Progress on the West Ridge Branch Line

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  • Member since
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Progress on the West Ridge Branch Line
Posted by BLT_BY_LIONEL on Tuesday, September 15, 2020 3:54 PM

Hello,

So now that I have my first engine on the way and a loop of track, I started brainstorming a trackplan for the area I had in mind for my permanent railway (tentitively named after our neighborhood).  Below is a verry rough drawing showing obsticles and features I'll be working around.  The pond is roughly 15 x 13 feet with a water fall at the top end.  The table, bench and bird bath are all concrete and anchored in the ground.

The main line would start to the left of the pond and travel around the rock garden which makes a natural mountain scene before turning behind the rock garden and pond.  It will sweep accross the back before a few wide s-curves returns it to the pond where it will eventually cross a long bridge back to the starting point.

I was hoping to use R3 8.1 foot diameter curves throughout but the bend at the top right is a tight fit between the trees at the top and the table/seats below.  I may have to consider the R2 5.4 foot diameter curves there.  I'm sure the LGB 2063 switcher I purchased will be fine on these, but are the R2 curves limiting for bigger engines like a 2-6-0?

I want to keep operation and wiring somewhat simple so the few turnouts will most likely be manual and located within reach.  I've seen videos of people manually operating switches as they travel their railway and it gives a real life feel to the experience.

Here are a few pictures of the area.  It's about 30 x 30 but not all will be used for trains.  Feel free to give any advice or bring up any concerns along the way.  I'll be moving slowly... doing reasearch, surveying with a water level, etc before I break ground.

 

 

John

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Tuesday, September 15, 2020 6:32 PM

Hi John,

 this is all very exciting, and you've got room to work with. What is the overall size of the space ?

 Also, here's a bit of garden railway history, for what it's worth:

at one time, R3 was the widest curve LGB made, and was considered quite generous. Many of the larger early engines  ( Aristo C-16, Bachmann Spectrum Mogul,etc) can run on R3 as a minimum radius.  Of course, bigger engines are available now, and may need more generous curves.

So, Bachmann Spectrum 2-6-0 needs R3 or larger.

LGB 2-6-0 can run on R1, if need be.

I don't own any Piko yet, so can not speak for their 2-6-0.

Paul

I would suggest to stay with R3 for the main loop. R2 and smaller for branches. Remember that you do not have to use all the available space. Run your tracks in the unobstructed areas. Avoid the trees...

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Posted by Greg Elmassian on Tuesday, September 15, 2020 9:23 PM

Work hard to keep R3 as a minimum, all I can tell you is the extra work to make it fit will be worth it.

 

Greg

Visit my site: http://www.elmassian.com - lots of tips on locos, rolling stock and more.

 Click here for Greg's web site

 

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Tuesday, September 15, 2020 9:29 PM

Greg Elmassian

Work hard to keep R3 as a minimum, all I can tell you is the extra work to make it fit will be worth it.

 

Greg

 

This is excellent advice, because later on, when you want to add larger engines and cars, it will pay off. You'll be glad you did !

Paul

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Tuesday, September 15, 2020 11:47 PM

BLT,

 

Really, really cool!  You have some fun terrain to incorporate into your layout!  

 

For what it is worth, I used R1 curves throughout, becasue that is all I had.  It worked out OK for a while, but I ended up having a "pinch point" in hot weather where the mainline curves through a hairpin that bound the movement of my LGB 2-6-0 and 0-6-2T and even slowed my LGB 0-4-0Ts!  I honestly don't remember if it bound the B'mann 4-6-0.  

 

Lesson learned?  Listen to the advice above and invest in the design and tracks for the broadest curves possible!

 

Eric

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Posted by BLT_BY_LIONEL on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 1:57 PM
Seems to be the consensus that R3 is the way to go.  Eric, the overall area is approximately 30 by 30 feet.  The plan as drawn would fit approximately 110-120 feet of mainline.  I was thinking of solutions to the tight turnaround at the top-right and one idea would be to eliminate that part of the mainline and use that space for a dead end freight yard with a shed covering a couple sidings to protect rolling stock and engines.  The only downside is the mainline would be reduced to approximately 85-90 feet.  However, a 7 car freight train would only be about 10-12 feet long (10-15% of the total mainline).
 
There are no turnouts or sidings on my diagram but I plan on having at least a few.  Looking at other garden railways, a runaround siding and a few team tracks are a nice way to add variety to operation.  Perhaps a small branch line weaving the rock garden would be a nice addition.

John

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Thursday, September 17, 2020 1:25 AM

John,

You have rougly e space and much, much better topography!  Still, hopefully the two year old picture below can help  you make the right call with your own track planning.

 

You can see the hairpin that gave me grief in the center under the avocado tree:

For the purpose of helping you plan, all the "corners" are R1.  Everything, up to an including the LGB Mogul, runs fine through those corners.  That hairpin caused binding, though, especially as the rails heat up.  Greg or possibly Bill Barnwell suggested inserting some larger radius curves at the entrance and exit to the hairpin.  It was just enough to solve the problem of binding.  Maybe a similar combination of curve radii would work for you?

