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Help with HO layout shape and plan, please!

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Help with HO layout shape and plan, please!
Posted by TrainzLuvr on Friday, December 23, 2016 9:03 AM

I've been posting this in the General forum under another thread when I should've really made a new thread here, so here it is.

Originally I wanted to model H0 as I already have some equipment, but if push comes to shove, I would switch to N.

To give you an idea what the space really looks like, here are two photos, looking East and looking West. It's fully finished, as a living space not a train room.

Below is what my basement area for trains looks like, and its dimensions. The ceiling height is pretty low, 6'5" the most.

I need to keep the access to the electrical cabinet in the upper right, and then below the support pillars is the hallway that I can't block either, or the door to the room on the left.

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Friday, December 23, 2016 9:04 AM

I did think of a number of shapes to fit in the space, but as a n00b I am not too sure whether these shapes are the best I can do/get. Dots are for the duck-under or swing-gate bridge.

These aisle spaces are pretty tight, probably 2-2,5'

I'm also thinking about around the perimeter incline/decline to the second level, instead of a helix (the space hog).

S is the staging and trains could arrive into it from either 1 or 2. As long as there's access to the panel then 2 can remain lowered.

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Friday, December 23, 2016 9:30 AM

I do not have a prototype railroad I'm modelling, nor I wish to really base myself on one, as I do not have a preference. I'd rather select from various ones features I like and incorporate into my model.

What I'm struggling with, beside H0 or N scale, is how does one actually go about planning a room size layout:

- do you come up with the layout shape first, and fit the industries and locations into it; or the other way around; or even something else?

- how do you know where to put yards, interchanges, stations, industries, etc. in your layout shape?

- what method one uses to determine whether all these features (industries, yards, stations) work together in a meaningful operational manner?

- how do you create interest (switching puzzles, etc) in specific locations such as yards, interchanges and industries?

...

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Posted by RR_Mel on Friday, December 23, 2016 9:58 AM

You need to check your local building code for proper access to your electrical panel, they get pretty fussy about things.  Where I am it’s 42”.
 
 
EDIT:
 
Very nice room for a layout!!!
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Friday, December 23, 2016 10:29 AM

Thanks.

I believe it is 3' from the front face of the panel board, and that space is basically what is needed to open the door enclosing the electrical closet space anyway.

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Posted by ROBERT PETRICK on Friday, December 23, 2016 10:33 AM

Hey TrainzLuvr -

Looking at the third and fourth images where the benchwork appears to be fairly deep.

Can you sketch in a line, approximately parallel to the front edge of the benchwork, that represents your personal reach-in limits? 24" is comfortable, 30" starts getting a little far, more than that creates concerns.

It isn't just reach-in-and-grab something. You need to be able to reach in and remain steady while you perform fairly delicate hand maneuvers to re-couple stubborn cars or clear tiny bits of unwanted debris. Switch throws may or may not be a problem. There are electro-mechanical devices to help; even piano wire gizmos to extend to the fascia.

And there are always the trusty BBQ tongs . . .

Robert

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Posted by carl425 on Friday, December 23, 2016 11:46 AM

There was an article a while back (I believe in RMH) that did an extensive analysis comparing the space efficiency of the different shapes.  In case you don't want to go searching for it, the punchline is that the G shape is the best choice.

The one thing I would suggest you change in your sketches is that since you need both access to the electrical panel and access to the center of the layout, make the sacrifice do double duty by flipping your first sketch so the entrance to the center is at the electrical panel.

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Friday, December 23, 2016 12:00 PM

I'm not much use regarding trackplans or even layout benchwork arrangements, but my suggestion would be to make that area a separate room, with walls between the posts and a wall with an outward-opening door on the angled area.  This will make layout maintenance (cleaning - track and other stuff) a lot easier and less frequent.
I also think that the space would be more useful in N scale, as an HO layout as ambitious as your drawings suggest would have greatly compromised radii if you want a reasonable aisle width.
Carl's suggestion regarding layout and electrical panel access is a good one, too.

