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layout elements, rather than another track plan book

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layout elements, rather than another track plan book
Posted by gregc on Friday, December 04, 2009 4:07 PM

I wish someone would write a book discussing track plan elements rather than complete track plans.   What I mean by element is just the siding(s) by a coal mine, station, terminal, other industries.  I know you can look for these elements in the track plans, but I think it would be more helpful to have a book focused on interesting elements and discussing what makes them, or how to make them interesting.   This would include track work, as well as scenic details.

 I don't know how many people actually build a layout from a track plan book, but I think many more people could incorporate the ideas in track elements into their layouts.

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Posted by steinjr on Friday, December 04, 2009 4:19 PM

 Tony Koester: "Realistic Model Railroad Building Blocks": http://www.kalmbachstore.com/12405.html

 Industries along the tracks, vol 1, 2, 3, Logging Railroads, Locomotive Servicing Terminals etc:

http://www.kalmbachstore.com/modeltrains-railroading-model-railroading-books-model-reference.html

 

 Grin,
 Stein

 

 

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Posted by johncolley on Saturday, December 05, 2009 11:41 AM

Another great source of inspiration I have found is to pick an area you are interested in, then see if they have a historical society nearby. Often there are town plats showing local rail service installations, i.e.: track arrangements serving particular local industries. Quite often you will also be able to get copies of old photos of the actual buildings. Enjoy the learning curve! John

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Posted by gandydancer19 on Saturday, December 05, 2009 1:02 PM

 These sort of already exist.  They are called Switching Modules.  You can use them to start a layout or build them as modules to include in a larger layout.

My last two layout started by using Switching Module plans, and one used three Module plans as towns.

The good thing about using module plans is that someone else has designed the track plan, and they usually work very well.  For individual industries along the line, just add a passing track with a siding or two off of it.  Very simple.

Elmer.

The above is my opinion, from an active and experienced Model Railroader in N scale and HO since 1961.

(Modeling Freelance, Eastern US, HO scale, in 1962, with NCE DCC for locomotive control and a stand alone LocoNet for block detection and signals.) http://waynes-trains.com/ at home, and N scale at the Club.

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Posted by EM-1 on Saturday, December 05, 2009 1:56 PM

If you have access to back issues, many articles on modeling full size railroads in MR and RMC have broken the larger runs into smaller elements, and included suggestions for linking them.  One that comes to mind, was MR's "Building a Wabash Branch Line".  They started with the interchange from mainline to branch, added a small passing siding with one or two small sidins, and then had a suggestion for the end point at Columbia, Mo.

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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Saturday, December 05, 2009 6:33 PM

I suggest Track Planning for Realistic Operation by John Armstrong.  Creative Layout Design is also a good book, but it is out of print.

Enjoy

Paul

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Saturday, December 05, 2009 7:33 PM

IRONROOSTER
I suggest Track Planning for Realistic Operation by John Armstrong. 

Paul beat me to it.

The way you've phrased your original question tells me you're ready for this book.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by gregc on Sunday, December 06, 2009 2:39 PM

Thanks for the book suggestions.  I've read about the Koester book but haven't seen it.  I have an early edition of Track Planning for Realistic Operation, which I've read several time. I also found and ordered a used copy of Creative Layout Design.  

But with so many track plan books and articles, I guess there isn't that much interested in track elements.   I realize that integrating elements into a complete layout is also an art.

As an example, the wye at the end of "Dual-gauge HO Track Plan" in the jan 2010 MR is a track element that I think could be shorter article in itself.    Such an article could discuss scenic issues, as well as how it might be integrated into different types of layouts, both big and smaller.

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Posted by steinjr on Monday, December 07, 2009 10:30 AM

gregc
But with so many track plan books and articles, I guess there isn't that much interested in track elements.  

 

 Hmmm. First you bemoan the fact that no one has written any books about "track elements".

 When informed that there are actually several such books on the subject easily available, you comment "I guess there isn't that much interested [sic] in track elements".

 Just curious - how did you arrive at that conclusion ?

