“Givens and Druthers”

Note: This is a living document. It will change as often as this railroad is tweaked and tuned.
Last modified on Jul 9, 2018 @ 9:38 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.


– Starting room size: 22.5’x12′ (irregular, two columns on the North side with a potential to go 1′ beyond the columns into the hallway, expanding to a 22.5’x14′ overal size)
– Finished hardwood floor; uneven/sloping ~1″ difference in height wall to wall on the longer dimension
– 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, must remain unobstructed
– Electrical cabinet in the South-West corner at 46.5″ height, up to the ceiling, opening 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 described area (no foreseeable expansion to other rooms/areas)
– Climate controlled space (central air)
– Scale: H0
– Gauge: Normal
– Full DCC operation (presently 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 3-4 visitors possible for ops
– Multi-deck: 31″ lower, 43″ middle, 59″ upper
– Benchwork: Lower deck is steel studs; middle/upper is double-track metal uprights and brackets, plywood, rigid foam board
– Min. radius: 24″+ main line, 22″ industry spurs/sidings


– Track: PECO Code 83 flex and turnouts, Walthers Code 83 curved turnouts if/where needed; optional Yard/Sidings PECO Code 70 flex and turnouts (if/when available, Q4 2018); open to hand-made turnouts if/where needed
– 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 where needed: double-slips, wyes, 3-way
– Preferred 32-36″ aisle width, 30″ is OK, narrower pinch points are acceptable for 1-2 ft. in length
– End goal to have signaled operation (CTC) and option for fully computer controlled trains in the future
– Walk-in prefered, but swing gate if necessary; no duck-unders
– No need to reach more than 24″ into the layout
– Prefer longer main-line runs – classification yard at one end of the railroad, at “Newbridge”
– Train length: calculated to around 7′-8′ for the given space size; mostly 40′-60′ cars (possibly 70′ if any); longer through-only trains possible (A/D tracks need to accomodate for them)
– Like some yard switching and operations
– Various industries to keep the operating interest
– If possible, a “Lockport” branchline is meant to serve a seaport/pier setting at the end
– Staging: visible if possible; beneath the benchwork is OK; auto-reverse for re-staging trains, single- or double-ended
– Scenery: rolling hills, canyons, rivers, tunnels, rock faces, bridges, trees, arid areas…
– Like mostly freight, though some passenger service is OK for additional ops interest
– Like to railfan the layout