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Track elevator to move whole station between levels

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Track elevator to move whole station between levels
Posted by FowlmereRR on Wednesday, August 30, 2017 6:55 AM

Hi all. I have been pondering various solutions to a problem with my "still in design stage" layout, where I can have two levels but no room for a helix (even if I wanted one). Due to various constraints with the room (some due to construction and some regulatory), neither level can completely circumnavigate the room, but I can achieve about one and three-quarters circuits between the two levels, though not exactly overlapped. In that overall length, I can fit in most of my intended plan.

There is one place where the lower level has to end, but can continue on the upper level, so as a means of extending the scenery, as well as providing a good reason for an operational pause, I was considering an elevator which lifted a whole station between levels.

A train would arrive at the station, and while stopped, the elevator would move it to the other level, from where the train could continue, with the scenery providing visual continuity too. The big advantage is that the elevator does not end up as a length of "dead track".

So, I wonder what you think of that, and whether anybody has tried it before. I appreciate that it will, in some ways, break the illusion of a continuous track, but I don't think it will be any worse than having an artificial stop on the elevator while in transit between levels.

I have no problem with building the elevator or making it safe - it is the concept I am interested in.

Opinions welcome!

Bob

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Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, August 30, 2017 8:58 AM

I have seen pictures of elevators for "fiddle yards" so the concept is doable.  It would challenge my imagination to move the whole train and station, but then it's not my railroad.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by 7j43k on Wednesday, August 30, 2017 3:18 PM

I spent a few minutes tossing the idea around in my head, and couldn't think of a reason not to do it.  Sounds great.

I kept thinking, though.  Yes, unusual.  But there you are.

You're talking about having a single station travel vertically between a two-level layout.  I think.  I wonder about have THREE stations travelling, instead.  You would, then, always have a station on each level.  And you could run trains through on both levels at the same time.

Something to consider, I think.  A plus with the three station idea is that the base rack/frame/whatever is almost no more work than doing a single station.

 

Ed

  • Member since
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  • From: Reading, PA
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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, August 30, 2017 10:21 PM

7j43k

I spent a few minutes tossing the idea around in my head, and couldn't think of a reason not to do it.  Sounds great.

I kept thinking, though.  Yes, unusual.  But there you are.

You're talking about having a single station travel vertically between a two-level layout.  I think.  I wonder about have THREE stations travelling, instead.  You would, then, always have a station on each level.  And you could run trains through on both levels at the same time.

Something to consider, I think.  A plus with the three station idea is that the base rack/frame/whatever is almost no more work than doing a single station.

 

Ed

 

 Only downside I can see of having 3 stations on 3 levels is you need a good bit of vertical clearance to raise it all the way up - and it has to be high enough off the floor to drop it all the way down. However, with a double deck layout, a 2 level elevator would be easily doable. 

 There have been several train elevators featured in the model press, going all the way back to John Armstrong's "dehydrated canal lock" which also appears in Creative Layout Design. Newer ones have featured lead screws and motorized operation. There is also a commercial product, or was, haven't noticed their ads in a long time now.

 The only downside I see to an elevator is that this puts a hard limit on train lengths. You can't run any train longer than the elevator unless you want to get into pretending it's a steep hill and you have to double it to get the whole train up. ANd the longer you make the elevator, the more space it uses up and the harder it is to keep it pefectly aligned.

                                      --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by 7j43k on Wednesday, August 30, 2017 11:05 PM

Randy,

THREE stations on TWO levels.

Whether or not it will fit depends on what Bob's dimensions are.  Assuming he wants to build it at all.

And, actually, with this you CAN run trains longer that the elevator.  You cannot TRANSFER them.  My point being:  when the elevator is not moving, you can run a 100 car train right through.  On either level.

 

 

Ed

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Posted by FowlmereRR on Thursday, August 31, 2017 2:45 AM

Hi Ed, Randy. Thanks for your thoughts. I think I should elaborate a bit on the situation. 

The elevator would be about 5 feet long, which will be plenty for the size trains I am intending to run (freelanced 1920's New England shortline), and would also be acting as a doorway bridge. I have a room (or will have, once it is built) about 20' x 8'. In one of the short walls there will be a window that cannot be obstructed as it must server as a means of escape. About halfway down one of the long walls is the doorway.

So, standing in the room looking at the doorway, I can have a lower level that starts to the right of the doorway, runs to the right, round the end wall under the window, and then the full length of the back wall. There can be no lower level to the left of the doorway, as there are constructional obstacles there.

