BL&T trackplan

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by gcodori, Aug 15, 2007.

  1. gcodori

    gcodori Member

    I have been searching for some small layout designs to fit my 8x12 space. I have mostly been looking through my old copies of MR from 1981-86 and looking online.

    I came across a design I really like, and fits my overall desire for running with a little switching thrown in. It even depicts the same location I'm interested in.

    The layout is the BL&T - Bogg's Landing & Trottwater featured in the June 2001 issue of Model Railroader. It was one of the winners of the small layout competitions.

    Is anyone familiar with this design?

    I will try to post a scan of the trackplan ASAP, but would like comments on any potential problem areas to watch out for - like the possible reach problem for a good portion of the layout (around 3 feet deep in some portions). How do the grades look? I plan to use spectrum 4-6-0 and 2-8-0's (HO scale).

    Also, is anyone willing to convert this into xtrkcad or 3rd planit? I have both programs but can't seem to get beyond laying sectional track (both programs have horrible flex track interfaces). And this layout has three track elevations.

    Lastly - any changes you think would improve this design?

    Thanks everyone,

  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Hope to see your pictures soon. With (what sounds like) a smallish branchline and small to mid-sized steamers, it really appeals to me. I'll have to see if I have that in my collection - June 2001 you say?

    Just some general rules of thumb - 30" is about as deep as you can go for regular reach. You can of course go depper for construction, but for rerailing or detail work, you'll need a stool.

    Try the tutorial in XTrkCAD. It really helped me a while back (no longer use XTrkCAD since we have a "guru" in the club, and I switched to a Mac ;)).

    The smaller steam you list (well, the 4-6-0) is going to be somewhat limited by grades, so keep them to a minimum if possible. Otherwise you'll be pulling some very short trains (not a problem in my opinion).

    Hope that helps. Post a pic if you can.

  3. gcodori

    gcodori Member


    8x12 layout - continuous run with removable bridge section for out and back operation. Good scenery to track ratio. Has a turntable, small city scene, dual trestles over gorge (want to do a John Allen thing), lots ot depots (want to do some passenger runs), a small mine and a waterfront scene (wanted to do this too). Has multiple track levels (53", 54" and 57").

    As mentioned earlier – reach may be a problem at Slackjaw. The grades are 4” after an 8-10 foot run – not too bad.

    Thoughts/comments? The scan is a little light - if you are having trouble reading it I can adjust it better.

    Any takers in converting this to 3rd planit? I just registered at the Yahoo group for 3rd planit – hope to get a better grasp at working on elevations and flex track.


  4. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

    that looks like a very nice trackplan you got sounds like it has every thing you want in a layout.and there are some things you could add to make more industries for more operation or it looks like you could fit some decent staging under slack would be short staging but it sounds like youll have short trains.and if you want i can convert it to Xtrk later but i dont have 3rd planit.--josh
  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Can you send me -- or post -- a better scan? (Click my user name to get the email link.) I'd like to see it in colour with the words a bit clearer if you can. Can you also include the tombstone info (if any) - e.g. minimum radius, length of run, etc from the original?

    My first thought would be to combine Trottwater Jct with Slackjaw to eliminate some of the (somewhat unrealistic) repeat trackage and avoid the train traversing the same scene several times. It may also simplify the grades (about 4% if 4" in 8 feet). Lastly, it would reduce the reach, and give you more room in the "pit".

    But then I think that really gives it a "John Allen G&D" kind of feeling - I don't know if you want to preserve that? Plus it gives an additional destination and "running room".

    I like the fact that you can run it as a point to point (leave Bogg's Ldg going to the left, and the reverse loop at Trottwater Jct sends you back).

    Lots of good operational opportunities, plus the ability to run continuously if you want - good therapeutic value in letting the trains go round and round ;)

  6. gcodori

    gcodori Member

    I've edited the trackplan to be darker - I'll try doing a color scan tonight.

    Combining Trottwater and Slackjaw would eliminate some of the depth of the layout. This would drop the number of times the loco would "criss cross" the area before returning to Bog's landing.

    I am leaning towards keeping the three trips through slackjaw and trottwater because it extends the running time of a train without having said train pass the same area without "repeating" - one of the things I don't like about small track plans are designs where a train must make "laps" round a layout, often passing through the same town two or three times to get some "milage" on it. Although this plan has a train going through the same area three times on one trip - it is done at three different elevations (vertical seperation is good).

