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on March 22, 1999
I have had this book since it's first publishing over twenty years ago and it still inspires me everytime I look through it. Back then Mr. Westcott didn't inlcude 'N' scale, but the book provides so much information on how to re-calculate the dimensions not just for his layouts but for any designs you might wish to try. It also outlines parameters by which you can design your own layouts.
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VINE VOICEon March 18, 2003
Linn Westcott was a master when it comes to model railroading and his track plans emphasized that fact. This book in it's first edition provided me with numerous ideas for my railroads in various scales over the years. Highly recommended.
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on January 18, 2009
I purchased this book back in about 1984 or so. I was getting ready to build my dream railroad, and I needed ideas.....I found loads of ideas in this book!!! I picked bits and pieces from several of the plans in this book, and combined them to come up with that dream layout!

I used plan #46 The Jordan Valley RR, as the basis for my layout. However, it was too narrow, so I 'stretched' it out 2.5 feet further, making it 12' x 10.5'. I also needed a freight yard and engine facilities, so I added onto the plan on one end to include a 10' long yard and service area.

I made a few other adjustments to track placement here and there also. Added in several extra industrial spurs, extended extra mainline trackage on another addition. And various other things. This was the first layout that I ever built without any sectional track. I had never used 'flex-track' before, but I did on this layout! I never knew it could be so simple! You can do so much more with 'flex' than with sectional you'd be astounded! If you're a 'sectional' user, give 'flex-track' a try....you'll love the ease of use as well as the results!

Using 'flex' is like playing "connect the dots". Lay out your turnouts and crossings where they need to be, and then pencil in the connecting tracks. Once you have everything the way you want it, start the roadbed and track installation. Don't be afraid to experiment and try different things! Model railroading is fun!!!

I built my 'dream layout' in 1985....and it hasn't changed much in all those years! A few minor tweaks here and there, but no major changes to the original. The only major changes have occurred in the freight yard and engine facilities, and that wasn't until last year (2008), as they had never been completely finished...all that's left to do now is some scenic work!

So if you're considering build a new model railroad layout, or you're looking to tweak or modify your existing layout, grab this book for some great inspiration! You won't be disappointed in the least!!!

Happy Railroading!
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on August 12, 2006
I think I have bought this book 3 or 4 times in my life. It has been around for a very long time. I have never built any of the layouts presented within but it has served as a great idea book from time to time. That's really what it is for.

This book first made its appearance before the advent of N scale but the tables have been updated. Each plan gives scaling dimensions for N, TT, HO, S and O. Try finding anything else with TT information!

The sizes present range from simple bookshelf layouts and small plywood tables to large building club layouts. A good idea can be had from anywhere. The book is still around because it remains and will probably always remain a source of inspiration or daydreams.
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on February 5, 2014
I'm very happy I bought this book. Being able to browse track plans and get ideas on how others solve similar layout problems is great. Even if you don't use a single plan in the book, seeing a lot of other layouts WILL help you plan your own and help you avoid some pitfalls.

That said, the book was originally written in the 1950s and has not been significantly updated. To that end, there's some aspects of the book that are quite dated.
1. Lots of turntables and engine houses: These were pretty much a given in any layout even 20 years ago, but they take up a lot of space, generally are pricey, and digital control (if you go that route) at least solves the problem of how to "turn off" locos. Now you can just line all the off duty locos up in a ladder yard or otherwise more space efficient scheme. Of course, if you don't want a turntable, that's space you can use for something else.. like turning simple staging yards into classification yards that don't need use of the main line for switching.
2. Many layouts have reach problems. 30" is the maximum even a tall person can reach, but many of these layouts have much broader reach needed. Beware these... the text does cover providing access either by hatch way (think about your knees on that) or walk behind aisle, but the plans often leave those out and the elevations make me question whether an aisle is even sufficient to reach some of the locations. Your model trains will derail far more often than real ones, and even the best automatic uncoupling system has its failures, requiring you to reach over to that siding.
3. Speaking of elevations: the grades often seem pretty high and require grades on turns. I've got a hard time buying into a 2" elevation change in only 4 feet or so over a turn, part of which is running through a tunnel.
4. It was apparently laid out by magazine staff. It's a little disconcerting to see "continued on page 68" when you're on page 8. When you're laying out a magazine that is selling ad space, that's understandable. In a book without advertising, it's perplexing and breaks your train of thought.
5. Workable yards for classification are rare(but not absent), but that's pretty much expected for a book of this age. Most yards are better thought of as staging yards or multi-track sidings/spurs.

Those are just things to look out for and don't really detract too much from a great book. It's great to see even in an older book plenty of plans that allow actual operation over just making loops for trains to run by scenery.
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on November 24, 2008
I have several copies of this book in my library so I can always have one at hand. Some of them have worn out covers because I refer to them so often. It is loaded with ideas for designing ones own track plans. There are layouts for shelves, the ubiquitous 4x8 sheet of plywood, shelf around the room, fill the room, and monster unlimited space layouts. I agree with earlier reviewers that it is a must-have for anyone serious about model railroading. Some regard the actual plans in this book as "old school". This might be true, but the ideas are still there and are timeless. In contrast for "new school" plans one could also consider the excellent books by Iain Rice.

Don't expect it to contain plans that will be a one-one match with sectional toy-train tracks, it was written when people laid their own track tie, by tie, and rail by rail. Also don't get this book expecting it to contain step-by-step how-to instructions for building each of the plans contained within the covers. Some of these plans simply cannot be built with sectional track on the market today. This is much more an ideas book. If one wants exact piece-per-piece track plans there are many books of that type on the market. Atlas comes to mind. They print several books with plans to exactly match the track sections that they manufacture.
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on December 23, 2011
Linn Westcott was likely the best thing that ever happened to model railroad publishing. Too bad that Model Railroader magazine's present editorial people don't measure up to Westcott's standards. That said --- This book is perhaps a good thing to study if you're just getting into model railroading, but be advised that it contains very dated track plans. Most of the contents were published in Model Railroader in the 1950's and although a few have some excellent ideas, there have been so many new track planning concepts in the last half century that you'd be well advised to look elsewhere before adopting any of the plans in this book.
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on September 26, 2015
Unless your buying this book for nostalgia, don't waste your money. If you are new to the hobby or setting up a railroad for the first time, this ain't the book for you. It's a hard read, confusing, and frankly it don't have the info you need. On top of that, the print is really small and hard to read.
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on September 29, 2011
This is a good book, maybe some of the pictures are too small to see the details.
Now, be advised that most of it is devoted to (to me) unrealistically big layouts (almost 60% 9x12 or bigger), with only 20 for medium sized layouts.
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on October 30, 2014
I bought this book out of curiosity. I do not have a model RR but am considering a N scale layout in a relatively small area so I was wondering about interesting but compact layouts. I did get some good ideas and am happy with the book.
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