Locating turnouts for best operation

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by BigJim, Jan 17, 2007.

  1. BigJim

    BigJim Member

    Well I have been playing with the design software enough to learn that switching turnout locations or moving one a little bit one way or the other can make a big difference in layout operation and avoid problem areas, s-curves, etc.

    My goal is to use my two hidden loops in either one large loop around or throwing a few turnouts have two separate loops. I also want a couple of long passing tracks and room for a large yard and turntable (planned for but to be added later)

    With full size passenger cars most of the curves are 30"+ with an absolute minimum of 28". The yard curves are a little tighter but generally 22"+.

    I am happy with the size and general shape of the layout but I need some comments on moving/adding/deleting/changing the location of turnouts & passing tracks and any other comments on operational issues.

    Here is the question/challange
  2. csxengineer

    csxengineer Member

    lots of switches

    Personally, I could never afford the 30+ switches. Some of the yard tracks are very short. You also would be constantly leaning over a busy mainline to couple/uncouple/rerail in that yard. Also you have a lot of yard, but no industries to switch. A good rule of thumb: have 1 yard track for each industry. If you build a train, you need to put the cars in "station order" with the head end cars being the first ones to be set out. With no destination, your yard may be used to color sort cars instead, and that gets boring after a while.

    No offense, lose some track. There is little room for scenery, and maybe simplify the number of reverse loops.
  3. BigJim

    BigJim Member

    Good suggestions

    I guess I put all of the yard tracks there more to see what would fit rather than what the real final layout will be. Working with the layout software it is a lot easier to delete unwanted stuff then it is to working in missing stuff. My thought was - If the yard fits then eliminating some tracks provides space for industry. Many earlier trys had a problem getting the tracks to the areas without tight radii or no room for turnouts.

    I may change my mind later but I do want to have a couple of trains running on their own while I do other things.

    Most plans I have seen that have two continious "running loops" have the yard in the middle or a shelf extension I don't have room for. How do you avoid that?
  4. BigJim

    BigJim Member

    I may be missing something but I think there are only three revering loops. I was planning on having sutomatic sensing to switch the DCC signal as they exit the loops. Trying some CMOS flip-flop / NOR gate circuits that will do it for less than $4.00 a loop.

    Is three too many for this size layout?
  5. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    That layout is sexy :). ** nooob alert :) ** I've been fighting w/ how to design my yard for a week and half now and i settled on doubled ended yard w/ switches inside the lengths. I picked up ns switches on ebay for about 1.50 a switch. I got some steel and brass ones too but decided against using those in the yard as they won't see the type of traffic my main line will.

    You mentioned dcc, are you using dcc to switch too? I've been research stationary decoders and found a quad mrc for 40 bux. Tempted to get it now, my layout looks like a rat just broke into a wire store and made a nest of all the wire, but i don't understand enough about it and how it all works to feel confident i want a 4 port one instead of a 1 or an 8 port stationary decoder.

    I'd also be interested in how you plan to operate your yard train to assemble the consists. I am having trouble conceptualizing that whole process too :). I plan to use a magnetic decoupler in my yard.

    I get happy w/ my design software then go down and look at the track and come back up tot he comptuer and start deleting stuff hahaha. It's allot of fun playing w/ the software .. i've see osme that i can actually run the trains around in ...
  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I also think that the track (especially under the "fly over" at the bottom right) has to be simplified.

    The other thing I don't like is that any train leaving the yard/roundhouse almost immdeiately comes back past the yard after traversing the lower (?) reverse loop in the upper left.

    Could you maybe reconfigure the elevations so that the train can leave the yard, go around the curve in the upper left, but then come back to a reverse loop underneath the yard area? This would make the layout more like a folded dogbone than a "loop to loop (to loop)" that you currently have.

    My $0.02

  7. csxengineer

    csxengineer Member

    How about...

    Something like this...

    I like the fact that now you have a origination (union station), and 2 destinations (suburban stations). You have 2 layers of scenery, wide curves, tunnels (all tunnels that I go through at work are single tracked now). You get to play dispatcher by holding a westbound outside the tunnel until a eastbound clears. There are industries to switch in each direction, and room for city, suburban and mountain scenery. Without scenery, you might as well have a plywood central. You can seperate the upper and lower portions with a long concrete retaining wall. Whatca think?

