TDT Lines (O Gauge)

The customer for TDT lines has an extensive collection of O gauge trains from Lionel, MTH, and Williams going back to the post war period; enough to occupy 3 walls around a substantially sized room. He also has a lot of track and operating accessories. What he needed was a layout to show off his collection and give he and his grandson a place to play with them.

He wanted a yard area, three mainline runs (one of which had to be O-72 capable!), a turntable, a storage track, and sidings for a half dozen operating accessories. This all had to fit in the middle of a 13 x 15 room that already had a woodstove in it that had to operate! This took a few weeks of planning to figure out but eventually we came up with a plan that involved a turntable ‘deck’ over a portion of the layout with a long and steep ramp leading up to it.

The layout is built on foam over L girder dimension lumber high above the floor to allow easy access underneath for the (massive) wiring and eventual storage. Rather than try to build in hatches, we simply designed it to have a ‘crawl zone’ that we could use to climb on the table to access certain middle areas. Basically there was no location that was empty of track enough to put a hatch…

The track is a combination of standard O tubular track and MTH Realtrax. We used this mix because a) he had a lot of standard O switches, b) we had to cut a lot of custom fit pieces, and c) Realtrax switches are a lot less expensive than standard O switches. If I had to do this from scratch, I would have used all Gargraves flex track with Ross switches but that would have been a LOT more money. The client ballasted the track after it was in place.

The Atlas O scale turntable has a number of operational issues. When it works, it works pretty well but it is ‘cranky’ (the HO and N scale ones are pretty bulletproof however). It is really designed to mount on plywood- the foam is just flexible enough under the very high weight of some of the locos to allow things to get out of positions occasionally.  I could have hand-built one but the TT needed to be indexed because the operator can’t really see it from the operational area and it needed to be affordable. So we have to live with the Atlas.

This was my first custom made control board. Rail Tales builds custom made control boards… This one was 100.00$

The layout is powered by four conventional packs for the track plus one for the accessories plus the option of DCS for portions of the track. It can run four trains at a time and in theory have another 12 locomotives on staging tracks or at the turntable. This is a little crowded and usually the layout is best set up for three trains in staging, 6 on the turntable level, and three operating.

Everything runs and is quite exciting with everything in motion but some of the old product failed under regular use and had to be replaced.

After experience, the client has requested that the staging area under the turntable be expanded.

We are also slowly adding scenic materials and refurbishing the operating accessories for installation.


This control board or another of similar complexity costs $100.00

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