Following Advice - Smaller to start

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by BigJim, Jan 31, 2007.

  1. BigJim

    BigJim Member

    I received a lot of input on starting smaller and simpler. I really wanted multiple round-trip loops and large radius for my passenger train that could be combined into one and they all came out BIG.

    At first I was worried about having a lift up section and I didn't want a duck-under. The great pictures and instructions on this site about swing-up sections changed my mind.

    With a little work and changing to a lift (swing) up section I came up with the following. It is only 6'6" top to bottom. A lot smaller than the previous 10'>11' versions and should be a lot easier to build.

    What is everybody's opinion of this?

    The "X" for the inner loop is a double slipswitch. The center of the layout is mostly flat. Might have a very slight grade for the "yard". The passenger terminal (brown box - top center) is up about 4". The loops on the upper left are stacked about 5" up and are in a storage/workshop room.

    The layout will be on casters to pull out for access to the back side. Lots of room on the bottom & right side.

    The green box is the size of the Comet Roller Coaster. Wanted to make sure I had room if I decided to add this in the future. I think it looks cool but waiting for some feedback from someone who has one. The gray area is a portion of the auto roads and parking lots.

    Turntable got lost in the picture scaling but it is the center of the six-track fan.

    I haven't decided on the tunnel/mountain/bridge arrangement for the upper left hand corner of the visible part. There is about 4.4>5" separation between the track from the station and the two inner loops. Most likely I will have the loops go into tunnels but have some trestle on the high track between them.

    Outer folded loops 29" minimum radius. Inner loops 23". Most inner curves spiral about 1" in or out per 18 degrees of turn for smoother operation.
  2. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    This is an awesome layout design! What program did you use to draw it?

  3. BigJim

    BigJim Member

    I used XTrkCAD. You can download a copy of the datafile from my website at
  4. BigJim

    BigJim Member

  5. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    Wowee, that going to look cool!!
  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    My $0.02, so please take it or leave it as you see fit.

    From a trackwork point of view, I don't think that this is significantly smaller or easier than your initial plan. Perhaps a bit, but not much.

    For my taste, there is far too much track, and not enough free space to do things like scenery, structures, or the amusement park that will go with the roller coaster. Besides the yard, there are only a couple of what appear to be industry tracks. Not all of them are within reach of the operator's pit, which will lead to frustration, especially if you are the sole operator.

    I don't understand the purpose of the inner dogbone (that runs through the double slip switch). The left appears to be a balloon track for reversing entire trains (common around roundhouses, so the placement is good), and also serves the industry (?) track. The right loop does not appear to have a purpose.

    The second and third track (counting from the far right) make a nice sized passing track/run around, but given the grade that will be there, you may not be able to run around a train, since the cars will roll once the engine is uncoupled.

    I am not sure of the number of reversing loops generated by this plan, but it will need careful attention when being wired to avoid introducing a short, whether you go DC or DCC.

    I hope that helps. Please keep up the discussion. As I said, it is only my $0.02.

  7. BigJim

    BigJim Member


    Thanks for your input. I think I have not been clear with this drawing. The two reversing loops to the left in the hidden area are totally separate. One is about 5" above the other.

    My plan was to eliminate the requirement for any type of sensing or need to even think about the electrical direction other than just having two relays that follow the direction of two turnouts (using DCC). If I eliminate all passing tracks/spurs/etc and unfold the dogbone I get:
    Identifying the three major sections as the dogbone, oval & bowtie there is no polarity/phase/direction impact with the double crossover between the dogbone and the oval or the oval and the bowtie. These just separate/join the sections. With DCC, if I keep the polarity of Loop 1 matching the direction of the lower left crossover and keep Loop 2 matching the direction of the double slip-switch I think I am good. Do I have this right?

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said "For my taste,..." I went to a local club house last week and met someone who has a large rubbermaid tub full of rock molds. I think he would be happy with a single track running through a giant diorama. Others see great fun in running "time-savers" and other complex coupling problems. Some want large yards to assemble big trains. There are "rivet counting" artists who create detailed and weathered locos and cars that are hard to distinguish from the real thing in pictures. Some enjoy the relaxation of watching multiple trains run with a minimum of intervention.

    I enjoy the construction aspects of the layout - both benchwork and electrical. I want to try out some of my ideas for touch sensitive filp-flops control my turnouts, controlling a double crossover with a single tortoise, having automatic turnout control for yard "routes", etc.

    Our hobby will always suffer a lack of realism. Our curves will always be to sharp, our passing tracks and sidings to short, our rocks to corse, more turnout than track, etc.

    That said, I did want at least a very small amout of operational realism. That is why I have the two hidden reversing loops. This provides two places where my passenger train leaves the layout and comes back from the same exit point. I also wanted to be able to let three trains just run or combine the sections into one long section. I doubt than I will use the passing track for other than letting trains pass each other without uncoupling the engines so the grade won't be a problem.

    I do have a slightly modified version of the plan on my website that I think is a little better on access. There are also soome pictures of my loops. I will be adding more soon as construction progresses. It is still a reach in a few places and I may have to pull the layout out from the wall on occasion but "Big Jim" does have long arms.

    Again - thanks for the input. The room is large and I am sure the layout will grow and change in the future when I progress from continious running to some of the other great opportunities offered by this hobby. I also know my limitations. Without being able to sit back and see trains run fairly early in this process I think I might lose interest before I discover my best "direction".

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