Perhaps the oval, no matter how you extend or alter it, appears too fixed and static for you.
You can make a distorted oval, and place stations or other buildings at the curved portions so the curves will be meaningful.
No real railroad curves without a reason, and you can always make your layout more realistic by giving your track a good reason to curve.
The distorted oval, without additions, takes 16 curved sections of track and two straight, and it fits neatly on a 4′ x 6′ board.
Even this layout needs a siding or two for interest. Here you have two, both requiring right-hand switches. Choose one or both.
With the distorted oval, you can even make a passing siding and an inside siding or two (only one is shown).
You can actually make, from this plan, the bent oval with a passing siding, an outside siding, and two inside sidings, each with a short second siding attached.
All layout suggestions offered so far in this e-course have not even used the full capacity of a 4′ x 6′ board. The full width, or close to it, can be taken advantage of by adding two half-length sections of straight track, one at each end of the oval. (Track comes in 1/2 straight sections and 1/2 curved sections.)
With this broadened oval you can handle every layout given up to this point and a good many more. With it you can place a complete circle or small oval within the large oval — and still have room for some sidings.
One advantage of this type of layout is that you can operate two trains at once, even if you have only one transformer. The better switches for S-gauge trains are equipped with small button switches that enable you to adjust them for two-train operation or for regular operation.
In regular operation, current flows to all rails so that trains move no matter what track they are on. With two-train operation, current flows only into the loop for which the switches are set and not into the loop that is cut off by the switches.
Thus, if you have switches set for the outside loop, any train on that loop will move but a train on the inside loop will stop.
When switches are changed, the train on the outside loop will automatically stop and the train on the inside loop will move. This diagram shows an oval with a circle inside, and two possible dead-end sidings:
This layout, without sidings, takes 22 curved sections, 4 straight sections, 2 half- straight sections, and a pair of switches. The sidings shown would add another pair of switches, 1 curved, and 3 straight sections of track.
This layout can be varied by making the inner circle into an oval. This enables you to construct a crossover from the outside to the inside oval.
Incidentally, some manufacturers confuse the terms crossover and crossing. A cross-over is a combination of switches which enables a train to pass from one track to another track running parallel with it.
A crossing, on the other hand, is an accessory by which one track actually crosses another—usually at right angles—without trains being able to pass from one to the other.
This next layout shows an oval within an oval, with a crossover between the two ovals at the bottom. It takes 22 curved sections, 3 straight, 2 half-straight, and four switches.
Another variation of the broadened oval gives you an inside curve which can be made, through proper switching, to lead into a dead-end siding. Or the train can move onto the siding directly from the outside oval.
The distorted and broadened ovals may be combined with the circle to give great variety in a 4′ by 6′ layout, as shown here:
You don’t need to use every feature of it — just choose what you wish and what you have track for.
Another interesting layout that looks as if it could not fit on a 4′ x 6′ board (but can, even though there is very little room left over) involves a complete circle which need not involve the large oval enclosing it.
A long curved connecting line, however, lets you send a train from the inner circle to the outer oval. You can keep two trains rolling around both of these at once without interference.
When you operate your trains on this layout, you will wish that you could get from the outer oval back to the inner circle without backing up — or rather, in addition to backing up, for reversing actions are always interesting in themselves.
The layout that will accomplish this is easy to construct, but it will not fit on a 4′ x 6′ board. A 4′ x 8′ panel, however, will hold it nicely, as shown below: