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Lego City and Train Layout

ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
So after years of collecting various Lego Train, Creator and City sets (along with a bunch of other stuff), I have decided to take the leap and start putting together a modular city and train layout to display and operate everything together.  I went the modular path so that I can easily move and re-arrange things and to make construction manageable in bite size portions.  Up until last month, I was haphazardly displaying my city and train elements on the bench work for an old, never finished HO train set.  

I realized about a month ago that there was no point continuing down that path and I needed to build something new and customized for dedicated Lego use (aka sized to fit standard baseplates).  I decided on 2.5x5 foot custom built tables with removable legs that could be bolted together in a variety of configurations.  I built my first table a few weeks ago and was pretty happy with it (other than super wobbly legs initially), so I decided to go froward with the plan from there.

I ripped up all my bench work from my old HO train layout and re arranged my garage to fit the new tables.  Last week I built the second table and bolted it to the first one, eventually I will have four in a square with an opening in the middle, but I will have my hands full with the first two for a while.  My goal is to have a loop of track with some sidings and industries, most of my creator buildings on display and various other city sets.  I am shooting something reminiscent of 1950s and 60s Lionel train sets, capable of a hit level of detail, but always with an artificial, glossy, made for TV feel that I think fits Legos well.  The display is meant to be moderately detailed, display Lego sets in their (mostly) original form (with a few modifications when needed) and have some functionality, especially related to the train.  There will be some MOC stuff, but that is not the main goal, again I am treating it a bit more like the Lionel Train displays which displayed Lionel buildings, trains and landscaping in an environment that celebrated the sets while walking a fine line between artificial and natural.  

The first table (module A) houses 4 of my 7 Creator Modular Buildings plus a number of Creator houses, a train station and some other buildings along a street with brick built sidewalks using the same design as the Modular Building sidewalks.

I also wanted to use the Modular buildings attached on Lego street plates with their existing sidewalks without building awkward sidewalk extensions out over the six studs along the edges of the road plates.  So I decided to offset the Modular buildings so they used up those six studs on the roads, which required displacing each building 6 studs to the side and 6 studs forward, one brick at a time from their original base onto the four base plates that each modular building would overlap (most of their original base plate, plus a small corner of one and 6 studs worth of one on the front and side).  This was a time consuming process that could get quickly confusing since I was removing from the original base plate and rebuilding onto it AND three others.  Below is an example picture of the Detective Office partially through re-basing.  

I think the end product looks pretty good:

With that done, I worked on side walks and adding some other details to rough in the first module:

The second module (cleverly named "Module B") contains my other three Creator Modular Buildings along with another train station and has a track spur that will house an industry of some sort.  There will be a few other buildings, not sure what yet, but most of the module has been roughed in and the Modular buildings have been re-based:

The other two tables with contain an ocean front with beach houses, a light house and a cargo port with siding.  The last module will have some houses, stores and a multi siding rail yard with multiple overhead cranes.  If people find following this interesting, I will update this post with more material as I keep going!  You can check out more detailed info and more pictures at my blog:  http://thoughtsonblocks.blogspot.com/
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Comments

  • snowhitiesnowhitie BelgiumMember Posts: 2,810
    edited July 2015
    Very interesting. My husband is slowly getting infected by the lego -virus and wants some Lego trains instead of the n-gauge he's got so I'll read your blog t forward to him to.

    I like the idea of moving the modulars onto the street baseplates, nice to see a picture of the (Cumbersome) proces.

    City looks lovely!
    MattDawsoncatwrangler
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    Fantastic layout (and really like the modular/street plates thing), but layouts where trains can't actually run make me sad.
    Pitfall69madforLEGOSumoLego
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    Oh I fully intend the trains to be able to run on this, its the main reason I moved to the new tables, as big as my old L shaped HO train set was, there just wasnt enough room for a 180 degree turn of Lego track to allow for continuous running.  With the new design, I will have four tables in a square that will allow for a continuous loop to run a train on, and at least one long siding with multiple switches that a second train can be manually ran for switching operations.  I usually prefer a switching operation for the fun of moving a train back and forth and using operating accessories to replicate real operation and I hope to accomplish something similar here, but I also want the option to just fire up a train and let it go in a loop, so I needed that too.  I am using power functions and have quite a few trains, including some old 9v stuff I am going to convert.  I have enough PF controllers to run four trains.  I like the PF because it allows me to easily run multiple trains on one layout.  
    Pitfall69TheLoneTensorcatwrangler
  • stustaffstustaff ukMember Posts: 50
    I love that. I am thinking of cheating and painting a base to Lego scale to build on my main thought here and I wonder if you did it is I want to be able to fix bases to the board and have them also removable!? Eg fix a base in An empty 'lot' Velcro will raise it up... Not sure what else I could try.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,374
    edited July 2015
    If I were to build a proper Lego Town/Train layout, I definitely would build on top of the Lego road plates.

