LDSIG Primer


The Layout Design Primer is a collection of articles intended to assist the beginning to intermediate railroad modeler become familiar with today's layout design concepts and practices.

The layout designer must engage in a lot of "give and take" as a part of the layout design process, so personal preference plays a significant role. Be aware the Primer presents the opinions of the authors, and as such may sometimes present contrary views.

The articles in this Primer help further these important objectives of the LDSIG:

  • Prevent beginners from making the most common mistakes in first layouts,
  • Educate beginners about successful design alternatives for that first or second layout, and
  • Present the Layout Design SIG as a key source of advanced design information for the model railroader.

"To design is to plan and organize to order and relate and to control. In short it embraces all means opposing disorder and accident. Therefore it signifies a human need and qualifies man's thinking and doing."

- Joseph Albers


Writers are still needed. Just pick an unassigned topic and e-mail to a member of the Editorial Board and you will be given that topic. See a topic that is missing? Same deal...e-mail to a member of the Editorial Board, and it will be added to the list. The editorial board emails are:

Want to know how to write your topic? It is up to you. See the following for inspiration:

Imagine that you're speaking with an intelligent friend who has expressed interest in your topic. Keeping in mind the questions they might ask, as well as the questions they wouldn't know to ask, identify and explain the major points of interest. Point out the logical connections among these points. Also, please cite a few references for further study, enlightenment, and fun.

The Layout Design Special Interest Group is affiliated with the National Model Railroad Association.

Primer Topic Areas

New content is added regularly, so please check back for additions frequently. All opinions are those of the indicated authors.

The why of building a model railroad layout

Types and styles of layouts

General layout planning principles

Detail considerations for layout

Special layout circumstances

Layout design bibliography and references

Common Questions and Where to Find the Answers

  1. What command control system should I buy? See Control systems.
  2. What radius curves should I use? See Track standards: switches, curvature, grades, etc..
  3. What is the right height for each deck of a multi-deck layout? See Multi-deck layouts.
  4. What trains should I run, and what jobs should I provide for operators? See How to plan ahead for operations.
  5. What are the common pitfalls of the beginning layout planner? See Common mistakes and oversights by beginning layout planners.
  6. Which layout design computer software is useful? See Drawing Your Layout - Manual and Software Solutions.


Articles in category "Primer"  <future links>

There are 48 articles in this category.