Wayne

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Posted by hardcoalcase on Friday, December 23, 2016 12:45 PM

A good place to start is determining your minimum radius curves, then placing 90/180/etc. degree curves around the layout space to try out different arrangements. 

Answers to many of your questions can be found in publications on "planning for realistic operations" offered by MR.  These are especially valuable in avoiding rookie mistakes and helping you decide your priorities.

Jim

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Posted by cuyama on Friday, December 23, 2016 1:19 PM

TrainzLuvr
What I'm struggling with, beside H0 or N scale, is how does one actually go about planning a room size layout:

There are a number of ways to approach layout design. There are a couple of good examples in Track Planning for Realistic Operation. In the 3rd Edition, Chapter 9 describes Armstrong’s method pretty well. Appendix A is another case study of the process. 

Personally, I like to do a fairly unstructured Conceptual Phase first, followed by a Structural/Footprint Phase, and only then moving to Details. This is briefly described in the notes page to the four-hour Layout Design Bootcamp I have presented at NMRA national conventions in conjucntion with the Layout Design SIG. Notes page found here:
http://www.layoutvision.com/clinics.html

I would suggest that you might want to step back to the Conceptual Phase. Think about what kinds of trains you’d like to see and what you’d like to do (yard switching, mainline running/model railfanning, etc., etc.). Many newcomers find that they’re not really sure _what_ they want to achieve in their model railroad, so visiting other layouts is a really helpful thing. (As is a smaller “chainsaw” layout where you can try things out, as I suggested to you elsewhere. You can start small, figure out what you like, and then design the next larger layout with those things in mind.)

Basically, you’re coming up with a stretch of railroad that you’d like to model – either prototype (a real railroad) or freelance (from your imagination).

From this, you’ll be able to have a rough idea of the types of trains and equipment, era, locale, train length, etc., etc. As I think I posted in another of your threads, this “lineal” of train length helps me decide how long yard(s), passing sidings, staging, etc. should be. That yardstick also suggests a minimum radius necessary, which might help make your N vs. HO decision.

Some general best practices today are to try to keep aisles broader than those Armstrong suggested – more like 30” rather than 24”, for example. (John Armstrong was himself a thin man – most of your model railroad visitors will likely not be). Similarly, most folks find that they can’t reach more than 30” over a scenicked layout – and a shorter distance is more comfortable. 

Generally, it’s best to minimize the number of “blobs” or turnback curves. Especially in HO in your space, the width of a turnback curve at 24-28” takes up a lot of floor space. If you want walk-in entry, you’ll need at least two.

Combining all those ideas yields a few somewhat tight, but usable footprints, like this one I quickly derived from another project.

 

Note that moving beyond this to multiple visible decks is a significant jump in complexity and sheer amount of layout to complete. So depending on available time and resources, you’ll want to be realistic about what is achievable. To be reliable for longer trains, an HO helix must be fairly broad (28-30” radius and up). That’s 5-feet-square or more, so it would be a big chunk of your floor space.

The alternative to “blobs” is some sort of donut-style approach. Your space is actually good for this because you can use the inside, outside, and “backside” (against the wall). In HO, this helps mitigate the issues with radius as well since you don’t need a blob. Here’s a crude not-to-scale sketch.

In N scale, of course, all of this is easier in your space, primarily because of the smaller minimum radius and the fact that a train of a given number of cars is just over half as long as the equivalent in HO.

Good luck with your layout.

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Friday, December 23, 2016 1:37 PM

I updated all of my sketeches with 1' grid so it's easier to see the relationships. Although my shape sketches are not that precise, they are just an idea to go off of.

I'm not sure enclosing this space in the room would work for me, it is already conditioned (heating and cooling) plus if the layout needs to be taken out and space restored back to the original look, no walls makes it easier.