 A couple of good magazines for track planning of scenes is the LDJ (Layout Design Journal - the membership magazine of the LDSIG - Layout Design Special Interest Group) and MRP (Model Railroad Planning) - an annual from our hosts here at Kalmbach.

 Smile,
 Stein

 

 

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Posted by dehusman on Monday, December 07, 2009 10:55 AM

I rather dislike the idea of a book of "track elements" or "design elements". I think it encourages cafeteria style layout design. That is, someone designs a layout by saying I need a coal mine, a turntable a yard and a team track, selects them from a list of plans and strings them together. I prefer picking an operation or an area, then designing the track to fit the operation or resemble the area

But with the Duplo, Lego, RTR approaches to modern modeling, books of track elements probably will be an idea that comes, whether or not its a good idea.

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Posted by EM-1 on Monday, December 07, 2009 1:59 PM

Seems to me incorporaing published design elements into a layout is exactly what the modular crowd does.  Some seem to design their own, while others incorporate modifications to published design elements.

Wouldn't somebody building a published layout just be building a large Duplo-Lego design eleoment?  Even putting in a simple double ended runaround with a siding, even if designed in place, is simply repeating a previously publish and multply duplicated design element.  So is running a team track from the mainline.

A published book of design elements may provide some people with a source of "cafeteria" layout ideas, but for another group, me included, would provide a guide to designing a situation on my future pike.  Not copying, exactly, but a simple design to customize to fit my space.  Like I did with the Columbia, Mo branchline article I believe I mentioned earlier.  It culd have been built as laid out in the article, I believe something like a 3.5' X 5.5' module.  Instead, I used a set of calipers and a ruler to enlarge it to a size approximation of the full size location, with the capability of duplicating the mixed train pictured.  That gave me the terminal spure capable of a Geep, about 5 40' cars, and a 62' clerestory combine, with room to spare.  That gave me a table about 6.5' X 12'.  One design element,  If I were to do it again, It'd be closer to the size in the article.

Let's face it, a large part of this hobby is copying (modeling) operational situations, which could be considered design elements:  portions of a whole.

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Posted by wm3798 on Monday, December 07, 2009 2:05 PM

 <scratching my head>  Not sure I understand where you're going with that...  I think the "cafeteria" style approach to layout design is actually pretty prototypical.  That being said, you're not likely to find a coal mine on a Florida East Coast layout, nor would you need a car float in Kansas...  But in terms of a modeler building his railroad to suit his interests, then what's wrong with pulling from a menu?

I believe the LDE approach is pretty groundbreaking.  It has helped the concept of a shelf layout to really evolve, and helps everyone from roundy round railfans to hard-core operators to design and build better looking layouts.  It encourages us to look toward the prototype for inspiration, and also helps bring our sometimes scattered ideas into focus.  An LDE can be either a purely scenic element, such as a particular bridge or a grade crossing, or it can contribute to the layout's operation, like a town or a passing siding.

And in the end, it's really just an extension of Armstrong's immortal "Givens and Druthers" with an emphasis on the latter.

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Posted by Doc in CT on Monday, December 07, 2009 2:54 PM

 Speaking of Jack Armstrong, one could consider his discussion of planning for realistic operation an example of layout elements.  I actually created a number of small designs using that book and from an Atlas planning book while brushing up on my RightTrack skills.  Some of the design elements (such as curved staging, yards and passing sidings have made it into the design I am working on.  I have published a few of the RTS files on my web site.

Alan

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Posted by dehusman on Monday, December 07, 2009 3:46 PM

wm3798
I believe the LDE approach is pretty groundbreaking.  It has helped the concept of a shelf layout to really evolve, and helps everyone from roundy round railfans to hard-core operators to design and build better looking layouts.  It encourages us to look toward the prototype for inspiration, and also helps bring our sometimes scattered ideas into focus.  An LDE can be either a purely scenic element, such as a particular bridge or a grade crossing, or it can contribute to the layout's operation, like a town or a passing siding.

