Proposed Large Shelf Layout

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by Gary S., Dec 8, 2005.

  1. zedob

    zedob Member

    Hey Gary,

    My shelf layout is only 12" deep and will be using flats almost exclusively ( i just can't seem to get a whole building in, no matter how much I try). If it weren't for the track to the lower level (on my layout) I'd have alot more room and less headaches to try and scenic around, but I am rather surprised as to how much room 12 inches really is.

    BTW, I use the ready made double slot shelf brackets and am rather pleased with them. You need to fine tune level the benchwork, but they have saved me alot of work. I left the verticals long, below the layout for shelving purposes.

    Put some pics up when you get a chance.
  2. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I was thinking about putting a passing siding there because it is about halfway between the upper and lower staging areas. Would it be okay to have the passing siding on the 2% grade?

    Also, if a passing siding goes there, would it also be used to help switch the industries in the yellow area?

    Thank you for your suggestions so far, I really like them.

  3. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Do you have any layout diagrams you could post on here, or a link? I need to swipe ideas!!!;)

    Those are the kind of shelf brackets I plan to use. Once I get the layout finalized and the elevations etched in stone, I am considering renting one of those laser-levels that the ceiling guys use to level their ceiling track, the deal that rotates a laser pinpoint around the room at a precise level. Then I could set the shelf bracket track at the precise level of each location by adding or subtracting from the laser line, and there wouldn't be much "fine-tuning" with the use of shims or what-have-you.

    However, i like the idea of leaving the brackets long and putting shelving down below. And if i placed the brackets at oddball elevations, then the shelving below would not be level.

    I plan to, once I get started! I spoke with N-gauger (site admin?) about this and he said I should post them in the HO gauge forum. I actually think it would be awesome to post pics as I build the layout, and I could get constructive criticism from you guys as I went!
  4. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    That's a good question. As long as there was alway an engine attached I think it would be fine. But, if you used it while switching I think things might roll downhill, so I'd have to think about that a bit. Maybe somebody smarter than me has a good answer.

  5. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Attached is a schematic of the layout. Notice I have not included track plans for the industrial areas because I am hoping to get some ideas from you guys about what best to do in those areas.

    I have read a couple of books, "Realistic Model Railroad Operation" and "Track Planning for Realistic Operation" (?) and have ideas, but not sure how to tie all the ideas into a workable plan.

    Industry Area 1 (purple on the layout) is a sort of a right triangle with angles of about 20 degrees, 70 degrees, and 90 degrees in the corner. The sides are aprroximately 8 feet and 3 feet with hypotenuse of around 9 feet. All this is subject to change if any of you see soemthing better for that corner.

    Industry area 2 (green on the layout) is a "parallelogram" about 12 feet long and could be between 24 to 30 inches wide.

    Industry Area 3 (yellow) is around 9 feet long and generally triangular with the semi-circle on one side, about 3 to 36 inches wide.

    Attached Files:

  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    This is a basic question, and forgive me if I missed the answer somewhere...

    Why are you running around the walls (and back) when you could complete the loop across the "bottom" of your diagram of the room? Is there something in the way, or some other "trackage rights" that were not successfully negotiated? ;)

    The reason I bring this up now, is that closing the loop would be (in my opinion) an easy way to solve two problems - (1) Create more of a mainline run, possibly by going around the room twice, and (2) Allowing you to use the "surround staging" concept, rather than going to another level. For surround staging, see Hamer/Hamer.htm

  7. GeorgeHO

    GeorgeHO Member

    From what you have planned so far, it seems that your trains will never disappear, which can make the layout seem not as exciting as having them disappear and reappear. I would hide the lower track where it passes by area 1 by having the upper scenery extend all the way to the front of the layout at that site, and have th lower track go into a tunnel, and reappear on the other side of area 1.
    For area 3, you can make the upper train go through hollow buildings built next to the backdrop. This would make your background industy buildings in this area at least three or four stories tall. You could also have a little break in the buildings and have your train come thru on an "el".
  8. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Unfortunately the "bottom" portion of the room is non-negotiable i.e. "don't even think about it". I agree it would be terrific to have the use of it, however, I feel fortunate just getting what I've got!

    Now, I want to start the benchwork this weekend... but I am still concerned about the shape of industry area 1. Anyone got ideas there?

