Good News - Bad News - Layout Advice

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by kchronister, Sep 6, 2005.

  1. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    The bad news is that for 6 months now, in the process of selling a home, moving a few hundred miles and buying a home I've been layout-less and far too infrequent a visitor here.

    The good news is I'm moved in and now have a good-sized space for a new layout. I've racked my brain and not coming up with anything. Wondering if anyone has thoughts, can suggest a track plan to work from, knows a plan I should look at, etc. etc.

    Here are the parameters

    Main area is 14x20, with a 7x9 alcove off one of the 14' walls. Since this is a basement to-be-finished-to-suit, I could squeeze another foot of width (i.e. to 15') or a couple more feet of length (i.e. 7x9 alcove could be 7x10 or 7x11. Even that risks tension on the home front, and more than that risks war with Mrs...

    I model PRR circa 1948 FWIW. Not fixated on any particular division or area.

    My preference is for passenger service and lots of mainline running. Adding some interest with spurs and/or perhaps a logging/coal mine line would be nice to the shays and heislers have place to run.

    On the "MUST be prototypical scale" I'm maybe a 4-5 out of 10. (1 being don't care, 10 being superimposing satellite photos on the layout to copy contour lines)
  2. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    I'd love to have your space - it's more than enough for my dream layout. But I'm planning for N, and by your profile, you're in HO. Passenger-oriented, lots of mainline - it'll be a careful balancing act to design this. Where's the door? And what are the governing rolling stock? Scenery or track a priority? What size of operating crew (this will determine the aisle widths)?

    Don't know about track arrangements on the PRR at most places, so I'll mostly be able to help design it as a layout rather than a model. Maybe some resident PRR expert (there's always one around) can help?
  3. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    Yeah, I'm HO - Sorry, should have said that.

    It's unfinished space, so two walls (i.e. 14x29) are concrete, the other two don't yet exist - so the "door" can go near anywhere. I'm planning to build this one at my shoulder level (i.e. about 5'6"), so not that worried about a duckunder for the entrance - it'll be tall enough my wife won't even have to duck.

    As for governing rolling stock, etc., I have loooong PRR Heavyweight passenger cars. Motive power is a collection of K4s, mostly with assorted smaller power thrown in. I do have a hankering to get some articulateds, though. So I'm looking at mainline minimum radius of 30" with 24" minimum anywhere - maybe 18" if I have a "logging branch" that hosts only the occasional shay or heisler.

    I'm attaching a jpg of the room outline as planned. Across the top is 14', down the right side, 29'. Then the 7x9 alcove and back over and up. The little square off to the side is a 4x4 foot space under the basement stairs I could use to extend staging tracks, to loop a train through for a longer "tunnel disappear" or similar - but it's 'hidden' space.

    Thanks for any assistance,


    Attached Files:

  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I assume you're planning west of Harrisburg? How far west -- Altoona-Pittsburgh or out towards Chicago?
    Your alcove could be a problem as it will just take one turnaround curve (at 36" radius.) You might try putting a line in along just one side or use both sides with operating space in the middle. East Broad Top?
    I suggest you think of an around the walls design. Either ignore the 4x4 or put in some non-maintenance deep scenery e.g a full size farm.
    Use the biggest curves you can get around the walls -- 48" radius cuts into the room just a little more than 36".
    The main square looks like 14x18. My room is 16x16, but I had to leave the middle open.
  5. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    Actually I was thinking of the Harrisburg-Altoona region and eyeing the alcove for a stab at horseshoe curve...