Its actually the LDE (or the misunderstanding of  the LDE) that led to my comments.  Much like the "domino", it is a concept that has morphed into something quite different than what it started as.  The original concept of the LDE was that you would identify design elements, signature locations, track arrangements or scenery that would define your chosen prototype.  By replicating an LDE you would capture the sessence of the prototype and more successfully replicate it.  So with the original LDE concept, 10 people could model the same prototype and each could have different LDE's depending on what they saw as significant to their layout.

By just picking random scenes or elements from a menu of scenes or elements the modeler is actually doing almost exactly the opposite of what the original intent of the LDE was.  Rather than identifying the critical elements of a specific scene, the picking scenes out of a book would be creating a generic scene.  By using a book of LDE's it separates the element from what inspired it.

I see it as the difference between an author writing a book by first choosing a plot and outlining the key plot twists and an author who chooses sentences or paragraphs that others have written and assembles them into a story.  Maybe I'm looking at layout design from too artistic a perspective.

Just as sectional track and RTR buildings have a following and a use, I'm sure a book of "design elements" would have a following and a use.  I just hate to see the loss of why the design element was chosen as an element in the first place.

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Posted by jwhitten on Monday, December 07, 2009 6:51 PM

gregc

Thanks for the book suggestions.  I've read about the Koester book but haven't seen it.

 

 

You can usually pick up a copy off ebay pretty cheap. That's where I got mine.

 

John

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Posted by jwhitten on Monday, December 07, 2009 7:05 PM

dehusman

I rather dislike the idea of a book of "track elements" or "design elements". I think it encourages cafeteria style layout design. That is, someone designs a layout by saying I need a coal mine, a turntable a yard and a team track, selects them from a list of plans and strings them together. I prefer picking an operation or an area, then designing the track to fit the operation or resemble the area

But with the Duplo, Lego, RTR approaches to modern modeling, books of track elements probably will be an idea that comes, whether or not its a good idea.

 

 

How is this any better or worse than getting a book of 101 track plans? You know, for sectional track on a 4x8 where the trains go 'roundy round-- yee haw. Its the same thing just taken to the next level. Or else its for people who want to get started in the hobby who don't have the same skill or knowledge level as others-- or perhaps that's just all the time they have to dedicate to it-- the rest of their time being taken up with making peace in the middle east and finding the cure for cancer.

For me personally, I think anything that helps someone get started in our hobby, or a leg up so they can get past difficult stuff, is good for our hobby. It helps spread interest and enjoyment to newcomers. It helps the publishers and manufacturers sell books and "train stuff" and stay in business. And it helps people "achieve" something more quickly and perhaps better maintain their interest in this instant-gratification everything-wrapped-up-in-an-hour world of ours.

And if nothing else, maybe it helps people learn about stuff, find pointers to information, learn terminology and lingo, and find out about concepts and operations in an easy-to-obtain, readily-available source. That's why I buy 'em. They give me ideas.

 

 

 

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Posted by steinjr on Monday, December 07, 2009 8:20 PM

dehusman

 The original concept of the LDE was that you would identify design elements, signature locations, track arrangements or scenery that would define your chosen prototype. 

 By replicating an LDE you would capture the essence of the prototype and more successfully replicate it.  So with the original LDE concept, 10 people could model the same prototype and each could have different LDE's depending on what they saw as significant to their layout.

 Yes, different people might pick different scenes to model, and different people might even pick different aspects of the same scene to model.

 

dehusman

By just picking random scenes or elements from a menu of scenes or elements the modeler is actually doing almost exactly the opposite of what the original intent of the LDE was. 

 Rather than identifying the critical elements of a specific scene, the picking scenes out of a book would be creating a generic scene.  By using a book of LDE's it separates the element from what inspired it.

 Yes. And that is not a big problem, unless you feel that a scene or scenic element on a model railroad must be a representation of a specific prototype scene from a specific prototype railroad.

 If you are indeed looking for generic inspiration, then it is not a problem that the LDE you are looking at is from a different place.  You may not be modeling the exact same town or same junction, but you could be looking for inspiration for a freelanced or protolanced similar type of town or junction.

 It could still prove interesting to see which which aspects of a similar scenes someone else has judged to be the essential parts(s) of their scene on their layout.

