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Is 2ft x 4ft Feasible for a WORKABLE N Scale Layout?

Darryl asks:

“I showed a photo of my old HO layout to my 7-year-old grandson who seemed interested. I thought of building a small N scale layout together. I only have a space of around 2×4 and want to know if that is too small for a WORKABLE track? I don’t want to downsize the scale, N scale will be small enough for my old eyes.”

Darryl, Tony Neilson’s N Scale Track Plans Ebook features several 2ft x 3ft, and 2ft x 4ft track plans.

To have your own question published on the blog, you can submit it via one of the ASK A QUESTION links on the blog.

10 Responses to Is 2ft x 4ft Feasible for a WORKABLE N Scale Layout?

  • Jim Rosensweetsays:

    You could have a good switching layout with a turntable to turn the locomotives around. 4′ might be too narrow for a curve.

  • David Stokessays:

    The Brits are the experts when it comes to small layouts so get some books and read up on 2 x 4s. At that size you can still have a roundy round, with radii up to 11″. The problem with a layout this small is that you see it all at a glance. It is harder to create the illusion of going from A to B, Switching layouts on a board this size in N can be quire extensive.

    We are talking a layout for a 7 yo, I say GO FOR IT.

  • Herveysays:

    There are literally thousands of HO layouts planned and built on a 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood. N scale is half the size of HO so 2′ x 4′ should provide plenty of options in N scale. I would want a switching layout but a young child will probably be more interested in a continuous run with opportunities to crossover or switch a car or 2. Just remember its you and your grandsons layout and you can build and design it as you want. You set the rules.
    Have fun

  • Dalesays:

    You can build a good layout in N scale in a 2×4 foot space. Here’s a photo of one I did a few years ago (before any scenery but with the roads planned.) With DCC, I could have trains running in opposite directions on the loops or leave one running on the outer loop while I did switching operations on the inner loop and sidings. 2×4 foot is small enough that you can reach the back turnouts and don’t need switch motors.

  • Peter Bayley-Blighsays:

    On a 2′ x 4′ make sure you have ‘side supports’ on the boards as to get a round/roundy the track comes right up to the edge. 27″ wide is better and allows the use of longer wheelbase locomotives.

  • Nigelsays:

    I have built an 009 (H0e – 9mm gauge) layout on this sized baseboard which includes a station, engine shed with turntable and branch line with an incline up to a reverse loop. Plenty of operational interest and, minimum radius around 9″ and a range of locomotives (which are all on N gauge chassis) including Bo-Bo, 0-6-0 and 0-4-0 all work fine.

  • william howardsays:

    I have constructed a 2×3 foot n gauge layout, and the only problem I have encountered is the turning radius is tight. My GG1 can handle the curves but only at a slow speed. I am looking to expand onto another larger board base with a fly over on trestles to connect the two. Good luck.

  • David Ksays:

    My first layout was a 4′ x 2′ which I made into a coffee table. I used Peco track and UK outline rolling stock. It is a double oval ’roundy roundy’, with sidings. There is a station, houses and a small unloading area. So a 4′ x 2′ layout is definitely possible, although the larger US outline rolling stock might not be as happy. This photograph shows part of the layout prior to completion –

  • Mark Cartwrightsays:

    Yes, Yes, Yes…and absolutely NOT …Never Again !
    Cause I don’t have to…and you can’t make me !
    I got me a serious Train Room in 2018. and I love the Quarantine.
    I began Model Railroading in 1959 on an HO Scale 5×9 top over my Mother’s Ping Pong Table.
    Many of my parents friends were Santa Fe, Southern Pacific and Western Pacific employees. so they encouraged Santa’s Wish to get me a Santa Fe Kit….at six years old. One with a 4-6-2.
    Then Go to Your Room! was met with a smile and they couldn’t get me away from My Layout. I began to do things wrong on purpose, just to have meals brought to My Layout.
    Years later …I was off to college and traded all my HO equipment in for N Scale.
    I then proceeded to create the proverbial 2×4 N Scale layout inside a Coffee Table.
    As I tried to get it to work…I increased it’s dimensions first to 30 inches wide and then 60 inches long. Eventually to 36 inches wide as I progressed in my schooling and got better scholarships and grants with a larger apartment. Then I bought a house ….
    The Coffee Table Began to appear as a Kitchen Table and I moved the whole thing to the Dining Room, attempting to create a Dining Room Table out of it for me and my guests.
    No wonder I never got married.
    What woman would put up with such an idea for a Dining Room Table?
    A few years back I purchased a Hard Scrable Layout to the size of 30 x 50 inches…just short of one insulating joiner from a Widow.,,, and it had derailment issues too.
    > I made the basic plan work for locomotives upwards of a 4-6-2 by widening it by 2 inches and increasing it’s length by six to 56 inches. I call it my test layout…but it still won’t run everything.
    So you are near a working N Scale Layout in my opinion at 32 x 56 inches.
    I could mention Z Scale…but I won’t.
    For longer steam and for some longer Diesels and Rolling Stock as well…You are gonna need a bigger boat. (Jaws). My advice…Get yourself a second hand 32 inch interior door and see how it fits into your given environment. Perhaps with Kato Unitrack and stored under your bed. I suggest to begin on a 32″ x 60″ format.

  • Noel Rileysays:

    Funny you should mention a small layout because I just finished a 2′ x 3′ N scale layout that I built with 3 of my grandchildren (8,9&10 yo). We used Kato track which was easiest to lay and wire up, and by using 6,7&8 inch curves we were able to not only have a full oval but we also looped it up through tunnels to a higher level that covers just over 1/3 of the board at one end. On the lower level we put in a switching/ shunting puzzle. To be able to negotiate the tight bends we use a 0-6-0 steamer and a 6 wheel shunting diesel and short 4 wheel freight and passenger carriages. We made every thing else ourselves, buildings and tunnel portals (all from free downloaded plans, printed, cut out and glued), grass from painted saw dust, trees from painted wire, rope and chopped sponge, and roads from belt sander dust. It turned out fantastic and extremely popular with the other 13 grandchildren when we gave it to the family for Christmas. I can thoroughly recommend it as a wonderful adventure to have that I am sure will be cherished by your grandson.

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