HO Train Layout CAD Track Planning


This page will discuss the planning we did for the HO scale train layout. We used 3rd PlanIt CAD software to see how the track would fit. This allowed us to experiment with different setups easily as well as visualize how it would look when we finished.

Once we came up with a track plan we liked, the software was able to generate 1:1 printouts to lay out onto the foam panels. Once the printouts were taped together, we used a die punch on a block of wood to put holes every few inches where the track was centered. This full-scale template was then layed on the table where we could put sharpie-marks thru the holes in the paper template for the exact positions the track needed to go. The templates could then be removed one section at a time as the track was put down.

Layer 3 design:

The initial design was to capture the feeling of Shaffers Crossing in Roanoke, VA. The main design features of interst were the turntable, locomotive shops, and transfer table. You can also see in the CAD diagram reference points (white squares) drawn for where the support legs will be below the tabletop. This was important to ensure no significant features (such as the turntable pit) were obstructed where mechanical parts and cables may need to go thru the tabletop. A screenshot of Google Maps is also shown for comparison to the real location.

Note the top right corner the track goes off the edge to a "future" expansion that may run around to a larger layout and eventually allowing movement from one level to another, allowing the operator to one day go on a trip from one place to another.

Layer 3 design (3D):

The software is also able to generate a 3D view to get a feeling for how it the layout look as seen by a person. A screenshot from Google Maps is also shown for approximate perspective of the real location.

Layer 3 re-design:

The design was modified slightly to account for a couple other features (such as the car shop building and 2nd smaller turntable) in the extra space, now that the primary features had been layed out the way they were desired. This revision took a few tries but ultimately gave a good "feel" for the desired area while fitting in the space available.

Layer 2:

This was much simpler to design since it's mostly a stylized oval. It's designed to give an approximate feel of a switching yard off I-581 in Roanoke, VA including an area where the now restored Virginian train station is located. This also has the same "corner" in the back right for future expansion but for now the track forms a second loop to run trains which can be changed at a later time.