  Incidentally, looking at just specific scenes or layout elements from someone else's layout is really not all that different from looking at a track plan showing someone else's entire layout. The critical factor is not whether a the track plan drawing shows an entire layout or just one or a few LDEs from that layout.

 It is whether there in addition to the drawing is some discussion or explanation of why the scene (or the entire layout) was designed the way it was designed, so you can use a similar type of thinking when designing your own scene or layout.  

 Which is why the important part of Tony Koester's book is not the drawings of the specific LDE examples he shows - but the discussion about those scenes. 

 Smile,
 Stein

 

 

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Posted by dehusman on Monday, December 07, 2009 10:51 PM

steinjr
  Incidentally, looking at just specific scenes or layout elements from someone else's layout is really not all that different from looking at a track plan showing someone else's entire layout. The critical factor is not whether a the track plan drawing shows an entire layout or just one or a few LDEs from that layout.

Maybe not.  If you are looking at a whole layout, then you are seeing the whole design.  You can see how the parts fit together.  With an LDE you are looking at just one part (unless you are defining an LDE as an entire facility or very large area) and so don't necessarily see how it fits in to the rest of the operation. 

Yes. And that is not a big problem, unless you feel that a scene or scenic element on a model railroad must be a representation of a specific prototype scene from a specific prototype railroad.

Not necessarily.  A railroad is part of a network.  The pieces are designed to work with each other.  Regardless of whether you are freelancing or modeling a prototype, if the parts don't work together then it won't operate well.  If you know enough to blend the parts, you probably know enough where you really don't need the LDE's.

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Posted by steinjr on Monday, December 07, 2009 11:43 PM

dehusman

 If you are looking at a whole layout, then you are seeing the whole design.  You can see how the parts fit together. 

With an LDE you are looking at just one part (unless you are defining an LDE as an entire facility or very large area) and so don't necessarily see how it fits in to the rest of the operation.

 

 Certainly. Of course, it really depends on the person looking at the track plan. Some people can figure out likely operations by looking at a track plan, some can't, no matter if they look at the track plan for the whole layout or the track plan for just an LDE.



 A railroad is part of a network.  The pieces are designed to work with each other.  Regardless of whether you are freelancing or modeling a prototype, if the parts don't work together then it won't operate well.  If you know enough to blend the parts, you probably know enough where you really don't need the LDE's.

  Mmm. I obviously agree with you that a railroad is a part of a network, and that if parts doesn't work together then the layout won't work well as a whole.

  But consider this: you (and I) can look at a whole track plan and see how the parts fit together as a whole, and figure out how operations on that layout likely is run just from looking at the track plan. And either of us can also look at an LDE and figure out how to fit it into a larger plan.

 But someone who has not read much on track planning or track analysis but still want to design their own track plan will have trouble figuring out even fairly basic things by looking at either a whole track plan or an LDE.

 And while one certainly can hope that the whole track plan they are looking at will have been designed in such a way that it works as a whole, the fact remains that most track plans published tend to end up as just a drawing by the time they end up in the hands of someone who wants to build a layout.

 It is fairly rare that the drawing is still accompanied with a discussion of why the design is as it is, or a discussion of how to fit the design into a different sized room or whatever.

 An LDE (being newer and being smaller) will hopefully be more likely to come not just as a drawing, but also with a discussion of how it is intended to be used and operated.

 And it is hopefully so obviously not a complete layout, that the person who starts looking at LDEs will soon realize that there is more to layout design than to just pick entres off a menu.

 Maybe.

 But I think I would go for the Winnie the Pooh strategy : "I'll take them both" - ie both LDEs and top-down design :-)

 Smile,
 Stein

 

 

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Posted by jwhitten on Tuesday, December 08, 2009 6:32 AM

 One of the things that I dislike about track planning books, of either ilk, is that they say things like: look at google maps or sanborn maps to see how real railroads did such and such and then use those for templates. Nevermind the fact that if I didn't know what I was looking at before or what/how it operated, I'm going to be only slightly more informed afterwards. And then invariably in the next breath they'll remind you how "difficult" it is sometimes to discern the proper operation of "real" railroad track plans because they might place a critical runaround track (or some such) in the next town over that won't be obvious to the casual observer. Okay. So, like, how the heck am I supposed to learn anything with that prosaic humdinger?

