I have been looking at layout height and one of the most impressive ways I have seen scenery is floor to ceiling or chest height to ceiling in order to give the impression of little trains and big mountains as this is more appealing than a standard 2'0 height for a flat layout. I'd like to know what someone's experience is in dealing with dramatic scenery and would they do it again. I am aware of the original slim gauge guild's scenery, Dennis Ferguson's RGS and a few others and that is something I am thinking about doing. Any comments.
On a previous On3 layout, the D&RGW's Silverton Branch ( Mar/ Apr 2005 NG &SL Gazette), I modeled the High Line scenery all the way to the floor. That horseshoe shaped scene was about 8 feet wide and 8 feet deep. Track height was at 55 inches, the scenery went from about 80 inches high down to the Animas River at 4 four inches. To access the scene, I took my shoes off and literally walked on water ( the Animas River).
When this layout was sold and moved to another location, this section was rebuilt with the scenery cut off at 12 inches from the floor, and with two foot wide walkway built into the scene, replacing the river. It still remains a very impressive scene.
Modeling a scene such as this requires fairly vertical scenery. I built and finished all the scenery above and behind the tracks first, and built the remaining scenery to the floor starting in the back of the canyon, working my way out. Doing something like this requires a lot of planning, but the end effect can be very rewarding. Nothing does a better job of recreating the feeling of tiny trains running thru the large rugged mountains.
Alas, my current C&S Clear Creek based layout is double deck, not allowing for such a scene.
Do you think scenery is more dramatic from chest height up. Detailed scenes do make a marked difference as opposed to just plain floor to ceiling scenery. Is there a way to convey dramatic scenery on a double or tripled deck layout.
John, all I can give you in the way of advice is that it has to be a purely personal choice that only you can make.
Space, scale, and whatever willingness and resources you (and your spouse or partner) have to bring your layout into 3D are major factors, but it's a sliding, transient issue, because things change.
But quite frankly, my attitudes of "the ultimate layout" are greatly diminished now, as I'm pushing 70, and pretty much everything I do and consider in this hobby are influenced in one way or another by the knowledge that I will be lucky to be able to keep it up for only another ten years or so. My Dickey "layout" is 36 glorious inches off the floor, in what passes for my office, and I greatly enjoy being able to cast a glance over my shoulder from my desk and instantly journey back 82 years in time. For me, I got over the idea of a large layout in the late 70's when I was consumed with building a huge D&RGW empire in HOn3. My elevations ran from 36" in Durango to about 54" at Silverton. When I switched to On3 in 1980, I was content to build a large loop with a peninsula all at 54" high.
I had a friend who always has dreamed of a Chama to Alamosa layout in On3, and now he actually has it. It has taken a team of enthusiastic helpers t make it happen, but it has and God love him for sticking to his dream.
Best of luck as you wrestle with this, it's a really big deal in this hobby.
As our old friend and mentor the now late Bob Stull always used to say, "Rule #1 is, it's MY railroad. Rule #2 is, if there are any suggestions or changes you'd like to make, refer to Rule #1."
Keep us posted. This is always an interesting topic, and good luck!
For the casual visitor looking at the layout, the scenery to the floor impresses them. But for myself and other "operators" when running a train, we don't even notice the scenery below 12 inches below the track height. All focus is on the train and the scenery closest to it.
So yes, dramatic scenery is possible on a double deck layout as long as you have several inches of scenery below the track, and a foot or more above.
Attached here is a photo of Elk Creek on my layout. This scene is on the lower level of my double deck layout. The scenery extends about six inches below the track height. THe upper deck is 24 inches above the lower deck benchwork, or about 18 inches above the track.