Operational switching layouts

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by KCS, Jun 21, 2006.

  1. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I am puzzled why you would jump into a discussion of switching track plans to drag it off topic onto why you don't care for switching.
  2. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    You'd probably like my dad's layout. It's a three-times-around loop in 5x10 feet, with multiple levels and lots of steep grades. He's fond of mountain railroading and switching is an afterthought. He also tends to defer scenery for as long as possible, as it blocks his view of the trains. The other two layouts that he built when I was a kid were along similar lines (although the first one was only 4x4 feet) but for some reason I always liked switching better--to me, a railroad is fun because it DOES something, or at least simulates doing something, useful. I'm also big on building buildings (that's what I did, mostly, on my dad's layouts: built buildings and scenery and weathered rolling stock) so I like some room for structures and interesting street scenes. Personally, I am no fan of woodwork, so the complex cutting of plywood for cookie-cutter layouts with multiple levels of spaghetti-bowl is not for me.

    As my previous posts imply, I skipped the single-oval parts and went straight for the fiddly bitz when it came to track planning. For me, it's all about dinky switchers slamming cars back and forth in scruffy industrial areas of disreputable character--pretty much the ideal small-layout design nut. I suppose I'm rare for an American modeler (the stereotype is that we all like monster basement layouts and giant articulated locomotives.)

    If the part of the layout you actually use is a glorified oval (as personified by several trains running round and round) and spurs etc. are just for show, then isn't your track plan still a "height of tedium" glorified oval? If you never use a part of your layout, it might as well not be there from an operation perspective (whether such operation is prototype-based or round & round.) I have seen some really good layouts that were basically a loop that ran through several scenes of interesting scenery.

    Part of modeling and selective compression is only showing your favorite aspects of a railroad, and there are plenty of places on a railroad where all you see is the railroad (and the trains) going past--or, in busy spots, more than one railroad on more than one level. I choose not to model those things because they don't interest me, and happily exclude the mainline from my track planning wherever possible. You can certainly model small passenger depots (which require no sidings) and other trackside features which don't require connection to the railroad, and save yourself the trouble and expense of modeling features you won't use because you feel like a model railroad has to have them even though you don't like them.

    Here's a 4x8 you might like: the original John Allen Gorre & Daphetid.
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Back to the original topic for a moment...

    Charles (KCS) - Did you get the information you were looking for...?

  4. Agamemnon

    Agamemnon Member

    To be honest, my contribution to the thread got off in a very wrong direction mostly because I digressed when writing my first message a bit and then completely forgot to get back into the topic at hand.

    In my defence, I'm not an an American so any and all errors I make can be chalked off to being a member of an ignorant foreign race with a poor grasp of the English language.
  5. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Any track plan can be a switching track plan, as long as it has some switches: even your planned rollercoaster of a track plan, should you choose to incorporate a yard and industrial sidings, might be turned to some foul operations-intensive purpose by a visiting model railroader chum with a soft spot for car cards and lots of zig-zagging.

    There is quite a bit of difference in perspective between American and European modelers (for the sake of argument we'll assume that England is part of Europe, a point of some contention amongst some residents of the UK I have met online.)

    In the US, many folks believe that a 4x8 sheet of plywood is the absolute, bar none, utter minimal downward limit on size for a model railroad, no matter what. I have gotten into discussions about shelf layouts before and had people exclaim "I can't have a shelf layout, I don't have the room or the money for one, so I have to build a 4x8!" Somehow, the idea that my layout actually takes up roughly half the space of a 4x8 (and thus costs about half as much, and requires half the room) fails to sink in: either you have a 4x8 or you must have a monstrous basement empire requiring massive reconstruction of one's home. Ideas like ripping a 4x8 sheet into separate boards, setting the boards on stands or furniture to avoid having to mount to walls, etcetera, fall on deaf ears by those who would resist seeing the walls of their 4x8 foot temples breached.

    Personally, I have no problem with you joining in the thread by claiming you don't care for switching layouts, because it gives argument-prone types like me an excuse to crow about the benefits of small switching layouts: low cost, ease of construction, speed of construction, easy fit into small spaces, and the fun of scooting little cars back and forth.

    There are even options for train-watching types: by using trolleys or short narrow-gauge locomotives, both which can utilize unreasonably sharp curves, you can have your loop or loops in a small space and dig streetcars bouncing to and fro, or loggging lokeys ambling through the woods, and never have to throw a switch unless the mood grabs you.
  6. Agamemnon

    Agamemnon Member

    I've actually been meaning to start a thread about the cultural differences among model railroaders, it's an interesting topic.
  7. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    I know someone posted a semi-humorous "joke thread" a while back about how people of various nationalities built their layouts, although they got the Americans dead wrong (they assumed every American has a basement empire, when the archetypal American layout is the 4x8 and the basement layout is the ideal, but definitely the exception to the rule.) Arguments about points vs. switches or turnouts, wagons vs. cars, and chimneys vs. smokestacks are largely being made moot by a generation of kids who watch Thomas the Tank Engine and know Brit nomenclature from age two on.
  8. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    Point well made! My son is two and I've learned so much from the show! Find a copy of the original collected stories (The previous owner had left one here when we moved in, along with a ton of her & her son's stuff...oh well, her loss!) and you can learn even more!