Also, fwiw, I've got the trackplanning books by Armstrong, and the books with the myriad 4x8 loopty-loops and probably every Kalmbach book ever made (Back atcha there Al) I've studied the plans published in every issue of MR and RMC I own (which is most of them, going back to the early 40's), read all the advice, listened to all the pundits, read up until I'm blue in the face about "plausibility" and two years later I'm *still* no closer to an actual track plan than I was when I started.

I do have some "scenes" in mind that I really want to model though, for starters. And I know my location, era, road, "back-story history",  etc., and I know my givens & druthers, I have mapped my available space down to the millimeter in all three dimensions, and I'm now on my fifth (and I think my final) benchwork revision. Photos to follow soon.

I know-- I'm just kvetching. It'll come, I have faith.
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Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, December 08, 2009 8:10 AM

steinjr

 But someone who has not read much on track planning or track analysis but still want to design their own track plan will have trouble figuring out even fairly basic things by looking at either a whole track plan or an LDE.

 And while one certainly can hope that the whole track plan they are looking at will have been designed in such a way that it works as a whole, the fact remains that most track plans published tend to end up as just a drawing by the time they end up in the hands of someone who wants to build a layout.

Some of my comments are based on reading the posts from newer modelers on this and other sites that have a large population of beginning modelers.  They will post a track plan of their layout that essentially has their LDE's.  They will say that they want a town and a turntable and a coal mine, and they have all of those on the layout.  Then they will ask for help with the design, because they know something isn't right.

The rest of the forum will offer suggestions, adding sidings, rearranging tracks, invariably somebody will suggest a completely different track arrangement (ex. the HOGR layout).  By the time all suggestions are in the layout will in most cases have changed fairly dramatically.  If they had a LDE track plan for each element it has been dramatically altered, so  that its not the same LDE as they started with.  If they were directed to another layout, they will have swapped LDE's completely.

I am not saying that any of this is wrong.  Its a wonderful thing and they will get the benefit of a lot of experience.  But if they ended up with a substantially different trackplan, then that means the LDE they started with didn't survive, so having an LDE really didn't help them.  I guess part of the discussion may be what is an LDE?  Is an LDE just that I want a roundhouse or is it that I want the roundhouse on the W&N at Beech St. in Wilmington, DE as it was in 1900?  I feel a lot of people see it as former and I see it more as the latter.

In some ways the "Railroad You Can Model" series was how an LDE should be done.  It gave the trackplans, a bit on the operations and put them in context.

The LDE book may be a good idea.  It would probably be popular.  I just don't see it as preventing the same layout design issues that are brought to the list now.

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Posted by odave on Tuesday, December 08, 2009 8:15 AM

jwhitten
how "difficult" it is sometimes to discern the proper operation of "real" railroad track plans because they might place a critical runaround track (or some such) in the next town over that won't be obvious to the casual observer. Okay. So, like, how the heck am I supposed to learn anything with that prosaic humdinger?

Railfanning can help.  If you live near some active tracks and have some free time, following a local around or watching a yard can be very educational.  Yes, you will be observing modern railroading and what you see may not fit your era, but many basic moves have not changed.  

There are also railfanning forums where real railroaders (active or retired) will post and answer questions.

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Posted by jwhitten on Tuesday, December 08, 2009 8:30 AM

odave

jwhitten
how "difficult" it is sometimes to discern the proper operation of "real" railroad track plans because they might place a critical runaround track (or some such) in the next town over that won't be obvious to the casual observer. Okay. So, like, how the heck am I supposed to learn anything with that prosaic humdinger?

Railfanning can help.  If you live near some active tracks and have some free time, following a local around or watching a yard can be very educational.  Yes, you will be observing modern railroading and what you see may not fit your era, but many basic moves have not changed.  

There are also railfanning forums where real railroaders (active or retired) will post and answer questions.

