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Layout Design Elements

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Layout Design Elements
Posted by steamfreightboy on Thursday, June 23, 2011 2:37 PM

Does anyone have a good source for information on creating Layout Design Elements (LDEs), preferably a website or something on the internet versus a book.

Thanks,

sfb

"It's your layout, only you have to like it." Lin's Junction
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Posted by steinjr on Thursday, June 23, 2011 3:40 PM

 A book: http://www.amazon.com/Realistic-Model-Railroad-Building-Blocks/dp/0890243689

 Two web resources (both by Byron Henderson) discussing why LDE's (ie copying prototype track arrangments) may not always work for a given layout

 Blog post: http://mrsvc.blogspot.com/2009/06/caricature-copy-or-close-enough.html

 Layout design bootcamp PDF handout http://mrsvc.blogspot.com/2009/06/caricature-copy-or-close-enough.html

Smile,
Stein

 

 

 

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Posted by wp8thsub on Thursday, June 23, 2011 5:05 PM

LDE is a new(ish) name applied to a very old idea, taking a piece of the prototype and creating a model scene out of it that can be inserted into a layout design.  Designers were doing that from the very beginning of the scale model railroading hobby, and references to the process can be found in many an article on design.  If you have access to a stack of old "Model Ralroader" issues they're a good place to start.  You can also look on the web for information on resources like the NMRA's Layout Design Special Interest Group (ldsig).  You start to see references to the term LDE in the mid 1990s when it was popularized in the MR annual "Model Railroad Planning."

Rob Spangler

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Posted by schlimm on Thursday, June 23, 2011 7:00 PM

You might also want to check the LDSIG group on Yahoo groups:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ldsig/

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

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Posted by steinjr on Friday, June 24, 2011 7:00 AM

 Here is an example of finding an LDE - this is a part of an old (1922 - no longer covered by copyright) Sanborn Fire insurance map from Kenedy, TX:

 

If you copied this track configuration (and possibly track configurations from neighboring map sections as well), you would have an LDE - a copy of a prototypical track configuration.

 Here is another example from the same town - top picture is left half, bottom right half of a station area:

 Basically, the design of LDE's for a model railroad consists of researching prototype railroads, and then possibly doing a bit of selective compression - essentially making tracks a bit shorter.

  Bear in mind that it is often smarter to do a compressive selection (i.e. to select something to model that is not super huge in the first place), instead of applying excessive compression to a big selection.

 Yards are a typical example. Lots of people will try to cram in an extremely scaled down classification yard on their layout. They want a couple of dedicated arrival/departure tracks, lots of body tracks, a dedicated caboose track, a dedicated RIP (Repair in place) track, an engine terminal with a turntable and roundhouse, a coaling tower, a service track, a diesel house and a diesel fueling pad and so on and so forth.

 Great - if you have the space for it, and the traffic on your layout making it necessary or desirable.

 But a yard can also be a small auxilliary yard, with a couple of tracks off the main, using the main as a switching lead, and not having all kinds of facilities. A simple such yard can offer quite a bit of operations. Here is an example of a 8-foot long small town track configuration where the yard basically consists of one extra siding along the main, based on the track configuration in the town of Shiner in Texas, slightly modified:

 And yet - in such a small track configuration, you have room to have a local duck into one track to let another train pass by, sort cars, drop off a block of cars or pick up a block of cars (either between two trains on your own railroad, or having another railroad drop off a  block of cars - i.e. interchange), build a train, using the various tracks to sort cars into blocks, run passenger traffic etc.

  So my suggestions are:

 - look at the real railroads for inspiration
 - look for small(ish) scenes to model

 Smile,
 Stein

 

 

 

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Posted by steamfreightboy on Friday, June 24, 2011 7:32 AM

Thanks, Stein!

I found a website a while back with a bunch of prototype trackplans. I will use some of those.

sfb

"It's your layout, only you have to like it." Lin's Junction
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Posted by Mike Kieran on Friday, June 24, 2011 12:14 PM

Stein, how do you get the Sandborn Maps online?

__________________________________________________________________

Mike Kieran

Port Able Railway

I just do what the majority of the voices in my head vote on.

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Posted by sschnabl on Friday, June 24, 2011 1:14 PM

I am in the process of designing a new prototype-based layout and have used online Sanborn Maps.  Try your local or state-wide public library system.  I live in Wisconsin and was able to access most of the towns along the line I plan on modelling (Madison, WI to La Crosse, WI).  The only problem was my western-most town is Winona, MN.  The library I was using only purchased the rights to Wisconsin cities.  I tried going to the Minnesota library system, but in order to access the maps online you had to have a valid library card for a Minnesota library (which I did not).  In this case I contacted the Historical Society of the railroad I am modelling, and for a nominal fee they copied one of their maps of the town for me.  Not only does the 2' x 6' map show all the track arrangments for all the railroads in town, it even lists many of the businesses it served at that time.  Now I have a good idea of where to put the tracks and what structures to have as well.

Scott

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Posted by steinjr on Friday, June 24, 2011 2:51 PM

Mike Kieran

Stein, how do you get the Sandborn Maps online?

 Well, the ones I showed sections from here was from the University of Texas Perry-Castaneda collection. 

 As I read the FAQ at their web site, I believe these 1922 and earlier maps (apparently scanned by Utexas, not by the people who offer digital Sanborn maps for a fee to libraries in various other states) to be freely downloadable and displayable on the web.

