Model Railroading: Where Do I Put A Layout?

Model Railroading: Where Do I Put A Layout?

Some advice for those model rails who are married and/or are raising a family

A reader left an interesting comment at my last article here about model railroading with a lack of space.  Just give up some of the living room, he opined, and viola, there is a space for your train.

If you are a bachelor, that will work just nice.  If you are married, however and/or are raising a family … well, here’s a story:

I will not ever forget an amusing exchange which took place between a young husband-wife couple at the Princess Depot in Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis one summer Sunday afternoon.

After mooning over one of my O-scale trains by MTH set up on the north portico as an extra attraction for visitors, the husband said to his wife “This would look great in our living room.”

“Basement.” She replied with a laugh.  “Okay, the basement,” he replied with unchecked enthusiasm.

Yes, folks, the chances are remote if you can set up a train permanently in the living room.  At Christmas time under a tree?  Sure.  But if you want a more permanent train layout, find a dedicated space, and fewer places are better-suited for model trains than a well-built basement.

The advantages are threefold:

-They are “out of the way.”

-They are in a dedicated place.

-They make the basement attractive!

Granted, homes with full-sized basements would be the best choice for a train layout due to how “walk-out” basements are geared more for entertainment space than a hobby room, so you might have to stick that train in a back room if you have one to spare in a walk-out basement. 

Don’t have a basement because the ground won’t allow it?  Try seeing if there is a room which could at least partly be spared for a modest model railroad if not a decent-sized one, or if you have the bongo bucks and space, add a dedicated train room to your house.  It all depends on the type of house you live in and the scale of trains you got.  Maybe a large walk-in closet if your trains are, say, N or Z scale? Maybe even the attic would do, but be careful before putting a “pike” there: the sloping roof angle can cause problems if you are trying to build an “around the room” wall-mounted pike instead of one on a dedicated tabletop!

And there you have it, some ideas as to where to permanently set up your train at home if you are married and/or have a family.