N gauge track plans

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Small N gauge layouts

For those who find the standard oval in a model railway starter kit too uninspiring and prefer to build something themselves: Below some small N gauge track plans in a beginner-friendly mini-format of 90 x 70 cm or 120 x 80 cm. All looks cute, but as always: the smaller the scale, the greater the required precision, which particularly applies when building gradients.

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N gauge

Small terminus station in a rural setting

The first idea is a single-track branch line with a rural terminus station at the end. At first glance the track plan above might look very sweet and quaint, but don´t be deceived: building it yourself isn´t as easy as it looks. And that not only because of the reverse loop: One of my favourite tricks, which I often use, is to covertly pass the tracks through the middle of houses. This means the house in the middle of this N gauge track plan has to be cut as required and cleverly built into the landscape as a "house in the hill". Certainly a challenging model-making task! I have several ideas what this house could be: A pub-cum-restaurant, nature park HQ, small fire station, farm machinery shop…. Top left a quarry, top right a sawmill.

A house as a tunnel

The track plan reveals the secret! Only the curves and some of the short straight pieces thought to be important are shown in more detail; the rest will fall into place of its own accord. Beside the normal points, the plan also contains 2 curved points. I decided not to have any slip points as these are susceptible to derailments. The gradient to the upper level is the curve on the left side.

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N gauge track plan

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The reverse loop

On the upper level, there´s a reverse loop (this area is only shown in detail for extra clarity). Generally speaking, care was taken to ensure minimum curve radius in the tunnel (R 1). R 2 - R 4 was used in the visible area.

Size: 90 x 70 cm (= 2.95 x 2.29 feet)
Tracks: Fleischmann, N scale

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N gauge model railway

Steam locos or Diesel

Here a suggestion for train operation: A small passenger train with a maximum of 3 carriages arrives at platform 2 of the station. As this is a dead end station, the diesel locomotive has to be shunted to the other end of the train. You can now choose between letting the passenger train leave again or shunting the carriages to platform 1 and waiting while the locomotive is used to pull a goods train. Several sidings in the railway yard make sure there´s enough for a small goods train to do. Operating a small steam locomotive is another possibility. If a steam engine is used, there´s absolutely no reason why it shouldn´t travel backwards on the track as well. Only big tank locos must be able to turn funnel ahead, for example using a turntable. At any rate, this small rural railway station is a proper terminus station with branch line tranquillity and a surprising number of playful features as well as points and shunting.
The bridge crosses a road (brick viaduct) although its only purpose is to make the scenery more interesting. The main road ends on the left of the station; a small no-through road connects the rest of the station grounds with the public loading siding on the right, and carries on under the bridge and into the valley where the sawmill and plenty of woodland are located. In keeping with the theme, the road should have a rural appearance, i.e. it could be a cobblestoned and/or have been repaired/improved at various places along the way. A couple of figures (hikers, walkers) complete the scenery.
People who are particularly stingy about space will put the transformer and switch control at the front of the table on the right.

Idea #2: Laying flex tracks

The second idea also offers branch line tranquillity on an area 90 x 70 cm. This time without a reverse loop, but now with flexi track. There must be a catch somewhere. Because the station is in a curve (which gives this N gauge track plan a charming appearance), standard tracks alone can´t be used for the inner curve along the platform. Flex tracks must be used instead.

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N gauge track plans

The double interwoven oval

This track plan is a classic design concept: the "double interwoven oval". Only 4 points are needed which makes this an interesting proposition for the budget-conscious amongst us. However, its construction - laying flex tracks being the key issue here - should not be underestimated.
Size: 90 x 70 cm (= 2.95 x 2.29 feet)
Tracks: Fleischmann, N scale

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N gauge track plan

N gauge track plans: A model railway layout in winter?

A winter and snow theme for a change? For some reason, this track plan inspires me in this direction. There´s enough N gauge supply from icicles to snow glitter; so there´s nothing stopping us creating our winter dream. Nice side effect: A model railway snow scenery doesn´t need ballasting or gravel under the tracks. Operation goes for both a passenger train and a small goods train; the station has a passing/holding track. There´s a bit of goods traffic too; the sidings near the railway station need to be used. Gradients are tough but do-able, as they´re designed for short trains with warning bell, snifter valve and max. 3 wagons. A 5% gradient shouldn´t be a problem. For visual effect, the spur at the top left (which serves a cooperative warehouse or something similar) should be on the 1st level, at approximately the same height as the bridge viaduct. All in all, a very smooth and sweeping N gauge track plan.


 

Plan #3: The Pretzel

For those who like it a bit bigger: The third idea of my N gauge track plans collection is called "The Pretzel". It needs 120 cm x 80 cm of space which corresponds to the size of a desktop. Even with these dimensions, the plan still falls into the "small N gauge model railway layouts" category. Flex tracks must be used in the station area; everywhere else normal track can be used.

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N gauge trains

Ready to bake

The overall view of this model railroad layout explains why it was named after a knot-shaped bread roll, popular in South Germany. For those who like building bridges, this is a chance to indulge: We have two viaducts; one is straight, the other is a sweeping bridge.
Size: 120 x 80 cm (= 3,93 x 2,62 feet)
Tracks: Fleischmann, N scale

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Small N gauge track plans

N gauge trains and the "visibility"-factor

All in all, a higgledy-piggledy design, set in a minor mountain range landscape with hills, valleys and bridges resulting in a charming N gauge model railway layout. Despite the many tunnels, the proportion of visible track is surprisingly high - a fact which shouldn´t be ignored, as we want to see our N gauge train sets in motion after all! Thanks to the passing track at the station, two trains can be run here as well.

Are ready built layouts an alternative?

Ready built model railway layouts are better than their reputation. At least they offer more than the standard starter kits which only let you to build an oval circuit on the carpet. Landscape, bridges, gradients - everything´s there and ready to play. They are particularly suitable for beginners who aren´t confident enough to build their own model railway.

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