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Turntable and Roundhouse Real Estate

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Turntable and Roundhouse Real Estate
Posted by Georgia Trains on Friday, February 18, 2011 5:39 AM

I am in the process of building my model railroad. As most of us do in real life it is a "work in progress".

I have an area I had set aside for a turntable and roundhouse. My question is how many of you have put these items in and then regretted giving up so much real estate when you could have done other things  with that space.

The era I am modeling is late 50's - 60's transistion so a mix of steam/diesel would be possible but, I am thinking a small freight yard and more industries might be a better use of the space.

What do ya'll think?

Larry

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Posted by Sir Madog on Friday, February 18, 2011 5:56 AM

Very difficult to tell. It is true, turntables and roundhouses eat space, but they are also eye catchers. I´d say it depends on the overall size of your layout. A turntable + roundhouse on a 4 by 8 may be a little to intrusive.

Ulrich

People in Hamburg don´t tan, they rust!

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Posted by Train Modeler on Friday, February 18, 2011 7:21 AM

You could put it on a hill and have elevation or maybe even better have the other track go down and around?

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Posted by doctorwayne on Friday, February 18, 2011 11:01 AM

The roundhouse probably eats more space than the turntable, but you should consider whether or not you need either of them.   Many prototype locations had turntables but no roundhouse - some nothing but the turntable at the end of the line.  Others may have had an enginehouse but no need to turn their locos.

My layout is a point-to-point-to-point design, (the third "point" is yet to be built) with a means to turn the locos (steam) necessary at each end.  One uses a turntable, but I turned what was once a Vollmer three stall roundhouse into a shop building.  It takes up less room, and its main purpose is as a scenic feature.  It still uses a lot of space, but it's space that wouldn't be of much use operationally.

 

The second "point" uses a wye.  These can also be space eaters, but I placed mine in a corner of the layout room, using what would otherwise be waste space.

 

The as-yet-unbuilt- third point will use a turntable and roundhouse, with either 5 or seven stalls.  It will also be located in a corner of the room, with only the front of the roundhouse fully modelled.  One side will be unseen and shortened severely, the other (along the aisle) will be more fully represented, but shortened as necessary.  The stalls will be almost totally unuseable, with the structure not much more than a scenic backdrop.

A friend who has an around-the-room type layout uses most of one wall as an engine terminal, with a large turntable, two roundhouses, and a couple of shop buildings.  He's not too interested in operation, but enjoys photographing his large locomotive collection, and this area provides a perfect setting.

 

Wayne

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Posted by gandydancer19 on Friday, February 18, 2011 6:54 PM

I think a yard just begs for a place to have a loco or two.  I decided to model a small turntable (9 inches) and a more modern engine shed that may have replaced an older engine house or roundhouse.  (I model 1962)  Then I decided to make it look like there used to be steam loco here by putting in a coaling tower.  But I also added a diesel fueling pad as if it were added at a later time.

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 richhotrain on Friday, February 18, 2011 8:28 PM

Like you, Larry, I model the mid-50's transition period.

My roundhouse/turntable and engine servicing facilties take up about 12 square feet, but it is the centerpiece of my layout.  Stick with it.

Rich

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Friday, February 18, 2011 9:30 PM

In my version of Central Japan there will be two turntables, because I absolutely have to be able to turn locomotives and cars end-for-end at those two places.  Neither will have a traditional roundhouse - those weren't common in Japan.  One won't have any kind of maintenance facilities, the other will be close to a rectangular shop building just big enough to get the welder and pipefitters out of the rain.

My longer turntable will be 250mm long, standard JNR 20 (scale) meter size - plenty adequate to turn my 'big' steam (2-8-2s with short tenders.)  The turntable at the far end of the branch will be 200mm long, the length of the absolutely longest anything that can ever reach it.  Since I don't run Big Boys or PRR locos with Lines West tenders I have no need for a 135 foot HO turntable.