    BTW, Holy run-on sentence Batman!!!
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    I didnt do anything to fix these plates because I do want them removable, I was worried about them sliding, but honestly, they are on there rock solid from friction and weight.  Having said that, I plan on installing a facia plate all around the outside that will stick up above the existing tablet edge by about a quarter to a half inch, to keep the plates from sliding and to keep anything else from rolling off.  Velcro could work but I think would end up not looking great in empty spaces.  I would say looking at magnets might pay off.  Back in my Warhammer days, we used magnets to do all sorts of fun things with fixing parts of buildings or temporary terrain pieces.  Glue a magnet on the bottom side of quarter inch plywood at 5 inch grid intervals, then when you want to "fix" a building or smaller plate or terrain piece, just build in a pocket for a magnet on the bottom.  Strong enough magnet should be able to make it through the quarter inch plywood and a standard thickness lego "plate".  And otherwise just paint the wood to match lego baseplate colors (dark grey, bright green etc) to "cheat" the rest.  
    catwrangler
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
  • BuriedinBricksBuriedinBricks USAMember Posts: 1,366
    I'll echo the praise for building right on the road plates. It requires patience, but it conserves so much space.

    I would love to have room someday to do a proper layout like this, but it would require sacrificing other luxuries I also enjoy in my "man cave." I'm not quite willing to go that far yet.
    ReesesPiecesPitfall69
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    I received more parts in the mail today to help move along the sidewalk and floors of some of the creator buildings, mainly 31026 Bike Shop Cafe.  I was able to finish tiling the public square area next to the 7937 Train Station, which hosts a hot dog stand and the 40140 Flower Cart while leading to a back alley running behind 31026 Bike Shop Cafe.  I also finished most of the work in front of the buildings.



    catwrangler
  • hoyatableshoyatables Northern Virginia, USAMember Posts: 861
    I love what you did with the smaller
    baby modular buildings. I've done what you have done in bringing modulars out to the street on the street plates. The problem is that the corner buildings kill the modularity.  I think what I did was keep each building on a single plate width, but then give one side of the corner building a wider street. End result is a boulevard feel on one side and a neighborhood street on the other. 
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    Running the modular buildings out to the street edge also creates a weird gap along the street.  Since it offsets by 6 studs, you cant make a continuous run of Modular buildings from one corner building to the other because you end up with 12 studs worth of gap somewhere.  I ended up just making a brick built alley but still breaks things up a bit for better or for worse.  I like your idea of one side being a regular street and the other a broad boulevard!

  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    With the "mini modular" 31026 Bike Shop Cafe, I wanted to be able to still access the interior of the buildings, but some of the Creator houses/stores swing open on hinges instead of having the removable upper floors like the Modular buildings.  I tried making the swinging function work with the front of the building fixed, but it was too difficult and limited my options on what I could do behind the structures (to give clearance for them to open).  So I decided to try a similar technique to the buildings with lift off floors, and instead have the entire building lift off the foundation/ground floor.  The building still hinges open, so you can lift it off and open it up to get inside.  This also allowed me to put floors in and improve the fixtures on the ground floor.  I removed the clip systems and the bases from the buildings, rebuilt the bottom row of bricks to make it sturdier and fill in for the removed clips and then laid down the smooth finishing tiles around the edge as the foundation the building would sit on.  I put a sub-floor down and then covered it with a layer of 2x2 finishing tiles in checkerboard patterns.  Ultimately it works reasonable well, in addition to making things more accessible by being able to easily remove the buildings.  It also improves the interior considerably.  


