N Scale Plan - Your Thoughts, Please?

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by HopefulAlan, Oct 28, 2002.

  1. HopefulAlan

    HopefulAlan New Member

    I will appreciate any criticism and suggestions you folks are willing to give me regarding this plan. It is N scale, the overall length is 12 feet, the depth in the wide area is 30 inches, and the depth on the left (yard) side is 12 inches. The concept is of a point to point branch line, with the interchange being the track in "front" of the yard.

    This is totally freelance, and my idea is of a railroad that acquired motive power as funds became available. The oldest locomotive is an RS-2 and the newest is a GP38-2, so tight radii can be used. I have tried to keep my freight car fleet average length as close to 40 feet as I could.

    At this point the plan is flat, although changing elevations, at the least, will probably add interest.

    I have no particular concept as to the type of industries that will be served, although obviously, with the lack of available space, there can't be any really large ones.

    It should be obvious, but in case it isn't the circle is a turntable, with engine facilities to be built in the area to the right of it.

    Again, I will appreciate any suggestions - or criticism - you are willing to offer.

    Thanks in advance.

    (Please forgive it if the attachment doesn't come out well - or if you wind up seeing three copies of it. This is my first attempt at doing this sort of thing.)

    Attached Files:

  2. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hi Alan!
    I like the plan...it's a good size, with easy access, provides some switching possibilities, & continuous running.
    One thing I might change myself, (& this is entirely a matter of personal taste) would be to eliminate the 2 spurs at the far right, & extend the mainline that much farther...
    The area inside the loop to the right loop should be big enough for a couple of decent sized industries. And unless you're dead-set on the turntable (keep in mind, a lot of turntables got phased out with the coming of the diesel era) & engine facilities, there's always options for that space too. But then again, the engine facilities can make for interesting modeling projects, & operation.
    I've always felt that 2 or 3 good sized industries are more realistic, & make for more interesting operations than lots of tiny ones. (let's face it, if an industry isn't any bigger than a boxcar, it probably isn't gonna generate much rail traffic)
    Add a nice backidrop, & scenery, & that could be a super layout!
  3. BDC

    BDC Member

    Just some quick thoughts on your track plan:

    The blue is a dividing wall that blocks all vision, while the red would be either a structure or terrain feature that you can't see beyond at track level. The green objects are just buildings.

    Not a bad plan, but you may have a little too much track planned out. You would find it very difficult to place larger structures with that much track.

    Attached Files:

  4. billk

    billk Active Member

    Alan -
    I really like how you've kept from running parallel to the edges of the layout.

    Kind of agree with what Charlie said about the turntable, especially since you also have a turning wye incorporated. You could probably lose one or the other if you had to. If you do keep the turntable, would it make more sense to make it accessible from the yard, somehow?

    I didn't see any opporunity to continuous running without using the wye, but if you added a track connecting the outside curve on the left side to the track going across the top, you could have a continuous loop (sometimes it's nice to just sit back and watch the train go round and round!)

    Only other thing I can think of is take every opportunity you can to widen the curve radii - it will look better, cause less operational problems, and won't be such a consideration in what motive power/rolling stock you get in the future.
  5. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Alan, The first thing I noticed was the wye and turntable at one end, with no turning facility at the other end. You are talking well into diesel era so the turntable (this is just my opinion of course) would be gone in the presence of a wye. Now, if you just really like turntables, here is a thought. You mentioned adding grades, which I feel you should do regardless. But if the yard had leads to the turntable instead of the leads coming from the industrial area, the track which passes betwen the turntable and the yard could pass above that lead, with the turntable lead passing beneath in a concrete underpass. You see this type arraingement often in hump yards, as a way to get locos across yard throats without fouling them. This would give you the ability to turn power at each end.

  6. NYCentral

    NYCentral Member

    Alan, Great job!! I would have to agree with Gary about having the turntable connected to the yard. I think you will find the spur in the back close to the right loop will be in too small of an area for a industry, especially with the two spurs from the wye next to it, may be a better idea to extend your double track to the loop.

