4'x8' Track Plans for Model Train Layouts

Create sophisticated layouts on a piece of plywood

Boy playing with a train set
Christopher Hopefitch / Getty Images

Great model railroads can come in any size. A 4'x8' sheet of plywood makes an easy starting point. You can build a variety of track layouts at any scale whether your focus is scenery, continuous running, switching, or more.

These plans can provide the inspiration to get you started. After selecting a plan, look for tips on building your platform and get ready to embark on a hobby that can last a lifetime.

  • 01 of 10

    Expand Your First Train Set

    track plan
    Adding a few switches and track sections to a starter set oval can greatly increase operating interest. ©2014 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    These plans offer a simple expansion for the oval of track you likely received in your first train set. Adding switching opportunities creates a longer run around the oval than simply adding more track. Select industries and scenery to give your railroad purpose and character. You can find the same concept here for:

  • 02 of 10

    Denver and Rio Grande Narrow Gauge

    track plan
    This simple 4x8 foot trackplan is the starting point for a new project layout. This design offers big scenery to compliment the small narrow-gauge trains. ©2010 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    It may be the size of a sheet of plywood but this layout is anything but flat. The big scenery and tiny trains combine to make a dramatic yet compact model railroad. Narrow gauge railroading is a path less traveled in the hobby, but it is a challenge with great rewards. See how to build this HOn3 layout from start to finish in this series of articles.

  • 03 of 10
    city of industry
    The "City of Industry" lives up to its name with ample opertunities to put your switcher to work. ©2012 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    This plan combines continuous running with lots of switching to keep your train busy for hours as you drop off and pick up freight from the customers along the line. It's the perfect plan for people who get tired of watching a train run in circles, and a great way to see what operations are all about.

  • 04 of 10
    track plan
    The "Paper and Pines" railroad features a dual personality of forested mountains and heavy industry separated by a high ridge, tunnel and rock cut. ©2012 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    With spectacular scenery on one side, heavy industry and switching action on the other, this 4x8 combines the best of several aspects of model railroading for an experience that never gets old.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10
    track plan
    The over-under route doubles the length of the run. The grade connecting the two levels is shown on both plans. ©2014 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    By adding a grade and folding a loop of track back on itself, you'll double the length of your run with this plan. Hiding portions of the line in tunnels or behind view blocks can make it seem even longer and more interesting. With a staging track and room for more industries, you can easily make this route go even further.

  • 06 of 10
    Starting with sectional track from a typical train set, add some switches and turn the circle inside-out to create a challenging switching layout with room for scenery. ©2014 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    For a truly challenging switching session, give this track plan a try. Turn your oval inside out and stop running in circles. Model the end of the line instead. Set out and pick up freight, turn the engine and prepare for the next run. Tight curves and limited clearances add to the challenge and force you to plan your moves carefully. But there's room for scenery around town too.

  • 07 of 10
    track plan
    This HO layout features two loops for continuous running and a turntable with lots of room to display locomotives. ©2014 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Many modelers end up with more locomotives than they could ever run at once. Show them off with this track plan that uses two outer loops for running as well as a turntable and tracks to display the rest of the collection.

  • 08 of 10
    N scale track plan
    This N scale layout offers loops for running long trains and a yard and turntable area to display all of your equipment. ©2014 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    The compact size of N scale means a 4x8 can provide a big showcase for a large collection. This plan features a double-track mainline with broad curves as well as a turntable and yard to display your collection.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    O Gauge Oval + Figure 8

    track plan
    This simple plan combines an oval and figure 8 track arrangement. ©2014 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    3 Rail O Gauge trains offer big fun with larger equipment and many operating accessories. Even a simple plan like this can provide hours of entertainment.

  • 10 of 10

    O Gauge Twists and Turns

    This 4x8 is filled with plenty of twists and turns to keep you entertained. ©2014 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    This O gauge layout comes packed with multiple loops, a reverse loop, and several sidings.