    Ronyar
  • dragon114dragon114 United StatesMember Posts: 632
    redish brown titles all ways look nice on the trian track 
  • crazycarlcrazycarl USAMember Posts: 392
    Here are some pics of my layout.  They are on 2 sides of a wall.  I cut a hole through to separate them.
    BumblepantsmadforLEGOSlapNutsJern92richlLeecatwranglerbricktuary
  • crazycarlcrazycarl USAMember Posts: 392
    edited July 2015
    My base tables are about the same as yours. I also added a layer of 2" pink foam insulation under the baseplates.  Ive had this set up for quite a while. I am constantly contemplating moving it all on to my larger HO layout tables.  I just dont know if I want to sell off all my HO stuff yet.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 9,305
    @crazycarl ;
    Impressive...most impressive.
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    Very cool crazycarl!  I like the port and harbor area in particular!
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    Thread resurrection time!  I have made quite a bit of progress on this setup since last year.  I built the rest of the tables for the initial setup, a square with an opening in the middle, so there are four 2ft x 4ft tables now, all attached with bolts to each other.  I have the train track all laid for a continuous run loop with five sidings and have built quite a few more sidewalks and other area details.  I also just finished the Brick Bank and added it in.  I will post some pictures shortly!
    tallblocktooevantyler
  • JudgeChuckJudgeChuck UKMember Posts: 1,092
    ^ Looking forward to it! :-)
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    Two of the four modular sections have been mostly finished, all baseplates laid down and most of the buildings installed.  The other two sections are works in progress.  One is only very roughly laid out, it has a train yard with 3 spurs, a cargo unloading area with a couple cranes and currently 4645 Harbour set (although I am probably going to remove that, takes up too much room and is not high enough quality/detail).  It also includes a road that will have a few store fronts and possibly the new 60132 Service Station when it comes out.  The other 2ftx4ft section will have a section of ocean, beach and road along with a wilderness/camping area in the corner and a gravel loading area on a spur.  This will be were most of my creator beach houses, lighthouses and wilderness themed buildings will go.  As things fill in, space is already at a premium, so I will probably be going back through and removing some less detailed/awkward structures to replace them with either nice sets or MOCs.  In particular, the 31036 Toy & Grocery building just has a very bare bones design with lots of odd gaps and other issues that leave it wanting, even after I detailed the interior.  
    SumoLegomadforLEGO
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 11,781
    Very nice, very nice!

    I've been having some spacing issues with my fledgling city - so looking at yours helps with perspective.  I widened my sidewalks on mine an additional four studs.  The sidewalk is awfully narrow in front of the Town Hall (which would drive me nuts).

    Gotta get that Ferris Wheel out on the table.  And I like the O Scale Pennsylvania engine in the back.  
  • JudgeChuckJudgeChuck UKMember Posts: 1,092
    Very nice indeed! :-)

    Oh, to have space to do something like this... I would absolutely follow what you, and many others, have done and re-align the Modulars onto the road plates, it looks great.

    I do echo @SumoLego though... Get that Ferris Wheel off the floor! ;-)
    brumeytallblocktooSumoLego
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    Thanks for the nice comments!  I eventually want to add at least two more modular 2x4ft sections to make more of a rectangle, but just dont have the room and my wife would be most displeased.  I have a ton of airport stuff, and with a new wave of City Airport sets due this summer, I can make a very nice airport setup.  I also have 10244 Fairground Mixer, so I was thinking of combining those two, maybe the new City Park set and another siding with a passenger platform to make a fairground.  I hate having it on the floor but its one of a half dozen bigger sets that I am struggling to figure out what to do with....  
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 9,305
    Nice MOC, hope to have one like it. What are the dimensions to the layout table?

  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    Each table is 2ft by 4ft and they are arranged end to side to make a square with a overall dimensions of 6ft by 6ft with a 2ft x 2ft hole in the middle.  
    madforLEGOSumoLegolegomentalkiki180703
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    I am heading down to the Lego store in the Mall of America tomorrow in the hopes of snagging a few of the 2016 Summer release sets to add into my layout.  Mainly the Service Station, Fun in the Park and Vacation Getaways, all of which I have a rough idea where they will fit in on the layout.  After being lazy all Winter, I got around to updating my blog with more pictures and information:  http://thoughtsonblocks.blogspot.com/
    tallblocktoo
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    And at long last a short video:  
    tallblocktoocatwrangler
  • crazycarlcrazycarl USAMember Posts: 392
    Since this thread has been resurrected i will share pics of my new layout.
    madforLEGOMattDawsontallblocktoocatwrangler
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    edited May 2016
    And at long last a short video:  
    How in the world could you do a video and not run the trains?  Shame on you.  Shaaaaame.
    BumblepantsMattDawsontallblocktoocatwrangler
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,374
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    So true!  Batteries were all dead from thr winter cold.  Will replace and throw up some videos with running trains!
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    Crazycarl i love it!  I am jealous of the monorail and container ship.
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    And a drum roll please:  Two videos, one with a Freight Train and one with a Passenger Train.. and they are actually running this time!


