| smitty311 wrote:|
Can you explain what you mean by a train-length cassette? I really appreciate you helping me with this. Thank you for taking the time out to educate me on yards. I have just started reading Craigs website. It is very helpful.
Iain Rice's book I cited was my first introduction to cassettes for staging on small layouts. Peco makes a relatively short commercial version to fit locomotives. Think of a U-shaped "tube" with a piece of track mounted in the bottom of the U. Handles - typically straps - are installed near each end for carrying. The cassette is hooked to the end of a track at the edge of the table. The other end of a train-length cassette is supported also - I use a bracket on the door to the room. The train is run into the cassette, and the cassette removed from the layout and carried to a convenient place, or stored on a shelf. The sides of the U prevent the train from falling off while carrying. Often a foam block or coupler is mounted at the ends to prevent the train from rolling out the ends while carrying.
If you have multiple cassettes you can swap one train for another - trains that are already in cassettes and ready to go. Train-length cassettes are quite practical in the sizes we are talking about - 32" or shorter for an 8ft layout.
Some other practical considerations that should impact planning for your proposed layout:
- height of yard. If the yard is near eye level, cars on the first track may obstruct identification of cars on tracks that are further back. For this reason, many layouts are built with yards at the lowest point of the layout.
- spacing of yard tracks. In HO, you can go as close as 1.75 inches center-to-center on straight tracks. However, you can't get fingers in between for 0-5-0 switching, nor can you see the sides of cars very easily for identification. You can easily mock this up to determine the track spacing that best suits you. Just set some cars on parallel straight tracks at various spacing until you find what you want to do.
- coupling/uncoupling. I assume you are using automatic couplers (Sergent are the one exception to automatic coupling in today's HO world), so we are really talking about what uncoupling method are you going to use. If you use skewers or other manual methods, do you have convenient vertical (or horizontal) access to every point at which you might want to uncouple cars? Can you do this without a shirt sleeve or elbow catching or striking other cars and/or scenery? Are you going to use Kadee delayed action uncoupling to minimize uncoupling magnets? If so, are you prepared to spend the extra time in adjusting locomotives, couplers, wheels, and car weights to the tighter tolerances required for consistent delayed action? If you are going to use under-the-tie uncoupling magnets/electro-magnets, you need to identify the locations before laying track (or face re-laying track in all the key places).
- locomotives. I mentioned small switchers. They need to run very smoothly at very slow speeds, or you won't have much fun. Ordinarily, I would recommend all turnouts in the yard or switching areas have powered frogs to help prevent stalls. But you implied using some Atlas or similar code 100 turnouts, which generally have insulated frogs. Small 4 wheel diesels and steam tank engines are probably going to stall occasionally on these, especially at switching speeds. In your case, I would recommend 8 wheel diesel switchers, geared steam, or steam switchers with tenders. These will take more space, but won't stall nearly as much.
- throwing turnouts. Just like uncoupling, there are many different opinions and ways to do this. My comment is that whatever method you use to throw turnouts, be sure you leave room for the mechanisms and fingers at the appropriate places to throw all the turnouts. If you use ground throws, make sure you leave enough room to install the throw and manipulate the throw without disturbing scenery and/or trains. If you use under-the-table switch machines, make sure there is room between your frames to install the machines.
- structure and scenery placement. Will structure placement affect your ability to reach all of your trackwork? Even if you use remote uncoupling and turnout throwing, can you see where needed to spot cars and line turnouts for the correct route?
These practical planning considerations will inevitably limit the amount of track you can fully utilize on your layout. They will also limit scenic features and placement. But if not planned in advance, you will most assuredly find track that cannot be used due to one or more of the above issues. And on small layouts, losing track utilization due to lack of planning often results in tearing up the layout and starting over.
A final suggestion: Once you have a track plan you think you like, mock it up either full size with track on hand, or cut out some train shapes to the scale of your printed plan, and "operate" it. This is your check for length of tail tracks, runarounds, and clearances at turnouts. See whether it is possible or practical to perform the switching moves you will want to do.
my thoughts, your choices