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Distance Between Rail Height and Lighting Above

Wayne posted this question and is hoping for some help from others in the hobby:

“I am building an HO shelf layout. What is the recommended distance from the top of the rail to the valance above where the lighting source will be located? The shelf will be approx. 28″ wide. I am thinking of bringing the valance out 14″ from the wall? Thanks.”

3 Responses to Distance Between Rail Height and Lighting Above

  • David Stokessays:

    As a rule of thumb you want to be able to see the junction of the trackbed with the backscene, and the distance from the railhead to the bottom of the valance is a function of the relative height of the railhead to your eyes. So what does this mean? If the railhead is 48″ from the floor, and you are 5’8″ tall, and the joint referred to above is 28″ in, the distance from railhead to valance will be greater – maybe as much as 24″ – 36″, however if the railhead is 60″ above the floor, that distance could be as little as 6″. My suggestion is to set up a mock layout at various heights and slide a “valance” up and down until you are happy with the result. This doesn’t need rails, but if you already have building models for that part of your layout, use them to give you a “feel” for what is right for you.

  • Tim Morloksays:

    I agree with David that you should set up a mock up of different heights. A bookshelf with variable shelf heights should work well. Depending on the type of lighting that you plan to use, the valance should be even with or within a couple of inches of the front edge of the layout to give you consistent illumination across the shelf. I have found a couple of good reference books for building shelf layouts from Kalmbach Books: “Shelf Layouts for model railroads” by Ian Rice and “Designing & Building Multi-deck Model Railroads” by Tony Koester .

    • Waynesays:

      Thanks for the information

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