A little more than a year in the making

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by 91rioja, Feb 12, 2007.

  1. 91rioja

    91rioja Member

    I'm back :wave: !

    It has been just over a year since I started back into model railroading. It's hard to work in 99 square feet, but, I think I may have just done that. I picked up a copy of John Armstrong's Track Planning for Realistic Operation yesterday; if you do not own a copy for yourself, I would suggest you getting one. It has been really enlightening reading.

    With my first plans, I was trying to fit everything around a coal mine. Mines are large places, and I just don't have room to do what I want to with the mine. So I had to review my vision quite a bit. I have now come up on the idea of switching with the option of continuous running (for the small children, and the one big one who just sometimes wants to see traing go in circles :D ). It is still in the same room, with the same duckunder, with all of the same issues that room had to begin with. So, I just had to make the most of it. So here is is, revision 1,547,886.


    It is basically a point-to-point that starts from the interchange and runs counterclockwise to the last industry on the layout, the small mine tipple (yeah, I did find room for something a wee bit smaller). The specifics:

    Code 83 track
    Minimum Radius Mainline - 24"
    Minimum Turnout Mainline - #6, #4.5 at the mine, #6.5 Curved
    Siding Turnout - #4.5
    Interchange capacity - 12 50' cars
    Spot capacity - 23 50' cars

    I've spent two solid days on this plan alone (my wife is about to kill me), and this is what I think the industries and roadways should look like.


    I'm planning on putting a backdrop between the interchange and the mine to split it up a bit. I like this plan, it works well for me (lone wolf operator, DCC and Sound), and I am just ready to run trains. Ya'll see any gotchas?
  2. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer

    Hi Chris. Your plan looks good. :thumb: The one thing I question is the cross over that I marked in red. The only other suggestion would be to make s swing gate or a liftout rather than a duckunder. Much easier on the back. :D :D

    Attached Files:

  3. 91rioja

    91rioja Member

    I think I envisioned it as being an escape from the mine. The engine and its cars come in from the siding, drop off, and as long as the tipple is open, the engine can escape. The mine is not large, so it should be either empty or full.

    As part of the Operational SOP, I have decided that the engine cannot loop the layout to work the facing point spurs. You have to work the sidings as it were a true point-to-point.

    Make sense? It did to me about an hour ago...
  4. Nazgul

    Nazgul Active Member

    Hi Chris
    Glad to hear from you:thumb:
    As you well know....my track-planning abilities leave much to be desired:cry: ...so I have done what little I could, and that is: look at your plan and say to myself, "would I have fun running it?"........The quick answer is, Yes I would!:) You have plenty of switching opportunities. They seem easy to get to (keeping frustration level low). A nice diversity of industry. Continuous running when you choose. Looks great!:thumb:
    Any water/bridge feature? (maybe on the left side?).
    It doesn't help much......but if this were my layout...I would enjoy it for many years to come. That's about all you can ask from a layout;)
    I will leave it to other more qualified individuals to address any technical difficulties (if there are any).
    Personally...I'm just glad to see you back:thumb:
    take care, my friend:wave:
  5. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer

    So you would be using A as a runaround? That makes sense then, as long as it will hold the 4 cars that you have indicated on your plan. It just took my pea-brain a while to figure that out. :rolleyes: :rolleyes: It would allow you to work the mine in both directions. Looks like the layout has a lot of potential. :thumb: :thumb:

    Attached Files:

  6. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    I don't see whereabouts you might place a lift bridge or swing gate - there's altogether too may tracks crossing any one spot. Maybe the spot marked "A" in one of the drawings. Believe me, I had a duckunder, but after a few weeks of bumping & scraping head and back, I decided to make a lift-out section. I'm glad I did...!!!
  7. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer

    It seems that there are only two places where access would be feasible. The area where the A is, and the place just to the right of it. As you say Gus, there are just too many tracks there to be practical, which leaves the A section. It looks too wide for a swing gate, so a a lift out or a fold down would be the only practical alternatives. The only problem with that is that the tracks there are curves. All of the lift outs, gates, etc that I have seen are done in areas with straight track. Chris, it would take someone much smarter than me to tell how to do that or if it were even possible. Hopefully some such someone will join in with better advice.
  8. 91rioja

    91rioja Member

    Clark, thanks for asking about the runaround at "A". I went back last night and measured it; it is 37" long, or enough room for 4.8 50' cars. So yes, it will hold what I need it to.

