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Peter's Model Railroading | Articles | Layouts | Layout #8
Lessons Learned


The layout was started on July 26, 2008 and demolished on October 14, 2015, or a bit over seven years. This was my first S-scale layout. This was also my longest-lasting layout.

Reasons For The Demolition
1. Given my available space, I had maxed out the amount of layout I could build and that was disappointing.
2. As the layout matured, I continued to do more research into the PRR's Chartiers Branch and really wanted to model exact models. This one was, after all, a freelanced layout very loosely based on the PRR Chartiers branch.
3. The way the overhead lighting system was built caused the light to be behind the models, thus they were essentially always in the dark.

Things To Improve Upon
1. I gained experience in scratchbuilding structures, but now I want to focus on building 1:64 scale models of the actual buildings.
2. 18-inch deep layouts in S is doable, if you don't have curves, but otherwise it is just not enough.
3. No more insanely-tight curves.
4. A much better lighting system is needed.

Things I Liked About The Layout
1. Despite the small size, the challenging operations of only being able to make trains of two cars and caboose made it fun.
2. With the addition of battery-powered engines, the chore of track cleaning was gone, and I could start running the layout within a couple of seconds of deciding to do so (Digitrax requires quite a few steps from totally off before you can start to run).
3. The fact that this layout lasted so long means that there was a lot there that I really enjoyed.
4. I really liked the shadow-box style of layout.
5. I really liked the S curve in the center of the layout (great for photography and for railfanning).

Lessons Learned
1. Layout lighting needs to come from above or, even better, from in-front of the models.
2. Track-powered engines are ancient history for me, as battery-powered engines and a "dead rail" layout are the way to go.
3. Switching operations is really my cup of tea (I did not miss running long trains in a loop!).
4. The more scenery and dark-colored items you add to the layout, the less light there appears to be in the layout. So, "over light" the layout during construction, because it will get duller as trees, ballast, and buildings are added.