 

 

I live near the W&OD (Washington & Old Dominion) Railroad. Unfortunately the rails themselves are long gone. The whole thing's been paved over and the closest thing to a "run-around maneuver" occurs when a pedestrian bends down to tie a shoelace oblivious to the oncoming cyclist... In the past I have lived where there were great iron beasts pounding steel rails... but alas, no longer.... (sigh)

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Posted by odave on Tuesday, December 08, 2009 9:08 AM

dehusman
 I feel a lot of people see it as former and I see it more as the latter.

IIRC the strict definition of an LDE is that it is a prototype location.  I Since my layout is freelanced, technically I have no LDEs - I just have scenes.

The example of an LDE that won't work well without a runaround 5 miles up the line presents the designer with a choice.  Either model the runaround up the line (compressed, of course), thus preserving the prototype and "LDE  status", or modify the LDE to include a runaround in the scene, thus departing from the prototype and losing LDE status.  How important it is to maintain LDE status would be up to the designer, of course.  If keeping LDE status is that important, then the designer should abandon this LDE if the runaround-up-the-line cannot be modeled in the available space.

My own preference is to study the prototype and build a scene like it that works within my space, and not worry about it being an LDE or any other TLA (Three Letter Acronym Smile)

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Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, December 08, 2009 9:12 AM

odave
My own preference is to study the prototype and build a scene like it that works within my space, and

That more or less IS the definition of an LDE.

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Posted by odave on Tuesday, December 08, 2009 9:38 AM

I guess it depends on how much deviation from the prototype is allowed to be in the "like it" part to fit within the terminology.   I haven't read the Koester book on LDEs, so I don't know what his stance on deviation is.

Here's an example from my own design process.  I knew I wanted an grain elevator to be served in my small town.  I looked at prototype trackage at several prototype grain elevators in the area I was modeling.  Some of them are on single spurs, some have multiple spurs.  Some have runarounds nearby, some don't.  Some are on double-ended sidings.  I took all of that information, looked at my space, considered how I wanted my locals to run, and came up with trackage that made sense in my space and looked "typical" for my area.  That was good enough for me. Since my grain elevator scene is not based on any single prototype, I would not call it an LDE.

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Posted by jwhitten on Tuesday, December 08, 2009 10:44 AM

odave
The example of an LDE that won't work well without a runaround 5 miles up the line presents the designer with a choice.  Either model the runaround up the line (compressed, of course), thus preserving the prototype and "LDE  status", or modify the LDE to include a runaround in the scene, thus departing from the prototype and losing LDE status.  How important it is to maintain LDE status would be up to the designer, of course.  If keeping LDE status is that important, then the designer should abandon this LDE if the runaround-up-the-line cannot be modeled in the available space.

My own preference is to study the prototype and build a scene like it that works within my space, and not worry about it being an LDE or any other TLA (Three Letter Acronym Smile)

 

 

Yes, but that was exactly my point-- how would someone just learning know that (a) operationally a particular LDE (to continue the terminology) needed to have a run-around to make it work "right" or "better", and (b) to look in the next town for it? That's good advice and everything if you're talking to someone who knows enough to be able to use it. But completely lost on someone still figuring things out.

John Armstrong's book on Track Planning is pretty good, IMO, for that type of thing. He goes into great detail about facing point and trailing point spurs and such, and explaining why one way is better than another-- but "real" railroads do it the way it fits best into the location, or what the customer demands (is willing to pay for), etc. Further, how does a neophite track planner know how to gauge the traffic into/out of a particular location from a static photograph or drawing? Which may also go into the various design decisions that are made regarding trackage at a particular location.

For example, if you have an industry that is seasonal, it may go much/most of the time with little or no traffic and then all of a sudden be in its "rush season" and get slammed with traffic. The railroad may have taken that into consideration and decided to "live with it" the few times a year it happens. To pick up the cars, however "painfully", run them in front of the locomotive for fifty miles up the line to the next point, and that's the end of it. I'm not even sure an old pro could really figure that one out from just an aerial view of the track plan. You'd need to know more about the industry, the economic conditions, etc. to be able to make that call. And all of that is information *not* included in the google map, and probably not on the sanborn map either.

