P & PDV RR Layout Planning

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by ScratchyAngel, Apr 9, 2008.

  1. ScratchyAngel

    ScratchyAngel Member

    Givens and Druthers:

    P & PDV RR
    N Scale, Std Gauge

    Late 50s to Early 70s era

    Most likely freelance shortline, rural setting

    Space: 78"x108" basement room

    I'm probably most interested in building and modeling, but dioramas aren't enough. I'd like to actually feel like I'm making some deliveries to my industries, servicing a small area with enough variety to make it worth firing up the trains. I know I get bored pretty quickly with looping and doing n-scale NASCAR with trains, but I'd like to be able to turn my trains around, and given the small space I know I probably need some less obvious loops in order to feel like the trains are going anywhere. I know we'll be selling our house in a few years, so it's probably just as well that my first permanent layout not be open to the huge basement of dreams. I'd like to have space for my buildings, but I don't want to just feel like the industries are sitting along a single track waving without actually being able to receive or send freight my way. It'll probably usually be just single engine at a time single operator, with me wriggling into where I can to watch the action. I'd probably also be into photographing my tiny corner of a tiny rail empire.

    Attached are some of my ideas, some obviously not do-able. The first was with AnyRail trial and thinking about using the WS modules. The rest are with XtrkCad. I think I like the last best, but any input, pointers, criticism or whole new directions are welcome. Thanks for taking the time to take a peek.


    Attached Files:

  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    It looks like the last one will need an access panel in the center of each end of the "dog bone" in order to re-rail the any rolling stock that derails in the back of the layout. If I am reading the squares correctly you have a 4 foot reach to the last track in the lower right corner and it may be a 5 foot reach to the farthest track on the upper left corner. I think you should eliminate the track in the very top right corner. There just isn't any room to get an access hatch in there, and it looks to be at least a six foot reach across.
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I would recommend you continue with the diorama approach - but make them more like modules. You'll be able to work on them like a diorama, plus you'll be able to move them with you.

    You can go around the walls with a combination of 12" - 18" deep modules that will give you continuous running. Hollow-core bi-fold doors are a decent size for Nscale using this approach. You also avoid the reach issues.

    You can retain your last plan (above), but just open the dogbone shape to go around the room instead. Of all the plans, I think that one has the most potential for operating in a realistic way.

    The modular approach is also good for photography, as the sections can be hauled outside for best lighting (and to avoid making a backdrop ;) :D ).

    Hope that helps.

  4. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    In addition to the access issues Russ mentioned, you also have very narrow aisles. Even if you are skinny enough to use an 18" aisle, you probably won't be able to touch anything without hitting something else with a wrist or elbow. Recommended minimum aisles are 24". In my mock-ups with stacked cardboard boxes, I found 25" aisles to be uncomfortably confining (layout 50-60" high), and subject to elbow or shoulder strikes if I turned around in the aisle.

    You can probably use a reasonable-size blob for the turnback loops at each end, but the rest of the layout should probably be shelves no wider than 24". The critical aisle width in this style layout (your last diagram) is where the turnback blobs are nearest to each other.

    just my thoughts
  5. ScratchyAngel

    ScratchyAngel Member

    Thanks for all the replies so far. All these are good points about the space, and were already things I had reservations about. Not enough reservations to make me try to fight for space in the 12x12 upstairs bedroom that's my wife's office/scrapbooking area (I know better than that). The point about the wrists and knocking over is something I hadn't thought of and is a good point to remember for the future.

    Oh, and fwiw, the lines leading off in the corners on the last plan were more for the illusion of the rest of the railroad world being out there than for running.

    Taking it with me isn't such a big deal, because if I know myself well enough, I'll be glad to take my buildings and details and box them up letting the landscape go. Still, Andrew's idea of going modular at least doesn't lock me in. I'm not sure at 18" I could fit in a loop, but an L or J at 24"-30" might work.

    Here are two doodles on that theme, the only differences are a longer yard that actually leaves a bit of abandoned track, and two new paths (making more wiring fun) through a crossing. I figure I have two standard sizes and possibilities for rearranging/reusing if I do wind up moving them with me.

    Also if when I start to frame up the benchwork it seems to be tighter than I think, I could always drop the yellow section and tie the green one right up to the blue and have something to be happy with, with half the room to still move around in. The curves are a lot tighter than I'd like, but with older diesels and cars under 60' things should at least stay on the rails, right?


    Pixel & Paper Dreams Virtual Railroad

    Attached Files:

  6. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    It is getting better. You don't have a way for the locomotive to escape if it leads a train into the yard next to the red line on either layout. That little double ended siding next to the blue line looks to be too short to serve any purpose. The same thing can be said for the short double ended siding at the 6' mark on the bottom of both layouts.
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I am sure that there is some math that can tell you how big a curve you may have for any given width of shelf. If I knew it though, I have forgotten. Suffice to say that it is quite big - perhpas bigger than you thought for such narrow shelves.