    It also may lend itself to a two elevation station (a-la John Allen's Cross Junction station). Although I am a young modeller - John Allen is a big influence along with Malcolm Furlow and John Olson. I see many elements of these three experts that can be done in this plan.

    Bigsteel - if you can do a trackplan in xtrkcad feel free to post the file here. Or you can send it to me and I'll host it online for downloading.
  7. gcodori

    gcodori Member

    Layout at a glance -
    HO scale
    8 x 12
    Free-lance short line
    Location - No. California
    Period - 1930's
    Walk-in horsehoe style
    53" layout height (would be 48 inches for me)
    L girder benchwork
    roadbed - 1/2inch celotex over 1/2 inch plywood
    Length of mainline run - 63 feet (72 with continuous run connection)
    turnout min. - #4
    Min radius - 18"
    Max Grade - 4%
    plaster hardshell + plaster rockwork (I would use some foam)
    Backdrop - 1/8 inch upson easy curve
    control - dual cab (I would use DCC)
  8. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Maybe you could realign the two towns a bit, so that the track in between (the middle level between the two tunnel portals) could be hidden, or at least does not line up exactly with everything else. Moving the "yard" to the right, and the station in Slackjaw to the left might help.

    You might want to look up Don Jane's Central Vermont (I think) from about the same time - circa 2000+ MRP or GMR. He had an interesting "thrice around" that with judicious use of hidden trackage, and grade separations, looked very good and gave the appearance of long separations between towns. He had planned it so that at any given town, there was only one set of tracks visible from most viewing angles.

  9. gcodori

    gcodori Member

    I had actually been considering "squeezing" slackjaw and trottwater in the middle to narrow the reach and also vary the trackage as to be not as straight.

    A search of the MRR index online didn't come up with the trackplan - it doesn't look like it references MRP or GMR. I think I only have the 2002 and 2003 issues at home...that's not the trackplan with the staging on the outside of the pit and the scenic elements on the inside?

    Another plan I considered (and still REALLY like) is the Galena division (the first MR small layout winner from the mid 80's + "48 top notch trackplans") - it was another shortline with continuous run and several elevations...much more urban. And only 8x9!

    If you like i can post a scan of that as well. I'm thinking too much. No wonder I'm still in this armchair.
  10. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    The layout with the "staging on the outside and the scenic elements on the inside" sounds like Mike Hamer's Boston & Maine. He's a friend of mine, and I have operated there several times. It is a great layout, and only just a bit bigger than what you are thinking - 11x13 overall.

    The "surround staging" idea he employs works very well. Since all track is on one level and it's a twice around, he needs a diamond crossing. But his trackwork is flawless (MicroEngineering) and I have never seen a derailment there.

    What are you planning for staging? I think you might be able to tuck some under Slackjaw, using the hidden loops in each corner to access it. I guess it depends on the type of operations you intend to run.

  11. gcodori

    gcodori Member

    This will be mostly for my enjoyment (and for my two little ones). I enjoy scenery and structure building. I enjoy running trains but wouldn't mind some switching for "fun" (not really into the whole "operate like a real railroad" operations). Perhaps some card game switching puzzles.

    Staging would be good for someone who wants a variety of different train configurations going at the same time or doesn't have sufficient running length. As most modellers - I'll most likely be running this layout myself, and perhaps as the kids get older they will also. Max three operators.

    My goal would be a layout with one or two locos going on a continuous run while I do some fun switching.

    The smaller size would lend itself to actually getting built. Smaller layouts also cost less in switches, materials, etc.

    I grew up on the San Juan central and Jerome & Southwestern which were both small but visually large layouts.
  12. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Staging is also there to represent the "rest of the world", if your operating scheme requires such a connection. Trains can come to your branch, and depart as needed to provide some reason for this line to be in business.

    My $0.02 would be not to underestimate the enjoyment/challenge you might get from operating realistically, once you are done or mostly done with the building/modelling. I can say from my experience that I was not all that interested myself when I got going, but now I am quite facinated by how this real world (or at least based on the real world in the case of free-lanced lines) business would operate.

    I hear you...! ;) :D

  13. gcodori

    gcodori Member

    I will consider the staging - if I can find a place to fit some it. The story about the layout design said that the hidden tracks (which help in the elevation changes) are long enough to hold an entire train (short one).

    So an alternative to just letting the trains "run around the layout" - you can park a train in the hidden storage while switching. This would make the trip from trottwater to slackjaw longer.

    I've never been interested in realistic operations (with filling out forms, wireless headsets, etc). More interested in switching puzzles. Maybe that will change with age.

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