First draft of layout

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by Hammerli, Dec 1, 2005.

  1. Hammerli

    Hammerli Member

    First draft of layout - Now V 3.0

    I'd like suggestions on changes/improvements to this layout. The size is 8'x12', HO scale. I used one of the base 8x8 plans in a Model Railroader layout book as a starting point. My scanner cut off the edges of the long side so the tracks are at closest 3" to the edge, not as shown. It isn't drawn on grid paper, sorry about that, but I've labeled the radius on all curves. The tightest curve is going up to the logging camp, at 18" R, while most of the curves are between 26" and 30" R. I'll be running large steam engines, probably not many passenger cars, maybe one or two short ones, but mostly freight. It seems a little "track heavy" to me, but I'm OK with that. The logging camp to sawmill isn't a very well planned addition, but I have a Shay I love and I'd like to be able to incorporate it. The hash marks all around the track were used to calculate track length, which came out to just over 100'. Hash mark to hash mark is 36" unless noted by a lesser # just inside one has mark. The double loop main line really precludes running more than probably two engines at once, but that's OK too I think. The reach may be a little long from the pit, but I'm 6'4" and have long arms so that's not a problem for me.

    I see the #'s are barely legible at the reduced size so here is a link to a larger file that hopefully will allow the radius #'s to be more clear.

    Attached Files:

  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    What are your plans for operating this layout? The pit appears very small for more than two operators, and even that might be a squeeze.

    I think that the reach is too much. Remember that you will need to construct things, and when everything is done, there will be access issues because of structures, landscaping or whatever.

    There is no staging or storage for your trains. One way to incorporate this is to use the "surround staging" concept. This also has the added effect of eliminating the "track heavy" feel, as one loop becomes hidden. See Mike Hamer's Boston & Maine as an example of this idea. His room is roughly the same size as yours...

    Assuming counter-clockwise running, all the industries except the logging line are on trailing point spurs. While this would make the prototype really happy, it might not challenge your operations in the long run.

    There does not appear to be any way to turn a loco. This might not be need though.

    If you concentrated your industries into a "town", then you might have the possibility of running up to three or four trains simultaneously (if you want) - a mainline freight that would drop and lift cuts of cars at the town, a local (possibly a switcher) serving the town industries, a Shay working the logging line, and a passenger circling the layout just to keep the operators on their toes... OK, that might be a bit much, but you get the idea.

    Are all your little numbers indicating the radius of sectional track curves? If yes, I would recommend that you use flextrack to get smooth curves, and to cut down on the work of laying the track.

    Overall I really like the fact that it is not just a simple oval. Keeping the track from being parallel with the front edge mixes things up nicely. There are lots of interesting scenic opportunities to keep it interesting to look at.

    Lots of potential! If my experienc eplanning my modules is any indication, you will go through several versions before finding a final - but I think you are well on your way! Hope that helps.

  3. Hammerli

    Hammerli Member

    I had planned on just a single person in the operators pit. My room is actually much larger as it is a basement. I'm only using a portion of a larger room so coming through a doorway into that room there is 15' to the right, and 13' to the wall ahead. to the left is a walk-in closet for a bedroom and a workshop, so I'm trying to avoid going into those areas. Those dimensions would allow access from three sides as well as the pit, hence the reach may still be too long but the access from the periphery should help (at least that was my justification for the small pit.)

    This concerned me as well, but the first couple of drafts that I had a small yard in just really seemed to reduce the possibilities for other things. Since others would primarily view the layout from the border, I'm not sure I could add staging as in the link you provided. Maybe along the backside I could add a small narrow, long yard that would be hidden by the mountains up to the logging camp and a row of trees. The only problem is that was going to be the side up against a wall, so I wouldn't have access to the yard easily.

    The predominance of trailing point wasn't ideal, it was just done as space on the interior isn't great and trailing points took up less space. I'll try to incorporate a better mix in the next draft.

    I'd love to incorporate a tuntable and roundhouse, the problem is that all of my engines are large steam engines, so I'd have to go the 130' turntable and the large stalls on the roundhouse. That combination consumes 40" in length without even adding any other facilities like coal, ash, water, etc. I figured it might be best to have nothing in the way of engine servicing rather than a turntable by itself which I thought would seem out of place without other aspects. Although I guess I could have the turntable and a small engine house and then a background of other facilities.

