Copper Ridge Railway, Mark II

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by roryglasgow, Nov 28, 2003.

  1. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    My old computer desk has recently been vacated, so now I have a nice 4' wide by 2' deep table ready-made for a layout. Space is at a premium in my house, and this looks like the best location for a layout at this time.

    I've been tinkering with a number of variations on the continuous-loop-with-branchline theme. Below is one of the trackplans that I've come up with, and a full-scale mockup on the table.

    The basic daily operation runs something like this: A engine picks up empty hopper cars from the interchange/yard, and runs them up the branchline to the mine (caboose first). After going through the switchback, the engine backs into the mine. There's enough room in the switchback to handle a Bachmann Consolidation, two Atlas 50-ton ore cars, and a bobber caboose. The filled cars are then moved down to the smelter on the lower level after a quick run-around move on the loop. Later, a flatcar or boxcar could pick up the processed copper ore, and deliver the empties back to the yard. Empty hoppers can also be delivered to the mine engine-first (so that they can be backed into the spur and left there).

    The grade up to the mine (at 3 inches above the base) is about 5.6%. Minimum radius is 9.75". All turnouts are #4.

    The yard/interchange can also run to a removable cassette for moving trains to "staging."

    I'd appreciate any hints, tips, ideas and criticisms. The full-size mockup showed that the basic ideas worked, but if anyone has any ideas on how to make it better, please let me know!




  2. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Rory I think you might have some problems. Not many engines (and some rolling stock) will like #4 turnouts and will stall or derail. 5.6% is really steep but the consol has traction tires and might climb it while pulling a few cars, however the train may "buck" quite a bit going downhill.
  3. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member


    I've had lots of troubles with my older engines stalling on turnouts. My better locomotives have had less trouble, though, especially if I keep them clean so that they have good electrical pickup. I am particularly concerned, though, with having three turnouts in a row on the main loop...that's just asking for trouble, isn't it? :rolleyes:

    I'll keep the upper level lower so as to reduce the grade. I ran some tests the other day and ran trains up a 10% grade with no problems, but my Consolidation doesn't like to run backwards, and I'm sure that'll just make matters worse.

    The main reason I like the above plan is because I get the loop, the branch, and a yard. Below is an alternative plan based on Mike Fischer's Little Layout. I flipped it over so as to make use of the turnouts that I have on hand. Tell me what you think of this one...


    The S-curve at the top of the plan is made of 19" radius track. I tried this on the previous Copper Ridge, and didn't have any problems with derailments.

    The minimum grade required (so that the upper-level track clears the lower-level track in the upper-left corner of the plan) is around 2.4%. This is slightly less than the grade provided by the Atlas pier set (2.8%), if one pier is used between each track section.

    For those who might not already, know, the Copper Ridge Railway is very loosely based on the area around Copperhill, TN. Click here for more information.
  4. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Rory I like both plans, it's the #4 switches I would avoid at all costs. If you use 4 axle desiels the grade on the first plan is doable but like the second plans grades better. But the #4's will be your biggest problem, especially with steam engines. Having several switches in a row (but not #4's) shouldn't be a problem.
  5. Urban

    Urban New Member

    There's one thing I don't quite understand about the operation, because as I get the description of it, there's no need for two mine tracks. And if you use the two tracks to aid in leaving empties and fetching loads, then there's possibly a lack of a runaround track on the lower level. Functionallly, you have one, but it doesn't look like one.
  6. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member


    I left the second track at the mine so I could make two runs...leave one behind, pick up the other... There's not a lot of action potential on such a small layout, so I was trying to squeeze out as much as I could...

    The more I look at it, though, the less I think I like it. I wish I had some more space...

    Actually, I had another idea last night. I got to thinking about making 2x4 (or smaller) modules that could be stacked for storage. Short legs (maybe about a foot high) could be made so that the modules sit on top of one another. They could be stored on the computer desk. When I want to run trains, then I could bring them down and set them up on the floor...
  7. 2x4

    just a comment, your track plan resembles 'plan 1' from 'Mike's Small Trackplans ' (



    As for #4 switches, it depends on the company. The Peco #4 switches connect to a sharp 9" radius curve, really are 'de-railers', but Atlas' #4 uses a 19" curve and any engine that is able to handle a 9.75" curve can handle the Atlas #4s. It might have trouble wth decapods, 6axle disels, or the like, but they'll be out of place on this kind of layout anyway

    On a small track, if you want a loop, you have to make other compromises. on a 2x4, you're going to have steep hills, no getting around it, if the tracks cross. That wll reduce your switching opportunity

    If you want a lot of switching action, it might be best to leave the track all on one level, like this:

  8. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    Hey, Screwysquirrel! Sorry to hear about the incident with that dog, but I'm sure Mr. Avery had your best interests at heart... :D

    Yeah, that second plan is based on Mike's plan 1. I flipped it over so I could make use of the turnouts that I have on hand (I didn't have enough right-hand turnouts to do it the "regular" way).

    The biggest problem I've had with Atlas #4 turnouts (and #6, for that matter) are the insulated frogs. Some of my older (cheaper) engines had troubles with them. My current lot do just fine, though. Another, somewhat unusual, problem I had was between my Kato SD90MAC and the Atlas switch machines. When placed in a "yard ladder" arrangement, the fuel tank on the SD90MAC would hang on the housing of the switch. The engine would be lifted up just enough to lose electrical contact on both trucks, but the gap between the wheels and track was almost unnoticeable. I was puzzled for the longest time trying to figure out why such a superb model kept stalling past the turnout. Then one day I happened to be at the right angle when I saw it happen! I don't use the switch machines now.

    Well, today I put together the lower loop of the first plan (the one with the yard/interchange). I ran a Life-Like SW-9/1200 and a Bachmann Spectrum Consolidation on the loop with no problems! And that was with the track just sitting on the table top, not even fastened down. I'm going to work on rearranging the "interior" portion, including the branchline.
  9. Urban

    Urban New Member

    Makes sense. I misunderstood "caboose first" to mean caboose, hopper, engine. Which I shouldn't have, because that's not a logical consist at all in this situation.

    Possibly I've been too much influenced by the way I plan to operate my own small Gn15 layout. When it gets designed and built, that is.

    I get much of my inspiration from this site with really small designs:
  10. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    That's a terrific site, Urban!

    Yes, I was talking about running the train up backwards, at least for some of the runs. It's a fairly common practice to put the engine on the downhill side on steep grades to prevent runaways.

    I followed a link on that site that you gave me to this one (, which features a number of small layouts. One is an N-scale "Table Top" plan that features a hidden staging area. I really like that idea, and he did it in a space only a little large than I have available. I'm going to try to work something like that into my plan, and maybe replace the yard/interchange...
  11. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hi Rory!
    Looking forward to seeing yet another great layout from you!
    :cool: :cool: :cool: :cool:

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