    For example, on an L-shape made from 24" wide modules, it is possible to get at least a 40" radius curve. I know this because it is the standard at the local modular club (www.hotrak.ca).

    So if you use 18" shelves/modules around the room, you can get broad curves without too much difficulty.

  8. ScratchyAngel

    ScratchyAngel Member

    It was supposed to be a little caboose dump, but I guess it could be turned into a runaround by going past the curve. The matching one on the bottom was just to make it possible to swap the two modules and still have the tiny side track. I worked it and another siding and changed the crossing angle to not break the "interface" on the module, but now I've pretty much punted on it after chewing on some of Andrew's ideas.

    I know what you mean for single curves, but with these I was trying to turn around completely, thus sort of limited to turn around while on the same shelf/module. I did some mocking up with shelves/boxes, keeping in mind what I might be klutzy enough to knock into on a regular basis, and I think with a 3'x3' pop in, I could turn around and be relatively comfortable. I also checked out whether I thought I could do a foot-wide duck-under comfortably, and I can, though I'd probably usually operate from the area to the left. With the following arrangement I'm thinking I could even have a 6" wide connector across the door or hook up a temporary staging/fiddle with a single track connecting through the doorway. I used Christmas tree box and a flat box to try out squeezing into the room with both restrictions, and it wasn't bad at all.

    I'm imagining a loop with two reversing points around "the pit" with industry/customers along the leg with two tracks for main/runaround so I can drop things off. I could also imagine a yard to the left.

    Which brings me to the part where I recognize my complete mental incapacity. No matter how much I try to think about leads, storage, runarounds, caboose tracks, maintenance tracks, I'm about as good at designing a realistic or even useable yard as I am explaining quantum physics in Mandarin Chinese. I'd imagine that 5 cars and a caboose would be a mammoth train for me, with 2-3 cars + caboose being the norm. I do think I'd probably want to have the ability to store around 10-12 freight cars in the yard. I don't mind giving up precious space for one, and I'm open to it being non-prototypical as long as it's operational. I'm also not particular about where in this 6 or 9-shaped space it would go. I'd like to place the yard first then design the rest around it.

    In the meantime I may keep wall1 with (Yard Design) and other sites hoping that suddenly a talent for actually laying down a yard will begin to emerge hamr

    Attached Files:

  9. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    If you are happy with a duckunder, I would suggest that you go completely around the walls, and don't worry about creating turnback loops. You then also don't have to worry about ducking in and out during an operating session, as you would with the "9" shape - i.e. every time you send a train to the penninsula.

    One of my favourite room sized layouts is Mike Hamer's Boston & Maine. It's 11x13 in HO, so would scale nicely to your ~7x9 in Nscale.

    He's got two yards in effect. One in North Dover, and one that was formerly "staging" accessible from the doorway (bottom of the picture in the link above). Of the two, the staging area is really more a yard. The tracks in North Dover are really arrival/departure tracks that are used for switching the local industries, and for setting up jobs like the Conley Mill run. Not a huge yard, but very effective, and nice to operate.

    Mike's "surround staging" concept also works well. The trains automatically "re-stage" themselves after every session, which minimizes work to prepare for said sessions.

    The added bonus of staging is that it represents "the rest of the world" more effectively than just the interchange tracks you have running off the ends of your loops. Those are good, but can be cumbersome to operate, as you will need to remove the cars by hand, and put new ones on to simulate the interchange having taken place.

    Although you say you'll likely only operate short trains, I would suggest that you start with your yard (in whatever form) along one of the long walls. The ends of the curves in the corners will restrict the length you can get on the short walls, unless you like curved turnouts. The longest track on the short wall would be about 4 feet max, which sounds long, until you realize that every additional track you put in will be significantly shorter than the last, especially if it is a double-ended yard (i.e. subtract the length of two turnouts, plus clearance from each additional track).

    That's it for now - I hope this is helpful.

  10. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I hadn't thought of a caboose dump. Since cabooses (cabeese?) are bi-directional, you could use a stub siding to park a caboose on, rather than needing to have a double ended siding for it.
  11. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    My two cents: Wrap the body tracks around a corner. This allows you to put the ladder switches on straight sections. You may be able to fit a substantially bigger yard than you thought.
  12. ScratchyAngel

    ScratchyAngel Member

    Ok, first, thanks again all.

    The B & M layout is pretty cool, but I think with my mediocre skills and imagination, my interpretation would probably still feel pretty much like running in circles. It did however give me some ideas to get unblocked, including Triplex's point about the wrapping the yard around a bit (though I left it mostly single-ended except for the A/D track).

    I'm still drawn to the double-hole type setup for variety of where I might operate from and looking across something I think makes it feel bigger or trips some trigger in my mind that "hey, I'm way over there now." I wound up putting the yard on the divider/duckunder/middle so it'd be accessible from either operating spot. It's likely to be 99% of the time just me, one train at a time.