As suggested, I flipped sketch #1 over horizontally, but this configuration does not appear to give my choice for any kind of a yard or such.

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, December 23, 2016 1:52 PM

TrainzLuvr:

If you are interested, I posted instructions on how to make local links work in the old thread. I won't repeat them here.

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/88/t/260082.aspx?page=3

Scroll down quite a ways.

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, December 23, 2016 1:55 PM

Byron:

I really like the 'G' shaped layout suggestion.

Dave

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Posted by cuyama on Friday, December 23, 2016 2:12 PM

hon30critter
I really like the 'G' shaped layout suggestion.

Yep, one can learn a lot from John Armstrong! As he suggested, a spiral peninsula is often the best approach for a given space and minimum radius.

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Friday, December 23, 2016 2:20 PM

cuyama,

thanks for the crash course in layout planning thinking. We (my SO and I, the primary operators of our railroad) did sort of go through those phases but keep turning back to the fundamental question of H0 vs N, besides those you mention.

We did visit couple of bigger layouts to see what's possible in similar (to bigger space). One was a LHS display (H0) and the other semi-club layout (N) connected to another LHS.

In your second drawing the doughnut shape is what Armstrong described in the Track Planning book on page 88, correct (it is an evolution of the island shape, and he called the access area problematic due to a duck under)?

To me the central access area seems like wasted space, especially on the size of the space we have here, or do you suggest we build a chainsaw layout like this first?

Overal, N scale seems to be getting more appealing now considering that our space could use additional 3-4 feet on the short side to get that additional aisle space for H0. Althoigh, we are not concerned with 30" aisles as we would most likely be the primary users, and are both slim to fit 24". :)

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Posted by cuyama on Friday, December 23, 2016 3:12 PM

TrainzLuvr
We (my SO and I, the primary operators of our railroad) did sort of go through those phases but keep turning back to the fundamental question of H0 vs N, besides those you mention.

Sharing more of the priorities that you and your partner have already decided upon may help others help you.

TrainzLuvr
In your second drawing the doughnut shape is what Armstrong described in the Track Planning book on page 88, correct (it is an evolution of the island shape, and he called the access area problematic due to a duck under)?

Yes, it's similar to the middle-left image on that page. But there is an important adition. Because of the opportunity you have along the "column" side of the room, the benchwork could be quite deep along there -- with access from both the inside and the outside of the donut. A double-sided backdrop would separate the scenes.

Access to the center may be via duckunder or some sort of movable gate.

TrainzLuvr
To me the central access area seems like wasted space, especially on the size of the space we have here, or do you suggest we build a chainsaw layout like this first?

Once you widen the benchwork section that has inside/outside access, there may not be as much excess space in the central aisle as you think. The donut may offer a little more usable space in HO for a yard and similar elements as well. The spiral peninsula usually curves a bit more for the given area, so there may be less space for some of those elements. It's all trade-offs, there's no one-size-fits-all answer.

If I were doing a chainsaw for your space, I might do something simple in a corner in a water-wing style. Building an island in the center of the room seems logical, but an island and its aisles take up a lot of floor space and may be hard to work around (if you want to leave the chainsaw up while you begin construction on the long-term layout).

TrainzLuvr
Although, we are not concerned with 30" aisles as we would most likely be the primary users, and are both slim to fit 24". :)

If you ever plan to host visitors or operators, you'll find that most model railroaders don't share your body type. Wink

I personally always prefer a walk-in arrangement if at all possible -- so I'm biased that way. But things are just a little tight in your space in HO – depending on your concept. 

The 13’X19’ HO layout I posted in another thread shows that an HO walk-in based on a spiral peninsula with two lobes can work, but that’s a backwoods/logging theme. If you are looking for more modern equipment, longer trains, longer cars, etc. in HO, then the donut-style layout may help by eliminating “blobs.” In N scale, the spiral peninsula works well in your space due to the smaller minimum radius for a given type of railroading.

