# abother newbie question

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by csiguy, Jul 23, 2008.

1. ### csiguyMember

hi all i have another newbie type question. my layout is going to be about approximately16 feet long and 7 feet wide. im going to have a steel mill, a coke oven and coal mine on my layout.

the question is to make this look relatively realistic how many hopper cars should i have. currently i have about 20 bowser 100 ton hopper cars in conrail scheme.

thanks very much for any help and guidance.

todd
2. ### KevinkreyMember

I tend to have the same problem. I model an ore hauling railroad and need a good size for a unit ore/taconite train. This is a good question though.

My answer is that its ultamately a decision you need to make judged on what you think looks best. If you have long straightaways, you might need a longer train because more is visible. Where a winding curvy track can make a train look longer. The best answer is to run as long a train as you can, but almost nobody has enough room to run a actual length train. Try a few trains, see how short/long you can go to give a believeable size train.

I didnt give the best answer, but you have to make the decison, so I hope this told you more than you knew and helped a bit.
3. ### pgandwActive Member

My theories on train length started with some Iain Rice articles and some practical observations.

Iain Rice stated that for a shelf layout, longest practical train length is 1/4 to 1/3 the length of the shelf.

I don't like to see a train in 2 towns at once. That means the distance between towns should be at least 1.5 train lengths.

Passing sidings need to be at least a train length long, or operations get bogged down. The same is true for yard approach/departure tracks and staging yard tracks. A yard is more efficient if the drill track (yard lead) and at least one yard track are as long as a full cut of cars from the arrival/departure track.

On an around the walls layout, my preference is to limit train length to the shortest wall minus twice the curve radius in the corners.

On an island layout with oval, my preference is to limit train length to the length of the long side minus twice the radius. This is also the longest practical passing siding located along one side of the layout.

Measure your hopper cars (in inches) over the middle of the couplers and divide into the longest practical train length minus an appropriate amount for engine and caboose. That gives you the longest practical train of hoppers. For most layouts, 3 times that number of hoppers would be a practical total on the layout. One train's worth in a moving train, another train's worth in the yard, and a third train's worth at the mine. This assumes your mine produces a train's worth of coal at least once a day, and you have track at the mine to handle it.

For instance, I'll assume longest your longest practical train length is 7ft or 84". Double headed Geeps are 16" long, and a caboose adds 4" (in HO). That leaves 68" worth of hoppers, or 13 hoppers if they are 32ft versions (5"). Leave off an engine and you might be able to use 2 more hoppers. For decent realism, your mine should be set up to use cuts of 3 hoppers each, so a 12 car hopper train works well. 12 cars being loaded at the mine, 12 cars in the train, and 12 empties in the yard waiting to be taken to the mine gives a total of 36 hoppers. If you have a staging yard, another 12 might be appropriate.

As you can see, your operational scenarios, available track, and train lengths drive the number. Very few model mines are set up to handle 4 cuts of 3 cars each, so this will probably be the limiting factor if you intend to run unit trains.

4. ### csiguyMember

thanks guys for the advice. i just dont wanna have to many, if thats even possible. tonight when i was looking around i found i had 30 udec. hoppers i forgot i had. so after the advice you guys gave ill be able to use them. thanks again for the help.
5. ### Dave1905Member

If you have a coal mine, a coke oven and steel mill all on a 16x7 layout, you probably don't need a railroad, they would all be so close they could just conveyor the material from one step to the other.

My suggestion is to model one end or the other, either the coke oven, steel mill end or the coal mine, coke oven end. If you absolutely HAVE to put all three in the same room, then put the steel mill on one end and coal mine on the other and the coke oven next to one or the other.

One suggestion is to have a shortline or steel mill road handle the coke handle the product between the coke oven and the other industry. Back in Pennsylvania, the Reading served Keystone Coke and the UMP (Upper Merion & Plymouth) moved the coke between the coke ovens and the Allen Wood Steel mill on the other side of the river. That solves part of your train length problem. asume the coke oven is next to the steel mill, then the road train would only have to run from staging (no mines) or the mines to the coke plant. Then the shortline or steel mill railroad would handle smaller cuts of coke between the ovens and furnace.

I personally suggest NOT having the coal mines on the layout. You can pack more/longer trains into the space in staging than the mine, and devote more space to the coke ovens/steel mill.

Dave H.
6. ### DanscoMember

I just love to design layouts, Iv only built one! LOL.. but all my current designs, include the hint of a mill, utilizing scenic dividers and false fronts\art to represent the rest of the things happening. I just picked one portion of the mill, the blast furnace, so I can have slag dumping and those few key mill activities that I find interesting, the ore delivery, material handling, and other processes happens on the "fictional" side of the scenic divider... behind the false fronts..

You might take an opposite approach and just model the high line ore delivery, leaving blast furnace, and other aspects suggested by false fronts and graphic scenic dividers.