Model railroad design: The DO´s and DON´Ts. Of course, not everybody likes this 'try-and-error' practice as I do! A model railroad software is a helpful tool especially for bigger railway layouts, as it provides the exact requirements (tracks, measurements).
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When I started in the hobby the only way to draw a track plan was to do it by hand with a pencil, eraser, ruler, and geometry set. For years I used the 'all gauges track planning template' in the back of Kalmbach's book 101 Track Plans for Model Railroaders by veteran model railroader Linn Westcott. I would use tracing paper over the template. I still have the soft-covered book. It has some great plans from small shelf layouts to 4' X 8' layouts all the way up to basement-sized pikes. There are also some great appendices with planning information.
One of the advantages of using the template was the quick learning curve! Everyone knows how to trace with a pencil.
Now we have a plethora of track planning software, but the learning curve can be steep. A familiarity with computer-assisted-drawing (CAD) software is certainly an asset.
The first track planning software I used was 'Design Your Own Railroad' on 'The Train Pak' CD by Abracadata. Then I 'graduated' to CADRail. I still use CADRail and have even used it to draw a backyard deck. As it is essentially a CAD program you are not limited to using it for model railroad planning.
Because CADRail (and other programs) employ layers, it is possible to keep benchwork, track, wiring and scenery on different layers to keep everything organized. Many of the programs have libraries of turnouts, other trackwork, scenery items and sometimes, electrical symbols. Or you can draw your own turnouts. A handy use of the layers is to make sure you don't have benchwork cross members interfering with turnout controls like a hanging Tortoise machine. There is usually a way of adding text, too.
It's still a good idea to lay out your trackwork on the floor, on top of the plywood, or on a big sheet of brown paper. Translating the computer drawing into reality doesn't always work out the way you plan.
Below are some of the other track planning software packages available. I don't have experience with all of them so you're on your own. The free Atlas software is really for their brand of track. Most of the software is for a PC. The only Mac software I know about is RailModeller. I do most of my computer work, including this website, on a Mac. However, I still do track planning on a Windows 2000 equipped PC. That's also where my copy of Trainz resides.
- Abracadata: The Train Pak (costs. Includes Train Engineer. Windows/DOS program)
- Atlas: Right Track Software (free)
- El Dorado Software: 3rd Planit (costs. Alternative to CADRail)
- Sandia Sofware: CADRail (costs. The one I use)
- AnyRail: AnyRailModelspoor (free trial. Have never tried it)
- XTrackCAD Model RR Track Planning (Have no experience. Comments suggest a steep learning curve unless you know CAD)
- Mac Rail Soft: Rail Modeller (shareware, free trial. For MAC. I have tried this one)
There may be other track planning software programs out there, but I haven't come across them. You can find all these easily through Google so I haven't put the web addresses here. You can use the Custom Search feature in my right hand column.
One major advantage of using track planning software is that you have a permanent record on your computer and can make changes as your layout develops. I use CADRail to keep track of all the wiring on the signals we're installing on my Utopia Northern layout so that I know which color-coded wire goes to which signal head in which block. I'm sure you can think of other uses and they don't have to be to scale or on the same drawing. The image below was drawn for me in the Microsoft Paint program by fellow NMRC club member, Martin Alborough. This is another alternative if you don't need a CAD-type scale drawing. Good luck with your planning.
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This page provides a directory of model railroad manufacturers offering track, roadbed, and bridges, plus track planning and layout design software, for G, HO, N, O, S, and Z scale model railroad layouts.
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|Model Railway Layouts Plans - Get the most from your track however little space you have. This free PDF is packed with modeling shortcuts, tips, and all the layouts you'll need to get up and running.|
|Model Railroad Books - 120+ titles covering all aspects of model railroad layout design, track plans, benchwork, structures, scenery, detailing, weathering, DCC, electronics, prototypical operation, and more|
Amazon.com Model Railroad Track - Hundreds of track, roadbed, and bridge products from popular brands such as Lionel, Bachmann, and Atlas, covering all scales G through Z
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AnyRail - Model railroad track planning and layout design software for the PC with sectional track and flex track of many manufacturers
Atlas Model Railroad Company - Produces HO and N scale model trains, track, vehicles, structure kits, and pre-assembled structures
Auctions on eBay - New and used model railroad track of all scales, most at discount prices
Bachmann Trains - Manufacturer of N, HO, O, On30, and G scale trains, track, structures, and accessories
Blackstone Valley Railway - Bridges, trestles, structures, and supplies for HO, S, O, and F scale; Arlington, Washington
Borg-Rail - French manufacturer of locomotives, rolling stock, signals, and track built to order in scales 2mm to 10mm to the foot
Bridge-Masters - Manufactures straight and curved wood trestles, bridges, portals, and trackside structures for G scale garden railways
C&L Finescale - British manufacturer of 4mm and 7mm model railroad track components
Centerline Products, Inc - Manufacturer of non-derailing, non-abrasive, rail and wheel cleaner cars for N, HO, OO, S, O, and G scale
Central Valley Model Works - Produces HO scale ties, switch ties, bridge kits, and detail parts for online sale
Chuck's Ballast Supplies - Australian supplier of genuine ballasts and other natural materials
