Designing Model Railroads Designs by NKP Layout Services of Southern California for Design, Planning, Building and Maintenance , a division of NKP Creative Services, Inc.



The design of a model railroad involves many factors.
The late John Armstrong's "Givens and Druthers" are a good start. Many of us rely on the protoype to guide us and limit the infinity of options, but it's your world and really the only limit is your imagination! In our experience it's important to balance as many elements simultaneously as one can. Consider the basics, theme, scope and personal desires.


The size and location of the future layout is a start, but other factors such as cost and time also need to be considered in the mix. Staying comfortably in the limits will result in a satisfying production.


This could be general railroading, specific prototypes, geographical locale, a particular era and even a specific element such as an industry, junction or terminal. It can be a famous name line, an imaginary "parallel" or connecting line, or maybe a completely free-lanced road.


Class 1 Division point, shortline or beltine, coast-to-coast or just one town, the world is yours to create. Will it be a "lone wolf" single-operator railroad or do you want to support many guest operators in group operation sessions? Maybe Dispatchers, Towerman, Brakeman and others in addition to the Engineer. Scope is "largeness" all in all.

Personal Desires

Here we look at previous satisfactions or dreams, actual experiences and explore any options. Steam, diesel, transition, colorful billboard reefers, sleek name passenger trains, what is your vision?

The NKP Process

Our job in the design phase is to help you tie it all together, usually by interview and discussion and resulting in a written outline. You may have a clear vision or just a desire, we may have to do some research.


The 54th St. switching railroad plan as published in Model Railroader.

Yard switching with a eastern RR theme is the focus of this area.

Sometimes the focus is scenic, like this styrene rebuild of a popular kit.

The overall look of the layout includes the fascia and control panel color schemes.

Sometimes it's nice to have a workbench located where trains are running.
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