However, I can have an upper level that starts to the left of the doorway, and runs round the room the other way, stopping just before it would have to cross the window in the end wall (which it must not). So I get about 1.5 laps of the room, but with a level shift in the middle. To the left of the lower level, and to the right of the upper level there is effectively a wall that will act as the end of the layout at that level.

The upshot is that there is no continuous running possible, so my layout will be designed as an end-to-end line. I am comfortable with that.

I have been thinking about an elevator across the doorway for some time, implementing it as a section of hidden track and pretending that the vertical transit time was just a long section of unmodelled line (like a helix would be). But it always seemed like a big chunk of track that has nothing going on, and which required trains to be stopped artificially while the vertical movement was effected. I had even worked out how to fully automate that (subject of another posting here a while ago).

In an attempt to add a bit more functionality, I considered the elevator as a double track section, to give trains somewhere to meet/pass. That seemed a better idea, but then I thought "Why just a section of track? Why not a station where some services would probably be stopping anyway?". By running into the station at one level, then running out of it on another level (with no through running on either) I am effectively providing a single continuous track and solving the structural problems at the same time.

So, while I understand the two/three stations approach (and had considered the idea of moving a dummy into place while the real station was elsewhere) there really is not the height available to do that, especially considering that when the doorway needs to be cleared, I have to move the whole thing up to above head height.

My posting here was really to sound out whether the concept of a "split-level continuous line" had been tried out anywhere, and what the results were. Regardless of whether it turns out to be a good idea visually and aesthetically, it will be enormous fun building it and making it all work!

Bob

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Posted by 7j43k on Thursday, August 31, 2017 11:44 AM

Bob, 

Thanks for the very clear additional information.  I surely have never heard of anything like this before (track elevator with scenery).  And certainly not having been built.  I suspect most people's attention is on designing and building the elevator; and they don't get around to managing the next leap to actually "finishing" it.  If they ever finish the elevator part.  Successfully.

Your layout sounds wonderful.  It reminds me of one I really loved in MR back in the fifties (I think) called (again, I think) something like Green Mountain Central.  It, too, was a point to point layout--a shortline in New England.  It ran from a junction with a "big" railroad over to "there".  I wanted to populate it with a 2-8-0 for freight, a 4-6-0 for passenger, and an old 4-4-0 for a spare.

Sounds like you could be building something very much like what I was enamored with.

 

Ed

 

Green Mountain Central--May 1959

I found it in my homemade index.  15 x 27, so it's a bit spacious.  Around the walls. Might be worth a look.  I'm sure the issue is around here.  Somewhere.

 

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Posted by gregc on Thursday, August 31, 2017 2:45 PM

curious, what kinf of mechanism do you plan on using to do the lifting and how do you plan on aligning the tracks?

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by FowlmereRR on Friday, September 01, 2017 2:47 AM

Thanks Ed. When (rather than "if", I hope!) the room gets built, I'll be starting a build thread in the appropriate forum. For now, it exists only in my mind and several XtrkCAD files ;)

 

Greg - The plan is to use C-Beam Linear Actuator components from Openbuilds to provide smooth-running tracks on either side of the doorway, with leadscrews driven by steppers controlled by an Arduino creation. There will be various sensors, interlocks and so on, also feeding into the Arduino. The C-Beam system allows virtually all lateral play to be adjusted out by cams on the gantry plates, while vertical positioning will be handled by the stepper controller, using a pair of sensors at one end of the travel to provide a reference point for self-calibration.

Bob

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    June, 2007
  • From: Northern Virginia
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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, September 01, 2017 6:06 AM

Track/Train Elevator sounds like it would technically very challenging to build assuming that is long enough for some modelers.  It would be interesting to see how it would be designed.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Contrarian's contrarian
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Posted by Old Fat Robert on Friday, September 01, 2017 12:21 PM

Bob: This is marvelous. When can we see a design? I am most anxious to see this project underway. And I intend to research the "C-Beam" components. Good Luck.

Old Fat Robert

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Posted by FowlmereRR on Monday, September 04, 2017 2:50 AM

Robert - An actual documented design is still some way off. Until I get the final architrects plans for the new room, I won't know for certain what space I have to play with. When I do, I'll begin a detailed plan. Until then, I am just gathering, refining, and in some cases rejecting, ideas about how I can fit a satisfying track plan into the available space.

I'll start a design/build blog here when I get to that point.

Bob

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    March, 2011
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Posted by NVSRR on Monday, September 04, 2017 7:26 AM

There was an article a few years ago in MR. That explained how to build a simple version.   Beuna Vista railroad if i remember right.    I am planning on doing that as a way to access staging

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