  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    OK. It should fit, 36" outside radius down to 30" inside (4 tracks?). Scenery down to the floor and sturdy blue paint on the floor for the reservoir. The inside corner on on the edge of the alcove might be a pain, or you could bend it in on both sides as it comes out.
  7. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    Now that's starting to sound good... I do have some leeway, especially with the alcove corners. I'm framing this space into my basement, so if I have to squidge and nudge a bit, I can - all it means is a little tighter fit in my furnace room (which is the other 7x9 adjacent the alcove)


  8. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    You could model the "Shinnecock Hills Lumber Company" :D :D

    I had a customer in the shop who had been out there for a golf tournament,
    took him awhile to stop laughing when he saw my 2-6-6-2T lettered for SHLC.
  9. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Do 2" track centers work on broad curves? I've seen a plan that allows for 2-3/8" on 36" curves. And no, no big mallets with long boiler overhang - that happens to be a Pennsy layout I'm talking about!

    Assuming you can't practically put track centerlines closer than 2" to the edge of benchwork, the maximum radius you can get on the outer track in the alcove is actually 40". That'll allow you to keep the inner tracks broad. You could possibly go with less.

    Scenery to the floor - only good for western mountains. Sheer slopes don't look right around Horseshoe Curve.

    Anyway, I've been thinking about what mainline arrangement you should use. I remembered a John Armstrong plan I once saw, for SP in 11x19. It would easily stretch to your space. If I recall correctly, the basic benchwork/mainline arrangement was like this: Yes, four levels, but only two scenicked. The end of the peninsula is drawn 7' wide to make sure that, whatever turnback curve you put in the alcove, it'll fit there too. The entrance is by a duckunder, as you expected. The overall mainline route is a "nolix" -a continuous rise from one end to the other, allowing multidecking with no space wasted on a helix. The plan uses only one "blob" (actually, two, but the second is high enough that it won't affect aisle space.) I haven't figured the grades, but I know they worked on the (smaller) original layout, so it'll be possible to work them out here. On the SP layout, the logging line (yes, that's what it was there, too) went down instead of up; either way is possible. There are three places that could be Horseshoe Curve, depending on where towns end up. I'm not sure how to accomplish the entrances to staging - regular or especially reverted loop - with a four-track main. PRR ran as two-track freight and passenger railroads side by side, right? It would be easier if it were one of the roads that had the passenger tracks in the middle. That way, you could use a double-track dogbone end loop and add layover tracks. For Pennsy, you'll need some hidden flying junctions, but it might be workable. I can draw a more-to-scale sketch if you like the idea of this one.

    And yes, I ignored the 4x4 area because there's no way to run the mainline into it. If this were N scale, it would be a different story (Horseshoe Curve itself might be going under the stairs! :D )
  10. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    Wow, that's a pretty wild plan, and I like a lot about it. Downloaded those pics (thanks so much) and need to ponder it a bit...
  11. kchronister

    kchronister Member


    First off, let me say I have the BEST WIFE EVER.

    For the small price of agreeing to have all the closets in the house custom-installed with fancy closet systems... The basement train space has been doubled!!!

    Gentleman, the 'canvas' is now 20x28 with the 7x9 alcove. Diagram attached.

    The 4x4 square still represents an overhead descending staircase with 2x4 framing around the space. But easily usable for tracks to "pass through" etc.

    Attached Files:

  12. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Wow... That's good. Assuming a quarter-circle curve fits in 42"x42" - the concept of a square should be adjusted here to allow for the four-track main - you have at least 50 square squares available. To make full use of this expanded space, the obstacles have to be considered. The door is fixed now, but it opens outward - YES! What's the diameter of the column? The staircase is the big issue. Which side(s) of the 4x4 area have to be left clear? From which sides can tracks enter or exit? What are the vertical clearances underneath?
  13. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Now I really know a book you should look at: John Armstrong's 20 Custom Designed Track Plans. Aside from having that Southern Pacific layout I mentioned, it has an S scale Pennsylvania Railroad layout in 32'x24'. In HO, that layout would be only a little smaller (because of need to maintain aisle widths) - about your size. It's got some interesting features, and it includes Altoona and Horseshoe Curve.
  14. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    Thanks for the suggestion, I'll check it out. I'm madly at work on a layout design which I'll post when finished.
  15. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    Hey all. Posted the layout in a new thread to cut out some of the clutter and scrolling...


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