Custom Layout Design Process
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Easy steps to a design that reflects your vision
The very first step is determining your vision of the model railroad that best suits your interests and needs. Some clients define this vision with sketches, others with words, still others with copies of prototype photos or magazine clippings. This vision is your picture of what you would like the layout to be and it may be very detailed or simply stated. In addition to this vision, I encourage clients to look carefully through the questions on this website.

Obviously, I don't expect detailed answers to all of these questions, but it might help you focus your ideas so we can work together most efficiently.

It works great to send me an email with the ideas these questions have generated along with any sketches or doodles you might have and a dimensioned sketch of your layout space showing windows, doors, obstructions, etc. (scanned or surface mailed).

I spend a little time on this background info you provide to get some ideas in mind. Then I prepare a detailed proposal with a firm price for your agreement.

When you send back the signed agreement and initial payment. The first step in the design process is for me to provide you with a scale drawing of your layout space for your agreement with all the key measurements.

The next step is the preparation of a rough CAD conceptual design footprint. This locates key elements, such as yards and staging, but does not yet have the detail of a finished design. Occasionally it takes a couple of revisions on the conceptual design, but usually the initial footprint works well.

After your approval of this rough design footprint, you receive the first detailed to-scale version of the track plan, usually within a few weeks. 

Often there are sugestions for changes and enhancements, so one major revision is included in the price. The time frame for that final revision is usually two weeks after the client provides detailed feedback on the first version.

The final product is a set of Adobe acrobat (.pdf) files and hardcopy printout on (typically) multiple sheets, along with a CD that has a number of different file formats in case you'd like to have a large-scale plot or print-out done locally. There are usually a couple of different views to show various aspects of the design. Click the image at right for sample views from a custom track plan.

Click for sample custom plan views in adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format

Design work is priced based on the research required, layout size, number of decks, and complexity (essentially determined by number of turnouts or other complex layout elements).

Existing plan that might need some ideas or advice?
I am happy to offer a "second opinion" on existing plans, analyzing your current design for potential construction or functional problems, exploring ways to add more operating interest, increase realism, or better reflect prototype scens or practices. The cost is based on my estimate of the time to analyze and write a detailed evaluation that often includes diagrams of suggestions for improved track configurations, enhanced staging, etc.
There's no time like the present ...

Please contact me and let's get started on your design today!

Copyright 2004 by Byron Henderson

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