    I also have to agree some with connecting your layout where the two passing tracks are for occasional continious running. I personally like to continious run a train when I am working on my layout just for fun.

    Those are my thoughts, but I see you have planned well and done a great job my friend!!
  7. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Hi Alan and welcome to the Gauge! :) I think your basic plan is a good one, however I agree with alot of points made by the others. I would get rid of both the wye and turntable (desiels don't need em') as they waste tremendous amounts of real estate. I also added a connection for the continious loop for when you want to just run em' or want to break in a new loco. I got rid of the passing siding and industry on the back side as you would need a 36" reach to have a chance of comfortably working back there. I would have the track climb as it left the yard going a long the back wall and level out as it turns along the front edge. This would give a little scenic interest and with some trees planted to the left of industry #5 will give a nice view block like BDC was talking about. Just my 2 cents worth! :D Whatever you do good luck and keep us posted! :)

    Attached Files:

  8. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Alan, Is the long side against a wall? What do you think of the ideas given so far? You may have clear ideas on a couple key elements you want or you may be open to major change such as Tysons plan. A key factor is: Point to point or continuous. There is an active thread on this, read it if you haven't. By and large, most people prefer to have the option of continuous running. That doesn't mean you should prefer it, but have you considered it? Your plan is fine for solo operation of a way freight, the sidings along the way are only needed if you plan to have another operator running another train which would meet the first. Adding continuous run would take away somewhat from your stated purpose so perhaps thats not right for you. A little more info along these lines will help us to help you.

  9. HopefulAlan

    HopefulAlan New Member

    Sorry to be so long in getting back to you folks. We had company over for dinner this evening, and they just left.

    Many, many thanks to each of you for your well-thought out suggestions, and thank you, Tyson, for your welcoming comments. I feel very much at home.

    Gary, in answer to a fundamental question, yes, I did forget to tell you that the "top" edge is against a wall. BDC, I think that failure may have led you down the garden path, as what I think you were trying to do was to create a two-sided layout with a scenery divider between the two. That would have been a great idea, but obviously it won't work in this case. Or did I misunderstand what you were getting at?

    Putting the turntable in was almost an afterthought. It wasn't in the original plan, but since I had already purchased one (the Atlas unit with a motor drive) I thought I might just as well use it. It didn't occur to me that, while I went to great pains to build the wye so I could turn power at one end of the line, I had no way to turn it back at the yard.

    Now, I agree that diesels CAN run either long hood forward or short hood forward. However (and I've never been in the cab of one, but I'd bet a nickel on this), I'll bet the placement of the controls makes short hood forward running much more comfortable for the engineer. Consequently, it seems to me that being able to turn the engines at BOTH ends of the line makes sense if it fits. I'm thinking of trying to rework the yard, angling it a bit so the interchange goes off the "top" side, and giving me access from the "bottom" side to either another wye or, as Gary originally suggested and Phil supported, by going under the loop to the turntable in the middle of the left loop. I think I would rather do another wye, but as has been pointed out, it would take a lot of expensive real estate.

    OTOH, if I just stop worrying about coddling the engineers, as Tyson suggests, I could clean out a lot of track that is only used for turning 'em around.

    What is the group's opinion, should I do away with both the turntable and the wye? If I did, I don't think I would like the layout to remain quite as sparse as Tyson drew it, but I should be able to use the space for more industry-switching trackage.

    Gary, by the way I tried a search of the track planning forum for the active thread you mentioned which discusses the pros and cons of point to point vs. continuous running, but could not find it. If you can direct me to it I would appreciate it.

    Not yet having read that thread, I think of a railroad as not going around in circles, but as going from one place to another. I visualize mine as a branch line serving a relatively small number of industries, bringing freight from the world (the interchange) and delivering it to those few industries, then taking their goods back to the world (the interchange). On my small railroad I see this as involving relatively short trains of six to eight cars, with MAYBE one freight going while one is returning, and one fellow is being kept busy in the yard.

