Who will rise to this challenge??

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by iis612, Oct 1, 2007.

  1. iis612

    iis612 Member

    I don't have the ability to create a room template, so I will have to rely on descriptions of the space available.

    This one is a huge challenge. I have a room that measures 17'9" (east - west) x 18'4" (north - south)
    On the east wall there is a 32" wide window that sits 13" away from the north wall, and is 39.5" off of the floor. There is a 14" wide circuit breaker panel that is 8'1" from the north wall, and 43" from the floor.
    5'4" from the north wall, and 9' from the east wall is a pillar.
    The south wall is half concrete and half stud/drywall. The lower 4' 6.75" is concrete.
    The entry/exit to the space is on the west end. On the northern part of the west end there is a concrete wall that extends 5' 10" south. From the south wall there is a storage cubby that extends 4' to the north.
    There are no other encumbrances on the space.

    I need to have access to the circuit panel, and the window needs to remain free and open for emergency egress.

    Here is what I want to put into the room.
    A portion of the CSX Saginaw Sub. To include Saginaw yard (which can be found on Google Earth) McGrew Yard (Also on google earth), Midland Dow Chemical (google earth), Saginaw River barge transload, a small interchange yard to the south, and various industries.
    Era: Mid 1990's (but an occasional retro back to the old C&O days)
    This line has 4 nightly southbound mixed freights turns originating in Saginaw and turning in Ohio with stops at the interchange, and McGrew yard.
    northbound unit coal and grain, with southbound empties. 3 Saginaw yard jobs, 2 Saginaw locals, 1 Dow yard, 2 McGrew yard Jobs, 2 McGrew Locals.
    Industries serviced: 2 scrap metal yards, 1 auto junkyard, Vlassic Pickle factory, Dow Chemical, General Motors complex (assembly, engine, truck and bus [which produces body and frame parts]), power plant, steel mill, and a grain elevator.
    Rolling stock: tank cars, tri level auto rack, covered hoppers, coil cars, coal hoppers, reefers, flat cars, gondolas, and various box cars.

    I have no problem with a multi-level layout as long as there is enough space for a helix, or any other means of changing levels.
    Grades: None
    This is a p2p layout with hidden staging at both ends.
    I suspect that I may have bitten off more than I can chew, but I say go big or go home.:p
  2. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Draw a scale template of the space on graph paper. Then scan the graph paper, or take a digital picture. Upload like any other attachment.

    Otherwise, you are asking your layout designer to draw the scale drawing of the space from your description, as well as design your layout.

    my thoughts, your choices
  3. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Can you sketch out your room dimensions in MS Paint? That's probably on your computer if you are running any version of Windows. If you want a slightly more sophisticated looking sketch, try Google Sketch-Up, which is free to download for Mac or Windows.

    Or do the graph paper approach as suggested above.

    As for the no grades/multilevel layout - can you clarify? Do you mean no grades except for a helix? What about the "nolix" approach, where there is a slight grade to wind the layout around the walls?

  5. thumsup

    thumsup Member

    Hey iis612, lets see if this helps. Need to know the width of the door and its location.


    Attached Files:

  6. iis612

    iis612 Member

    I am working on a template, but work keeps getting in the way.
    The no grade is only for the operational area'a of the layout, the helix would be the exception.
    I had not thought of the "nolix" approach, thanks for the suggestion Andrew.
    I will try to have the template posted tonight.
  7. iis612

    iis612 Member


    That is a great start. The window and fuse panel need to be rotated 90 degrees. The wall at the top of the graph is where they would be.
    The entry is located on the opposite wall, and it is just an open wall situated between the storage cubby and the wall extension.

  8. thumsup

    thumsup Member

    something like this?:rolleyes:

    Attached Files:

  9. iis612

    iis612 Member

    Here is the template that I have. It is clearly not to scale.

    Attached Files:

  10. thumsup

    thumsup Member

    Humm, here lies the discrepancy. In drafting North is up or to the right of the page. Be glad to help, let me know....:wave:

  11. iis612

    iis612 Member


    You're right. North is up. I had forgotten about that. It has been a long time since I took a drafting class :oops:
    In the case of the (rather bad) template I made, north is the wall to the left side.
    I would love to have help.

  12. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    I think you will get help. At the same time, I'd like to suggest that you beg, borrow, steal (well, maybe not steal), or buy a copy of John Armstrong's "Track Planning for Realistic Operation". It's a bit 'heavy' for a small book, but it really has meat in it. You still might not feel like you can do the design yourself, but you'll be in a lot better position to understand what you are looking at, and have a better feeling of the whats and whys in a design.

    A design in a space like you've got is not trivial (master of understatement). On the other hand, coming up with a design that suits your purposes, and doing it yourself (well, with other inputs, advice, and suggestions) is really, really, satisfying.

  13. thumsup

    thumsup Member

    No worries Matt, now I'm on the right page. Here is the revised drawing, the grid lines are 12" apart. Let me know if you need something else done to it.


    Attached Files:

  14. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    mmm, is this Z-scale? S-scale? TT-scale? OO-scale?

    I just thought I'd ask the question because you can have four times the amount of layou in N-scale that you have in HO...but the trains are only half the size.

    If you want really large trains and layout size isn't much of an issue...then you might be interested in O-scale or Large scale...G/F/No1...all three run on LGB track.

    That space would be a large N-scale layout, a medium sized HO layout, or a small O-scale.

