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Request for input on layout designs

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Request for input on layout designs
Posted by Lonehawk on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 10:52 AM

Hi,

I'm looking for some input from more seasoned hands on my layout design.  I've narrowed it down to two options, but after reading some posts here and realizing how easy it is for Mr. Murphy to enter the equation, I figured I'd seek some experienced advice before I ended up with an expensive mess.  I do plan to continue refining one or the other when my copy of Track Planning for Realistic Operation arrives.

First, the givens and druthers:

Givens:

  • Industrial switching and engine yard in layout
  • Proto-lance based on the Arcade and Attica for setting/industries (industries tbd)
  • 6-driver motive power (USRA 0-6-0, Ten Wheelers, Moguls)
  • 4-car trains with caboose
  • 1-2 locos per session - 1 switcher fetching trains from staging and 1 main running/servicing industries.
  • Probably code 83 track
  • DCC (eventually, may go DC to start)
  • HO scale (I know I can pack more in with N, but I like the size and detail of HO)
  • Mid-1930's era
  • Switches will be powered and thrown from master panel 
  • Total working space is 18' x 4' (half of a long, narrow basement with doors at either end)
  • Single deck, no helices/severe grades

Druthers:

  • Continuous run with 20-22" radius curves
  • 8-driver motive power (USRA 0-8-0, Consolidations, Mikados)
  • 6-8 car trains
  • Potential for expansion/movement within 10 years.
  • Run Hogwarts and Polar Express trains for kids (not immediate concern, but within 2 years).

 

And these are the plans I'm looking at, drawn in 1/2" to 1' scale (both inspired by Byron Henderson's work, which I admittedly fail to do justice):

Track Plan 1

This one incorporates most of my G&D, but the reach may be a problem (Up to 3' during construction), and will require building to a lower height to compensate.  The other thing is that it doesn't lend itself to off-track staging very well (unless I'm missing something - hence the request for advice).  What it does give me is plenty of room for scenery (the recessed section will be bordered by trees to help hide the industries behind and add depth to the scene, while allowing for about a 2% average grade), and the end loops for continuous running.  I may need to add a runaround in the yard/engine facility or near it to get the loco back out after returning empties to the yard for the switcher to take back to the interchange.  The main loco would be returning tender-first from the industrial area.

Track Plan 2

This is a more straightforward shelf version built to a maximum depth of 2', eliminating the reach and allowing for the layout to be closer to eye-level.  The hill would be used as a vision block of sorts, helping add depth and distance to the layout.  It sacrifices the continuous-running loops, as well as the tunnel on one end and cut-down on the other, giving a completely level ROW.  It also lends itself better to off-layout staging, and later expansion/movement.

With either layout, I'll be operating primarily as point-to-point.  I will have to deal with a breaker box on the back wall, so I'll need an access panel (I have a friend who's an electrician and is going to assist with wiring and making the layout compliant with codes dealing with box access).  

 

PS - I hope the pictures load properly, I've heard there can be issues. I'm still on probation (hopefully not much longer), so it may be a while before I see this on the site.

Tags: layout , planning

- Adam


When all else fails, wing it!

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 5:07 PM

18' is a decently lon side. Is the 4' width absolute? If that's half of the basement, you could go 5' on the layout and still have a 3' path, or maybe 4 1/2', with a 3 1/2 foot aisle, which opens you up to 24" radius curves - not only nicer for the trains to run but larger radius = greater elevation change for the same grade.

 Taking yet another idea from John Armstrong - how about a loop at one end, main meanders down the length of the layout, some of it level, some of it slightly upgrade. Curve back at the opposte end - but not on to itself, on a grade. Then back the length of the layout again with mixed level and grade sections, to another loop stacked above the first one on the bottom level. Then you get continuous running, and that run is 4x the length of the layout. There are several published plans like that around. A bit more complex to build but you get a much longer run and better scenic opportunites (unless you hate mountains). The lower loop would be mostly hidden, the upper loop mostly visible - good place for a soaring curved trestle.

