“Givens and Druthers”

Note: This is a living document. It will change as often as this railroad is tweaked and tuned.
Last modified on Mar 11, 2018 @ 12:40 pm

What does it actually mean?

Givens are features or limitations you must have, either forced on you by the size or shape of the room, economics, etc., or your own desires. For example, the size of the room is a given, it’s not going to change and you have to live with it.

Druthers are things you’d rather (“you druther”) have, so they are negotiable. You list everything you would like, and accept that you are not going to get it all.


– Room size: 22.5’x12′ (irregular, open space/no wall with two columns on the North side with a potential to go 1′ beyond the columns into the hallway)
– Finished hardwood floor, but uneven/sloping, ~1″ difference
– Ceiling: 6’5″-6’6″; pot lights, two speakers, and a central air register near the South-West window
– Doorway access on the North-East to another room
– Electrical cabinet in the South-West corner at 46.5″ height, up to the ceiling, dimensions 32x30x2″ (WxHxD)
– Two windows on the South side starting at 54.5″ above floor level, dimensions 31×22″ (WxH)
– The layout will remain in the train area (no foreseeable expansion)
– Climate controlled space
– Scale: H0
– Gauge: Normal
– Full DCC operation (Roco Z21 base station, two additional boosters), RailCom in the future
– Era: Transition (steam/4-axle diesels)/post-Transition (6-axle diesels)
– Prototype: Freelance
– Region: North America
– Operating crew: 2 (1?) (most of the time, but visitors possible for ops)
– Multi-deck
– Benchwork: Steel studs; double-track metal uprights and brackets, plywood, rigid foam board
– Min. radius: 22-24″ Main line, 18″ Industry spurs/sidings


– Track: Main PECO/Atlas/ME Code 83 flex and, commercial or hand-laid turnouts; optional Yard/Sidings Code 70 Flex and hand-laid turnouts
– Min. turnout size: main #6-#8, yards and industry #5
– Single track mainline is OK, passing sidings where needed for added ops interest; double line if necessary
– Intricate track work is OK: double-slips, wyes, 3-way
– Preferred 36″ aisle width, 30″ is OK, 28″ pinch points are OK
– Signaled operation (CTC) and option for fully computer controlled trains in the future
– Walk-in prefered, no swing gate or duck-under
– No need to reach more than 24″ into the layout
– Prefer longest main-line runs
– Train length: up to 7′, mostly 40′-60′ cars
– Like yard switching and operations
– Various industries to keep the operating interest
– Staging: preferred open; beneath the benchwork is OK; auto reverse for re-staging
– Scenery: rolling hills, canyons, rivers, tunnels, rock faces, bridges, trees, lakes, arid areas, snow peaks
– Like mostly freight, though passenger service is OK for additional ops interest,
– Like to railfan the layout