Serving Industries

Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by 2-8-2, Jan 21, 2005.

  1. 2-8-2

    2-8-2 Member

    First, a little background: I'm working on my first layout. By working, I mean doing research, drawing up and rejecting 10 track plans a week, irritating fellow Gauge members, etc. My layout is going to be approx. 3x7 (door sized) in N scale. At this point, I'm researching what types of industries I want my railroad to serve. My layout is likely going to consist of 3 cities, 4 if you include the yard. There will probably be 2 industries in each area, for a total of 6 industries.

    I have questions about the "flow" of rail traffic. I would really like operations to be part of my railroading fun, and I hope to create some sort of waybill system to make it more realistic. The way I see it, there are 3 options:

    1) Progressive. Meaning that everything flows from A-Z. Using peanuts as an example...there might be a peanut farm, a shelling facility, processing plant, and other peanut related industries. Everything has to do with peanuts.

    2) Random. No related industries. There might be a steel plant, food processing plant, lumber yard, meat packaging, etc.

    3) Combo. Raw ore is delivered via barge which needs to be delivered to a steel plant. The steel plant might then ship its product to another industry or two. Or perhaps the byproducts of a few misc. industries are taken to a disposal facility. Other industries on the layout are random.

    I'm seeking some input about what would work best from an operations point of view.
  2. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Don't forget interchange traffic--it can be a way to tie together those "random" industries, as well as producing a flow of traffic without having to model every stage of a process. Interchange can be via dedicated interchange tracks with other railroads, intermodal facilities (or their predecessors, the team track), dock facilities, LCL freight houses, or hidden "staging" tracks for through traffic. The potential for traffic types becomes considerably wider, and most "industries" of this sort are easy to model.

    Another direction of traffic flow to consider is the flow of materials to your railroad: your engines need coal, diesel fuel, sand and spare parts, your MOW crews need ties and track and want you to buy a new Jordan spreader.
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    You could generate "locals" or "turns" out of your yard to serve whatever industries you have. This is basically what we do (using a car-card/waybill system) at our local modular club ( All trains originate and teminate in one of two yards. There is no "en route" switching where a car goes from one industry to another before coming to the yard - although this sounds like an interesting (and more prototypical) twist. We have not got there yet - we just go one-for-one switching.

    I think that how you handle it, and what you model, is based on your interests. If you want to do all of one industry (e.g. steel - mine to processing/foundry to customers) then go for it. If you'd rather have amix, then use industries you find interesting, and generate traffic for them all.

  4. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Hi 2-8-2,

    Your operations choices will reflect your interests but I think you'll get a lot of enjoyment out of a combination of industries that are related and others that might not be.

    My layout has a steel mill that receives gons of scrap iron from a nearby salvage yard. These two industries keep sending the cars directly back and forth. This operation is part of a "yard job" near the mill that serves both industries.

    Another industry that serves my steel mill, Allied Bulk Commodaties Transfer, is a barge to rail shipper of coal to open hoppers. Cars from ABCT do not go directly to the steel mill but are taken to a small yard where they later become part of a train going to the mill, the "West Mill Turn".

    Other industries like my small meat packing plant and the ledgendary Vandelay Industries (latex manufacturing) do not exchange cars with other industries on my layout. Cars are set out or picked up at these locations by through trains that take them "off layout" to some larger yard (hidden siding) where they are classified (in my imagination) and sent on to other destinations.

    Maybe start off by making a list of the kinds of buildings and industries you'd most like to see on your layout and take it from there.
  5. Tad

    Tad Member

    It's going to be hard to fit 3 or 4 "cities" onto a 36" x 80" door. My layout is built on a door that size. Space is going to be your limiting factor.

    You need to look at what the footprint of the structures that you want to put on your layout. Cut out some cardboard the same size and place them on your door. Then try to figure out how you are going to make the track service them. Make some track templates or buy a set of the Atlas ones for about $4. Get a roll of butcher paper or kraft paper and roll some out on your door and try sketching in your layout plan full size.

    If you have Right Track or XTrack CAD (both free) you can print your trackplan full size and put it on your door. Set the cardboard footprints on the trackplan. Then take a locomotive and a few cars and set on it. See if you think your plan will work.

    I'm sure that most of us have made revisions in our plans before, during, and after construction.
  6. 2-8-2

    2-8-2 Member

    Thanks for the input guys!

    I hadn't even considered MOW, or the influx of materials that actually run the trains...such as sand, water, coal, fuel, etc. Thanks for reminding me of that.

    After considering my options, I think I'm going to go with a combo of industries. I'll probably have a few that are related, and others that aren't. That setup will likely provide the most possibilities. I'm modeling the NKP, which served major cities like Cleveland, Chicago, Buffalo, and St. my options are almost endless. One of the major considerations when doing all of this has always been getting my 3 kids involved. More than likely, industries on the layout will be named after them.

    I have both RightTrack and XTrack CAD, and I plan to print out a full-sized template whenever I finally settle on a track plan I like.
  7. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    2-8-2..I removed your 2 double posts..Things like making double posts happens..Thats why we have mods to fix the boo-boos. :D
    Now you could use the edit options and delete your double posts..However,If you are uncomfortable deleting your double posts one of us mods will be happy to do it for you.. :D
  8. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    2-8-2, another consideration in planning your industries is what kind of rolling stock you like. As an example, I like covered hoppers and thought I could use them for grain shipments. When I found out that in my era they just used MORE BOXCARS for grain, I changed the industry so that I could use covered hoppers.

    Also, tank cars, and gondolas and flats with open loads add so much visual interest to a layout, I think.

  9. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Val Brings up a excellent point about matching your industries to your cars.This should make planing your industries a lot easier by knowing what cars you have or like..
    Now I prefer boxcars,reefers,covered hoppers,tank cars and steel coil cars and this plainly shows in the industries I choose for my 2 industrial switching layouts.
    I also selected not to use industries related to each other for a more prototypical approach to the industries served in a industrial park or industrial area of a small city...
  10. 2-8-2

    2-8-2 Member

    A special thanks to the forum gods for cleaning up my boo-boos. I looked for a remove post option, but I must've missed it.

    I hadn't even thought about the rolling stock...geeze I have a lot to learn. But yeah, it makes sense to pick industries to match what types of rolling stock I like. A lot of that will probably depend on the availibility of NKP road named cars.

    Given the size of my layout, I'll have to stick to shorter trains. Box cars, reefers, covered/uncovered hoppers, and shorter tankers will be my best bet I think. Longer cars and gondolas just wouldn't look right.

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