Dual Cab Control Blocking for Operational Flexibility ??

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Tad, Jan 5, 2005.

  1. Tad

    Tad Member

    When I originally built my layout I intended on eventually going DCC. One of the things that prevented me from doing it initally was cost. Another was lack of knowledge about DCC. The third was that the majority of the locomotives that I need for my chosen prototype take a substantial amount of work, to include milling frames, to install decoders in.

    I started off with two small trainset powerpacks as a temporary expedient until I decided what to do for a control system.. I decided to wire my layout up so that it would be "DCC Ready" when I did decide to purchase a DCC system. I isolated all turnouts and provided power and ground feeders to each of them and to every section of continuous track between turnouts. All continuous track between turnouts was soldered to provide good electrical contact. I used Skotch-Lok connectors to connect the feeders to my main busses. When I wired it up I had four blocks and two reversing circuits for my wyes. I used Atlas Controllers and Selectors and figured that if I got a DCC system I could connect it up and throw all the switches one way.

    I then stumbled across a deal on two MegaTech X6000 power supplies, new in the box, for $70. I hooked them up and had two outstanding controllers with walkarounds for dual cab control.


    More info is here:


    I really like these. I normally operate alone and I only have 4 locomotives that will accept drop in decoders. I figure that I have way to much to do to get my layout into the operational shape that I want to worry about trying to install decoders in all of my locomotives at this point. I am really satisfied with my controllers and I do not see a need to switch over to DCC right now.

    Now that I have gotten my layout to the point of working out my operations, I find that my blocking scheme is inadequate to fully support my operational scheme. I feel that I need to reblock my layout. I still want to make it "DCC Ready" though. I figure that one day I probably will go DCC, I just don't feel that now is the time to do it.

    What I am interested in is blocking the layout to allow 2 trains to work simultaneously and give the maximum amount of flexibilty while doing so.

    My layout currently looks like this.


    In an operating session there are four trains that come onto the layout from staging. All trains from staging enter the layout through the wye on the lower right.

    One track will represent Monticello, Arkansas and will hold the AD&N local. It will be the first train on to the layout and will come in to the A/D track, which is the green curve between Pond Yard and the Mainline, drop the train and the power will head to the barn.

    AD&N switchers will break down the train.

    The MoPac 785 will come in and work the interchange at Front Yard and then leave as 786 and head back to the MoPac yard at MeGehee, Arkansas/staging.

    The A&LM Gator will come in and work the interchange at Front Yard and head back to the A&LM Yard at Monroe, Louisiana/staging.

    The Rock 777 will come in and work the interchange at Front Yard and then leave as 778 and head back to the Rock Island Yard at Tinsman, Arkansas/staging.

    Meanwhile the AD&N switcher has been working the whole time and has built the next AD&N local to go to Monticello. Arkansas.

    The crew comes on, hooks to their train and The AD&N local exits to Monticello, Arkansas/staging.

    All four roads interchange at Front Yard on the layout. AD&N switchers work Pond Yard, which is the AD&N's home yard. Only AD&N switchers work the mills or the pulpwood yard. AD&N switchers leave cars at Front Yard for interchange with the three foreign roads. They also pickup the setouts that the foreign roads leave at Front Yard for the AD&N and the mills.

    Foreign power only works on the Mainline and making setouts and pickups at Front Yard.

    While the road trains come onto the layout in sequence, at least one AD&N switcher will be switching the mills and working Pond Yard. Between road trains, two AD&N switchers can work.

    All tracks except the two legs of the wye at the bottom right of the layout and staging are within AD&N yard limits.

    Operations are ran from a sequential timetable for the road trains. This is the sequence of an actual day as it occured on the prototype. I do not currenlty employ a fast clock. I need to get better at ops before I worry about the clock.

    An operational day ends when the AD&N local leaves and all other cars have been switched to their proper location at the mills. Car Cards and Waybills are used to control car forwarding.

    The staging yard is connected like this:


    How would you block the layout to facilitate operations?

    I am not talking about electrical considerations. Those have been addressed and my layout works fine in that sense. Al Silverstein gave me good advice and even drew me a diagram on how to wire up my layout.