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Friday, December 23, 2016 3:19 PM

Another vote for the G, in any scale that will fit.

About aisleways - 24" is wide enough for one person to move unimpeded.  If people have to pass, or there are controls to operate, 32" is better.  Also, that isn't distance between opposite fascia.  That's distence between convenience shelves, cupholders, card boxes and other protrusions.

How big a yard do you want/need.  Even in N, a major hump yard is the impossible dream in anything smaller than a basketball court.  OTOH, a small yard serving as a consolidation/distribution point for a few towns (or a branchline terminal) can get away with a few tracks for classification and storage, a yard lead/thoroughfare and a main track, possibly with a passing siding thrown in.  In N scale, a foot will give plenty of width and leave room for MOW storage and a yard office.  My own subdivision yard is 28 inches from the fascia to the ends of the diagonal body tracks - in HOj, which is twice N in scale in bulk (but most of my freight cars are close to N scale length.)  Mine also includes rather elaborate arrangements for handling passenger trains and engine changes, which add to the width.  I doubt that any North American rail line sees equivalent traffic outside the commuter zones, so facilities can, and should, be simpler.

If at all possible, arrange stand-up entry to the center of the pastry roll, wherever it's needed.  Having to limbo-dance into the central area will get VERY old in a hurry.  (You and your co-operators will, too, but not as quickly.)

This is a time to make haste slowly.  Your 'let's try things' layout might end up as a corner and the end and one side of the G peninsula, or it might live on as a test bed until all the new things you want to try have been built into the main layout.  My test spiral seems to have acquired immortality - every time I think I can recycle the flex track elsewhere I come up with a new radius/clearance question about a specific locomotive or car.  It now has a permanent hook under the shelf along the north wall of my layout space.

Hope this has been helpful.

Chuck (Modeling Central Japan in September, 1964)

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Friday, December 23, 2016 5:51 PM

Just a quick post about a big yard, we'd love *this* one that the LHS has in N scale:

We are actually seriously thinking to go N instead of H0 as it seems a logical direction to give us most out of our space. I actually went out and bought a Dash 8-40C, some cars and flex track to play with so we can get a feel for N and its scale.

I will post more specific replies for cuyama and tomikawaTT shortly - I want to talk to my partner first then formulate it into productive queries.

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Tuesday, December 27, 2016 6:07 PM

Happy Holidays everyone!

After a brief break, back on the forums (no break from trains though). In what media might call a "landslide" victory, whereas my vote counted for 1 and my partner's 1.5, it has been decided that we will go with N scale.
A small concession was gained on my part that if possible, a 2nd (or 3rd level could be built to house a small H0 operation thus keeping some of the equipment while the rest will go for sale).

Now that my bemoaning over scales is over, time to focus on what can be done in my space with the N scale.

For the sake of posterity, I made the idea #6 and #7 as mentioned above. One is a G and the other a "doughnut". I am not sure I did that one right but I'll fix it if necessary.

So, my question is where do I go from here, what changes with N and having more rail and scenic real-estate?

I also have no clue about minimum curves needed and will have to get that established as well. And, what kind of a layout shape do I now think of when it comes to N scale, in this space?

Thoughts anyone?

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, December 27, 2016 8:26 PM

One of the benefits of going with N scale is that you can run longer trains. However, to do that you need lots of track. I believe the 'G' gives you about 100' of continuous track (give or take) whereas the donut gives you about 75' of continuous track assuming two basic ovals. If you run three ovals of track on the donut it would give you about 100'. IMHO ovals would be very boring whereas the 'G' has lots happening. Scenes can be spread out much more on the 'G' as well, and you don't have to have a duck under or a lift-out. My 2 Cents

Dave

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Posted by cuyama on Tuesday, December 27, 2016 10:47 PM

TrainzLuvr
So, my question is where do I go from here, what changes with N and having more rail and scenic real-estate?