 

Hopefully, the picture will also inform your decision on whether or not a shortened mainline will work for you.  We were in "full dress" and crammed everything we could on the tracks for that picture.  It might help give you a sense of how trains and locos of varying sizes look on tight curves and small spaces.  Of note, we've added some terrain features that blocked view planes.  This really stopped the appearance of a loco chasing its own caboose, so maybe a similar approach to planting or landscaping will allow you to shorten the mainline and run trains that look visually OK to you.

 

As you weigh your choices, an outdoor storage shed would be really, really cool.  All of our trains are on shelves indoors, and that is a process to get them down.  A few things have taken the dive to the floor, and other bits of rolling stock have suffered from damage in the process of taking them down and putting them up.  Talk to others who live in a similar climate, though, to see if this is a viable idea.

 

Aloha,

Eric

 

 

 

 

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Posted by BLT_BY_LIONEL on Thursday, September 17, 2020 7:26 PM
Eric,
That’s a great overview shot.  I see what you’ve done with having the natural features allowing trains to go in and out of view.  Also, love that you have an avocado tree in the middle of it all (something we don’t see too often here in NJ).  Looking at your track plan I think 80 feet is more than enough for what I’ll be running.  Since the trains will be more for ambiance when we have company, having the train out of view for too long may not be a good thing.
 
Until I decide on storage I’ll also be taking them in and out.  If a storage shed is possible I think that’d be the way to go.  These trains are a lot bulkier than the O Gauge I’m used to.  Is anyone on here from the northeast and have suggestions on outdoor storage in this climate?
 
Now on to the update…
 
Today I put together my homemade water level.  I used 50 feet of plastic tubing and two yard sticks.  I zip tied both ends of the tubing up each yard stick.  Then I added water with red food dye, making sure that all the air bubbles were out.

I anchored one of the yard sticks at my first point and then moved the second around to each location.  I took the measurements of each end and the difference between the two was the change in elevation.  At each point I placed a numbered marker flag for reference until I can draw up a map with grade and landmarks.

After taking all 30 measurements, I now know the change in low to high elevation is 19.5 inches.  Obviously I'll need to do some filling in low areas, but as of now the 19.5 inch rise would be over 50-55 feet (2.95 - 3.25%).  To get to 1.5% I'd need to get that difference down to 9-10 inches.

 

John

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Thursday, September 17, 2020 10:58 PM
OK, so our boring yard had some advantages over yours! No leveling required! Not sure how it works in NJ, but the long leg in filling our garden was tapping the Super Secret Hawaiian Dirt Network for the fill material. If you don't have it ready to hand, may I suggest you start looking around for it now?
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Posted by BLT_BY_LIONEL on Sunday, September 20, 2020 1:00 PM

I wouldn't mind a connection with that secret dirt network, but I think shipping to NJ might be costly haha.  Luckily, I think I can raid the town dump.  They have a huge pile of escavated dirt and rocks.  My neighbor goes there whenever he needs to fix his rock retaining wall.

So, I figured the best way to come up with a more concrete plan would be to lay down some track in the area and see how it would fit in.  Since I only have curves at the moment, I measure the spacing between curves to figure out how much straight track I'd need.

With a good idea that it would all fit, I was able to draw up an altered track plan.  The total length of the main line would be 102 feet, which it more than adequate for what I want.  I'll add a couple team tracks and a small yard for variety.  I may play around with the yard a bit, possibly just having a runaround siding then a branch to a bigger yard in the top right space instead.

 

John

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Sunday, September 20, 2020 1:17 PM

That's a fantastic start ! You can always start with this initial loop, and then you'll get a better feel for what else to add.

Paul

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Sunday, September 20, 2020 1:45 PM

John,

Really, really smart idea to lay the track down and see how it looks.  I might add three things:

  1. Cardboard "Tracks." You might want to take the time to cut a material to use to help simulate the straightaways. When fixing the hairpin (aka Deadman's Curve), I actually made cardboard cut-outs to more accurately simulate what I might need  Commercial track generally comes in certain  lengths.   I use LGB and PIKO, and they are in 1', 2', and 4' lengths.  TrainLi has 5' lengths, if I recall correctly.  All through this website, you'll see the advice to buy the longest tracks you can afford.  I replaced all my 1' sections over the last several years, and this has really, really improved operations.  It is also ultimately cheaper if you choos to use railclamps to hold the track together.
  2. View Planes.  Since you said you want to the railroad to help with entertaining, you may wish to consider where you expect guest to view the railroad.  We have two natural gathering points, the lanai (patio) and the grilling area.  Mountains, plantings, buildings, etc. are deliberately set to facilitate viewing experiences from those areas.  The lanai  gives you a sweeping view as trains emerge from tunnels and snake away.  The grill area is more focused (and  for the moment, boring) and is designed to focus attention on what is to become our sugar mill and surrounding support facilities.  As a bonus, since all of our turnouts are manual, this tended to group them in areas where people naturally congregated.
  3. Nap Zone.   I noted the hammock.   I know what that's for! Big Smile Make sure it is properly shaded and just enough out of sight that no one catches you "meditating!"  We call the area under the avocado tree the Valley of the Nap. Nice shade and out of sight!

 

 

Have a great week!

 

Eric

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