Bottom line - include what you need to handle the operations you plan to run.  If you need a yard and don't need a roundhouse, so be it.

Chuc (Modeling Central Japan in September, 1964)

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Posted by dante on Friday, February 18, 2011 9:47 PM

If the turntable-with or without roundhouse-facilitates your operations, build it!  If looks are a top priority-even if you don't need it for operations-build it!  Otherwise, use the space for something else.

Dante

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Posted by AltonFan on Saturday, February 19, 2011 10:12 AM

A lot of us have more locomotives than the traffic on the modeled portion of our railroads would justify, and a lot of us have engines that are not typical for the traffic on the portions we model.  An engine terminal is a good way to justify the presence of unusual locomotives, and they make a better locomotive display than those wall-mounted display cases.

I think it was John Armstrong who said "every square foot of real estate on a model railroad has to pay for itself in operating or scenic interest."

I suspect that yards also eat a lot of space relative to their operating or scenic interest.

Dan

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Posted by Georgia Trains on Saturday, February 19, 2011 10:56 PM

I really appreciate all of the supportive comments. Wayne - your turntable and engine house was an inspiring idea and it does not take up a huge amount of space but yet gives a centerpice of attention.

Thanks to all - I think a turntable for sure is in the plans and either a smaller roundhouse or "engine house".

Larry

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Posted by Georgia Trains on Sunday, February 20, 2011 5:13 AM

Elmer-

I certainly enjoyed viewing your layout on your webpage. Lots of hard work is evident! I like some of the ideas and mthods you have posted on your webpage and I am saving your link.

I want to add block signaling eventually.

Question - what turntable did you use and what were the challanges with DCC?

Larry

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Posted by Georgia Trains on Sunday, February 20, 2011 5:16 AM

Dr. Wayne-

Who's turntable did you use - is it wired for DCC? Very intrested in the way it is done with the grass and the weathering.

Larry

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, February 20, 2011 12:07 PM

Thanks for the kind words, Larry. Smile

The turntable is mostly scratchbuilt, although the bridge girders were cut and spliced from a pair of used (cheap) Atlas through girder bridges.  These were cemented to a block of wood.  The track is a section of Atlas code 83 flex.  I removed all of the webs joining the ties, then re-spaced them to allow insertion of longer basswood ties, which support the planked deck.  This maintains the track gauge with no additional spiking required.  The decking is basswood planks, which I also had on-hand.  I was going to throw away all of the basswood, as I much prefer working with styrene, but this was a good way to use it up.  If I had used styrene, the total cost of the installed turntable would've been under $10.00.

The pit was cut in a section of 3/4" plywood installed for this purpose (most of the layout is open grid, with plaster-on-screen landforms), then the cut-out piece was used to form the pit bottom.  The centre bearing pedestal and the ring rail foundation were cut from good-quality 1/4" plywood, and the pit wall is a piece of 1/8" Masonite.

 

 

The control shack was built from scraps of Evergreen styrene siding, and the handrails were built-up using modified metal stanchions (from old-style Athearn diesel handrails), some brass tubing, bits of styrene and some piano wire.  Yet to be built and added is a power arch.

The ring rail is cut from another piece of Atlas flex, with the ties shortened using a utility knife.  While it's not totally prototypical, it works well and looks passable. Smile, Wink & Grin

The bridge pivots on a beater shaft from a hand-held mixer, turning in a bearing made from a brass washer and some brass tubing.  My original plan was to use the mixer mechanism, driven by a fascia-mount handcrank, for turning the bridge, but mounting the mixer proved difficult.  Since the layout here is only 30" deep (and the pit less than 3" from the aisle) I opted for a full "Armstrong-type" bridge, powered by a well-placed single digit from my trusty 0-5-0 switcher. Laugh  There are wipers beneath the pit which rub on the shaft, supplying current to one of the bridge rails. 