    You might wonder why I incorporated three passing sidings when, under this type of operation two of them would be unnecessary. I didn't actually think of them so much as passing sidings, but as runarounds to facilitate switching the several industries scattered along the way. I would appreciate your thoughts on that. How necessary are runarounds, or rather, in the scenario I described for my railroad, how necessary would they be?

    By the way, Phil, you make a good point about the little siding just inside the back of the right loop. There really isn't room to put anything worthwhile there, so I will discard that one.

    Tyson, you, too, make a very good point about the reach required to deal with that double track along the back of the layout. Color it "gone".

    Despite my fairly strong feelings that I will want to operate point-to-point most of the time, I do see merit in what several of you have said regarding occasionally just wanting to watch things run or, of more practical value, breaking in new equipment. For that reason I will probably connect the upper end of the "left" loop with the track above it so I can run continuously if the occasion calls for it. Thanks, all, for making that point so clearly.

    Billk, thanks for noticing that there are no tracks parallel with the long edges of the layout. Those drive me nuts, and I went to great pains to avoid them. I know they use space most efficiently, but they just don't look natural to me.

    If it enters into consideration at all, the railroad will be DCC with, at most, two operators, although at first it will be only myself operating it.

    One more time, let me thank you all for your help! It has been great and has caused me to re-think many of my design features.
  10. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    For the number of sidings I see, 3 runaround tracks are a bit much. You might want to convert one or two to industry tracks.
    Also consider the siding directions. If your traffic is all between an industry and the yard, you may want to switch the trailing sidings on the way out, run around the train at the wye, and switch the facing sidings on the way back.
    Of course, you may want to complicate things to keep it interesting for yourself (the reason golf courses have sand traps and water hazards instead of concrete guttering running straight to the holes.)
    Most diesels have a designated "front" end; some have controls set up for both directions. CN here uses 2 GPs on their locals, but hooks them up every way they can -- even 2 chopped noses coupled together.
  11. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Alan if I understood you the wide end is only 30". If that is so then my track plan isn't is sparse as it seems. Buildings and scenery take up more space than one would think. For the record some R.R.'s (Southern comes to mind) tend to run long hood forward, but there is no need to turn em'. They usually have 2 or more hooked together and only have to make sure the ones on each end are facing the "proper" direction. BTW I should have said descend not climb when the track leaves the yard (makes it easier to clean and maintain things along the wall).
  12. HopefulAlan

    HopefulAlan New Member

    Tyson, I sincerely hope I didn't offend you in any way by poking fun at the idea of "coddling engineers" or by suggesting that your changes resulted in a "sparse" track plan. I very much appreciate your knowledge and experience, as well as your eagerness to help.

    Your suggestion about doubling the power sounds like the perfect solution for me, especially since I have a few more locos than my layout could normally justify. They won't be paired alike since I don't have any two of the same type (remember, I'm just getting started), but I don't think that would be totally un-prototypical. So, the wye AND the turntable are now gone.

    Fortunately, I've got a son who is also trying to get into the hobby, so I'm sure the turntable will find a home.

    It also sounds, Tyson, as if you are suggesting that the yard should be a couple of inches higher than the majority of the larger section of the layout. Not a problem, I'll just put in another 2" layer of foam for the yard. That is goihg to complicate closing the loop for continuous running, but it shouldn't be too difficult and might be attractive - one track descending, and the other rising to meet it, maybe near the right end of the layout. Kinda kills the idea of camouflaging it, which I like, but what the heck?

    As to what I was calling "sparseness", 60103 has hit my nail right on the head. My layout isn't large, and for what I want to do with it I need to cram as many operating problems into its small space as I can. His golf course analogy fits my thinking perfectly.

    Tyson's point about scenery and structures taking space is absolutely valid, too, so it's a tough thing to strike the right balance. I would prefer to go in the direction suggested by 60103, replacing at least one of the sidings with an industry track, although not along the back wall. I would like to keep one passing siding, probably along the front of the layout, and one runaround track near the end of the line.