    That's really just what I had in mind, but I couln't seem to get it to work in the space. An earlier draft had a perimeter oval for passenger service, but that eliminated the logging section and I decided the mountain with the steeper logging track was more interesting than an oval.

    The numbers are indicating curve radius but I was planning on using flex track. The sectional gaps only exist because I used a template for the curves. I used the 36" hash marks to represent flex track sections. Thanks for all of your suggestions, I'm open to completely redoing it at this point if necessary. All of my previous layouts were Z scale, so I'm not used to having to plan for long reaches, a 3'x7' Z display was a big layout (relatively) and I could reach everything no problem.
  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Could you provide a quick diagram with the overall dimensions of the room, doors, etc marked so we can get an idea of how the layout benchwork fits in the space? Problems like reach from the pit can (as you pointed out) be solved by "exterior" access. Such access can also help in design, as in the grouping of the own, or placement of staging tracks where they can be reached/accessed in case of accident ;)

  5. Elite Lancer

    Elite Lancer Member

    I think your layout is pretty good.

    1) I think it could use some more elevational differences for a more exotic and interesting track. Maybe have some mountains and tunnels.
    2) Also your river seems to just end in the middle. Perhads you could make the river start as a going down a mountsin and grow across the layout into a river and ending as a lake in the corner.
    3) Also maybe some roads and track that leads to the end of the layout so it looks like there is more to your train set's "world" than there looks.
    4) Lastly you could use some roads that lead to all the houses so that it doesn't just look like they were randomly placed there.

    Good luck. I hope my suggestions were helpful :)
  6. Hammerli

    Hammerli Member

    Here's a quick layout drawn to scale of the side of the room I'll be using.
  7. Hammerli

    Hammerli Member

    This is just a rough so there are elevational differences, I just didn't add them in as well since it was already busy looking with the detail I did show. Total elevational change over the entire layout is about 16" from highest to lowest points. I'm just not a big fan of tunnels, but there are two places I could easily add one to the existing track.

    I thought someone might say that, and my planned response was to imagine the pit as a lake:) I could make it come down out of the mountain near the logging camp and exit where I have it, which might be more realistic.

    I have the one track off into the corner, and the roads are just roughly drawn in a couple of places, again I didn't want to continue sionce I figured I'd be changing the plan.

    See above, thanks for the suggestions.
  8. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    With that space I don't think I'd even think about a rectangle with a pit. I think you could get a lot more in less space working an L or E.

  9. Hammerli

    Hammerli Member

    Well after that suggestion was made above, I started laying out an E, and I just don't think that is going to work for me since I do NOT want point to point. I prefer 30" R curves, so if I go with that #, plus add in some safety along the edges and for ballasting/detail, I end up with either end being a 66", which comes out to 132" of the 159" across the room, and then I have to come back in towards the corner gradually, so I'd have to put an access hole in the middle of each of those to get at things, and the peninsula would have to be rather small due to how closed in the middle would be. Those holes remove area for doing other things, and I'm not a fan of vast expanses of scenery as you can see from my initial plan. Maybe an L would be better, but you just can't fit the curves I require into anything resembling tight to the wall.
  10. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    If you did an L with blobs you might need access hatches, but a least you wouldn't have that little pit. I think it would not be so fun to watch trains as you pivoted around. The 30" curve obviously won't be tight on the wall, that gives room for scenery behind it. With curves that wide you could contour the inside of the bechworks corners to avoid a huge reach to the track. Reaching the scenery behind the curve might be challenging, but maybe you get it from behind. Here's another thought, maybe you could tighten up the curves around the walls or even the blobs a little, but hide the tighter parts to disguise them.

    To me around the walls just seems like it would be more fun to watch, with nice long runs without going 'round and 'round. But, i also see what you are up against. What about long and relatively narrow, with the blobs on the end, access from all sides, but no pit? A divider down the middle to separate the scenes?

    That's about all my thoughts. I like the layout itself generally, but not the pit.