The other bridge rail is powered from the ring rail.  I used a pair of slightly-modified freight trucks for current collection, with one wheel completely removed from each axle.  The other wheels were replaced with metal wheels from an Athearn passenger car, two per axle and install face-to-face on the outer ends of the axles.  These overly-wide double-flanged wheels easily accommodate any irregularities in the ring rail, and axle wipers transmit the power to the other bridge rail.  I also added a rail wiper, which both picks up current and keeps the ring rail clean.

 

 

 

 

While my layout is DC controlled, I'm guessing that your connections for DCC would be similar, as this is the equivalent of a turning loop.  Power pick-up is from an adjacent live track, and is routed through a dpdt centre-off switch mounted on the layout fascia.  The various table and shop tracks are controlled through a separate rotary switch, a feature you wouldn't require for DCC.

Because of the very limited space here, my nominal 90' turntable scales-out to an actual 89-footer. Whistling  The weeds in the bottom (many tables used dirt bottoms, with solid supports only for the bearing points of the bridge) are an alternative to concrete or brick.  They are sprayed regularly, but keep coming back. Laugh  I also need to add a couple of catch basin grates in the pit bottom:  with the layout set in southwestern Ontario's "snowbelt", the railroad has installed steam pipes under the pit to keep things functioning through the winter.  The steam plant, across the mainline from the shop, also supplies electricity and compressed air for the shop complex and nearby passenger station.  Like those catch basin grates, the overhead piping has yet to be installed.

 

Wayne

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Posted by gandydancer19 on Sunday, February 20, 2011 1:05 PM

Georgia Trains

Elmer-

I certainly enjoyed viewing your layout on your webpage. Lots of hard work is evident! I like some of the ideas and mthods you have posted on your webpage and I am saving your link.

I want to add block signaling eventually.

Question - what turntable did you use and what were the challanges with DCC?

Larry

Thanks.

The turntable and pit are scratch built.  The pit was made with "speaker rings" and a Luan bottom. I forgot where I ordered them from but you can do a search for them.  They are a wood composite product.  The turntable is a length of wood, (Poplar).  The pivot is a quarter inch phone plug with a metal cord cover.  The plug is glued into a hole in the Poplar (you need a drill press to get the hole right), and the jack is mounted in the pit (Luan).  The electrical connections are made from the track to the phone plug.  Then from the phone jack to an auto reverser.  The rest is jut detailing.  The ring track / rail is a section of N scale flextrack cut down the center lengthwise.  The track for the turntable is a section of code 83 Atlas snap-track.  That makes the table nine inches long.  You move it by hand.  I guess its time to take some pictures of it.  To me, simple is best.

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 Georgia Trains on Sunday, February 20, 2011 8:12 PM

Doc-

I am absolutly blown away by your turntable. Thanks for the detailed description. With your permission I think I might try a scratchbuilt application myself utilizing some of your methods.

Really appreciate your work.

Larry

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, February 20, 2011 10:29 PM

Thanks again, Larry, and by all means give it a shot.  My problem was lack of space, lack of money, and lack of sense to think that I couldn't do it.  I just worked-out the bugs as I built.  Indexing is by eye, incidentally, although the table is used more for turning locos than for parking them on the shop tracks.

 

Wayne

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  • From: York, Pa.
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Posted by DigitalGriffin on Monday, February 21, 2011 11:11 AM

Quite the delima isn't it?

You have two options.   Walthers Roundhouse is 5'6" across give or take with 10 degree spacing.  A half roundhouse will give you 18 stalls.  Walthers roundhouse is unprotypically close to the turntable itself.

HOWEVER, you can fit more stalls into a narrower area IF you extend the distance between the turntable and the roundhouse doors with 5 degree spacing between tracks.  (Which is more prototypical)  The disadvantage of this is that your layout space will have to be longer instead of wider.  I've seen a 28 stall roundhouse using about 140 degrees using this arrangment, and it looked really good.

Don H-Specializing in layout DC->DCC conversions

Modeling C&O transition era and steel industries There's Nothing Like Big Steam!

 

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