Eaglewings Iron Craft - Produces standard and custom made bridges, steel fabricated buildings, overhead layouts, portable layouts, and accessories
Fast Tracks Tools & Supplies - Allows modelers of all skill levels to build HO, S, O, N, and Z scale turnouts, crossings, 3-ways, wyes, and slip switches
Fleischmann - German manufacturer of European locomotives, rolling stock, and track in HO and N scale
Garden Metal Models - Manufactures deck girder bridges, catwalks, and piers for large scale model railroads
Garden-Texture - Produces G scale building kits, bridge kits, and accessories; Canton, Georgia
GarGraves Trackage - Produces O, S, Standard, and G gauge track
Gnome Miniature Engineering - Riveted metal bridges for large scale model railways
Haddon Software - Model railroad design and track planning software for the Macintosh
Hobby Innovations - Manufactures Flexxbed and Vinylbed prototoype roadbed for all sizes of 2-rail scale track from Z to G; Mountain City, Tennessee
Hornby - UK producer of OO gauge model railway rolling stock, structures, track, scenery, lighting, sound, DCC, and accessories
2d design software mac free. Hunterline Craftsman Kits - Wooden model kits for novice and expert scale train hobbyists including trestle bridges, portals, tunnel liners, snowsheds, and more
K.I.S.S. Method Inc - Track planning tools for HO, N, and O scale layouts
Kappler Mill & Lumber Company - Precision scale wood products including lumber and ties in many scales; Arlington, Washington
LGB - G scale (1:22.5) trains, track, and accessories produced by Märklin
Llagas Creek Railways - Gauge 1 track and turnouts in three scales - 1:20.3 narrow gauge, 1:22 G gauge, and 1:32 standard gauge
Loco-Boose Hobbies - Manufacturer of indoor suspended G scale railway systems for businesses and residences
Marklin Trains - Produces HO, N, and 1 gauge trains and track
MetalSmith - Metal-forming and work-holding tools plus turntable kits in 0, 1 & G scales; UK
Midwest Products - HO, O, and N scale lumber, project woods, cork roadbed, and tools
Miniature Railway Supply Co - Produces miniature railway equipment including rail, fittings, and sleepers in steel and wood
MNP Inc - Manufactures track cleaning cars, smoke kits, and pump kits; Newport News, Virginia
Model Railway Layouts & Plans - Free guide features tips, tricks, techniques, and track plans for realistic looking model railroad layouts in any scale
Model Structures - Produces wood bridges and trestle decking for HO and O scale model railroads
Mountain Pacific Scenics - Manufactures wood bridges and foliage for N, HO, and O scale
Mt. Albert Scale Lumber Co - Manufactures fine scale lumber, railroad ties, and bridge and trestle ties in HO, S, and O scale
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Test xamarin app on iphone without mac. New York Railway Supply - Produces PTC Model III, an advanced, reliable, and realistic turntable indexing system
Northeastern Scale Lumber Company - Produces HO, O, and N scale lumber, ties, and car parts
Free Home Design Software Mac
On Track Trestle - Standard and custom O scale scratch-built timber trestle bridges
PECO - UK manufacturer of track and models in Z, N, OO/HO, and O gauge, and publisher of Railway Modeller and Continental Modeller magazines
Proto:87 Stores - Realistic hand-laid track for HO, N, and Z scale model railroads
R&G Railroad Company - Wall and ceiling mounted G and O gauge model trains, mounts, structures, and accessories
R&L Lines - Manufactures a track scrubbing car for G, O/O-27, and Standard gauge
RailModeller - Model railroad track planning software compatible with Mac OS includes all scales from Z to G
Railway Engineering - Produces turnouts and track products for HO, HOn3, S, Sn3, HOn30, O, On3 & On2 gauge
Rally for Windows - 3D model railroad layout design and track planning software for Windows
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RocRail - Model railroad layout design application for Windows and Linux
Rokuhan - Japanese manufacturer of Z scale track, controllers, trains, structures, and accessories
Ross Custom Switches - Hand-built custom switches for O, 027, and HiRail layouts
RR-Track - Model railroad sectional track layout design software for Windows
Sandia Software - Cadrail model railroad layout planning and track design software for Windows
SCARM (Simple Computer Aided Railway Modeller) - Free Windows software for model railroad layout planning, with hundreds of track plans available for free download
Sievers Benchwork - Manufactures prefabricated benchwork units used to create a solid sturdy table foundation for trackwork and scenery
Sommerfeldt - German specialty manufacturer of scale catenary products
Split Jaw Products - G scale rail clamps, expanding rail beds, road crossings, rerailers, reversing units, tools, and accessories
Sunset Valley Railroad - Manufactures a strong Gauge 1 code 250 track system, a range of Gauge 1 switches, and rolling stock designed to run with live steam locomotives from Aster, Accucraft, and Roundhouse
SwitchCrafters - Manufactures aluminum, nickel silver, and brass switches in code 215, 250, and 332, plus aluminum rail, composite and plastic ties, locomotive radio control, and accessories
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Tayden Design - Makers of model railroad inventory, DCC, simulation, and screensaver software
Tomalco Track - Manufactures S scale, standard gauge, Code 70, 83, and 100 flextrack, turnouts, crossings, roadbed, and track accessories
TrackPlanning.com - 3rd PlanIt CAD application by El Dorado Software, specifically designed for model railroad track planning and layout design
TrainPlayer - Run trains on published model railroad track plans or build your own layout from scratch; free demo download for Windows
Trix - German manufacturer offers a range of European locomotives, rolling stock, track, and accessories in both HO and N scale
USA Trains - Produces a variety of G scale locomotives, rolling stock, and track
WinRail - Model railroad track planning and layout design software for WindowsWoodland Scenics - Produces a wide range of model railroad scenery products including foam layout and trackbed systems, terrain, landscape, trees, water, vehicles, structure kits, prebuilt structures, decals, and more
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