Track Plans N Scale

N scale track plans are the most popular type of track plans for model railroaders that want the enjoyment of longer track runs but only have a small space to build a model train layout.

Why Choose N Scale Track Plans?

One of the biggest advantages is the wide range of track design options such as continuous running loops and switching layouts. The smaller scale also provides more flexibility on where you can build and store your model railroad. Some of the best places to build your N scale track plans include shelf layouts, coffee tables and hollow core door layouts.

Another major benefit of choosing an N scale track plan is how much space it saves while still providing all of the bells and whistles of larger scale layouts. It’s the second smallest standardized scale for model trains and is 1/160th the size of real-life trains. The smaller size of N scale still allows for plenty of room to build a highly detailed layout including scenery with buildings, mountains and tunnels.

Are you struggling to build a model train layout that fits your limited space but still want a functional, realistic and enjoyable layout with all the bells and whistles?

Access step by step directions that you can watch on your mobile phone, computer or print out while building your layout.

So far you’ve learned why you should choose an N scale track plan along with the major benefits. Now let’s jump into actual N scale track plans that you can start using immediately to build the model railroad of your dreams!

Hollow Core Door N Scale Layouts

Building your N scale layout on top of a hollow core door is cheaper alternative to building your own benchwork. Hollow-core doors are stiff for their weight and are very resistant to damage. They are also light and maneuverable because they don’t require a support frame under them. The best size for a hollow-core door layout is the common 80″x36″ door size.

The most common N scale layouts for small spaces are built in 4’x8’, 3’x6’ and 2’x4’ size dimensions.

2’x4’ and even 3’x’6 N scale track plan can be limiting because of small spaces. Some main things to consider are tighter curves, sharper turnouts and not too much space for scenery and buildings. If you have some extra space, a hollow-core door is best way to build on.

N Scale Track Plans 3×6

3×6 layout with switching and double track plan. Image source

This is a basic oval 3’x6′ or 36″x72″ track plan that consists of a single level with switching. The switching allows for each of the three industries to return to the main on the track plan. The outer loops can manage double track operations.

The switching part of the layout only happens if the trains are headed for the industries. The crossover area allows for the trains to exit on the mainline and switch directions near the upper left of the track plan.

3’x6′ Turntable Layout Plan

3'x'6 n scale track plan layout design
Track plan featuring tunnels and a turntable. Image source.

This plan features tunnels and a turntable for added switching session fun. The added complexity also makes this a fun weekend build or month-long project. This plan requires 5’6” by 1’11” space, meaning you can tuck it against a wall, or it’s big enough to be a centerpiece.

You can also decide not to build up the tunnels or to remove some of the spurs. If you do build the tunnels, make sure you size them a little bigger than you think you should for n scale trains as some you find online are not as precisely made.

N Scale Track Plans 4×8

4'x8' dimension n scale model train track plan
4×8 track plan for a single track featuring a reverse loop. Image Source.

This track is 8’ by 3’10”, which means you’ll need a dedicated space during the build period. It can also be a bit challenging due to the multiple elevation changes and tunnels. This track plan features three stations and a connecting road, which makes switching sessions interesting. You can substitute the tunnels for bridges if desired, though it will change the rolling countryside look of the completed track.

N Gauge Track Plans for Small Spaces

There’s a few key points to keep in mind when choosing N gauge track plans for small spaces. First off, how realistic should the layout look? What type of track plan do you need to fit it into the small space that you have available? Also, the operating interest with scenery and structures is also important to consider. Let’s check out a few creative N gauge track plans that can help you make a better decision.

2’x4′ N Scale Layout Plan

2x4 n scale track plan design
Basic continuous loop layout with several spurs and a yard. Image source.

This design uses two folding doors as the base, making it 28” wide and 6’6” long. This size makes it small enough to build on a table but large enough to offer interesting switching sessions. You can also change the model railroad scenery based on your preferences.

This track is a straightforward build. The curves are broad to support longer trains without the risk of derailment. You could also alter the number of spurs to add more industries or subtract them to build the landscape scene.

N Scale Track Plans 2×4

2x4 track plan for small spaces
Courtesy of DIY Digital Railroad

This 2’x’4’ track plan can vary as a standalone layout or as a modular layout. It incorporates a prototype design and oval shaped layout with a loop. The best trackwork for this 2×4 track plan is Kato Unitrack and it requires a minimum turning radius of 9.75”. It also contains two sidings for industries that can hold two trains which can reverse.