    Good luck!
  11. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    You mentioned not wanting point to point. How about doing an "E" or "L" or even a "C" shaped layout, and then connect the two farthest ends to each other with a narrow one or two track shelf. That would give you room to do some industries and scenery for your trains to run through and work, and still provide the ability to do continuouis running. The narrow shelf would be condusive to putting in a lift or swing gate to allow access to the middle without having to duck under.
  12. Hammerli

    Hammerli Member

    OK, maybe a total shift in direction, but that's the nice thing about paper, it's easily recycled. I tried several E, U and C shapes, and I just don't think they are for me. They just looked goofy, and didn't really seem to gain me much. The layout below is 6'2"x11', first things first, I am OK with the reach. I made it a little smaller so I would have plenty of walk around room on all 4 sides. I tried to break up the oval, and added the turntable and center track so that instead of always turning left you can always turn right. I grouped the industries together which was suggested, and I'd add a passenger terminal in the small town just to the right of the crossing line in the center. I've included a small yard, and a 130' turntable, since that's something I realy wanted to include in the first place.

    I've not ruled out the E and C, but maybe if someone has some links to something with broad curves in those shapes I might be able to come up with something. I don't really like the idea of a gate or shelf, since I really don't mind the pit anyway it doesn't really gain me anything.

  13. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    A quick question: have you checked the grades? My guess, without measuring and scaling, is that the grades to the 2 over/under locations are going to be very, very steep.

    A couple of recommendations:

    1) make the track to your industrial area go under the main line that goes over the tunnel. That will give you a lot more room for the grade.

    2) do away with the bridge and track crossing over each other in the bottom left. This will also help immensely with the grades. It will also give you a single track twice around arrangement instead of the double loop you have now. But if you want to run 2 trains mostly unattended on separate loops, you idea may be better.

    3) You need a connection between the loops in the opposite direction to the one in the bottom middle. This way trains can transfer between loops no matter the direction of travel. However, this will create a reversing loop for wiring purposes.

    4) add a drill track for the yard for you yard switcher to pull a cut of cars without totally tying up the inner loop. Do this by adding a passing track to the right inner loop that ends at the crossover between loops, and branches off in the middle of the right semi-circle.

    These are my suggestions - they might actually be worth more than you paid for them! Then again, you might like your own design better.

    yours in planning
  14. Hammerli

    Hammerli Member

    Thanks Fred, I'll have to check the grades, I didn't look at that too closely.

    1. If I replace the #6 Double to under the line, I loose the opposite direction connection you mentioned in #3. That being a double turnout fulfills your #3. Maybe if I move the tunnel farther into the curve the grade will be manageable.

    2. There was motive to the double outside track, and I had planned on the under track being below grade and coming up. That way I'd have until the second turnout after going under the tunnel to be up to level with the inside (at that point) loop.

    4. So that passing track would be from a curved turnout halfway through the inner loop on the right side to a turnout installed in the middle of the crossover between loops just to the right of center on the bottom?
  15. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Sorry, didn't realize that was a double slip. My best guess is that you are running about 6% grades - 4 inch separation with one track falling and the other rising equally for about 3 ft before crossing. The other problem is that a train going counter-clockwise will have to leave caboose and perhaps some cars on a 6% grade while switching the industrial area. They are going to roll downhill! Same problem applies to spur at bottom of plan for a clock-wise train.

    That's the problem with grades on an island layout - they drastically cut into the opportunities to add usable spurs. To resolve the probem on this plan and get reasonable grades, I think you are going to have to move both crossovers from one loop to the other to one side of layout, and put your bridges and tunnels on the other. This gives you on the order of 2 to 3% grades using most of the end curves to do your climbing and/or descending. It gives you one side mountain scenery for watching trains run, and the other the yard (unless you put the yard on a plateau coming off the inner higher loop on the bottom) and industrial scenes for switching. The diagonal may have to attach into the the end curve on the mountain side to keep its grade reasonable, too.

    You understood my idea for a passing track to provide a drill track perfectly.

    Last comment: I'm not sure a double slip on the main is going to be as reliable as you would like. My Dad had one on his layout - a Shinohara that cost big $$ - and he still had to fuss with it constantly to get steamers to back through without derailing.

    yours in planning
  16. Hammerli

    Hammerli Member

    I guess the grades will make things difficult as it stands. I think I'll add 1 foot to each end so it will be 6' x 13', and then move the crossover points and the tunnel/bridge you suggested. That should also open things up enough for the drill track, getting rid of the double slip and maybe adding a passing track or two since things will be spread out a little. I added the tunnel and bridge to try to avoid the tandem oval race track look
  17. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    With a 30" minimum radius, your space is roughly 25 square squares - minus whatever space you need around the orchid-stand, but with an automatic aisle outside on the left. In this space, a doughnut may not be necessary; a freestanding rectangle is the least efficient use of space.