                                         --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by cuyama on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 6:26 PM

Photobucket doesn't seem to be allowing your images to be shared -- at least, I can't view them. (maybe it's just me)

trainboard.com's Railimages is a free image-sharing site that works well for me. Others on this forum use imgur.com

Byron

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Posted by Lonehawk on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 6:58 PM

rrinker

18' is a decently lon side. Is the 4' width absolute? If that's half of the basement, you could go 5' on the layout and still have a 3' path, or maybe 4 1/2', with a 3 1/2 foot aisle, which opens you up to 24" radius curves - not only nicer for the trains to run but larger radius = greater elevation change for the same grade.

 Taking yet another idea from John Armstrong - how about a loop at one end, main meanders down the length of the layout, some of it level, some of it slightly upgrade. Curve back at the opposte end - but not on to itself, on a grade. Then back the length of the layout again with mixed level and grade sections, to another loop stacked above the first one on the bottom level. Then you get continuous running, and that run is 4x the length of the layout. There are several published plans like that around. A bit more complex to build but you get a much longer run and better scenic opportunites (unless you hate mountains). The lower loop would be mostly hidden, the upper loop mostly visible - good place for a soaring curved trestle.

                                         --Randy

 

 

 

Unfortunately, the 4' width is absolute.  The house was a side-by-side duplex that was opened up by my grandparents.  There are doors right at that 4' mark that lead to the laundry room on one side and my wood shop on the other.

But I'm intrigued by the idea of the loop with the grades.  Do you have an example link perchance?  It sounds like some of the long, easy spiral multi deck layouts I've read about.  I toyed with an idea like that originally.  If I left an 18" aisle between, I could still have 15" deep shelves for the layout, and it's going to be a single-operator affair.  2 at most.

 

- Adam


When all else fails, wing it!

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Posted by GraniteRailroader on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 7:24 PM

Is a lift out or swing bridge possible across one doorway, if when not in use it could be stored out of the way?

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Posted by Lonehawk on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 7:25 PM

cuyama

Photobucket doesn't seem to be allowing your images to be shared -- at least, I can't view them. (maybe it's just me)

trainboard.com's Railimages is a free image-sharing site that works well for me. Others on this forum use imgur.com

Byron

 

 

Thanks for the input, Byron.  I went and uploaded the images to TrainBoard.  Here are the links:

Track Plan 1

(http://www.trainboard.com/highball/index.php?media/tp-1.131410/)

(http://www.trainboard.com/highball/index.php?media/tp-2.131411/)

 

Thanks,


Adam

- Adam


When all else fails, wing it!

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Posted by Lonehawk on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 7:29 PM

GraniteRailroader

Is a lift out or swing bridge possible across one doorway, if when not in use it could be stored out of the way?

 

Perhaps, but it wouldn't work well.  It would be a court of last resort.  And I could only do it on one end as there is a built-in cabinet in the way on the other end, on the other side of the doorway.

- Adam


When all else fails, wing it!

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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 8:24 PM

I like the looping plan.  I'd have the interchange yard/car swap-out tracks in the front, then a medium grade around the loop to the industries along the wall.  Cross a creek along the way.  The other half loop can be hidden in a tunnel so the railroad would operate like a C but with a continous run connection.  The middle of the layout should not be deeper than about 30 inches for comfortable reaching back to the switching area.  That would be a challenge.

I would want the industrial area to be as shallow as possible, so I would have most of the industries be kitbashed building flats no more than 4 to 5 inches deep, if that, along the wall. 

As designed now, I don't know if everything will fit since the turnout frogs look pretty aggressive.

I'd use 0-8-0s and 0-6-0s.  Proto makes good models of those locos for pulling a short train (their pulling power isn't great)

- Douglas

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Posted by Lonehawk on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 9:03 PM

Douglas -

The turnouts in the sketches aren't really scaled.  I'd be using #6's.  The sketches are just for a general idea.  I'll lay everything out more precisely once I figure out how I want it all to go. 

