Givens and Druthers

As I mentioned, I am starting to plan for my new layout.

Two layouts ago, I made a list of givens and druthers. That term was coined by John Armstrong.

Givens and Druthers

Givens are features or limitations you must have, either forced on you by the size or shape of the room, economics, etc., or your own desires. For example, in my case the size of the room is a given. It’s not going to change and I have to live with it.

Druthers are things you’d rather (“you druther”) have, so they are negotiable. List all your druthers and accept that you are not going to get them all.

There is some good discussion about Armstrong’s “givens and druthers” here.

Here are my givens and druthers.


Room size – 20 feet by 8.5-12 feet with a door in one corner and a window on one wall
Mainline curves have minimum radius of 24″ to handle 89′ cars
HO scale in standard gauge
Capability for continuous running
DCC operation


Two-cab wiring so one cab can be DCC and one DC
Signaled operation (ABS or CTC)
Minimum 24″ aisle width
Duck-under or lift-out bridge will be required
No need to reach more than 24″ into the layout
Designed for realistic operations – this means numerous industries
Interchange(s) with other railroad(s)
Longest main line runs possible
10-12 car trains
More than adequate staging
Yard switching

Note that none of these talk about the track plan at all. It’s important to record what you want the end result to be before you figure out what to build to get what you want. You need to know the destination before you pick the route. I haven’t talked about whether it will be single level or multi-level, about helixes, wyes, and other somewhat exotic track arrangements. Those will come soon.

Did I forget anything? What are your givens and druthers?