Trackplan Challenge

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by Mountain Man, Feb 5, 2007.

  1. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    I can't figure it out, so here it is for those with more experience.


    400 sq ft room (all of it available)
    HO gauge


    point-to-point ops preferred
    2 towns
    origin town:
    4 stall loco shed
    1 reduction mill spur
    1 smelter spur
    livestock pens

    1 cattle ranch

    1 depot w/water tower and coal loading (by hand)
    1 hotel
    1 cabin
    1 tent
    passing spur/wye

    mine operation atop mountains

    room at mid-point for entry into "the Narrows, a series of steep-walled canyons

    2 mines
    2 stall loco shed and repair shops
    spurs as needed

    Industries actually available in real life within a forty mile (diameter) circle were coal, oil, cattle, agriculture, orchards, and gold.

    Can all this fit into that size layout without too much crowding?

    My own feeling after attempting numerous layouta plans is that it will have to be N-gauge.
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Can it be a narrow gauge? General (very general) rule of thumb is that the narrow gauge of a given scale can fit in the space, and use the track radii of the next scale down. So you might in fact get HO scale locos, rolling stock and structures, but be able to take advantage of 9-15" radii for trackwork.

    What shape is your 400 sq ft? 20x20, 10x40, etc? I don't necessarily think that you will need to go to Nscale. Do you have any of the original HO plans available?


    EDIT - for those of you who are wondering where this started, look here ->
  3. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    Can we have a full description of the layout "room," including the location and size of the door(s), window(s), and closet(s), furnace, water heater, breaker panel, etc., if any? And are duckunders permitted?

    Edit: Just noticed the hand loading of coal at Midpoint. What period are you thinking of? And when you say room for entry into the steep walled canyons at Midpoint, are you refering to room for people or room for trains?
  4. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Room is former garage which is 26' x 28', and is a big, empty space without cars.

    I am using a 20 x 20 section, and the gauge is HOn3.

    Druthers: no duckunders. I don;t think my arthritis would like it.

    re Midpoint: the Narrows are steep-sided, narrow canyons which crisscrossed back forth, with the river following the same pathways and through which the single train line must run. I reserve a good-sized block of space for that and the powerhouse which will oprate off the waterfall.
  5. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    What part of the 20x20 is against a wall? Any of it, or is there access all the way around?
  6. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Access on 2 adjoining sides. Power available on 3 walls - 4th wall is garage door. :)
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I think that if you assume two sides will be against the wall, in order to best use what's left of the overall space, you are looking at an "E" shape, or maybe "G". That works well with point-to-point, and avoids duckunders - i.e. a walk-in design will work.

    The "G" shape might be better at avoiding loops that cut across each other, and for allowing space along one wall for the canyon feature. A shelf about 2 feet deep should be suitable for most parts, and could narrow where scenery permits, or be wider where needed. The parts of the G that are accessible from both sides could be wider.

    I might even consider a hidden return loop for the possibility of having "hands-off" continuous running when desired. A second level for the return loop could also house staging if needed.

    Those are my thoughts for now - working on a sketch...!

  8. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    As he pointed out, it is HOn3, but that doesn't necessarily mean super-sharp curves. The D&RGW, for example, had 2-8-2s converted from standard gauge 2-8-0s, thus they required the curves appropriate for small standard-gauge steam. For HOn3, 18" is probably a good first estimate for radius. That is smaller than for standard guage, since 18" is really too sharp for general use.
  9. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Modelers of the "true" narrow gauges (On3, Sn3, HOn3, On2) tend to be more detail-conscious than the typical standard gauge modeler. The prototype typically preferred to have the cars ride low on their trucks, which limits the ability of the trucks to rotate on models if full underbody detail is included. Finally, a significant portion of "true" narrow gauge modelers tend to focus on 1930s Colorado, which featured the relatively large K-series Mikados.

    For all these reasons, a reasonable minimum radius for the narrow gauges cited is higher than one would think. In HOn3, some K models struggle with 18" radius curves, while others need the full 18". 18-22" is the typical minimum radius for home HOn3. Of course, if you are modeling smaller or pre-1900 protoypes, 15" is usually doable.

    On30 and HOn30 are different animals. Because there was so little prototype 30" gauge, the models are typically free-lance, or models of 2ft and 3ft gauge prototypes with the gauge adjusted. And because the *n30 gauges use HO and N gauge track and respectively, the curve standard of the smaller scale typically applies. Especially since the mechanisms are often also borrowed from the smaller scale. The result is that *n30 models will typically go around much sharper curves than their *n3 bethren.

    my thoughts, your choices
  10. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Time frame is 1890's, at which time the locos were 4-6-0's for passenger service and 2-8-0's for freight. diamond stackers were common, leased from railroads like the D&RG when they converted to standard gauge. Train lengths on narrow gauge mountain lines were often no more than five or so boxcars with caboose, or perhaps two to three passenger cars with caboose.

