Brett – a great small layout you can model


When you travel for business, you can spend a lot of time staring at the walls of your hotel room. While travelling in June of 2014 I came across Martin Hogg’s YouTube channel and his switching layout – Brett. Martin has built one of the best operating layouts for a small space. 8 feet long and 1 foot wide it packs in plenty of switching while allowing short, focused operating sessions that you can set up and run any evening without a lot of effort.

Martin’s Videos

Here’s Martin’s first Video:

In November 2014 Martin posted another video:

In November I was lucky enough to catch up with Martin; I wanted to find out what had been his inspiration and focus for designing Brett.

Designing Brett

Previously known as Dreary, Martin’s layout has been renamed to Brett after a recent revamp. Still set in Idaho in the early 80s the layout is at the end of a branch line, now under the ownership the Yellow Pine Railroad (YPRR). Essentially a run-around loop, with industries off each end of the loop and an interchange track, trains enter from front right and loads are spotted at industries according to the crew’s switch list for that day.

Martin says that his attention has wandered recently and that the railway had taken a backseat to other modelling interests. “I decided to re-vamp the shelf layout. I have various plans brewing for another American one, but I decided to try to get some more out of this and I have to say, so far it is working.” The layout is essentially a loop with sidings.

Martin says that “there was no room to have a traditional staging or fiddle yard”.

“The track at the front right acts as the ‘interchange’ or in/out track.”

Operating Brett

Early on in the design Martin decided that “there was little point in creating an illusion of ‘somewhere else’ as this layout wasn’t going to be leaving my spare room. So the front track acts as the on-scene staging and provides the start and end point for the game play.”

The loop in front of Smith & Hogg’s track can contain a maximum of three 50 foot cars, Northwest Lumber can  handle 2 cars, and Farmers Co-Op can handle up to three 50 foot cars, while the team track and Smith and Hogg can manage a single car each.

The aim of the game Martin says is not to overload the layout with too many cars. Martin prefers to switch a couple of cars for 30 minutes at day’s end, rather than spend a couple of hours once every now and then. Additionally only having to setup a couple of cars means it is faster to set up and tear down an operating session at the end of the working day.

“I planned to allow 1 loco+2 cars (or 3 cars) as an ideal length for each spur to allow switching moves. The ‘interchange’ or fiddle track at front is the same.”


There are four industry spots on the layout. From Left to right they are:

  1. Team track
  2. Northwest Lumber
  3. Smith & Hogg Hardware, and
  4. Brett Elevator (Farmer’s Co-Op)

More information

Would you like to learn more about Brett and Martin Hogg? You can download a full article by clicking here: Small Layouts: Brett – A switching layout design

About Andrew Martin

After a long IT and Telecommunications career in the USA and Australia, I've decided I need a break, I've changed focus and now work in the public transport sector - a complete change of pace. Hobby wise I'm focused on model railway layout building and modelling. I blog, write and publish as often as I am able.
This entry was posted in Layout Design, Layouts, Small, Switching. Bookmark the permalink.

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