Sunday 7 August 2016

Using Peco track templates

Recently I had someone ask how I drew up the track plan for my layout. The answer was; I downloaded and printed out the Peco track templates that are available on their website. Designing the track plan for Philden was the subject of my first blog post back in May 2015, (setting plans in concrete). Using Peco code 100 rail and medium radius turnouts enabled me to design a fully self-contained layout in just 6 x 1 feet. So when thinking about adding an upper level extension to my bookshelf layout, I once more turned to Peco's website, printed out their HO scale turnout plans, and got to work designing a track configuration that hopefully when finished will resemble a Sydney suburban railway station.

When using Peco's track templates, making sure you print out the turnouts at the actual size is paramount. Really its as simple as un-checking the 'fit to page' option on your printer's settings. The scale ruler printed on each template easily allows you to check that your printer has printed this correctly. Cutting each turnout to shape with a pair of scissors then enables you to try as many different configurations as you like, without having to first purchase the actual turnouts.

What I needed was a track configuration that would route passenger trains through the neck of the yard to either platform 1 or 2 as needed, while still allowing access to a freight siding. I also wanted to use large radius turnouts instead of the medium radius turnouts that are in place on the bottom level. An island-type platform was also a prerequisite as it enabled trains to be viewed on the bookshelf from both sides. However, when you're working within the confines of 6 foot by 1 foot, it soon becomes evident that there are only so many combinations of left and right turnouts that are possible. So below are three of the best that I was able to come up with.

Playing cut n' paste with Peco's track templates shows exactly what will fit into your layout space.

Back-to-back large radius Y turnouts were one option, but I didn't like the single track neck that this created. A single Y turnout would work however if you were modelling a single track Sydney suburban line.

I just kept fiddling around to see how many track configurations I could come up with.

With the curved platform in the distance, arranging a right hand large radius turnout as the centrepiece of the station throat gave the track approaching the staging end a centralized position. It was about this time that I came across a British OO trackplan called Trewartha Quay that was posted on a model railway forum. It was essentially the above design, only reversed. It seems there's no beating the Poms, and British modelers are surely the masters of small layout design.

This track plan would work if I could fit 3 tracks leading to staging, and all with just 4 turnouts!

No matter how much I tried to tinker with the track plan, it soon became a case of trying to reinvent the wheel. Reversing the crossover points gave what will be the dedicated passenger track to the right, access to both platforms 1 and 2. While the track to the left would provide freight access to small industrial siding and ensure that the locomotive would have to travel the full length of the layout and utilise the platform road to gain access to the siding.

Moving the right hand turnout also enabled a short siding.

The curved platform gives the 1 foot wide bookshelf layout some character while opening up a large portion in the middle of the layout to the right for modelling some sizable structures. Adding another right hand large radius turnout to the throat of the yard allows for another short siding. I am extremely grateful to have used Peco's printable track templates. When it comes to layout design, they make life just that little bit easier for us modelers.

Small pencil lines between the sleepers give you a dot-to-dot pattern to fill in later with pen.

To draw the life-size track plan, I first sticky-taped the turnouts into position before slightly offsetting a stretch of flextrack in the shape of where I wanted the track to flow, and placing pencil lines between each sleeper. After taking the flextrack away, it was just a case of joining the dots.

This design ended up being the winner, and with just 3 turnouts! So I taped it into position.

Creating a double-decker layout in such a small space would be a challenge. Although I didn't end up proceeding with the upper level addition in the year that followed me writing this post, showing you how I use the printed track templates is perhaps the best way of discovering for yourself what works and what doesn't. Until next time...


  1. What sort of industry will go up there

  2. I'm hoping to first see the dimensions of Southern Rail Models' new cement plant before deciding. Given that I already have a roster of NPRY/NPRF cement hoppers to shunt the cement works on the bottom level, it makes sense to look at creating a card transfer system to move cement shipments from the plant on the bottom deck to the cement distributor on the top. If not, I may look at building some other industry that will also help screen off the exit road to the staging area. A flour mill and some Auscision NGKF grain hoppers would also go nicely. The main thing I want to avoid is overcrowding a small layout, while also allowing enough scope to have fun pushing some wagons around.

  3. I have followed your link to Peco templates but it will not allow me to download any and shows a box that asks me to subscribe. Surely these are free as they are trying to sell their products, but how? Peter

    1. I've heard through the newsfeed that PECO are retiring their Electrofrog and Insulfrog turnouts and replacing them with Unifrog. Reason given was that the factory's pressing moulds were wearing out. I've searched their site and the PDF downloads seem to be working okay for these. Don't forget to set your printer to 100% size by unchecking the fit to page box when you print them, otherwise they will print smaller. All the best!


Thanks for taking the time to visit Philden. I hope you'll book a return ticket soon. Cheers, Phil