 

And to make another example regarding general track-planning / space-planning... which comes first, the industry or the railroad? (A rhetorical question of course with no "right" answer other than "it depends"). But for a beginning planner, that could be a difficult and imposing question-- and I'd wager, IS a difficult question.

And knowing the answer is only slightly more helpful because then you have to consider how the industry grew-- did it just get stuck there all at once? Or did it grow little-by-little over the years? A bit added here and there as the decades went by? Who decided where the buildings / additions would go? Were they, in turn influenced by the proximity of the railroad, or vise versa? Etc.

 

At least for a true prototype modeler there is real actual history that can be consulted and followed. Those questions are even more involved for a pseudo-prototype modeler or a complete free-lancer who would have to answer all of those questions-- understand the complete history of every location and every nuance in order to be able to "see" his vision and come up with the track plan.

 

Of course you could also just take a step back-- do something and if it doesn't work out... well, its only plaster. Smile

Modeling the South Pennsylvania Railroad ("The Hilltop Route") in the late 50's
  • Member since
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  • From: Sorumsand, Norway
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Posted by steinjr on Tuesday, December 08, 2009 12:02 PM

jwhitten
how would someone just learning know that (a) operationally a particular LDE (to continue the terminology) needed to have a run-around to make it work "right" or "better", and (b) to look in the next town for it?

 

 I guess he or she would either have to read a general text that explains about facing and trailing spurs, or just figure out on his or her own that if the engine gets trapped between the cars and the end of the spur and only can get out if lifted out by a giant hand in the sky, something might be missing ...

  One common source of such a general information is John Armstrong's classical "Track Planning for Realistic Operations". Another is e.g. the LDSIG Layout Design Primer at http://macrodyn.com/ldsig/wiki/index.php?title=Category:Primer.

 Facing spurs and the use of runarounds are explained a lot of places.

 


 Further, how does a neophite track planner know how to gauge the traffic into/out of a particular location from a static photograph or drawing? Which may also go into the various design decisions that are made regarding trackage at a particular location.

 It may. But it doesn't have to. I'd start simple and introduce further complexities later.

 Most layouts works just fine if you plan industries spurs to hold maybe 3-5 cars. Switching a cut of two or three cars and having some "sure spots" (a given car has to be put in a specific spot) provides plenty of entertainment value.

 Spotting 10-15 cars at a spur instead of 3-5 cars doesn't necessarily add 3-5 times more entertainment value.


For example, if you have an industry that is seasonal, it may go much/most of the time with little or no traffic and then all of a sudden be in its "rush season" and get slammed with traffic.

<...>

 You'd need to know more about the industry, the economic conditions, etc. to be able to make that call.

If you want to do seasonal variations, you do that.That usually entails a visit to the library or amazon or various web sites to read up on the history of the community or plant you are modeling.

 But again - you don't have to do seasonal variations.

 


And to make another example regarding general track-planning / space-planning... which comes first, the industry or the railroad? (A rhetorical question of course with no "right" answer other than "it depends"). But for a beginning planner, that could be a difficult and imposing question-- and I'd wager, IS a difficult question.

 Not really. Industries will not normally grow and decline as you run your trains on your layout.

 What you have normally is a "snapshot" taken at some definite point of time (or an imaginary time and place).

 Just try to compose your scene so it looks esthetically pleasing for you, or so it resembles photos you have seen of the scene, or whatever constitutes esthetically pleasing for you.

 Whether that means industries placed in a row, wall to wall, or spread out or whatever depends on what you like and how the scene you are trying to recreate looked, if you are modeling a real place at a real time.

 Smile,
 Stein

 

 

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • From: Omaha, NE
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Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, December 08, 2009 12:09 PM

jwhitten
John Armstrong's book on Track Planning is pretty good, IMO, for that type of thing. He goes into great detail about facing point and trailing point spurs and such, and explaining why one way is better than another-- but "real" railroads do it the way it fits best into the location, or what the customer demands (is willing to pay for), etc. Further, how does a neophite track planner know how to gauge the traffic into/out of a particular location from a static photograph or drawing? Which may also go into the various design decisions that are made regarding trackage at a particular location.

