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Caboose Park Portable O Scale Track Plan.

Caboose Park III

A Portable Version of the Layout Theme

Track Plans At A Glance

Layout Theme: Scenic Railroad
Layout Type: Portable
Size O: 8'x8'
Size S: 64"x64"
Size HO: 4'x4'
Scale: O, S, HO Scale
Era: 2000s
Turnouts: N/A
Min. Radius - O: 36"
Min. Radius - S: 24"
Min. Radius - HO: 18"

Article by: Jim Spavins
Published: October 18, 2016

This month will be Round and Round October - a series of four portable model railroads simply designed for trains to go around in circles. These plans are focused on building display layouts to go to train shows and feature highly detailed scenes.  Operations is a secondary priority.

For part three of the Caboose Park series, let's look at a handful of portable layout options. Since I don't yet have a permanent home to construct a layout, a portable layout offers several advantages to consider if a permanent home for a railroad isn't available.

First, the portable layout option allows for a test version of the layout theme. While the layout operations aren't quite the same as what can be obtained with a larger railroad, many of the construction needs - like types of equipment, structures, and scenery - would be similar. These portable layouts provide a test bed to try the construction techniques needed for the layout theme.

Second, many of the components which need to be built for the portable layout are also components which could be used for a future, larger layout. For example, all of the equipment used on a portable layout could be used on a future layout. The same would go for structures and details. Looking at the portable layout plans above and below, the station building could be re-used as well as the small cabin or houses. There would also be numerous figures and vehicles which could also be salvaged and recycled on a future railroad.

Third, the portable layout theme allows the layout to be shared with fellow hobbyists. If desired, the layout could be displayed at train shows and conventions. This would allow feedback to be received on construction techniques as well as share what has been learned building the layout.

Caboose Park portable layout in S scale

The 64"x64" S scale version of the portable Caboose Park layout theme. | Trackplans by Jim Spavins.

Tour Around the Railroads

As mentioned in the first two articles of this series (Caboose Park I, Caboose Park II), at its simplest form, the Caboose Park railroad theme needs a main station and a scenic run. This can be setup as a loop. A main station location needs to be included at some point along the mainline loop and the rest of the layout incorporates the scenic run.

All three versions of the layout shown here in the article feature a similar setup - a loop of track featuring a main station and a scenic run. For comparisons sake, I decided to look at three different scale arrangements - O, S, and HO. Each scale offers its own advantages and disadvantages.

The O scale version is comprised of four sections - each of which is 2'x6'. These are connected point to point to form an 8'x8' square. (See the Abingdon Branch plan for discussion on the benchwork.) The main station is on the right hand side of the plan and winds through the New England country side. The line passes a small cabin and over a creek on a plate girder bridge. This layout would allow for lots of detailing opportunities but take up the most room - both from a setup perspective when the railroad is running but also if it needs to put away for storage and when transported from place to place.

The S scale version is simply 33% smaller at 64"x64".  The sections are 16"x48" - a nice compact size for storage and transport.  Each of the sections is a rectangle which is a little easier to build than the six sides arrangement used for the O scale version of the layout.  The track plan is generally the same as the O scale version with a similar track arrangement and scenic treatment.

The HO scale version is built on two sections (4'x4') and again has the same track arrangement. The main difference is that the scenery fills the entire 16 square foot space instead of having an open center. The two sections reduces the amount of materials needed to build benchwork and reduces the number of breaks between sections from four to two. This helps increase reliability and simplifies the process of moving the layout from place to place. The reduction in size also makes transportation and storage of the layout substantially easier.

Caboose Park portable layout in HO scale

The 4'x4' HO scale version of the portable Caboose Park layout theme. | Trackplans by Jim Spavins.

Prototype Resources

For Track Plan Tuesday's, I am digitizing all of my old track planning notebooks and sharing the designs here on the website.  To see all the plans, visit the track plan home page at: jimspavins.com/jimstrackplans.

Caboose Park Case Studies

Evolution of a Layout Theme

Caboose Park I
Scale: O Scale          Size: 12'x18'

Caboose Park II
Scale: HO Scale          Size: 12'x18'

Caboose Park III
Scale: O Scale          Size: 8'x8'

Caboose Park IV
Scale: HO Scale          Size: 12'x12'

Caboose Park V
Scale: HO Scale          Size: 17'x22'