A Railroad with Relevance

Givens & Druthers

Written By: Alan

In the corporate world it is called Project Management. I am immersed in it every working day. Project Management is a protocol followed from idea inception to completion of a product. It is the how, when, where, why and who of getting things done in the business world. Great system but rather formal, cold, and generally doesn’t make you go Wheeeee!

Model railroaders have a simpler system. It’s called Givens & Druthers and it is simply two lists. One being the constraints the railroad must exist within (Givens) whether these be self-imposed or factors beyond the control of the modeler and the second is a wish list of attributes for the railroad that fit within the constraints (Druthers). Givens are the hard and fast rules while Druthers are the options. I like this simplicity and freedom of design so have adopted the Givens & Druthers method of Project Management for the LK&O. Besides, with only me on the project team the conference calls should be short! 🙂

Below are my lists, each in no particular order. They are likely to grow and change quite frequently especially on the Druthers side. I suspect experienced model railroaders will look at the lists and immediately think Newbie. They would be correct. I’m sure that I too will look back many years from now and laugh myself at how miserably naive my lists are. But hey, you have to start somewhere and if Newbie is that point then I proudly wear the title of Newbie.


  1. The primary fun ROI will be found in the construction. The railroad will never be “finished”.
  2. The railroad will be designed for operation by a single person first and foremost however should be capable of supporting a small operating crew.
  3. The railroad must reside in the allotted space, no sprawling into other parts of the basement.
  4. Aisles shall be a minimum of 36″ width.
  5. Suitable space around the workbench shall be maintained.
  6. No duck-unders, liftouts, or similar arrangements shall be permitted in the design.
  7. The bench-work shall be fabricated in a manner that facilitates relocation; i.e. 30″ max width to clear doorways
  8. The scale shall be HO (1/87)
  9. Control shall be DCC Forget DCC. Discovered RailPro!
  10. Visible mainline radius shall be at least 30″; hidden mainline radius shall be at least 24″; spurs, industrial tracks, etc. radius shall be at least 24″.
  11. The minimum switch angle shall be #6. #8 switch angles shall be used on the mainline wherever practical.
  12. The railroad era shall be 1960’s – 1970’s*.
  13. The railroad will incorporate three primary locales – AC&Y Brittain Yard in Akron OH, Thomas subdivision through Kitzmiller MD, Flint subdivision at Saginaw St. in Lapeer MI.
  14. In keeping with the railroad’s theme “A Railroad with Relevance”, all additions (locales, structures, scenery, etc.) shall have a justifiable reason for being included. No arbitrary additions shall be made.
  15. The railroad shall be designed so as to provide scenic separation between the three primary locales.
  16. Brittain Yard shall be the visual focal point of the layout.
  17. The railroad shall, at minimum, incorporate in a predominant manner: an Appalachian style coal load out facility, a major rubber manufacturing complex, small industries in Lapeer at Saginaw St. grade crossing.
  18. The railroad shall have at least one continuous run mainline
  19. All switches shall be remotely controlled on valance. No manual ground throws will be used.
  20. hopefully not more to come


  1. Railfanning shall be of prime importance however casual operations shall be supported.
  2. The railroad shall use single deck bench-work.
  3. The railroad shall be designed so as to maximize mainline length.
  4. The trains shall pass through each scene only once during a run.
  5. Large radius curves shall be used wherever practical.
  6. Walthers Shinohara code 83 track and turnouts shall be used throughout.
  7. Easements and super elevated curves shall be used on mainline.
  8. The design shall be helix-free.
  9. Particular attention shall be paid to modeling of Addition Alley in Kitzmiller.
  10. The railroad shall utilize computer interface to DCC and operations control software (JMRI).
  11. The railroad shall have at least one dramatic high bridge over gorge scene.
  12. All rolling stock shall utilize metal wheel sets in compliance with NMRA specifications.
  13. AC&Y shall be the primary motive power and rolling stock.
  14. many more to come

* with exceptions as I see fit. It’s my railroad!



  1. David Purcell says:

    Nice work Alan.

    Keep in touch!!!

  2. Art Rossbach says:

    Hi Alan,

    I went looking for any sign of my original Canadian Pacific Vista Dome set that was a very special Christmas gift in 1957 and was stolen from my home in 1981, never recovered.

    Thanks for the memories! Enjoyed your website. At least my memories can’t be stolen unless I get Alzheimers.

    Art 443-286-7738

  3. Tim Briney says:

    It looks like you are located in Lapeer MI, is that correct? Do you ever have open houses to look at what your are working on? I’m just starting my layout and I really like how you are progressing. I live in Clarkston MI so your not too far from me. Please feel free to contact me directly if you like.
    Thanks for your time.

  4. Alan says:

    C’mon over Tim. Let’s talk trains!

  5. Lee Lovelette says:

    Hi Alan,

    As a fellow Lapeer resident living on the nw side of town, I too am wondering if I could come over to take a gander at your empire. I have plans for my basement empire—just have to finish some other remodeling of my house before the bank manager (wife 😉 lets me begin. I also have interest in your Lapeer modeling–I haven’t read all your blogs yet, so I don’t know if you were planning on having the ‘Toodles’ switch that area or your home road do it. Hopefully, we can meet….


  6. Roger says:

    Alan, you call yourself a Newbie here I am reading your lists and learning from them. So perhaps not so newbie anymore if I am learning from your work.

  7. alan says:

    That’s a nice compliment Roger. Thank you. Every day is a new adventure so I still feel very much like a newbie.

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