    I'd recommend devising your track plan...but starting off with building some small modules...and not spending lots of money. That way you can get a feel for what you'd like to do. If you start buying up tons of N-scale stuff only to find that it is too small for you...perhaps in some area of the hobby you haven't tried before such as buildings...it doesn't cost you very much to switch to HO...and vise-a-versa
  15. iis612

    iis612 Member

    That is perfect! :thumb:

    Another rather large oversight on my part... :oops:
    The scale is HO, even though I have entertained fleeting thoughts of selling all of my ho scale items and buying n scale.

  16. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    The obvious general outline (may be far from the best) that deals with the need for access to the 2 opposite walls is a U-shaped aisle running from the entrance along either the east or west wall and then along the north wall - or at least the part of it with the window and panel.

    A practical no duck-under arrangement would then be an E-shaped layout against the east wall. Using 30" aisles, and a 24" deep shelf along the usable part of the north wall, I come up with 2 peninsulas 48" wide, extending towards the west wall, but leaving a 30-36" aisle on the west.

    Problem is that this benchwork arrangement does not suit your proposed operational scheme very well. Although the peninsulas would have a good length, the width constrains the minimum radius. And the maximum 22" radius turnbacks on the peninsulas are not going to work well with your 1990s era rolling stock. If you do decide to pursue the E bench arrangement, I would work very carefully to juggle aisle and peninsula widths to increase your minimum radius to something like 28" (60" wide peninsulas, at least at the turnbacks).

    Could really use more information on your givens and druthers about duckunders, layout height, aisle widths. Also, think about how much you want the layout to dominate the room, do other functions such as modeling workbench, paint booth also have to be in the same room? Finally what minimum radius is acceptable to you? Or, what is the controlling rolling stock? Do you prefer switching or watching trains roll between stays in staging? What about train length - this will drive design in a medium space for HO such as yours?

    The point of all these questions is to narrow the options. What you have said so far would tend to lead one to an around-the-walls design. But around-the-walls is going to be at least half viewed/accessed from the outside instead of the inside if you are going to keep the window as a true emergency egress that doesn't require moving stuff to use.

    just some thoughts, will continue thinking
  17. iis612

    iis612 Member

    I have not spent much time thinking about layout height, as I am certain that I will have to construct a multi-level layout. I am thinking that the upper level should be no higher than 46".
    I can accept a lift-out section, if the real estate is needed.
    Aisle width should be minimum of 30".
    The area where the layout is going to be constructed is earmarked specifically for it. There will be no other function. I will do my painting and tinkering in another room.
    Minimum radius is a tough one. I would like to see 42", but I know that I don't have the real estate for that. 32" will look a bit odd with the longer rolling stock but should not cause any functional issues.
    I enjoy switching, as well as train watching.
    Consist length is another tough question. I am looking at MU lashups of 3 or more locos and as many as 20 89' auto racks (which is smaller than I want, but is a necesary compromise).

  18. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    The trick when you have to have less than ideal radius curves is to try to hide the sharper radius, and have the nice wide curves more visible. That doesn't necessarily mean tunnels, and things like that, just disguise!

  19. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    That's very low. 54" to 60"+ is more usual for an upper deck. Think about it: The upper deck will be several inches thick. You have to be able to see the lower deck.
    I assume from this that your autoracks have body-mounted couplers.
    That makes for a 24' long train. You'll certainly require double-decking to handle trains longer than either dimension of the room, and the length will certainly drive everything about the layout.

    I'm not saying to reduce your length requirement. I like long trains, too, and I'm used to designing plans to maximize train length.
  20. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    I'm out of my league with relatively large and multi-level layouts; I'll let some of more talented folks continue, after I give a few thoughts from what I have read. I've only built single level layouts, and small ones at that. I once planned a 2 level shelf layout that was going to use cassettes to link the levels (ala Iain Rice), but realized things like light switches and fixtures on the walls were going to limit me to a single level at a reasonable height. The house was a rental, so nothing could be moved.

    Planning multi-level layouts has its inherent issues. Vertical separation between decks and depth of decks and convenient access all have trade-offs. As does the grade and means to connect the levels. You will probably not be able to have the upper deck at 46" or lower without making the lower level a back-breaker, or being forced to keep the upper deck to a 12" depth or so.

    12" is generally considered a good minimum for vertical spacing between decks. 18" is better from an access and visual appeal of the lower level. As a general rule (there are exceptions), you want the lower level to be deeper (front to back) then the upper level, or at worst the same depth. If the upper level is deeper, then the sight line to the back of the lower level is blocked by the overhang of the upper deck. Lighting (and heat if using incandescent lights) for the lower deck is another planning consideration.

    Bottom line is that a two level layout only has about 50% more effective area than a single level layout in the same space. Make sure the operational gains are worth the compromises!

    Most of all, before finalizing the plan, I strongly recommend you put up some shelf brackets and temporary plywood or cardboard where you plan the benchwork to go. Place some flex or sectional track at both the front and the back of the shelf, put some trains on the tracks, and see how it is for sight lines and rerailing. The time spent mocking things up in real-size 3D will be worth the verification of the feasibility of your plan, or forcing you to revisit the plan before committing to real wood, lighting, track, and scenery.

    I find many plans, especially multi-level ones, fail to adequately consider sight and reach lines for coupling/uncoupling and lining up of turnouts. This has a real impact on how practical switching operations are going to be at each location. Again, full-size 3D mockups using cardboard boxes for structures and cars on flex or sectional track help a lot.

    yours in planning

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