My Richmond, Fredericksburg, & Potomac - planning

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Union Pacific, Oct 8, 2007.

  1. Union Pacific

    Union Pacific Member

    Ok, I have been spuraticly model railroading for a few years and I haven't really planned anything and I end up tearing up and replacing alot of track. So I finally decided on a plan after talking with my RF&P fan neighboor. Its a nice small railroad with 2 good yards for switching and a few stations.

    My room is about 15' x 12'. That is the usable part. I would like to do a double decker layout. The way it looks I can get the top part to fit just over the door frame so I don't need a liftout bridge and I can get a nice loop going. I will do some measuring but I would like to go with a 22" radius helix at a low grade since I like doing long trains.( I can always use a helper) I would like to seperate it so the lower part is about 60" high (plenty of storage below) and the upper is at about 7 feet high. Its only 1 foot from the ceiling but me my family and most the people I know don't stretch far over 6'-2" (I know where stumpy ;) ). I would like to put Acca yard, broad and Ashland street stations on the lower half, and then end with the DC Union Station on the top. Make the helix connect between Broad and DC since that is the "end" of RF&P. Also has to be planned and I will work on drawings. I will let you know, I need to leave know and spend some lovely time with my Grandpa. (Remember where a kids funding comes from for hobbies ;) sign1 )

  2. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    A shelf at 7 feet is "way up there." It would be unsutable for any kind of operations except simply running the train... which may be okay as a method to lengthen the mainline. But, at that heigght, the track would need to be pretty close to the edge so you could see the train. The shelf would only need to be about 6 or 8 inches wide, because you couldn't see back beyond that anyway.

    Hope you have a ladder!:twisted:
  3. Union Pacific

    Union Pacific Member

    sorry for not outlining that. I planned on having a step up kind of thing that you could walk across. I like having the trains at eye level. Having that also means little kids can stand on it to see the lower level better.
    The upper level will only be 12" in some spots, more in the yard area. It is just to serve in connecting the yards and stations since i would like it to be pretty prototypical.

  4. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    What you propose is doable - but you need to do a gut check and make sure the drawbacks don't outweigh the benefits.

    Some of the drawbacks:

    - measure the height of your eyeballs. It will be up to 6" less than your height. If you eyeballs are less than 3" above the rails, you cannot see a train on any tracks behind the front one when there is a train on the front track.

    - measure the height of the center of your chest. The center of your chest must be at at least rail height in order to work anything but the front 3-4" of your layout. Even then, it is very easy for your elbow or shirt sleeve to catch on something as you reach towards the back of your shelf. This means that in order to work on a 7ft high shelf you are going to need to elevate yourself nearly 30", which is generally 3 steps of a ladder or stool. And if you don't have high ceilings - 9ft or better - you will be forced to bend your head over when you get your arms up high enough to reach into the shelf.

    - a helix which goes up 30" or so (lower level at 54", upper at 84") will take 7-8 turns in the helix. That is a long time for a train to be climbing the helix, and if hidden, out of sight. At a scale 40MPH on a 22" radius helix, the train will be on the helix for 2 minutes. A bigger radius helix with shallower grade will be worse. The same train will take less than 1.5 minutes to make a loop of the room at the same speed.

    The highest level of track that has consistently been successful on many model railroads without using steps and benches is around 54". Even then you may need a step to reach the back of a 24-30" shelf for construction, maintenance, and operations (uncoupling, rerailing, etc).

    Since you are young and agile, all this may not be a deal breaker for you. But for some older folks, getting up and down a step every time access is needed to the highest part of the layout gets as old as a duck under.

    Again, what you are proposing is doable, especially for a younger person. Just be aware that if the discomfort level of working on the layout gets too high (like it did for my father with his duck-under layout), the layout will die from neglect. It dies because model railroading is a hobby, not a requirement. Time spent on model railroading can also be spent on other activities. So comfort level plays an important part in determining how much model railroading gets done.

    just my thoughts, yours may vary
  5. Union Pacific

    Union Pacific Member

    those are very true points. I am actually going to design it to be taken apart easily. I will make the top in 4 -8 foot sections. That way I can get them through the doorway and take them when I move. I will bolt them to the supports and I will make the back leg about 1/8" shorter than the front (just enough to keep the level buble halfway between the line) that way if it tips since its not permanently bolted ot the wall, it won't tip forward :eek: :eek: :curse:

    since I am making it in pieces I will have enough open spots to squirm through. One thing I didn't like on the cheap built one I have now is I didn't measure right and its at hip height (too low) and I can't wire unless I am on my knees or squating. If I sit I have about 10min with the way my arms are before I have cramps wall1 I will design this to get around this. I will put some drawings together and I need to put a price list together also. Then I can get a rough idea of track space.

  6. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    Add a route for the Orange and Alexandria also.
  7. Union Pacific

    Union Pacific Member

    WAAAAAY to early ;) I am looking around the 1978-1989 range.

  8. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    And you should aim for a larger radius helix, even if your equipment can all take 22" and you're using that everywhere else. A 22" radisu helix will be steep.
    Did the RF&P use helpers at all? I don't know much about it, but I think it was a fairly flat railroad. Their favoring of non-dynamic-braked power certainly supports that.
  9. Union Pacific

    Union Pacific Member

    I meant using it just to help it up the helix not as a prototypical thing.

  10. Union Pacific

    Union Pacific Member

    ok, I got some nice info from local guys on the RF&P to aid me in my design. I am working on potomac yard to get some size dimensions for it. I am hoping to do a double decker layout but I am not sure. My room is small and I would like to have the whole layout so I may need to do N scale. I am hoping for HO but you never know.

  11. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Hey Union P, I was thinking... you mention you will be moving the layout to another location at some point. Here is my suggestion. Skip the helix and fancy stuff for the moment. Concentrate on building one level of shelving for now. Build them so they are easily movable as you mention. Do some towns, industries, sidings, stuff like that, to make the layout fun to run for now. Save the helix and multiple levels for later, when you find a more permanent home. Once the permanent home is found, you take the modules and incorporate them into the final design.

    Reason I think all this is: It takes long enough to do a fairly simple layout as it is. My single level shelf layout is right at 2 years in the works and I'm just barely starting on scenery. So if you are moving anytime soon, you'll not have time to complete everything, so you may as well only work on things you can get completed in the alotted time.
  12. Union Pacific

    Union Pacific Member

    That is a very valid point. I am actually going to work on the final design (sorta) so I can basically build the lower half and run trains and have it setup so I don't have to make a boat load of changes to it for multi level.


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