I hadn’t thought of pushing  the industries to the wall and using flats, though.  That would allow me to push everything in more and reduce the reach... 

- Adam


When all else fails, wing it!

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Posted by GraniteRailroader on Thursday, January 11, 2018 5:11 AM

Could you post a sketch of the overall space? 

While not a "permanent" piece of the layout in the sense that it is always set up, there may be opportunities for a drop down section or perhaps the ability to have a module that rolls over and connects.

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Posted by Lonehawk on Thursday, January 11, 2018 9:12 AM

Hi Granite,

Here you go:

Just a couple notes as the writing is a bit hard to read in places:  The breaker box is on the top wall, and is about 12" wide and it goes from the ceiling, down about 2 feet (so from 4-6 feet above the floor).  The doorways are not even, the laundry room door being about 1" narrower.  The back wall (at the bottom) leads into a crawlspace, and can't be blocked.  That, combined with code-mandated clearances around the furnace and hot water tank (Mechanical), mean that the bottom-right section between the cabinet and the Mechanical area is totally unusable.

 

 

 

 

- Adam


When all else fails, wing it!

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Posted by GraniteRailroader on Thursday, January 11, 2018 9:49 AM

Just to clarify, the crawlspace access is between the mechanical (furnace) and the built in cabinetry?

Gears are turning inside of my head, and I'm starting to smell smoke, but if a lift gate or similar was employed, it almost seems like you could include a small curved "yard" in that bottom left corner, simulating the interchange with the BPRR. A wye could nearly be shoe-horned into the upper left corner, with the enginehouse and passenger station (the A&A "office" by the looks of things on Google) upon the upper wall around the 4 foot mark, and continuing along from there.

The A&A is an interesting prototype. I'm stuck home with a sick munchkin and have been playing with your space in XTrackCAD all morning, picking random industries and fitting things in, playing with different ideas. I think with careful seperation between "front" and "back" of the scenes, you have a great space and a really interesting prototype to freelance.

As a side note, my full time job has me producing some bits and pieces for one of the previous customers along the line that manufactures wood products.

Cheers,

Granite

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Posted by Lonehawk on Thursday, January 11, 2018 10:07 AM

Hey Granite,

Sorry to hear about the munchkin.  Hope he or she gets better soon.

Actually, the crawlspace is all along that back wall, but given the clearances needed for the mechanical area, and that that point is the easiest to access (there's a step there that matches the height of a 2' step ladder), I figured I should just rule that out for construction.  I could use the workshop side of the room (lower left), but I'd just have to allow an inch or so from the wall so the crawlspace can ventilate.

I'm getting what you're saying about the curved yard for the interchange.  I had toyed with putting in the wye that was just beyond the engine shed and station (and yes, that's also the office) but ruled it out for space reasons.  I'm starting to think that the roll-away sections you mentioned earlier might have merit, too, and allow more railroad with less "dedicated" space, which would surely please the boss.

FWIW - I picked that prototype for a number of reasons.  Nostalgia (I rode their excursion with the Ten Wheeler every summer when I was a kid), hometown pride, and also because the scenery in that area is just gorgeous.  Also, there was an interchange with the Erie just north of Attica at one time, until Tonawanda Creek flooded and they abandoned that section, so now it only runs as far as the Buffalo Molasses plant in North Java.  But I was always curious what "could have been" given more economic success and a bit more luck with Mother Nature.

Thanks for the help and suggestions.

- Adam


When all else fails, wing it!

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Posted by cuyama on Thursday, January 11, 2018 10:54 AM

It’s an interesting and modelgenic prototype. The September 1978 Model Railroader article by Harold Russell is a very helpful reference, although I don’t especially care for the track plan that was included.