    Gus, I understand your concern about the duckunder. I wish I did not have to have one, but with the size of the room and what I have compromised on already, the truth is that it needs one. When the small children come over, all they want to see is Uncle Chris' trains go in circles (the current trackage is not complete and they get really tired of watching them go back-and-forth). The layout is 48" high; I have only cracked my head once so far.

    In a perfect world, I would have all of the room I needed to run my long coal hauls through the mountains. This was my compromise.
  9. 91rioja

    91rioja Member

    Have you ever noticed . . .

    That is easier to tear down the layout than it is to build it? It took all of 10 minutes last night to remove the duckunder from the previous benchwork; it took me almost a day to construct it when I put it up.

    I may have to find a way to do without it. I really like being able to walk into my room now!
  10. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member


    Firstly, I like the plan! As Steve says, it'd be fun to run. I'm at work on lunch right now so I'll have to get back to you later (today?) with a more detailed 'critique'...mostly suggestions, nothing crucial...

    NOW...about these kids you keep mentioning. Are they really that important? Just how long are they going to spend watching Uncle Chris's trains go round n round? Here's what I'd do (since you asked). Build a point-to-point with the option for continuous running.

    You may be saying, well, isn't that what I did? Yes. BUT, let that guide your duckunder decision. The duckunder is still a function of the point-to-point scheme in the above plan. It's still necessary to reach the coal mine, traveling counter-clockwise.

    When the duckunder becomes a liftout section ONLY necessary to allow continuous running, then perhaps that's a better reflection of YOUR needs and desires, not the kids you see only occasionally and who may never show more than a passing interest in your trains...If they're already tired of watching them go back and forth, what makes you think they'll spend that much more time watching them go around in circles?

    On the other hand, if you feel like they are developing more than just a passing fancy, then you may be fine building just as is. Lemme mark up the plan a bit and get back to you, hopefully tonight.
  11. 91rioja

    91rioja Member


    Interesting about the duckunder. After taking out the current pain-in-the-head and looking at the room, I had an idea. I was checking out a "G" shaped layout with a removable thing to use for continuous running if I choose to (or when the kids come over). This is kind of the shape I was looking at, and it would only require a few track moves that would effect the mine and the interchange. Please ignore the tracks that go off to nowhere; this is by no means complete, it is just an idea.


    I think I like this arrangement much better; it actually gives me more running space.
  12. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    YES! If you put the mine out on the peninsula it would even give you more room for a larger structure.

    You'd be keeping the interchange next to the engine shop, right? One of Iain Rice's around the room linked-up section plans includes a cassette idea with the interchange cassettes behind a backdrop, or low rise of buildings. With shelves below the layout on the wall, you'd have a place to set out whole cuts of cars (maybe a 3' cassette?). So you wouldn't need to model an interchange 'yard' per se...saving on turnouts and time?
  13. 91rioja

    91rioja Member

    Do you have any idea what the attention span of a 3, 4, and 5 year old is???? sign1

    About the same as mine sometimes. . .

    Yes, they are important to me, but it is MY train (do you see the only child coming out :D ). I see your point, and I think I realized it today myself.
  14. 91rioja

    91rioja Member

    Updated Plan without the Duckunder

    Ok, so I took everyone's advice and ditched the duckunder :thumb: . I will not have a continuous run capability, but after much soul searching, I decided that it was OK. So, here is the revised plan for your consideration.


    Same stuff as before, just a different configuration. What do you think Galen?
  15. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    UGH! Just wrote a post and it didn't go through because I left the computer long enough before sending and apparantly I wasn't logged in! DRRR....