Not much changes in terms of the footprint, except that the minimum radius is smaller so the "blobs" can be smaller. That opens up aisles, allows longer straightaways for yards, etc.

TrainzLuvr
I also have no clue about minimum curves needed and will have to get that established as well.

As with a number of other issues, this will depend on the type of railroading you'd like to incorporate, era, locale, etc. As noted earlier, if you can share more about what you'd like to see on the layout, it will help others help you. That piece of the puzzle is still missing.

The ratio of N scale to HO scale is 160 to 87.1 -- so N scale is about 55% of HO. A 28" radius curve in HO would be 15 1/4" radius in N and would handle most equipment. Broader curves look better with longer equipment.

Although it requires knowing more about what equipment you plan to run, the Layout Design SIG's curve radius rule-of-thumb can be handy.

TrainzLuvr
And, what kind of a layout shape do I now think of when it comes to N scale, in this space?

The "G" still works and provides walk-in access. Double-sided backdrops will divide the benchwork into a separate scene on each side. You can go multiple passes through the scene for a longer run, if that's what you want (or multi-deck, a much bigger undertaking).

With the smaller minimum radius for N scale I'd probably not bother with the donut. But if I did, I'd think about docking the donut to one wall as I posted earlier. But the donut is not walk-in -- and really helps most with radii that are broader relative to the room than N scale will be.

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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, December 28, 2016 3:33 PM

If this will be an HO scale layout, the radii and aisles will be fairly tight on the plans you've drawn.

Cuyama makes a good point about the bottom of the layout being open to the other room.  You can view or access the layout from that room, essentially giving you another side of the layout with which to build a scene.

Closing off the room might also be beneficial.  If you approach it that way, try a simple around the room donut plan with a center blob.  With 12 feet in width, things will be a little tight at the loop pinch points however.

 

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Wednesday, January 04, 2017 6:56 PM

Well, I'm cowaradly back here to admit I have been "soul searching" past days. My heart seems set on H0, even though my partner and I sort of decided we'd go with N.

I don't know anymore, I still feel I should try going H0 seeing so many layouts out there made in much smaller space than ours here...

We did put together a Givens/Druthers list that I'd like to share here for comments, while we are still trying to figure out the Conceptual/Structural/Detail phase breakout.

Givens
--------
- Room size 22'x12' (irregular, two columns on the North edge, doorway access to the North-East, electrical closet on the South-West)
- Ceiling at 6'6"
- Actual space closer to 19'x12' with optional 18"x96" along the West wall allowing for 2' passageway
- Two windows on the South side starting at 55" above floor level
- The layout will remain in the train room (no foreseeable expansion)
- Climate controlled space
- Scale: ?
- DCC operation
- Era: transition
- Prototype: Freelance
- Operating crew: two (most of the time, but visitors possible)
- Single deck with an option for future multi-deck expansion
- Benchwork: stand-alone L-girder modules (not attached to walls)
- Min. radius: TBD (considering scale and long passenger and freight cars)

 

Druthers
----------
- Track: Code 83 for H0 or Code 55 for N
- Min. turnout size: TBD
- Prefer double track mainline
- Capability for continuous running
- Minimum 24″ aisle width
- Signaled operation (ABS or CTC)
- Option for fully computer controlled trains
- Swing out bridge is preferred, if required
- No need to reach more than 24″ into the layout
- Longest main line runs possible
- Trains may pass through the same scene area more than once (using a different track and/or elevation)
- Like longer trains (only possible in N)
- Like yard switching
- Like intricate track work (more prototypical to Europe than North America e.g. double slips, wyes, 3-way, etc.)
- Industries to keep the operational interest
- Adequate staging (in a sub-level?)
- Like scenic views (full vistas only possible in N)
- Like rolling hills, canyons, rivers, tunnels, rock faces, bridges
- Like both freight and passenger service
- Interest in rail-fanning

 

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Posted by cuyama on Thursday, January 05, 2017 6:19 PM

TrainzLuvr
- Scale: ?