I worked on a project for client in slightly more space for the Arcade & Attica assuming that the line north to Attica stayed in service for a while longer. This allowed interchanges at Arcade Junction (PRR) and Attica (Erie). This track plan was only about 50% complete before the client moved to a new space and changed modeling focus.

As Randy suggested, that design used stacked loops for the end points of Arcade Jct. and Attica. These could have been partially hidden by scenery and/or scenicked as the connecting railroad. Contrary to real life, we placed Attica above (it’s actually at a lower elevation), which allowed us to use a flat for the infamous Attica Prison (switched by the A&A in real life) and made some other things easier.

The rest of that layout was not as deep as you are proposing. Even with long arms and low layouts it can be really difficult to reach in more than 30” without damaging scenery and structures near the front edge. The need for access to the wall also suggests narrower benchwork in that area. Benchwork edges can curve and benchwork depth can modulate – this is a great tool that many newcomers to design fail to employ. 

For continuous running in the stacked-loop schematic, one would need to use automated devices at each loop to sense and flip the return loop turnouts, but this is straightforward with DCC and units are available off-the-shelf. (Speaking of turnout control, I’d strongly suggest not placing all of them together. Much better for operations to place them near where you will be working in each town.)

As Granite Railroader wisely points out, considering the overall space may yield a better result. Are there doors swinging into the layout space, or do they swing away? This will determine if moveable gates or sections can be used. Remember also that a slight bulge wider than 4’ here and there may open up possibilities for the layout and won’t impede movement through the room. Moving the end curves away from the walls by 18” would allow emergency access without a hatch at a small cost to the overall length, for example.

In terms of specifications, if you stay with 22” to 24” minimum radius on the mainline, #6s aren’t necessary everywhere. #5s (such as the fine PECO Code 83 parts) would be a good match to those radii for most locations, with #6s reserved for any crossovers. The real A&A had wyes in Arcade Jct. and Arcade, but the stacked loops could allow for turning of engines without the space needed for wyes.

Good luck with your layout.

Byron

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Posted by Lonehawk on Thursday, January 11, 2018 11:27 AM

Byron:

I've seen and downloaded the article you're talking about, and we're of the same mind about the layout they propose.  There's another one floating around for a garage-sized version, but it's also more geared for running rather than operation.

I see now that whatever I do, I'm going to have to narrow things some.  I had a feeling I would, and your comments about that were the last nail in that coffin.  One thing I want to ask about the curved benchwork though - I've always read that you should not parallel the edges of your benchwork (if you can avoid it), as it detracts from the appearance... is that mostly for straight lines or would it apply to curves as well? I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but that guideline has always beena bit hazy to me.

The doors do swing out from the layout room, into the laundry room and workshop, respectively.

And thank you for the input on the switches and wyes.  I'll bear that in mind when I begin firming up my plan.

  

- Adam


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Posted by Lonehawk on Thursday, January 11, 2018 11:28 AM

Granite:

Per your comment earlier about Googling the A&A, if you look at the Curriers station on Google Maps, you can see their 2-8-0 finishing a runaround move on the passenger excursion.

- Adam


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Posted by cuyama on Thursday, January 11, 2018 11:40 AM

Lonehawk
One thing I want to ask about the curved benchwork though - I've always read that you should not parallel the edges of your benchwork (if you can avoid it), as it detracts from the appearance... is that mostly for straight lines or would it apply to curves as well? I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but that guideline has always beena bit hazy to me.

This is mostly personal preference, but I would primarily apply the "don't parallel the benchwork edge" rule-of-thumb to straight sections. 

In actual practice, I mix things up a bit. I will sometimes make the track parallel to the benchwork edge to accentuate an area on the (real or imagined) prototype where the tracks were tangent (straight) -- such as in a yard area to contrast it with curving track elsewhere.

And many times, you just don’t have a lot of choice. In coiling the desired amount of mainline into the space, allowing the benchwork to parallel the track is the only way to maintain aisle width and access in the given area.

