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Best height for a layout


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Hi all, now I have a loft at my disposal I've decided to have another go at designing and building a model railway.

As the layout will be going in the loft, the first thing I need to know is, what is the optimum height for the layout.

Ive done a quick drawing on CAD and found that if I put the layout between 900mm and 750mm, I can have between 14 1/2 feet and 16 feet.

Can anyone give me an idea of how high their layout is and if they are happy with it, Thanks

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Hi all, now I have a loft at my disposal I've decided to have another go at designing and building a model railway.

As the layout will be going in the loft, the first thing I need to know is, what is the optimum height for the layout.

Ive done a quick drawing on CAD and found that if I put the layout between 900mm and 750mm, I can have between 14 1/2 feet and 16 feet.

Can anyone give me an idea of how high their layout is and if they are happy with it, Thanks

 

Hi Neil,

 

There is no 'Best Height for a layout' dimension!

 

It will alays depend on the situation it is being created in, where (if) it is being taken to exhibition, what height you prefer to look at it from, what height you prefer to work on it from.

 

In the loft it will also depend on the design of your loft.

 

For me - In my loft...

 

The best height is so that I can sit on an office seat - adjustable height so that I can either sit at eye level to view ther model or sit that bit lower to work under the layout.

 

Thanks

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Hiya, thanks for your reply. Yeah it is going to be a semi permanant setup as opposed to being taken to exhibitions etc.

I am planning on building it in sections so that one day when we sell up and move, it can come with us lol.

Just sitting on my computer chair, the computer desk seems a good height and measures 740mm off the floor so I think i'll go for that

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My layout comes up to my oxter -- this is a bit too high, but it is supported on bookshelves. My arm brushes anything located in front of what I need to reach.

My wife is shorter than I am and she likes the eye level view; she also can't see the unfinished bits of the scenery.

My previous layouts were more at waist level or a bit above.

I worked on one layout built by a gentleman who was taller than I and he put in a yard that I had to get on a stool to operate.

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I have set mine at about 1220mm. This allows me to operate standing up any using a stool. I also find this height comfortable to work at as I'm reaching across rather than up or down. This height also makes it easy to get underneath if I need to.

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Ian Rice has some interesting suggestions for the right height. One of his theories, which I rather like, is that a OO layout set fairly high does much to disguise the lack of true track gauge as the eye is generally looking across the lines and not down on them. Such view points can also be effectively controlled with view blockers like buildings etc for dramatic effect.

 

However, in a loft space I appreciate that a layout set higher is going to restrict the ultimate amount of the available space.

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And then, of course, don't forget that one day you will be old and with a semi-permanent loft layout, you may be cursing the young bloke that built it all those years ago :(

 

As many have said, balance the height with the view, the width of the layout and the accessibility underneath.

 

And of course, stay slim for the sake of the loft ladder :D:lol:

 

Bob

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Baseboard at 4' suits me. I'm (still) nearly 6', have a walkaround layout and find standing and working on track and scenery doesn't take much out of my back. I have left the reach to not much more than 2' in most places, although there are a couple of more remote corners where a step helps me get on site. Getting underneath to work on wiring etc is fairly comfortable, and a chair can be used on occasions.

 

Sadly I can bet your loft will seriously limit your layout size at that height. You have to trade comfort in building it against scope - I'd aim for comfort every time if you want to see the construction through. Nothing worse than knowing before you start a job it's going to bring backache!

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I would say 36" minimum and as you get older it gets more difficult.I f I had my time back it would be 40". Then of course if I had my time back I would do a lot of things differently :rolleyes:

Go for 40" & you wont regret it.

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A layout looks best when viewed from side-on. You very rarely get the chance to view the real thing from 100' or so above.

But that's only part of it.

 

It is easiest to work on when set quite low, but not so low that you will always be bending your back to get to it.

If you design your layout so the boards can be turned over (or even supported on their side) then working on them from underneath will not be an issue.

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Hi all and thanks for all your comments. After reading your comments, I realise now that my first choice of 740mm would be too low even though it would give me a slightly larger layout. I am now thinking that I should be looking at a height of around 900mm which would still give me a layout of over 15 feet long, plenty long enough create what I am wanting to build.

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It is not the hieght of the lowest level of baseboard that you need to consider, it is the height below the bottom of any bracing where you want to sit. If you build with a board top level of 900mm, lose 15mm for board thickness and then lose 40mm for the hieght of batten that braces the board edge, you would only have 845mm underneath for your office chair.

 

I would suggest mocking a section up and sitting up to it in the chair of your choice. I did something similar for a garage work bench and found that I was more comfortable after a day of carb rebuilds at a position much higher than I would have first thought.

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Hi NeilDMU

There's never going to be a pre-determined optimum baseboard height , there are too many variable factors; your height, arm span, dexterity, width of baseboard, type of layout (e.g. on the baseboard or on a high embankment on top of a baseboard), which becomes more complicated if you start dropping sections for viaducts and the like. Given the scope and duration of your project it would almost certainly be worthwhile to make a test section of baseboard a few feet long at the anticipated widest point with height adjustable legs, though nothing too fancy. Arrange some track, stock and buildings in a railwaylike manner and see if the view and access works for you either from the standing position or from your favourite chair or stool. If it doesn't, adjust it until you find the optimum position. The benefit of a test board and forgive me if you already know this, it can be used for other purposes in the working out process and can be utilised in the finished layout. Sounds long winded but all part of the fun!

Good luck.

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BAseboard width is also a factor. Narrow baords can be great for eyelevel view but reaching over a 30" wide board above 4ft can be difficult. Try a mock up of one baseboard with a bit of track and some stock on it before committing to any height. This can be done using a shelving unit try palcing a few trains on different heights and see which appeals. Try both standing and sitting. I find that 3ft to 3ft 6ins suits me but I am only 5ft6ins maybe a 6fter thinks 4ft better.

Don Willsmer

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As there is no "standard height" for layout, you can choose the height which is comfortable for you to work on the layout and operate it. I will be building my layout at a height of about 52", as I am a failrly tall chap and will operate it standing up. I also prefer to have a near to eye level viwe instead of looking down on my layout.

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It is easiest to work on when set quite low, but not so low that you will always be bending your back to get to it.

 

See, I find that interesting as it demonstrates the variety of experiences. I find working on a layout at chest height (when standing up) to be perfect, so I actually find it easiest to work on when set quite high.

 

It really does vary from person to person I think :huh: :)

 

 

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Hello Neil: My previous layout was 30 inches off the floor. In a sense that was like watching the action from a helicopter. When we moved into our current house I "captured" one of the bedrooms and began to re-think the whole height question. What I wanted was a stronger sense of being "trackside" and following each train on its journey. The present railroad is fifty-two inches off the floor -- chest high -- and does give me that trackside feeling. My micro-layout (Britannia Sidings) is just 24 inches off the floor since it sits opposite my computer. Were I to re-build the room-size layout, I think I would stay with something close to fifty-two inches. My one rule was that no place on the layout was beyond an arms reach.

 

Jim

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