upon a time we had neighbours who were passionate ballroom dancers. They were good too. They probably still are. I remember the stories of when they’d move all the living room furniture completely from the room so they could use the full floor to dance. I even remember, once, hearing a story of how they’d sold a pile of the furniture to make moving it out of the way easier – and therefore dancing too. It all seemed so wildly unconventional and was really the first time I had met someone who used their home as they needed to. This isn’t a story about prioritizing the use of space in the house but a vague attempt to say how, in terms of the home, I prefer a space that can be used for more than just one thing.

In my previous post I showed a couple of videos of FREMO modules built by the America-N club in Germany. I described renting a room in which to set up the modules. For that to work, I had to have somewhere to store railway between operating sessions. If I have the storage worked out, all that is really need is somewhere to set them up. That final space is really only something that you need when you’re actually using the layout. Could we just borrow that space from somewhere in the house while we’re between basements – so we can set up our miniature mainline and enjoy railroading on a bigger scale than just switching one town. To that end, I grabbed my trusty tape measure and went for a walk around the house.


Model Railroader magazine would often host a Layout of Month constructed in a spare bedroom. “Spare” either from a child who has just moved out or “spare” by design – we just bought one extra for the trains to grow up in. As often as I’ve read a great article about a nice layout created in this space I feel like I’ve read about how “something came up” and now the railroad was being dismantled and the owner was hoping he’d someday have the chance to build a new layout…if…and if…and if. We have a bedroom sort of like that right now. I’m reluctant to permanently install something there but the above drawing shows how a set of modules could be arranged to use the space around the perimeter of the room. Since the layout proposed is based on modules that can stand free of the walls and be moved or even put completely away between operating or work sessions it’s easier to propose something that blocks things like closet.

LayoutSpace0001Continuing to walk around the house, I arrived in the living room. We can’t offer to move the furniture from our living room but the next land of opportunity and promise I thought I could offer as a venue, in our home, was the dining room. With a bit of clever shifting to push tables and chairs to the walls, we could fill the biggest room in our house with FREMO modules.

Both layouts were proposed to host operating sessions with more than just one operator. Aisles become the great planning factors and it was those basic dimensions I laid out both of the above schemes. In the space not provided to the people, I placed the modules. Each concept might offer something for two to three operators. Unable to reach outside my comfort zone of small-scale railroading I proposed schemes where the operating session is focussed around the interplay between operators as they pass blocks of cars off between each other. I’ve shaded each operator’s territory in a distinct colour and then provided a bit more shading (in blue) to help show the room each operator might call his own without having to trip over the other guy. I was surprised by how much layout I could fit into these spaces. I tend to only think of my layouts as much smaller ones, in the more traditional and at least mostly-permanently installation style.

Have I found myself in this desire to build a large home layout? Not yet. This has been fun and I’m looking forward to where these thoughts could lead. It’s an enjoyable question.


This post is a part of a series of thoughts. Building a larger layout is still the dream of so many but I don’t believe we’re always blessed with the space to realise that dream. I started these posts as a means to work through some options. I never expect to break any innovative ground but just to think about it out loud. Read the other posts in this series by clicking on the “More than micro” category or, to the same effect, the link below:


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