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Posted by Lonehawk on Wednesday, April 04, 2018 10:02 AM

So, not to restore a zombie thread, but to acknowlege and thank everyone for their input, here is the finalized design I've come up with for my Tiorunda and Thrace branch line.  The input I received was invaluable.  

I ended up going freelance with influence from the A&A, because I just felt I couldn't do it justice, and the constraints of prototype railroading proved a bit too confining.  I may expand to include it later, as my fictional branch line does connect with it in the north.

So, I've decided to build in three phases.  The first phase will include the engine yard/station area, town industries, and return loops at either end. 

Some slight modification will be needed with a turnout at the left side of the lower return loop, and maybe with my removable staging yard.  Also, the northern spur in the top-left corner isn't quite plotted right due to a pen slip.  But it's good enough to work from.

  

The second phase will see the lower return loop removed, and replaced with a helix to the upper deck:

   

The upper deck will feature a siding with two industries and a return loop representing where the TNT meets the ARA at Arcade Junction.

   

So there it is.  And yes, I know there are still a couple long reaches, but I have planned access panels to deal with that.  I don't have them here for simplicity, but I have them plotted in my benchwork diagrams.

Thanks again for all the helpful input, everyone!

- Adam


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Posted by cuyama on Wednesday, April 04, 2018 2:44 PM

Does your local electrical code allow the breaker box to be obstructed in this way?

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Posted by Lonehawk on Wednesday, April 04, 2018 3:43 PM

cuyama

Does your local electrical code allow the breaker box to be obstructed in this way?

 

 

It's actually not blocked, per se.  The layout deck is a good 8" beneath the box, and the box can be reached from the front of the layout.  This is sufficient for code.  Just in case, I've designed a lift-out panel into my benchwork.  There's another lift-out at the door to the workshop.

I got design input from a local electrical contractor who knows the codes, and he says that it should be fine.  The code here is that the box simply has to be accessible.  Since it can be reached, opened, and the breakers thrown from the front of the layout, it's fine (tested with a piece of plywood that length at the height of the layout).  The lift-out is extra insurance.

Between now and the time I add the second level, I may need to move the box anyway for other reasons, so I'm going to let that develop as it will and work around it.

- Adam


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Posted by cuyama on Wednesday, April 04, 2018 3:47 PM

Lonehawk
  The layout deck is a good 8" beneath the box

Upper deck, too?

If you've researched your local codes, then you should be fine. In some areas where my clients have built, there can't be anything, even above or below, for a certain distance out from the box.

I might have tried for a simpler layout arrangement in the area of the box if I was planning to make the benchwork removable.

Good luck with your layout.

 

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Posted by mbinsewi on Wednesday, April 04, 2018 4:10 PM

As a Wisconsin licensed Home Inspector, I would have a problem with the access to the box.  You have to be able to remove the cover of the panel, and comfortably and safely reach everything.

I don't know the codes where you live.  I guess if you had a licensed elctrician look at it, and he didn't think it was a problem, you can get away with it.

That little sliver of a layout section in front, is that a removable staging track? or the removable section you referred to for electric panel access?

Mike.

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Posted by Lonehawk on Wednesday, April 04, 2018 5:39 PM

Mike, you’re correct.  That’s a removable staging track.  It’ll be stacked in a corner when there’s no trains on it or it’s not in use.

As far as reaching the box, I can reach it, open it, flip all the breakers etc. without exerting myself.  My wife can too, and she’s about 8” shorter than me.  We tested with a mocked up piece of plywood at deck height.

I was concerned about the clearance too, and the electrician told me that if this was a new build, things would be a lot stricter.  But the lift out is what saves it, because then it‘s technically not an obstruction, since it can be moved away.  He likened it to houses where the box is mounted in the closet. It’s okay because you open the door and there’s the box.  Same concept, I suppose.  

As an aside, the inspector was actually here last year when my mom inherited the place, and there were two tables in front of the box and he didn’t say anything.  Even opened the box and looked at the breakers.  And did the same in my workshop which has the box in a similar position above a workbench.