    I guess this is going to be a "fit the track to the benchwork" kind of a thing, I don't have definite plans for the industrial areas yet. I feel pretty comfortable starting the benchwork without a definite plan though, because I am pretty much using the maximum amount and shape of the space I have available.
  9. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I understand your thought there and it seems like a good idea, I think someone else mentioned this too. Can you make a drawing or something giving me an idea or two on that? How long should the lower level tunnel be where it passes underneath area 1? If my trains are about 6 feet long, does the whole train need to disappear?

    Another good idea for thought! This idea could even be used at area 2. Not sure what you mean by using an "el". Again, is it possible for you to make a drawing to show me your ideas?

    Thanks for the input.... excellent food for thought
  10. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    okay, I'm not real confident on this, but will jump into the benchwork this weekend.... the two places I am not sure about is how big to make area 1 and whether or not to leave the mainline on a flat elevation through the length of area 3.

    So should I just jump off into it and develop the rest of the track plan as I go?
  11. GeorgeHO

    GeorgeHO Member

    "el" for elevated railroad, in Chicago. Two books you should get from Model Railroader are "Model Railroad Planning 2005" (last year's) and "Building City Scenery".
    You can make your area 1 and area 2 as individual modules that you can remove if wanted. You can put down temporary track, play with the switching, and use temporary structures (cereal boxes, different sized boxes), until you are pretty sure of how you want to do it. The problem of jumping in with both feet is that you could get locked into a track plan you don't want, or doesn't fit exactly the way you want it. For example, you may find that you need longer lead tracks for your switching, or not enough room to do what you want.
    Your industry areas should be relatively flat, but the mainline can elevate or lower as it leaves the industies as long as you do not have to leave trains on that portion while the loco does switching duties.
  12. Yard Goat

    Yard Goat New Member


    First of all, the basic concept of your layout is really appealing to me. In particular, if you're doing a sort of freelance industrial shortline railroad like the Modesto and Empire Traction Company ( you can establish your lower staging yard as the interchange with one class 1 railroad, and the upper staging as the interchange with a second class 1, and then you have the potential to run all sorts of neat power, and can even add some bridge traffic between the two connecting roads to your industrial switching.

    I would suggest you make the loop in the blob at bottom-left into a helix. Not only will you be able to get more separation between your decks and a potentially gentler grade, you will also get a longer mainline run. A single-turn helix with a 22" minimum radius gives you 138 inches of climb. With a 2% grade, that's 2 and 3/4 inches gained just inside the helix with a single loop.

    I'd also have a level passing track at the top of the helix so that any train that has to double the hill has a place to set out its first cut of cars. If you do that, you'll need to keep the grade fairly flat from some point near industry area 3, around the corner part-way to industry area 1. I'd run a lead off the passing siding back into area 3, and with a little climb on the industry lead, you can have build your industrial trackage right on top of the helix below.

  13. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member


    I really like your ideas. I haven't given much thought to actually using a prototype railroad for drawing ideas from, I was going totally free-lanced. But looking at the Modesto and Empire Traction Company site, I have had my eyes opened. I can still freelance but get a ton of ideas from that site. Thank you for giving me the info.

    I know, I know, what I really need to do is find a club here in Houston and go attend some operating sessions so I know what the heck I am doing and what I want before I build, but don't know if I will take the time to do that... instead I will just jump in head over heels and build the layout and everyone can say "I told you so" later after I make a ton of mistakes.:oops:

    Edit: WARNING... I was confused when I wrote the following:
    Question: If I put an interchange at a couple of the industrial areas, would I still want the staging tracks down at the bottom right of the layout? Or would the interchange tracks be the source of all the cars coming from "off the layout"?

    My previous thoughts were to use the staging as a source of cars from interchanges with other railroads. I see that your idea opens another huge source of moving cars around and making up trains by switching on the layout instead of just making up the trains by hand on the staging tracks.
    End of confusion^

    The helix would certainly make constructing the rest of the layout easier instead of having all the different grades along the mainline. But I am a bit scared to take on the helix, have heard bad things about them. Would 22 inch radius resulting in 2 3/4" difference be difficult for an engine to pull 12 cars up? And if it couldn't, splitting the train and pulling twice would be acceptable? Perhaps even a source of more operations?

    Also, is the 2 3/4" enough clearance to pass under for the next loop?

    Ugh, sometimes I think I am getting in over my head! Possibly more research is needed before I jump into this?:confused:

    and I was wanting to start on the benchwork tomorrow...
  14. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    That's what is scaring me. The outer perimeter I have drawn is pretty much the max I have available so I feel comfortable with that even though the actual track plan is up in the air. Now, the relative proportions of the upper and lower levels are what I am not sure of.

