We have the basic idea of what we want, now let's design it.
After looking at prototype photos, I usually grab my sketch pad first. I keep sketch paper and this handy sketching set in my desk drawer.
Using an HO scaled rule, I'll figure out or estimate the dimensions and begin drawing.
Here is the finished sketch. I inked it after drawing it with pencil. I've decided to use more "bents" or pilings for this so that it will look more robust and theoretically hold more weight. One prototype photo I saw had square timbers, but I think I like the look of the pilings better. The drawing was sent to Rick who said "proceed!"
One critical dimension needs to be checked, and that is the height of the platform. For this I use the NMRA standards which are free on the internet.
When we use the standards, let's look at the "classic" standards which would cover out time period. Dimension "E" is what we are after, which is the height of a platform. We look up E and HO, and we are given 18/32" or 14mm.
I gave estimated dimensions for lumber, but will check this against my available supply and will use what I have. Plastic may be substituted instead of wood for some parts.
Ok, we have a plan. Now we need to check for materials, and most likely, build a jig for the pilings.
1. Sketch out your ideas if you can. It gives you a better feel for the model.
2. Items like ramps don't need to be precision made, or even perfectly copying a prototype, but that is up to you.
3. When making a model for someone else, get their buy in as to what you are building constantly through the project so that you can build what they are expecting.
4. You don't have to have precision scale drawing to build a small model. Rough drawings or even just a photograph can be enough to get you started.