But he did say if the house were actually to be sold, the box itself would have to be moved if a new ordnance they’re looking at is adopted this year.

 

*Supplemental note - Despite the above, I'm going to go back and look at other options anyway, and get a second opinion.  With my luck, an inspector would see it differently than the electrician.  Even if the breaker panel has to be moved due to code changes when I buy the house, the box will still be there and be converted to a splice box, which will also need to remain accessible.  The only other option would be to rewire the house, and that's just not happening.  

- Adam


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Posted by sktrains on Thursday, April 05, 2018 12:00 PM
Another  note on the electric panel, I hold a master electricians license and the way the national code is written an area of 30 in wide 36 in deep and 6 ½ feet high from the  floor is supposed to designated as electrical space with nothing else in it to allow for safe working clearances, but your friends right with a lift out section that would give you the working clearance and make it "legal" if you ever need to go and work in the panel, so I don’t think anyone would give you a hard time about it ecpecialy if the inspector likes trains 
All that said, my layout has 4 tracks that run in front of the panel which is in closet Smile 
STEVE 
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Posted by Lonehawk on Thursday, April 05, 2018 12:53 PM

Steve - 

Thanks for the input.  I'm also thinking of Byron's advice about simplifying the track plan on the lift out.  I won't be moving the section by the workshop much, but the one to the box needs to be more accessible.  Can't fault the logic on that.  I think I can rearrange some of the engine yard trackage, narrow the shelf, and get an easier access via the lift-out.  The only other option would be to hack off ten feet of layout length.  Which means to do what I want, I'd have to go N-scale, which I can't because my partner in crime on this is older and has diabetic neuropathy, so N is too small for him.

- Adam


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Posted by Lonehawk on Wednesday, September 26, 2018 9:55 AM

WARNING: THIS IS A ZOMBIE THREAD.....

But it's purpose is more of a continuation.

 

So, almost six months on, and I've done a lot of new drawings and figuring.  I had thought I was done, but then I realized I'd gotten some very good advice and just become boresighted and pigheaded about my designs. 

In light of the previously mentioned breaker box problem, which another electrician familiar with codes emphatically said NOT to block with an upper deck, removable or not, I've decided to focus on making this layout single-deck.  However, I'm going to build it such that I could add a helix to a second deck later, which would operate as a turn job, coming near but not crossing the breaker box.

So this is where it stands now.

 

 

I pushed the engine yard back into what used to be a reversing loop.  Instead of the loops I had in previous designs, I now have an around-the-room design with optional continuous running facilitated by a removable bridge that runs to a repositioned, removable staging yard.   The train would run from the staging yard, past the engine facility and station, through town, and then turn at the gravel quarry, returning to staging tender-first, unless I decide to just run trains, in which case it will go through the tunnel back to the staging yard, and do it all again.  I've decided my power will be Moguls, with perhaps a Ten-Wheeler or Connie for variety.

 

If I do eventually add an upper deck, I'd move the quarry, and have the switch lead to the helix instead.  The process would be more complex than I describe, but that plan is still very nebulous.

 

This design will allow for plenty of switching, which I love, as well as railfanning for my father-in-law and son.  And the large open areas between industries will allow room for scenes of wooded areas, hills and creeks, as is common with towns in the area I'm basing this freelance in (SW New York State).

 

Critiques or advice remain welcome, as I know very well that there may be flaws that I don't see, and it's way easier to change paper than track and roadbed.  For the record, this plan involves Atlas code 83 track and switches, and I'll probably use code 70 for the spurs.  The switches will be Atlas #4's for yard and siding tracks, and Walther's #5 for anything connected to the main.  The oil dealer uses a #8 Walther's for purposes of fit.  Switch brands chosen after research into comparative rail/tie height to ensure a minimum of shimming needed.

 

- Adam


When all else fails, wing it!

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