    New thought... Is having two different levels even worth it? Maybe I just keep the whole thing at one level? Although I do like the idea of a "more extended" mainline by having the two levels.
  15. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    I think that you do want to do some more messing about with a track plan that includes staging before you go too much further. I can speak from experience that while jumping in is great from the point of view of "experiencing the hobby", it can lead to frustration with operations and so on later.

    I belong to the same modular club as Yard Goat (Andrew, above), and he is an excellent planner. He has helped me with my module plans, and has modules of his own as well. I think he has an interesting point about staging above and below acting as interchange with other roads. That is not to say that you can't have interchange on the "active" part of the layout.

    I think that the only other way to incorporate staging is to make the layout deeper, and use the "surround staging" concept modified for your U-shaped layout. That will help you to avoid the helix if you wish.

  16. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    okay, I must have misread andrews suggestion about the interchanges.... for some reason I read that I could put the interchanges at industrial areas 1 and 2.... but i reread it and see that he was talking about using the staging as interchanges with other railroads... which was what I had kind of figured on doing. Ignore what I wrote about doing away with the staging...:oops:

    Now I understand what Andrew meant. The idea is good and will definitely be used. For awhile there, my mind was way out there - "oh lord what do I do now?"

    I feel better now!
  17. Yard Goat

    Yard Goat New Member

    Sorry if any of the confusion was due to me. I really like your idea of having two staging yards, one on top of the other, on the right side of the plan. For a layout of this size and given your real-estate limitations, I think that may be the best staging setup you could have.

    I appreciate how intimidating the helix can be. I've never built one myself, so I only know in theory what's involved. I've seen some helix designs that used long threaded rods to support the roadbed, which seemed like a good idea.

    If a helix, or even two decks, is intimidating enough to keep you from starting to build, then I'd say forget about them. It's better to have a smaller layout that you actually build and operate, then a larger one that never gets off the drawing board.

    One thing you could do is build just the lower deck for now, and put a staging yard on the left hand side in place of the helix or turnback loop. That way you'd have at least some railroad to play with right away while you decide what you want to do about a second level. The only warning I'd have is that any scenery or structures you might build on the first level might get damaged while you're building the second.

    If you do go with two levels, I think the helix will be the right way to go in the long run. When I mentioned "doubling the hill" in an earlier post, I was using a railroady phrase to describe splitting the train in half and pulling it up the hill in two trips. That's why you want the passing siding at the top of the hill.

    I think you've got a potentially really terrific model railroad here, so keep at it and don't get discouraged. Your original basic idea for the layout was a good one. Everything else is just about refining the details.

  18. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Hey Mason Jar (Andrew):

    I have another question about the benchwork... started a new thread in the Technical Forum, didn't want to get off-topic here. Perhaps you could check it out and give me yout thoughts? Instead of using plywood as a base for the foam, I am thinking of using 1/4" "pegboard" with a 1x2 gridwork. Since the only readily available foam is 3/4 inch, I just feel that I need a little more support.

  19. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Yard Goat (another Andrew?):

    Thank you for the encouraging words, I am glad to hear that my ideas are okay as far as the overall layout is concerned. I'm anxious to get started on the benchwork even though I don't have everything completely thought out yet. Today I bought some shelf rails and brackets, glue, screws, all that kind of stuff, tomorrow will buy the foam and such. Will start mounting the brackets this weekend.

    I saw the helix that was supported with all-thread rod, What a terrific idea! Right now, I have gone back to wanting the helix. Either way of getting the elevation change has its good points and bad points. The helix will be a challenge, but it will make the rest of the layout easier to build.

    Well, anyway, here goes, I am jumping off into this "leaping before looking" so I am going to be counting on all of you to give me advice whenever I am dead-ended. :)
  20. Yard Goat

    Yard Goat New Member

    Hi Gary,

    Yeah, there's two Andrews here, and we're both in Canada and both in the same modular club to boot. Funny. On the other hand, my sister's named Jennifer and I know about a fifty-thousand other Jennifers.

    I think things will work out fine with your plan, whatever choice you make about the helix. One suggestion I would have is to plan around putting your taller industries (silos, refinery cracking towers, etc.) on the top level and lower height industries like warehouses on the lower level. With the layout height you have planned, the tall structures on the upper deck will be above eye-level, which will be visually more dramatic and de-emphasize the relative shallowness of the upper deck scenery.


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