Big difference what will fit in N vs. HO. Until you settle on a scale, folks won't be able to help much.

Just FYI, here are a couple of HO donuts. In some places, hidden track must be reached over a low backdrop or via a removable backdrop.

Tags: ho scale , donut , doughnut
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Posted by RRR_BethBr on Friday, January 06, 2017 10:16 AM

Also (armchair) layout planning here, but you have a nice concrete space alotted for your pike, so you're ahead of me!

Looking at your givens & druthers, a couple things stand out to me. You want a double track main line, with long trains, and (big?) yards. These all scream 'N scale' to me, in that space (I'm an HO guy myself, though).

In either scale, I'd be designing around the 'G' shape benchwork, and definitely making use of the 'open' column side of the layout room and a double-sided backdrop to create "extra" mainline run. I'd also be very tempted to use that extra linear run to create enough vertical separation to allow a sublevel for staging and a turnaround loop (or double ended staging) beneath the sceniced portion of the layout.

If you plan to model a substantial classification yard and are interested in operations, you'll need to have lots of staging capacity to support multiple trains coming in to set cars out, as well as a place for the trains you build to go. The other option I would consider, is to use the aisle you already have to leave for electric panel access as a place to put a 'fiddle yard' for staging, behind a full-height backdrop that would hide the train-building operations going on there. That would probably require you to turn the 'G' back around the other way though.

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Posted by lifeontheranch on Friday, January 06, 2017 10:38 AM

Another vote here for the "G". Byron reviewed my layout before the build. You won't go wrong following his advice.

www.lkorailroad.com

Your vision will deteriorate and your hands will become less steady as you age. Keep this in mind as you decide HO or N.

More is not necessarily better. The quality of the run is just as important, if not more so, as the length of the run.

 

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Friday, January 06, 2017 8:43 PM

Thank you all for being patient with me. I reall can't explain why I'm flip-flopping on the decision to go N scale. Somehow I feel I might regret not trying to squeeze H0 in there first, yet N seems to be the most sound choice for the space. :(

cuyama,

Thank you for those H0 donut ideas. In your expert opinion, is what you have shown here really the most I can get in the space (when it comes to donuts)?

I was playing with some organic shapes rather than a G, trying to see what else could be put there so here's one of those attempts:

The way I envisioned this is, the orange track (the outer loop) would be 4" lower than the rest of the layout, all around the islands/blobs. It would climb back up on the left side blob and decend on the right side blob. This would give some scenic separation from the inner loop and double the main line length.

Each island could support any number of LDEs connecting to the inner loop as well.

 

RRR_BethBr,

I'm trying to understand your suggestions from the last two paragraphs regarding designing around G, but I'm having a hard time seeing it in my minds eye. Could you please elaborate on

I'd also be very tempted to use that extra linear run to create enough vertical separation to allow a sublevel for staging and a turnaround loop (or double ended staging) beneath the sceniced portion of the layout.

What exactly are you referring to, the linear stretch touching the two columns? Where would you start going into the sublevel and where would you emerge from it?

The other option I would consider, is to use the aisle you already have to leave for electric panel access as a place to put a 'fiddle yard' for staging, behind a full-height backdrop that would hide the train-building operations going on there. That would probably require you to turn the 'G' back around the other way though.

What side of the room would the fiddle yard be, along the far right wall, or? Would it connect through a swing out bridge of sort?

 

lifeontheranch,

I love your LK&O railroad build and have been following your writing for months now. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us! :)

Regarding H0 vs N and vision/dexterity, I always liked the size and solid feeling one gets when holding H0 equipment. With N, I always fear I'll break something accidentally. Although I've been issued a prescription for reading glasses, I'm still promptly ignoring it. :D

I'd really like to get a decent run (as long as possible) in the space I have, but how does one improve its quality?

