Where do you keep yours? - Model Railway Engineer

Where do you keep yours?

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book surveyI was reading one of my favourite, and all time classic, model railway books recently and stumbled across an interesting question.

John Armstrong was a an mechanical engineer, inventor, editor and pioneering model railroader. He wrote numerous articles and several books, several of which I’m lucky enough to have in my library.

One of my favourites is ‘The Wit, Whim, and best of all Wisdom of John Armstrong on Creative Layout Design‘. It influenced much of my railway building approach and if you can get hold of a copy I can’t recommend it enough.

Towards the beginning of the book John discusses locations for keeping a railway.

He cites a survey in the American Model RailRoader magazine at the time (I’m guessing in the mid to early 70s when the book was published) that found 51 per cent of reader layouts where in the basement of their houses.

This set me thinking.

Has this changed?

Judging from my inbox a lot of people now keep their layouts in a garage and surely more than the tiny 7 per cent in John’s time. But who knows? Do “denizen’s of the basement” as John calls them still make up the majority?

Click on your choice and the vote button below and find out how other model railway enthusiasts have voted. It’s just the one question and is completely anonymous.


What gauge do you model in?


It’ll be fascinating to see if things have changed and where most model railways live in 2017.

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  1. martin - March 2, 2017

    My Locos none DCC are kept in storage boxes. The DCC/Sound locos are in 2 display units in the main living room

    • Thanks Martin, where is your layout? Andy

      • martin - March 3, 2017

        Hi Andy the layout at this time is stripped down for a rebuild , The layout is shed based 20ftx8ft then there are lines running out of the shed into the garden, with loop lines and 2 shuttle lines down the garden, It is 00 gauge i named it W-H-R = Woodside Heritage Railway. i have videos on (vimeo)(ytube)

  2. My original layout was set up in my detached garage, but it is too cold to spend much time out there during the winter months. My current approach is to have compact layouts that are intended for exhibition and are small enough to bring into the house to work on if it is cold outside.

    • Neil, that’s a great idea – keeping them in the garage but being mobile so you can bring them inside. Will you be taking them to any exhibitions soon?

  3. John Fagg - March 3, 2017

    Regarding where do you keep your model railway, here in Spain we call it an underbuild (basement) which I had dug out under the veranda (a lot of houses are built on stilts because we live in an earthquake zone) so the space was available. Just had to make access and dig it out (well not me). So this is where my layout is kept.

  4. Robert - March 3, 2017

    Mine runs through two spare rooms, a mix of 3 rail and two rail .Separate Locos part common rolling stock.None DCC

    • Robert, I’m fairly sure Mrs MRE wouldn’t be too happy if I knocked through two rooms for my layouts 🙂 Sounds amazing though.

  5. Tolak - March 3, 2017

    From a UK perspective, the basement is quite a rare facility.

    Because of the moisture in the weather here, storage of electronics and delicate machinery really needs to be to an indoor standard, possibly even with dehumidifier.
    And though temperate, the comfort levels and condensation means that the swings in temperature across the dew point makes this worse. So for many, the garage still requires work, even going as far as sealing (and insulating) the main door.
    I keep my layout and rolling stock in the loft, but being fully triangulated trusses, access is not optimal, and I can see a change in approach in the future. But the loft is the place where I can get long enough runs to have reasonable length trains, and an alternative has to achieve the same sort of size.

    • It’s a shame we don’t have basements like the do in German – huge great things that span give an entire extra floor! I can but dream! My primary area is the loft but like yours this has triangulated trusses that cause a few problems. Andy

  6. I get away with significantly more than most. My layout is in a alcove in my living room!! I got away with it because I told the misses I would get rid of the one hanging from my kitchen wall if I could use the alcove.

  7. Mike - March 7, 2017

    I have a 1600 sqft basement that houses my N Scale layout and my Ham Shack…the wife gets the rest of the house haha.

    • That must be quite a layout!

      • Mike - March 9, 2017

        I would love to fill all that space with a layout…maybe someday. Like a kid in a candy store, my eyes are bigger than my wallet.

        • Do it slowly, building it up in sections over the years?

          • That’s my plan Andy. Right now my layout is modular with each section being 30″x 48″. I have 15 sections of framework done and am starting to lay track on that. I went modular for now as my wife and I plan on moving in a few years and wanted to make sure I could get it out.

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