    What do you take into consideration when thinking of seperating a layout into blocks for operations? I have an idea on how I want to do it, but I thought I would ask for suggestions before I disconnect the busses.
  2. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    You're already deeper into this than I can get. There has to be someone out there who can step in here and offer some suggestions. Any volunteers?
  3. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    Hi Tad,
    I think your color indications on the track plan go a long way toward indicating appropriate blocks already. As I understand it, you want trains to run from staging, around the layout and back on that red main while being able to simultaneously switch in the green yard and the yellow industrial area. Making the red lined track a block of its own nicely facilitates this. (I'll use colors instead of town names just for quick reference).

    Unless you want to run two switchers in the yellow industrial area I'd wire all of it as one block for simplicty except for the passing siding on the right of the plan that passes by the pulp mill and pul yard. Isolating this siding gives you freedom to pull a switcher and some cars in the hole while another goes by.

    The blue interchange yard is nicely isolated from the main.

    The green yard trackage and passing siding that follows the main give you ample room for breaking down and assembling trains...especially if you use the black track at the bottom of the plan as a drill track. It doesn't interere with the main so your switcher can work while through trains go by. Depending on whether you want more than one train waiting in the green yard you can either isolate some or all of the yard tracks as blocks or let them all be one.

    You'll want to isolate the engine track for sure. I imagine you'll want to isolate the other tracks as seperate blocks to accomodate more motive power storage.

    Your plan provides for a lot of interesting action! The mill jobs alone could keep one busy for a long time. It'd be cool to do that switching while another train came through to drop off more work. I'm envious of your staging and wish I'd thought to include more when I built my layout.

    hope this helps!
  4. Tad

    Tad Member

    This is what I came up with.

    There are 24 blocks. The blocks are wired through 6 Atlas Selectors. The blocks controlled by each selector are indicated by color. Each individual block is labeled.

    I split each of the shop tracks into isolated blocks so that locomotives could be parked on each one.

    The Shop Lead, Shop Wye, Runaround and Piggyback can each be used as pockets so that engines can sit in the hole.

    The Main is split into 4 blocks so that Front Yard and the Mill Loop can be accessed without tying up the whole Main.

    The Mill Tracks, Pile Yard, and Chem Tracks are seperated so that each side could be worked simultaneously.

    Cut Off can be used as an addition to the Yard Lead to drill a long cut or be isolated as a holding track.

    The Staging Yard is connected to Mainline 3. Each track in the Staging Yard is isolated and power is controlled through Atlas Connectors.


    I know that there are a lot of blocks, but I think I have a reason for each of them. :)

    Comments, suggestions and feedback would be appreciated.
  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I assume you know you'll need special wiring for the wye.
    I would make the engine shed one block, but have on/off switches for each of the tracks. I might make more blocks there for isolating extra engines.
    There are a couple of places where routess come together -- where you labelled main line 2 and main line 4. You should be able to switch these between the say, blue and green blocks (or blue and purple) to get continuous running. I call these "X" sections and use switch machine ontacts to choose the blocks/cabs.
  6. Tad

    Tad Member

    Both wyes are already wired through Atlas Controllers and they work fine.

    I thought about just using on/off switches for the the shop tracks and the engine shed, but I had the Atlas Selector already and it has 4 DPDT switches with a center off position, figured I might as well just use it. Instead of buying more switches.

    I've read about X sections. All of my turnouts are manually controlled, though. The reason that I split the Main is so that if two switchers were working opposite sides of the mill at the same time that each could cross the Main without tying up the whole Main. For instance a switcher could cross Main Line 4 to work Front Yard at the same time another switcher was crossing Mainline 2 to get to or from the Mill Loop. There are also times when working Front Yard that Mainline 4 may be needed as a drill track when pulling a cut of cars.

    Thanks for the comments, gentlemen.
  7. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Tad: an apology. I didn't realize that the blue main line was 4 blocks. It's set up now about how I would do it.
  8. Tad

    Tad Member


    No apology needed. I appreciate you taking the time to look at and comment on my plan. I always find another set of eyes helpful.

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