    Anyway, I think you need a continuous run connection crossing the aisle from the engine service 'switchback' over to the curve near the mine spurs. Just to break-in locos, or give the J a chance to stretch her legs. Details later if you decide to do that. It doesn't have to be scenic, just functional, if it's not going to live there all the time.

    I'd also lose a couple industries. On the right side, I'd drop either the printer or the manufacturer. This can give you a scenic break between the interchange/enginehouse area and the town/industrial area. Perhaps a river/creek where the printer is now. Then you can continue the creek on the other side between the industrial area and the mine area.

    I'd also lose an industry in the town area, either the brewery or the Imperial foods. Then replace it with a non-railroad revenue scene, like tenements or a diner. This will break the 'industrial monotony' If you lose both industries in the 'middle' of the scene, you could bend the track slightly there so that there's not so much that's parallel with the edge, making a more visually interesting scene.

    If the mine is not the 'end of the line', then you could eliminate the runaround there and use the runaround in town to get behind your hoppers and shove them out there, a common prototypical practice (necessitating a caboose, often!)

    If it is the end of the line, then consider losing or shifting the industries at the far left end of the town to create more run time between the town and the mine and create a mining community there, perhaps with a spur at the far left, off the runaround. (This would possibly foul any bridge across the aisle, but not necessarily if planned carefully...) Again, a scenic feature like a deep cut or creek/river between the town/mine would increase this distance. Likewise, setting the whole mine complex at a slight angle to the edge of the benchwork will give it more visual interest.

    I think you've done some really great planning work here and you should be proud of what you've accomplished. I'm certainly enjoying the conversation, even if it is a year later!
  16. 91rioja

    91rioja Member

    Yes, I was thinking the same thing. Love to hear the details.

    I'm planning on keeping the printer. My company had a printing facility in South Carolina that was served via rail and CSX. Paper came in on boxcar for the facility (about 9 cars per week). It is something that I want to keep. I don't have either of the buildings, but I was planning or scratching or bashing something for that area.

    I like the idea of the river/creek. I would be a good break in the scenery.

    That was the first blush at it. I have 4 kits of the Walthers Background Buildings, and the rest of it was just kinda thrown in to keep with the industrial setting. I'll rethink that one. I think you would be right about making it a more visually interesting scene.

    I had planned it to be the end of the line, but since cars will be coming "via off-layout", then why can the layout extend itself to another off-layout spot. Hmmm. . . That is a good idea.

    I was also planning on using an 18" backdrop on the back side of the mine (it is the green line in the pic below) to add some separation to the layout. I'm not at all sure how i would tie it in; cut through a mountain? Tunnel? Any Idea?


    I am in awe of the high praise given. It is amazing just what comes together with a little research and a little reading and a lot of help from your peers/friends.

    Saturday and Sunday, I tore out the old layout; I'm just down to the benchwork, which I am going to reuse. Going from 24" wide to 18" should be no problem.

    Well, off to piddle around some more.
  17. 91rioja

    91rioja Member

    I was thinking, what if I reversed the sides a bit. I was thinking about switching the interchange with the mine. They are about the same size (I think about 6" in difference), and it would allow me to scene the ENTIRE right side of the layout. The industries and the interchange could be located quite close and not lose much functional operation; the mine scene could turn into great coal country backwoods.

    What do you think?
  18. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Aha! An excellent epiphany! I may just pick up my pencil and graph paper again just for you...we'll see...
  19. 91rioja

    91rioja Member

    Here is the latest

    The newest in a series of layouts by me. I switched the positions of the interchange and the mine, dropped a few industries, and made a liftout bridge for continuous running. What do you think?


    Much more operational interest, and more visual interest.
  20. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    I love it! LOVE IT! A great plan.

    Only suggestion (so far) - move the aisle-bridge turnout on the yard/shop side into the curve itself to avoid an S curve. Likewise, watch the curves near the propane dealer. If you used a lefty instead of a righty for the propane siding turnout and you put the curved side of the turnout on the curve immediately E of its current position, then you can move the passing track turnout into the place where the propane siding turnout is now, mostly eliminating the S curve there.

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