Back when I was a neophyte modeler I found out by reading MR, occaisionally RMC and occaisionally another layout book, and eventually belonging to a club.  I built a layout, when it didn't work, I took it apart and built another one, and repeated that process over several years.

People today don't want to take that much time.  They expect to get it right the first time (whether that is unreasonable or not is another discussion).

 How does a neophyte modeler do it today?  There are about a zillion photo collections on the internet, between independent forums and Yahoo groups there must be several hundred discussion areas where people ask questions.  There are a dozen various mapping and aerial photograph sites on the internet.  The amount of information out there is staggering.  I don't ask how a neophyte does it today, I ask myself how in the world did I do it 30-40 years ago when we had zippo in the way of information.  How does a neophyte do it today?  He merely asks.  Post a question or a plan on the internet and you will get feedback that took me years to collect in a matter of hours.

For example, if you have an industry that is seasonal, it may go much/most of the time with little or no traffic and then all of a sudden be in its "rush season" and get slammed with traffic. The railroad may have taken that into consideration and decided to "live with it" the few times a year it happens. To pick up the cars, however "painfully", run them in front of the locomotive for fifty miles up the line to the next point, and that's the end of it. I'm not even sure an old pro could really figure that one out from just an aerial view of the track plan.

Believe it or not, railroading isn't rocket science.  The basic moves haven't really changed since the 1800's.  There really aren't that many variations you can do.

Here's another thing people can do.  Draw out the track plan and pretend to run a train around the layout.  Pretend to switch.  If someone mentally (or physically on paper) trys to switch things they will find the problems.  If they can't figure it out in your head, maybe its not such a good plan.  If a person just can't visualize it, then draw it out large scale and use blocks of wood for cars and engines or learn to use one of a dozen or so track planning programs that let you operate trains on the proposed track plan (paper is waaaaay cheaper).

 (by the way, if its any time before the last decade or so the crew would pull the cars out to the spur and drop them by the engine, then spot them.)

 You'd need to know more about the industry, the economic conditions, etc. to be able to make that call. And all of that is information *not* included in the google map, and probably not on the sanborn map either.

I rather doubt that the typical neophyte modeler will be building industries that are so complicated that they really have to worry about this kind of stuff.    If you are then you have to accept the learning curve that goes with it.  I have been researching some stuff for decades and still haven't found the answers (pop quiz : EI Dupont made gunpowder in the Wilmington, DE area in the late 1800's, early 1900's, where did they get the sulphur from?)

If all you have is a 3 car spur, then you pretty much have 3 options, spot 1 car, spot 2 cars, spot 3 cars, dada, dada, dadats all folks.  If you want something really complicated like building an entire fully integrated steel mill or a complete auto assembly plant then you had best figure you're going to spend some time doing research.

And to make another example regarding general track-planning / space-planning... which comes first, the industry or the railroad? (A rhetorical question of course with no "right" answer other than "it depends"). But for a beginning planner, that could be a difficult and imposing question-- and I'd wager, IS a difficult question.

And this is where an LDE might not help.  When you give somebody a plan of an industry they tend to see it as a "solid" object.  Just like a building kit, and try to put the entire building in the layout.  The important thing is to choose the industry, then choose the tracks that will serve it (one track, two tracks, wide spacing, next to each other, etc).  Then you plan the tracks into the layout.  Once the track is in then you figure out where the building goes.  Very few of my buildings are built stock and most are missing one or more walls because they bump up against the backdrop.

I will concede the point that a book of LDE's would be a wonderful thing.  Anybody care to define an LDE?  8-)

(P.S. The sulphur comes from upstate New York.  I found that out by flying to Philly to visit family and driving down to the Hagley Museum in Wilmington, reading the markers outside the building where the sulphur was stored.   Not all research is easy.)

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

  • Member since
    April, 2008
  • From: Northern VA
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Posted by jwhitten on Tuesday, December 08, 2009 1:44 PM

>> where did they get the sulphur from?

 Tennessee ??

Modeling the South Pennsylvania Railroad ("The Hilltop Route") in the late 50's

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