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Industrial Branch 4x8 Track Plan

Industrial Branch

A Portable 4x8 Layout Doubling as a Module

Track Plan At A Glance

Layout Theme: Branchline
Layout Type: Module
Size: 48"x96"
Scale: HO Scale
Era: 1950s
Track: Code 100
Turnouts: N/A
Min. Radius: 15"

Article by: Jim Spavins
Published: December 8, 2015

The 4'x8' layout is ubiquitous among HO scale railroaders mostly due to the availability of plywood in that size.  Therefore, it is an easy way for most model railroaders to build their first layout.  It is also convenient for continuous running.  With 18" radius curves, a loop of track fits within the confines of this size layout with some extra room for sidings. 

This trackplan takes the 4x8 concept a little further.  Instead of a solid 4'x8' layout, this design is constructed using two 2'x4' end sections and two 1'x4' connecting sections.  This means the entire layout can be broken down into four parts and stacked easily in the back of a vehicle or trailer.  These sizes on their own are fairly manageable and legs are only required on the two 2'x4' sections.  Small brackets can be added to the 2'x4' sections so that the 1'x4' sections can be supported without legs.  Then, all the pieces can simply be bolted together to make one solid section.

One of the features that makes this layout unique is that it is designed for two uses.  As drawn, the layout could just be used as an independent model railroad, however, the tracks at the bottom of the design double as mainline tracks allowing this layout to also be used as a module.

The theme for the module is an industrial park branchline.  It serves a variety of industries including a heating oil dealer, factory, and team track. Because of the tight curves, small engines and shorter rolling stock are a must.  As drawn, the scenery on this module would be set somewhere in the eastern United States.  It can easily be adapted to other locations by changing the industries and the scenery.  The open areas in the middle of the layout can be disguised by using backdrops around the opening.  The problem with having backdrops is that viewers on the outside of the layout will not be able to see the backside of the layout when it is setup inside a layout.  One option would be to add another 2'x4' section in the middle that would be all scenery.  It should be removable so that an operator could still have access to the mainlines should a derailment happen.

When the layout is in use independently, a basic operational plan with a local switching the industrial park could be developed.  If the layout is used as a module - trains can be setup to run round and round to entertain the audience at a train show and when the operator wants a change - can switch out the industries before setting the train to go back round and round the layout again.

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.