    I've got the current one broken out below with a few independent layers to make it easier to see the sections. I also figured out how I might do an around the room helix that'd be semi-scenic, and would let me do at least a small upper area if I lose my cotton pickin' mind and want more space. I figured out with a 2.5% on the straights and around 1% on the curves I could probably gain 15" with two laps plus the back wall, or almost two feet with another lap. I doubt I'd ever do it, but it'd be an option, and at least it wouldn't have most of the problems a normal helix would.

    It'd take some work to switch some of the industries, and a lot of forward and back to get a train put together and onto the A/D track, but I'd have the wye to turn a loco around and the double/sidings on the far right give me some possibilities. I think I could have at least 7-10 small customers here and a compressed suggestion of a town around the yard lead.

    Attached Files:

  13. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Okay... I have no idea what's what in the yard area.
  14. ScratchyAngel

    ScratchyAngel Member

    The straights off to the left are just the idea for tiny interchange or where I can put new stock on easily, or store cars. The long leftmost curve to the bottom is an arrival / departure track. Main can pass it to the left and assembled trains can be picked up on either end heading back to main by the turnout at the top or at the bottom.

    The three next tracks to the right are classification. The one extending upwards is for small local engine shed. The most bizarre bit is the lead that curves up at the top. Basically after assembling the train the cars would be pulled up the lead then backed down onto the A/D track. Not ideal, but I think it'll be functional for me. I think if I pushed the lead down into the space where the classification tracks are and wrapped everything around to make it more realistic then I'd waste more real estate wrapping the classification tracks along the bottom and right, and they'd be harder to get to from both sides, if I had to manually uncouple or move cars around. I think I've thought the compromises through, but maybe not.
  15. ScratchyAngel

    ScratchyAngel Member

    Option A

    Ok, so while stocking up on eBay and the hardware store (have some 2" blue foam -- BTW Dow Utility Fit Styrofoam Insulation seems to be a brand they recognize when asking about it) I've been doodling off and on on my track plans. I've distilled things down to three options, with some pros and cons, and hopefully I can choose one to refine a bit before starting to do some benchwork (of course, I'm sure I'll wind up winging it on some changes as I go).

    Option A below is the last in the series of ideas I was last exploring, including the duck-under in the middle of the small room and the idea of being able to run a helix around the room for expansion (would start near lower right and would be high enough for another deck by the time it got to the left side of the room after two full laps).

    Space for 6-8 "customers" without resorting to second deck
    Possible to do some operations without feeling like I'm making laps
    Option open to run laps around or do some figure 8s through the wyes
    Two wyes for turning trains around
    Feeling of depth and distance from spaces between the three cross the room areas
    The "threat" of using the track to the doorway as expansion into the next room

    Tight operating area from either side
    If I do a control-panel, having to decide which side to put it on
    Ducking in and out of the two sides
    Wiring the two wyes might turn into a pain
    Feels a bit spaghetti-bowlish

    Attached Files:

  16. ScratchyAngel

    ScratchyAngel Member

    Option B

    Note: The three turnouts in the middle would lead to industry trackage that I haven't laid out yet.

    Bigger Yard
    Operating Room
    Reverse Loop that I can imagine backing through into the yard
    I can imagine 6-8 industries here too without a second deck
    I can still run a helix around the outside (that's the reason for the 6" strips and the turnout at the top, at the end of the second lap by the top left I could start an upper deck)

    I think the main area feels really small, not sure I'd feel like the trains were doing much travel
    Second lap of helix would go over bottom of the yard (with clearance, but might look odd)
    Some minor reach issues with Helix in upper right, but could reach a train there if no tall buildings in the way
    I think I should like this best, but for some reason I don't, can you sell me on it?

    Attached Files:

  17. ScratchyAngel

    ScratchyAngel Member

    Option C

    Open operating space
    Huge yard
    Space for some scenery and non-"customer" areas
    Least intrusive helix
    One of the larger lower deck areas covered by the upper deck is yard, so no tall buildings/big scenes there
    Feels point-to-point, but has a reversing loop on each end so could run continuously which with long helix would take some time

    Wider duck under to room
    Only 4-5 "customers" on lower deck

    The first image is the plan for the lower deck without the helix
    The second includes the helix
    The third shows the upper deck (blue) and what it would cover (track to track height would be about 23" which would give me 16-18" of real space between decks)

    So, I'm leaning to this last one (mainly because it's the last one probably), though I think I might feel a bit frustrated by the little bit there besides the yard until I could work my way around the room to an upper deck.

    Any input?

    Thanks for taking the time to look,


    Attached Files:

  18. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    I won't try to, because I agree that
    when the trains go all the way around the room, not only are they covering more distance, but it looks like more, because you can't look at the entire mainline at once.

    C would be my favorite for mainline running, but not for switching, and would take more work to complete.
  19. ScratchyAngel

    ScratchyAngel Member

    I agree about the more work and not seeing the whole thing at once. The latter is probably more important since I'll be modeling rolling hills and flat, so no tunnels or huge obstructions to separate areas out. A little more switching would be nice, but I don't think I have enough space in the room and brains in the head to have good mainline and switching. Thanks for the feedback.

Share This Page