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How To Design A Small Switching Layout Paperback – September 2, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 74 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449505643
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449505646
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #287,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Barry Karlberg on October 23, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased the "How To Design A Small Switching Layout" and found it chuck full of good advice. First, the way the material is presented piece by piece from simple to more detailed information and finally culminating in the design of an actual layout utilizing examples from each chapter is very helpful for both the "newbie" and experienced modeler to keep thing in focus as they plan a layout. This type of presentation provides the reader with a feeling of not only accomplishment but encouragement to help him get started on his own layout using examples from the book.

Secondly, I found the chapters on "Scenery Only" Zones, Industry Selection and Planning and Rough in Your Structure Locations the best. I still need to work on the attached plan to expand my scenery only zones but he importantly pointed out the differences of number of car spots for at least one large industry versus one large structure with only one or two spots or those with the same car types rather than a multi car type industry like a food processor. I have to admit I am still a "sucker" for industries that use reefers and tanks and he picked a good one to illustrate his point especially for modern prototypes.

Third, the chapter "Now For The Track" encouraged me (as a "former"?) N scaler to be prepared to accept not only larger radius curves but #6 turnouts as minimum to ensure good, trouble free operation and a realistic look. This is one area I am having a bit of trouble adapting to in HO...how much bigger everything is and how much more room is required to build even a small simple HO layout.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One would think that Mr. Mindheim, a professional layout designer-builder, is trying to put himself out of business. Having published two superb track plan books that set a new standard for that genre, he has now clearly and concisely explained how to design `em yourself. For all the bloviation out there about layout design, this two-hour "read" says and shows more really useful stuff in 68 pages than you're likely to dig up in a month of web searches. As I read, I quickly came to understand why some layouts look and "feel" good and why the prototype and Mindheim use certain track configurations. Even if you have your own layout, you'll likely gain a greater understanding of your own and your colleagues' layouts and why their aesthetics and operation work the way they do, after having read this book. Although "How to Design" is a bit longer than Mindheim's previous books, it still benefits from an efficiency of language that makes a seemingly-opaque topic quite clear. This book is a very good value.
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I've been wanting to write this review for a couple of weeks now, but every time I pick up Lance Mindheim's "How to Design a Small Switching Layout" a new facet or idea has caught my attention--and stoked my enthusiasm.
Every design work is a reflection of its author's philosophy, and Lance's philosophy provides a refreshing note of simplicity and practicality at a time when most layout design books focus on huge, gadget-filled plans. Indeed, one of the thngs that makes this 72-page softcover compendium not only enjoyable but significant is Lance's ability to empower the modeler whose space, budget, skills and available time place him or her in the 'average' category. This is a welcome and much-needed bit of validation for those of us who don't have a gymnasium and a trust fund to devote to our hobby.
Don't dismiss this as a 'beginner's book' (although a beginning modeler could use it to good effect). This reviewer has been a model railroader for many years and designed literally hundreds of layouts, and I keep finding ideas and insights in this book which are changing the way I view model railroad design.
Over the course of the book, Lance takes the reader step by step through the design of the Union Belt Line, an L-shaped switching layout which illustrates his principles. If you're feeling a little intimidated at the thought of doing your own original design, this layout (or one of the two bonus plans included with it) can be built verbatim from the book--and it looks like it would be a very practical, feasible and enjoyable railroad when it's done.
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In a model railroad publishing world dominated by few players, it must be a challenge to get a book such as this published. Looking up something else, I stumbled across this title and became interested because of the reference to "switching layout" on the cover. The related prototype photo of Belt Railway of Chicago EMD SW-1500 heavy-duty switcher locomotives on the cover also was appealing. Growing up a railfan, I gravitated toward railroad operations involving yard, interchange, and industrial switching. Likewise, starting many years ago, I also gravitated towards model railroading that mostly involved those switching operations. The author does not promote yards on a model railroad, but at least allows for them if that is where one's interest lies. So, for me, decent yards are mandatory, because of my interests. In disagreement with the author, I recommend a run-around crossover within a yard, so as to be able to pull a train into the yard, uncouple the locomotive(s), and then back around the train, allowing the train to be switched from the rear end. Ideally, there should be a yard at each end of a "main line" track run, along with other yards around major industries and interchanges. I do appreciate the "scenery-only zones" in the book, if the modeler has the room for that. More important in a switching layout are the industrial spurs leading to various industries to give reason for all the freight and allow for interesting operation. Here, the author's chapter, "Industry Selection and Planning" may be the best part of the book. On another point, the recommended #6 turnouts are great if one has the room, but #4s are not a problem with industrial spurs and other switching areas. I have used #6s on my "main line" and a belt line, but mostly used #4s elsewhere with no problems.Read more ›
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