Florida East Coast RR

9x3 fec layout
9x3 fec layout

This order started out as a 9' by 3' plan to depict the Florida East Coast Railroad in a freelanced setting. It had to be integrated into a living room and look like furniture. To make the most of the available space, the customer decided to go with N-scale. In order to enhance operations, the layout is DCC-controlled and all switches are operated by manual throws. One obstacle we had to face was that the elevator to the customer's condo was not big enough to hold the entire layout and so we decided to build the benchwork in two sections of 4 1/2' by 3 ' each.

The operationial scope was to have two trains running continously and operate a branch line at the same time.

For the track work we used Atlas code 55 flex track and turnouts, except for the single slip which is a Peco code 55.

Work pictures

Branch line bridge Branch line bridge   Harbor basin
Manual switch stand Branch line terminus First running test
Structure kits    


Shelf extension
Shelf extension

Shortly after the layout was delivered and set up, the customer decided that he wanted an extension. To make this possible, we had to "bridge" a gap of 11 feet to the actual extension layout of 3' by 6'. This extension had to serve as a kind of staging yard, coupled with operating opportunities. 3' by 6' is not much space - not even in N-scale - if you want to park longer trains. So we had to compromise on curve radii and use curved turnouts in order to gain track length.

The 11 ft long and 10" wide shelf had to be connected to the 9' x 3' and 6' by 3' layouts. No holes in the wall were allowed. In order to make the scenery more interesting, we decided to have the double track main lines cross over each other.

11ft Shelf 11ft Shelf 
 11ft Shelf  

6' by 3' section

3 by 6 ft extension

As mentioned earlier, the 3ft by 6ft section's main purpose was to park trains not currently in use. At the same time, though, the customer also wanted some operational opportunities in this part of his layout. Given the space restrictions, we had to deal with tight curves which would certainly restrict the use of long passenger cars. We also had to take into consideration that some of the trains would be very long for this layout ( i. e. 9 72-foot passenger cars).

Some gain in track length could be achieved by using curved turnouts. Theoretically, the customer can park a train of 8 feet length on certain tracks. However, access to those tracks is restricted by tight curves (almost down to the minimum radius of 9 3/4" for N-scale). This not only requires a wider than usual parallel track distance to avoid "overhang collisions", but also restricts the use of passenger equipment to a length of 72 scale foot per car.

Operational opportunities include a grain elevator and some lineside industries which make switching a bit challenging since the operator must not block the main lines.

3 by 6 ft staging 3 by 6 ft staging   3 by 6 ft staging