Fastrack, the newest track from Lionel, is easy to set up, yet has a more realistic look with a track that comes attached to a ballast roadbed. It comes as three-rail track to run large O Scale trains,1:48, but with tight enough curves in its track to fit limited spaces. The three rails allows trains to run on alternating current that makes wiring easy. The sectional track also allows you to piece together a basic layout in a very short time.
Decide the type or railroad you wish to model. If you’re looking to build a starter set for a child showing an interest in the hobby, you can build a Fastrak layout on a standard 4x8 table. If you’re hoping to build a model railroad empire, you’ll need the basement – all of it, if you can.
Determine the minimum radius of your curves for the space you’re using. Fastrack’s tightest curved track, 036, comes with a diameter of 36 inches, or a radius of 18 inches. That’s a very tight curve, and makes trains and particularly locomotives look toy like.
Increase the radius of the curve to improve the realism of the layout. Fastrack curves come in diameter increments of 12 inches. A half circle of 048 curved track will fit barely fit within four feet. Some locomotives will only fit on curves from 060 or 072 track.
Design a fairly good-looking operations layout by using what model railroaders call a dog-bone, if space allows, with two loops at either end of a relatively narrow straightaway. This allows you continuous running of a train, coupled with interesting operations on sidings and yards tucked along the mainline between the loops.
Discard loops altogether if space it too limited, and instead build a shelf railroad using a switching layout. A switching layout provides the interest of switching cars to small yards and industrial sidings without needing the space for a mainline.
Leave room to grow. Start with a small layout, such as a shelf layout, but provide an outlet for future expansion, such as adding that mainline. A small layout is easier to transport for that time you can move into a house with a big basement.