    Attached Files:

  8. BigJim

    BigJim Member

    Sorry but I wasn't clear in the layout picture. The line on the left separating the stacked loops from the rest of the track is a dividing wall for a storage room. It is non-bearing and I will be building it so it will have an opening large enough for the loops to pull through and the whole layout will be on casters and pivot out for easier access to work on the back side.
  9. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    I've heard it as 1 carlength of space in the yard for each carlength of space in industry trackage. Staging doesn't count as either.
  10. BigJim

    BigJim Member


    Reduced the yard and cleaned up some of the switching and turnout locations. The 5 wye turnouts will be tied together with one switch machine.

    Is this better?
  11. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    The five wyes...cool...good place for an interlocking tower scene. No real need for the double crossover serving the siding in the upper middle of the plan, however. Also, there's no runaround in the yard area for locos on arriving trains to escape then head into the servicing area. That's a simple additon of a crossover at the end of two yard tracks, so not a big deal.

    The past few plans have been very track heavy. Seems like you're reaching planning saturation/frustration, right? What you need is an overall layout concept. Then the tracks will make sense. I'm not suggesting following a prototype or creating an operations oriented layout, but simply having a general reason for the tracks to be where they are.

    What are the common threads you keep coming back to? What are the driving images in your head when you visualize the trains running around the layout? Simplicity will usually have a longer lasting impact of enjoyment than a spaghetti bowl. Seems like it'd be the opposite but it's not. (UNLESS, you're into Lionel or Flyer. Then the more track you can cram in and the more places you can make your trains scurry at high speeds without coming off the track the better - but that's a different kind of fun...)

    A major union passenger terminal would be really cool. Ian Rice has one in his Small, Smart & Practical book...for N scale I think, but you've got the space to make it work in HO. So the storyboard for your layout becomes passenger trains primarily with a subplot of freights making appearances. Add a major engine terminal and you've got a division point where trains arrive, engines are serviced, etc. before trains head back onto the road. Now place the terminal and engine facilities near each other and build your mainline from there. No need to get into car cards and switchlists, and as long as you can keep trains running you don't even have to throw a turnout to have fun. But if you want more you can have it too.

    But it has to have a purpose. Even a loop of 18" radius snap track can have a story that gives it meaning...something that activates the imagination. But once you start adding turnouts then the story gets more complex. Why are they there? Even if you never use them, they should have a purpose to make the story convincing.

    I'm sketching right now...lemme see if I can give a visual example.

  12. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Totally NOT to scale sketch...

    Okay, here's a sketch that hopefully illustrates what I mean. It's NOT to scale, at all. But hopefully you get the general idea.

    View attachment 34513

    Get the overall idea of where trains are going and why, then start adding turnouts as necessary to either add visual interest or operating function, prototypical or not.


    Attached Files:

  13. BigJim

    BigJim Member

    [​IMG]Hi Galen,

    After seeing some of the "Lift up" bridge pictures and looking at the long reaches you get with two tracks with minimum 30" radius I have changed quite a bit.

    Goal is to have two trains running without throwing turnouts. Ability to combine into one track. Roundhouse and yard. Multiple industry areas. Large passenger station (4' wide brown area in back.) Passing tracks. At least one curved turnout, one double slip switch, one or two double crossovers. Using the loops hidden in the 66" wide storage/work area and having the part outside approx 10' x 15' is the mane "given". The spiral in/out curves don't have much effect on the layout but should help the operational look. Not all of the yard or turntable will be in phase one but I want to "locate" them so the frame & ply are set to accomodate them.

  14. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    What did you draw this with it looks very clean.
  15. BigJim

    BigJim Member

    I use XTrkCAD. Options - no end points, full ties, grid at 12". Print to bitmap at 16 DPI. Open in Paint Shop. Change all green to black (For Grid). Increase colors to 16M. Effects - Blur/soften. Resize to 20%. Save as *.gif.

    Sounds like a lot of work but it doesn't take that long considering the quality of the final picture. I haven't used any other software (read cheap - XTrkCAD is free) but with a little learning I have been able to get it to do everything I need.

    Since I want spiral curves it is a little bit of a pain drawing curves with 1" more or less radius per each 18 degrees of turn. Copy/Paste/Flip/Rotate/etc.


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