    tallblocktooMattDawsoncatwranglerTheLoneTensordanstraindepotPitfall69
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178

    tallblocktooMattDawson
  • crazycarlcrazycarl USAMember Posts: 392
    My mom saved up for a whole year to get that monorail for me at Christmas 1990.  Prob my second favorite set to date.
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    Which monorail set is that exactly?  Do you have any closer pictures of that container ship and crane?  I am trying to get ideas for my cargo yard.  
  • crazycarlcrazycarl USAMember Posts: 392
    #6399.  its 100% complete.  Ill go take some pics.  Give me a minute.
    madforLEGO
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    I also see you dramatically increased your bench space since the last set of pictures, I really like the actual track layout you have.  My design is so tight on space it limits the room I have for sidings.  I actually do not have enough room for all my trains even after I have a max length train on the main line and all the sidings completely full, plus the hidden siding behind the modulars.  It leaves me with a box still full of about a dozen other train cars.  You have a ton of room.  

    When I was a kid I had a pretty much complete set of the 9v trains based around set 4563 along with the airport monorail and a ton of other great sets.  But my Dad gave everything to a local daycare while I was off at college.  Makes me cringe every time I think about it.  
  • crazycarlcrazycarl USAMember Posts: 392
    Heres some close ups of the harbor.  The container Mi-Jack is a MOC.  All Lego aside from 2 yellow Tyco double sided stud 2x2 plates holding the red string spools to the 202 Technic rack winder.
    tallblocktoocatwrangler
  • crazycarlcrazycarl USAMember Posts: 392
    Really want to get the boat from set #7994.

  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    Same here, i am trying to have complimentary industries for the trains to serve and i have plenty of container trucks, rail cars and cranes but would like the cargo container ship to bring it full circle.  I have the harbour set with the grain ship, but that doesnt tie in with much else i have yet.
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    I reallt like the size and design on that crane rig, very nice job!
  • crazycarlcrazycarl USAMember Posts: 392
    I always wanted the 9v trains but could not afford them.  Thats why I'm going train crazy now.  This layout is actually set up on top of my HO layout.  I hardly ran them anymore so I set the Lego over it for more room.
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    Yeah I originally built mine over my HO layout and then ultimately ripped the HO one down and put everything in storage.  Now I am thinking of tearing down the lionel layout also.  I just dont have time to do it justice and it takes up WAY too much room...  room that could be used for more Legos...
    MattDawsoncrazycarl
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    I got around to tearing down my 4ftx8ft Lionel table and putting most of the stuff in storage, which freed up room for a wall of shelves to finally display some of my sets and better organize stuff, plus give way better access to the other side of the display.  I still have a couple more shelves to put up and a bunch more organizing to do, but you get the idea:


    catwranglerPitfall69
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    I also put together a brief video showing an example of how I modified some of the "hinge open" buildings that dont really work on this sort of layout.  I build a flat 1x tile foundation and then raised the inside floor up one layer of smooth 2x2 tiles, both to give the floor a finished look and to allow the building to "nest" onto it.  This allows the buildings to be easily lifted off the foundation to gain access to the bottom floor (which is attached to the tile and separate from the building), and to the inside of the rest of the building which still hinges open once lifted off.  It works well so far!


    dutchlegofan50MattDawsoncatwranglerPitfall69
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,374
    I love the video, but I think Chris A. should have been the narrator ;)
  • samiam391samiam391 A Log Cabin in KY, United StatesMember Posts: 4,252
    Great setup.

    Somewhat of a side note, but I absolutely love Lionel. I was zooming in on those boxes in the background trying to figure out what you had :)
  • ThoughtsonblocksThoughtsonblocks United StatesMember Posts: 178
    I did a video with me narrating the details, then played it back, heard my voice, and realized no one needed to listen to that crap!  Stock youtube jazz music FTW!
    MattDawsoncatwrangler
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