    Which brings up another couple of questions. How long should that runaround be, and where in relation to the "farthest" industry should the runaround be located?

    And, since you folks are on such a good roll, let me ask where you see other elevation change possibilities.
  13. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Alan, Sorry for not directing you to the thread, it really isn't easy to find! It is under Tech Q&A, called What do you like best.

    If sounds to me like you should lose the turntable and wye. Typically a short line as you descibe wouldn't spend the cash to build or maintain turning facilities. An existing wye would probably be left alone, but for your purposes eats too much space and isn't needed. Likewise, David pointed out that sidings can be switched out either on the way out from the yard or on the way back, eliminating sidings for runarounds. Again the money needed for these sidings wouldn't yield the required benefit and wouldn't be built.

    Regarding a connection for continuous run: Since your primary interest is point to point, consider a connection for continuous run at the location already mentioned, but disguise it. A large industry located between the yard and the loop into the center industrial area could have spurs entering from each end. They can actually run right thru for your connection, but be used as industrial sidings during your operating sessions.

    Regarding elevations, I would make the center industrial area just a bit higher than the rest, so that all you would see of the rearmost track would be say the top half of locos and boxcars, while the track itself was out of sight. You'll still be able to access it easily, still see the train running, but the scene will overall appear less cluttered.

    I think the layout you've designed has the potential to look great and offer interesting operation. Please let us know what you wind up doing.

  14. NYCentral

    NYCentral Member


    I think you are on the right track. If you want to keep the turntable to turn the occasional engine, why not, you don't need any tracks coming off of it except the one from the mainline, this would cut down on the area you need for it. I think everyone has given you some great input and information. Just remember this, when you get done you will probably be like most of us and say "what if I change that to there?" or "it would be better if that was there" so you may move a few things.

    Good Luck my Friend!
  15. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Alan no offense taken :D My layout is 32" wide on one side so I'm very familar with working in that size space. But then I admit that I prefer as high a ratio of scenery to track as possible. I agree connecting the loop would be tricky because of the grade and personally I wouldn't do it. Please don't take any of this to seriously, try to stay flexable, lay some track out see how you like it and adjust from there. Don't be afraid to make changes as you go. Above all keep us posted and good luck! :D
  16. HopefulAlan

    HopefulAlan New Member

    Well, in case you thought I wasn't listening, here's the latest iteration of the track plan. All of your advice has been very helpful, and I have really appreciated it. As you will see, I have incorporated many of your suggestions.

    I plan to operate the railroad as a point-to-loop, rather than point-to-point, so the locos will be returning to the yard short hood forward. I kept the turntable but, at Phil's suggestion, only for turning the locos at the yard end of the line.

    Additionally, I incorporated a continuous running loop, which I will disguise by putting an industry in front of the point where it joins the mainline. I won't normally run in circles, but when I want to - or need to break in some new equipment - I will be able to do it.

    I picked up on Tyson's graphic, and have divided the center into two switching areas. I also left myself a passing siding/runaround nearby.

    All in all, I think this layout will look good and will provide much better and more flexible operation than my original plan would have.

    Your comments and further suggestions will be more than welcome, and I thank each one of you again for all you have already contributed to its development.

    Gee, I can hardly wait to get started on the benchwork!

    Attached Files:

  17. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Alan, I'd say you did a real fine job incorporating some good suggestions. That plan looks like a winner. Have fun building it and post some photos as you go if you can.

  18. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    What?????? No pictures yet????? :D :D :D :D
  19. HopefulAlan

    HopefulAlan New Member

    Gary and Tyson,

    One of my first procurements as I began to assemble equipment for the railroad was a digital camera. It isn't of the fine quality many of you have, I know, but I think it will do.

    I will definitely be keeping you up on developments!

    Thanks again for your help and encouragement.
  20. NYCentral

    NYCentral Member


    As you already know, I think you have done an excellent job of incorporating some of the suggestions and ideas of this group. I think you will be very happy with the result!! And remember if you are happy then it is all worth it!! Keep us posted on your progress my friend!:cool:

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