N Scale Track Plans 2×3

Track plan features a single oval with a small branch. Image source.

This 2×3 n scale track plan consists of a closed route track type in an oval shape. It also has one branch towards the inside of the layout. The basic track plan allows for you to customize the theme into a prototype or scratch build design. The trackwork uses Bachmann N scale E-Z with a minimum turning radius of 11.3” and turnout angle of 30°. It also controls passenger and switching traffic through both DC or DCC power.

Most Popular Top 3 N Scale Track Plans 

N Scale Track Plan Number 1

n scale track plan called EZ and Kwik

This n scale track plan is called the EZ and Kwik and was published by Kalmbach Publishing. Some key features to remember when viewing this layout is that all curves are 11-inch radius and an interchange track is added at the upper right. There are also additional features added such as a small engine service building and the track takes a different course along the front of the layout.

From a scenic point of view, it’s highly suggested that the yard area of this n scale track plan be raised above the rest of the track plan. It’s easy to remove layout if it needs to be transported and used at other locations.

N Scale Track Plan Number 2

n scale track plan horseshoe

The benchwork for this plan was of a box frame made of 1 x 4 pine and covered with 3/8 plywood. The plywood of this bench is covered by 2×4 ceiling tiles that were painted light brown before laying the roadbed of the layout.

When observing the horseshoe n scale track plan, you’ll notice the top part is 12 feet long and the left side that goes all the way to the bottom of the layout before the right starts is 10 feet.

The best way to gain a quick understanding of this track plan made for n scale is to compare the track plan to the bench work and you’ll quickly get an idea of how everything fits together cohesively.

Wiring this n scale track plan shape can be a little daunting but just remember that each section of track between track switches is connected to the DCC controller.

N Scale Track Plan Number 3 (Shelf Layout)

Even a small model train layout needs to exist! The size of this layout is only 2.62 feet x 1.31 feet and the embankment is at an angle of 135 degrees.

A big issue with n scale shelf layouts is the minimum curve radius that’s used. It’s suggested that at minimum an 11’’ radius is used. There is a possibility of using even smaller curves, but the overhang is noticeable.

You can use a variety of things for a shelf layout most model train enthusiasts prefer foam insulation and paper building placement.

Quick tip to remember is to add a bumper to keep the cars from falling off the shelf. If you don’t want the n scale shelf layout to hangover by a few inches, make sure all your measurements are correct before constructing and use some gaffer tape to temporarily hold the track in place if you must do some cutting after the layout is already built.

The N Scale Shelf Layout Photo Series below shows the different steps of shelf layout construction.

The design process for a small n scale shelf layout can become a bit congested. The main line should run diagonally across the benchwork that makes a very broad curve. This way the locomotives can run smoothly. Also, keep add-ons such as industry buildings or mountain areas should be pushed to the outer borders of the layout.

n-scale railroad
n-scale railroad

N Scale Train Layout Ideas

After choosing a track plan, it’s time to start thinking about model train layout ideas. Some of the most useful ideas include things like scenery, locomotives and backdrops. Here’s a set of n scale train layout ideas to help get your creative juices flowing.

N Scale Industrial Layout

n scale industrial layout with water towers

This continuously operating figure eight track shaped N scale layout contains 11 industrial buildings. The track runs parallel to the main lines and without any switching. There’s a very large industrial complex near the backdrop where the trains can stop on their route. The trackwork utilizes Atlas Code 55 track with a 2% grade incline that intertwines between the two ovals to form the figure eight.

N Scale Buildings

n scale cardstock building

Adding buildings and structures is a vital aspect of the model train planning process. This particular scale tends to have a large variety to choose from. Some of the more popular N scale buildings include cardstock, industrial and city buildings.

A more recent trend is adding 3D buildings that are fully customized to your layouts theme and era. 3D printed buildings are more expensive but can provide a very specific aesthetic to your overall layout.

Recap of Track Plans for N Scale

N scale train layout plans don’t require a lot of space or a huge investment of time and money. This type of layout plan also allows model railroaders to take full advantage of small spaces. This 4×8 track plan still gives the maximum benefit of having longer trains, switching and a more significant scenery to track ratio.

When building your first model train layout, choosing the right model train layout plan is vital to reduce hours of frustration. It’s important to take into consideration the limited space you have available plus consider the number of supplies on the market for the scale of your choosing. Finally, remember that “the smaller the scale the easier to break” but the more detail it will contain such as n scale. 


N Scale Shelf Layout

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