    The geography did not permit large curves. 18' would probably be the maximum curve they could fit in without expensive blasting and filling to expand the grade. I have seen a photo of one 16' looping switchback.
  11. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    But he did not point that out until after I had suggested it...

    As you pointed out, it is only a general rule of thumb, based solely on the fact that HOn-whatever is using the next smallest scale (i.e. Nscale) mechanisms under HO scale bodies. And as Fred pointed out, true scale stuff will still require the bigger radii.

    If HOn30 does not work in this case, it is likely that Mountain Man would want to consider a narrow gauge in Nscale.

    I think we would all agree that no matter how broad and sweeping our curves are, they are still much tighter than any prototype could have used. For example, the TG&B was originally laid as a narrow gauge line from Toronto to Orangeville with "tight" curves on the order of 800 foot radii. That's roughly ten feet in HO scale, far beyond our so-called broad curves of 36" to 48"...

  12. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Not really - the 3' gauge Uintah Railway had some curves of less than 90' radius - about 12" in HO.
  13. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Well, there is a prototype for everything then...! ;)

  14. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Mountain Man,

    Sorry about the side discussion on narrow gauges and curve radii. How do you feel about negotiating duckunders, and do you have a need for continuous running (hidden or visible)? How about staging? How many operators/trains will be going at once?

  15. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    My druther would be not to have a duckunder, but I'm open minded.

    I am also open minded about a continuous loop at a lower level, although not on the main level at the prtotos were point-to-point. Being that I need to swap out mpty coal and ore cars, I can see where something will be needed. As for stagng, consists were small at the time, max of maybe five cars, and can be made up at the small yards at either end. The main use, again, that I would foresee for a lower leel staging area would be to have a pre-made ore train and a pre-made coal train standing by for ready use.

    I foresee only myself as operator initially. I don't know any other MRR hobbyists in this region. As for trains going at once, two would be the usual - one departing the gold camp and one the town, and meeting at a passing siding at the midpoint depot, which is pretty much how they did it on the old Florence and Cripple Creek RR, except that they ran 12 or more trains a day! :D
  16. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I think then for you a "G" shaped layout would work. It would allow walk-in operation, wide aisles in the event that you have other operators around, and will also allow a return loop (hidden) for continuous running and/or staging.

    I think that this is doable in 20x20 in HOn3. The rolling stock and locos will make for short trains (especially at only 5 or 6 cars each). With 15 feet of track on each of three sides, the trains should look good. Keeping the benchwork to 18" to 24" between features (towns, canyons) while widening to 30" - 40" (especially at each end to allow for the return via staging) will work.

    I have sketched a rough diagram of the walk-in benchwork as I see it in your room. Area A is "Origin Town" on a roughly 4x8 space. The town and active railway will be towards the aisle, with the remainder of the depth for the loop into lower return/staging track.

    Area B is "Terminus", again with the same 4x8 size to allow for the loop. Since this part is accessible from both sides, it is possible to widen it further to allow for other scenic or railroad features. Same with the penninsula that leads to it.

    Area C is "Midpoint". The benchwork could be deepened to allow for more town and backdrop. The aisle width (minimum three feet thoughout) could be preserved by again shifting Area B.

    The area between C and D (especially along the benchwork labelled D) offers room for the "canyonlands" area. It is even possible - and would be quite spectacular - to extend the scenery from the floor upwards...! :cool: Alternatively, you could make this wider and have part of the return loop along here, visible from the "outside".

    Let me know what you think, and we will keep going...


    Attached Files:

  17. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    I like it! I never thought of a G format - must be getting stuck "in the box". :oops:
  18. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Glad you like the idea. I was thinking that the peice down the right and across the bottom (C to D) could be wider, and be double sided too, so the scenery is visible from outside, and you might possibly add some operational elements there.

    Are you going to use the rest of the space for anything? "Crew lounge"? Work bench? Other uses (like a woodworking shop or storage)?

  19. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    I have other space for those activities. I'm looking at broadening it somewhat to make up for space lost to the mountains, so I have redrawn - by hand - leaving three-foot isles.

    Now I am trying to figure out how small a workable wye can be and how I am going to fit three of them into the layout space in HOn3.

    I figure I'll die of old age bofore I get it all worked out. :rolleyes:
  20. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Corners are likely spots for wyes. They can use fairly tight turnouts, as you will not be running them at high speed (unless one side forms part of the main, I suppose). You need to make sure that the tails are long enough to hold whatever it is you want to turn - engine only, right up to entire trains (usually only required for passenger consists).

    I'll doodle with the plan above and see if I can get some track ideas on it. It will not be to scale, as I don't currently have any track planning software.... hamr but it will give us some ideas.


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