    Two turnaround loops with an aisle between would be a tight fit in the width, but definitely will fit in the length. I would advise an L along the botom and right for easy operation.

    Then I see the problem; I've always preferred doughnuts to dogbones. The dogbone forces end-loops, which are also an inefficient use of space. The dogbone can also cause more cramping in some circumstances. Your dimensions are in a slightly annoying ratio to your curve radius; this size is way too small for an E. That would take at least 21' in length.

    I'm trying to think of a more space-efficient solution...
  18. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member


    I noticed you have the same thread going in the MR forums. Like most of the others who have replied, I actually like your original dougnut plan better than the island - it just feels better. But it's your choice.

    In reviewing everything, I come up with an 8ft x 15ft doughnut as the optimum use of the space. It would be almost a U with a 3ft center aisle, giving 2.5 ft wide sides. At the end of the aisle closest to the rest of the basement I would have a 3ft long lift-up or swinging double track entry way bridging the entrance to the entrance aisle. Then add a branch against and along the wall that comes over to the orchid stand. This branch could be an optional addition to be added later if you wanted. This gives you an out if you suddenly realize you've bitten off more than you can chew in terms of layout vs time available.

    I would be hard over on the lift-up or swinging gate, because of what happened to my father. (It was from him I learned the perils of using a double slip switch on the main line, and trying to build too big a layout for time available.) He had a 4-sided doughnut with a yard peninusla. You could operate from either the outside or inside operating pit. But you had to repeatedly duck under to get to materials and tools for construction unless you had somebody there full time to hand you what you needed (he didn't). He had been working on the layout for about 8 years when he started having health problems. His first helath problems left him with very sore shoulders and back, so he seldom felt like do all the ducking under. So he started concentrating on building structures for the yard, which left the wiring for the passing sidings and turnouts on the main unfinished. I tried to spend time to complete portions of the wiring, but he gradually lost track of his wiring scheme and interest. Then his eyes started having problems, and now the unfinished layout is being dismantled. A lot more would have been done with easy access.

    The 3ft center aisle will reduce your minimum radius just before the gate to 26 inches or so (should be no curves of less than 48in radius on the gate with straight at the 2 joints - and no turnouts either). Reducing the center aisle to 30 inches would restore your 30in radius curves, but at the cost of people not being able to pass each other in the aisle. Pick which poison you prefer.

    An interesting possibility would be to use a wye to connect the branch to the doughnut. This would give you a way to turn your large locomotives without having a huge turntable and roundhouse dominating the layout.

    Another advantage of the doughnut in your configuation is that the doughnut section in the middle of the room can be viewed from both sides. This would be the ideal place for your one track falling with the other rising concept. This way when the higher elevation track is in front it does not obscure the other track. Perhaps a river separating the two main lines.

    Finally, the 15ft doughnut section against the wall will still have room for perhaps an 8ft long double-ended 2 or 3 track staging yard, possibly behind a removable backdrop.

    Just some ideas to try (or not!)

    yours in planning
  19. Hammerli

    Hammerli Member

    Thanks, I look forward to any input and ideas. I am trying as many of the things that are suggested as I can. I'm a Master's student, and last exam was today so I'm on vacation now and so will have more time. As you've pointed out, an E just didn't work with the curves, but I'm not willing to give up all the engines I just bought, so I'm planning around the curves since (I thought) I have enough space.

    I'm working on a U with connecting bridge as well as the larger doughnut Fred mentioned, and also an L as you mentioned. I hadn't thought about the 8'x15' oriented as Fred mentioned, and before putting anything down I like that as it gives me the doughnut but still allows better accessibility and potential for two people in the pit. I'm in the fortunate position that I work out of my home so I have more freetime than I would have otherwise, but the L would perhaps be the easiest to build and scenic since I'm thinking it would have the least area.
  20. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Just after my last post, I thought of the 8x15 doughnut as well! As long as you don't let the shelves get too wide, why does a doughnut need aisles around it? The original configuration could be stretched to the whole length of the room, offering less crowding (if that's a concern) and more run. The main reason for not running along the top wall is the orchid-stand.
    I think I understand why the gate for the wide aisle would reduce the radius - but you can have your cake and eat it too, 30" curves with a 36" aisle but only a 30" gate!

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