  9. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Take This Thread To Cuba!
  10. viperman

    viperman Active Member

    Jetrock, please re-post this image in my thred (see my sig). I do like it, and have been trying to come up with something similar. And if you can, could you try to enlarge the pic so I can read all the writing and details too please?
  11. gottaBreal

    gottaBreal Member

    Thats MR Allens Frist Model Railroad. Wow never seen that b4?
  12. gottaBreal

    gottaBreal Member

    by the way he made that layout for TINY cars. U sir need a point to point with staging areas on each end ;)
  13. viperman

    viperman Active Member

    I do like point to point railroads, but I like running continuous. I will admit I've never run a switching or point to point layout, and probably should give it a shot. Maybe I'll set one up on my table, and see how I like running it. If I like it, I may stick with it, or even build a bigger one, once I clear up the basement a lil bit, as stated in my thread
  14. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    There's a semi-copy of that plan in Reed's Hobbies in La Mesa CA (San Diego area), exept its flipped. Pretty neat little layout!

  15. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    One of the members of the Orange County Module Railroaders built a 10 foot version of the Gump Stump & Snowshoe that really works great. If I do this right here is a link to photos of it. www.trainweb.org/ocmr/ The module in question is in the last three pics on the page. In the last pic at the bottom of the page, you can't see it, but there is a second track making a run around just behind the train. That run around makes the whole thing work great for switching. I tried to put a link to the exact page up here, but it didn't work. The link is to the OCMR home page. Go to the 2001 Photos, and open page 3. The module is on the bottom of page 3. You can get a good look at the module with a view of the run around in the center by going to the 2002 Photos & open Anaheim GATS. At the bottom of the page that opens it opens a slide show "or Browse The Picture Pages." Open page one of the Picture Pages and Ted's module is featured in the top three pictures on that page. The first picture really shows off the run around in the center of the module.
  16. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    As much as I like switching layouts I have never been fond of switchbacks, but they are nice for an "up the side of a hill" scene. I recall a fellow who modeled a fictional Los Angeles area railroad scene that was basically a G&S on steroids (around 3x11 feet) with lots of interesting scenes--by blowing up what is basically a switchback layout to that size, he was able to have four separate scenes (foreground and background on left and right side) that were visually and operationally distinct, and a long enough run to feel like work is being done. It was mounted on a wheelbarrow-like chassis, with two wheels at one end and two legs and handles at the other, to roll it around.

    and yeah, the original G&D was made for shorty equipment with sub-15" curves.
  17. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    That was Robert Smaus' first layout.
  18. KCS

    KCS Member

    Wow. ::jaw drop:: I hate to say it but sheesh! I could have shot a horse and got better results than this thread that got WAY off topic pretty much after the first couple post's. Mason, I'm still running around with my head cut off in terms of what to do. I came across one layout design that one of the guy's posted on here that he designed himself based on the SF around the Winslow, AZ. area. I liked the design because it had two main line continuous run with lot's of switching.

    To me, trying to jockey rail cars back and forth while dodging main line trains coming to and from the yard sounded fun! Of course that's why they call KCS switch crew's "dodger's" because they are always dodging mainline road freights. The room I have to work with being 11x17 feet is a huge step up from the average 4x8 framed plywood table with an oval and a few switch's. I thought seriously about using the layout I had seen then thought about some things such as: We have to mobile homes. One we live in and one kinda behind next to us.

    The one behind us is used for a guest room, gym, storage and as of recent a solid wall was installed isolating my hobby/band room from the rest of the house. The water heater closet was removed leaving me with a back door the you have to go out and walk ALL the way around the house and shop then across the drive way to get to the main house or as I have been doing sense square one, the small water heater door that I have been using to come and go from the room that made it faster just to go out and walk right across the yard and your at the main house. I thought about it. I just won't use that back door. I'll keep it only for building the modules for the layout and moving the modules in and out of the room whenever I move out.

    So this lead me to a conclusion that an around the wall shelf style layout is out of the question. So What I ill do is build a double deck "L" layout which will be the 11x17 foot and 3 feet deep. Now I have the bench work drawn out and all. Now I have run into the problem of the track plan once again. I'm trying to figure in a 2-2 1/2% grade for the climb to the top level. As of now I have an Atlas Dash 8-40B, Atlas, MP15, Athearn SD40-2 and two Kato SD40-2's to pull the grade with. I'm trying for at least a 7-8 car train up the grade to the top level.

    On the top will be a construction scene and I want a 5-6 track switching yard for making up trains that have to be switched to other industries on both levels including a A/D track, a yard run around and a yard lead to keep from restricting in coming and out going trains. I'm looking for a fairly good amount of industrial switching with plenty of track yet leaving enough space for some scenery and road's. I'm seriously thinking about a trucking company and warehouse on the bottom level. Oh, as far as the yard if it can be fit in a 4 stall locomotive and car servicing shop as well. As far as the rest of the layout on the bottom, I'm not sure what I want but if someone can find or design me some kind of track plan I'm sure I can wing most of the rest of it to fit it all in and make it work out nicely.

    Just trying to get a track plan down is not working for me. I just don't have the "artistic mind" to do it. If anyone can do this it would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks in advance.
  19. KCS

    KCS Member

    I'll post the drawing in the morning as soon as I can.
  20. gottaBreal

    gottaBreal Member

    rgr that cant wait too see

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