 Here is the link to the University of Texas collection of early Sanborn maps from Texas: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/sanborn/texas.html

 For many other states it seems like you need to access the local maps through a local library subscribing to a commercial service. Doesn't seem like this company offers subscriptions to individuals, just to libraries.

 Smile,
 Stein

 

 

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Posted by Drew4950 on Friday, June 24, 2011 3:30 PM

I work for an organization that is affiliated with a local branch of Indiana and Purdue University. Our internet service is provided by the university. The university, because it is an educational institution has unlimited access to the digital Sandborn collection. When I tried from home I could not access them. Our local public librairy has them at least from searching the catalog but I think you must be in the librairy to use them. I have yet to find out if the local historical society has them. I would be interested in finding actual hard copys of them. The digital online collection looks like they may be scans of microfich films. However you can magnify them and see all the information that was written on them very clearly.

So public librairys, local history centers or perhaps a college institution. Be careful. You can get lost in them and lose track of time.  

Modeling a railroad hypothetically set in time.

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Posted by cuyama on Saturday, June 25, 2011 1:30 PM

One (minor) caution when using Sanborn maps is that they are not railroad documents. They were originally drawn for the insurance industry to determine the risks to structures. So there is a lot of information related to building construction, locations of fire hydrants, diameter of water lines, etc.

But the railroads in that era before Hazmat were not considered a particular risk, so the track arrangements shown in Sanborn maps are often only generally correct -- or may be off completely. I've seen a few where the map makers had simply written in "Many railroad tracks".

Railroad documents such as spotting guides and track charts are much more accurate, when and where they are available. Since the Original Poster hasn't offered information about the area, era, or focus of the layout he's planning, it's hard to offer pertinent advice.

Another general issue with using LDEs is that mixing prototype track arrangements from different railroads, locales, and eras can lead to unexpected and unhappy results. Just as combining the motor from a Corvette, the transmission from a Ford F-150, and the rear end from a 1955 Rambler might be contemplated since they are all car parts, the end result might not work very well.

Subtle issues such as the location and arrangement of run-arounds and crossovers can trip us up as layout designers if we mix LDEs from places that weren't related to one another in real life. That's why just shrinking LDEs to fit the available space doesn't usually result in the optimal layout.

Byron

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Posted by steinjr on Sunday, July 03, 2011 5:13 AM

Just a quick followup on this thread, since I am back in the Twin Cities after a week up north on Leech Lake with my wife, kids and quite a bit of my wife's family. 

 There is something very relaxing about getting up at 6 on a vacation morning am to go fishing with my brother in law, or watching a bunch of wild kids run all over the place with their cousins, playing some game with rules that seems fairly incomprehensible to adults :-)

 Byron is of course quite right about Sanborn maps not necessarily showing railroad tracks correctly (since the Sanborn people were more concerned with businesses that might need fire insurance, which railroads would not buy).  And that just stringing random LDEs tail to tail does not necessarily make a good overall track plan.

 But Sanborn maps will often(?) be ve far better than nothing - if nothing else, they will help someone not familiar with the area and era at least get an idea of what railserved businesses were in town at the time the map was made, and how they were oriented relative to each other.

 Anyways - another source of track configurations is SPINS, ZTS or CLIC schematics - which is diagrams various railroads used to show their own people where tracks would be located in a specific towns, to make switching easier.

  ZTS (Zone Track Spot) diagrams were e.g. used by Conrail. I just happened upon a link to an online archive of free PDFs containing some Conrail ZTS diagrams in an article by Mike Rose in the July 2011 issue of Model Railroad Hobbyist, and thought I would share that link in this thread:

http://www.multimodalways.org/archives/rrs/CR/CR%20ZTS/CR%20ZTS.html

 Yet another source for ideas about prototype track configurations is to look at old photos and try to put together information from several photos. The web site shorpy (http:///www.shorpy.com) has lots of inspirational photos from the years 1850-1950 or so.

 This one is a particular favorite of mine - from Duluth, MN, in 1905: http://www.shorpy.com/node/9481?size=_original (remember to scroll sideways to see entire scene).

 Anyways - there are many sources of information. Pick some spot and era that seems interesting to you, and go look for more information on that spot and era.

Smile,
Stein

 

 

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Posted by Jamis on Sunday, July 03, 2011 10:06 AM

I found all of the Sandborn maps for the Toledo, OH area in the local history section of the local public library.  They were all digital images of the microfilmed originals.  They spanned the years 1888 through 1960.  They were easily handled by Adobe Photoshop Elements for viewing and editing.  I saved each map to the hard drive of my computer at the largest viewing size on the library's web site.  This gave me a .jpeg file of 2.5MB to 5.2MB of each map.  This allows you to see all of the details on the maps.  I did have to become a member of the library (free, just get a library card) to download the maps.  The library also has hundreds of old photographs of the area that are most useful for modeling the railroad scenery.   As a library member, I have been able to download these photographs for my use.

Jim -  Preserving the history of the NKP Cloverleaf first subdivision.

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Posted by g&gfan on Sunday, July 03, 2011 9:44 PM

Just a tip for anyone modelling a Canadian city. You probably won't find a Sanborn map for them. You need to look for Underwriter's Survey Bureau maps. They produced the same style of map for Canadian communities as long as there was municipally supplied water. Most universities have local ones in their map collections as do many local archives. I found a set for Goderich, ON at the University of Western Ontario and another set for Milverton,ON in my local archives. 

I have to say that the maps help describe the buildings near and served by the railway and give a general idea of the trackage. I won't say that the railway info is perfect, but it helps model a branchline from 50+ years ago that was torn up 22 years ago.

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