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Posted by lifeontheranch on Saturday, January 07, 2017 9:07 AM

TrainzLuvr
I'd really like to get a decent run (as long as possible) in the space I have, but how does one improve its quality?

Ah, glad you asked. That's where Byron and forum members come in. First things first, you must decide why you are building a layout. I know that sounds dumb but I am serious. I like trains is a weak answer. Once you decide exactly why your layout exists in the first place then you move on to how it is laid out and how it operates. Byron and others can then help you optimize the design based on the "why" i.e. creating a better quality run.

Love switching? Fill the layout with industries and logically arranged spurs and leads. Love railfanning? Create long winding track woven through beautiful vistas. Fascinated by a particular railroad? Dedicate your layout to replicating a prototype subdivision or section thereof. Modeling museum quality structures your thing? Build a city that happens to have a railroad passing through it. You get my point.

Using myself as an example, I combined three specific prototype areas (from three different railroads!) into one. For each of the three prototype areas I have cherished memories as a youth. So for me, the "why" and thus "quality of run" is defined as my layout helping me relive my childhood memories. I play with trains for the purpose of enjoying my youth a second time. Byron assisted by making sure my amalgamation of the three rail components would actually create a functional, operable model railroad.

There is "playing with trains" and then there is "enjoying playing with trains". Focus first on the "enjoying" part as it relates to you. It's a soul searching adventure. Once you have that clearly defined then layout design becomes a straightforward engineering excersise at which Byron excels.

If you nailed the "enjoy" definition then a high "quality of run" will be the outcome whether it be 10' or 1000' feet of track.

 

 

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
  • 3,478 posts
Posted by cuyama on Saturday, January 07, 2017 1:13 PM

TrainzLuvr
Thank you for those H0 donut ideas. In your expert opinion, is what you have shown here really the most I can get in the space (when it comes to donuts)?

Those were quick ideas I knocked out using the yard from another project while waiting for an appointment. So they aren’t presented as perfection, just an idea of what fits.

“Most” is subjective. Those donuts are sort of balanced ideas with double-track mains, a small active yard, some switching, some staging, and a reasonable length of run. One could probably re-design to emphasize more of any of those elements – but not all of them. Layout design is an exercise in trade-offs. If one was willing to forgo the movable gate to enter the inner layout (and use a duck-under instead), for example, one could probably work in another loop of track to subterranean staging.

As I once told my boss when I worked in product management, "You can have it fast, cheap, or fully functional. Pick two."

TrainzLuvr
I was playing with some organic shapes rather than a G, trying to see what else could be put there so here's one of those attempts:

Some thoughts in terms of practicality, easily corrected: 
- the yard along the back wall is unworkable as an active yard because of the difficulties in accessing it from multiple places. If it’s just for staging/storage, not as big of an issue
- Most folks would want 3-4” of benchwork between tracks and the aisle.
- The track in the  ̶t̶o̶p̶-̶r̶i̶g̶h̶t̶  top-left corner seems to be out of an easy 30” reach.

More importantly from a footprint standpoint, 3 blobs will usually be less desirable than a “G” (two blobs) for a given space because relatively more of the track is curved. This can make it trickier to place towns, yards, etc. (even though the length of run can be greater). If you are interested in an active visible yard, it’s often hard to find a place for it with more blobs.

TrainzLuvr
I always liked the size and solid feeling one gets when holding H0 equipment

Then maybe you should go with HO and accept the trade-offs. Fine HO layouts have been built in much less space -- but the key is selectivity and prioritization. As comedian Steven Wright says, "You can't have it all. Where would you put it?"

I'll again suggest that a "chainsaw layout" might be a good investment in time and resources. Build something that's not a space-filler but gives you a chance to run some trains, work a small yard, do some switching, etc. That experience will tell you a lot about what you like and don't like and will help inform the later larger project. Importantly, you’ll gain an appreciation of how long things take – which can be an eye-opener when contemplating a project of this scope.

Alan, thanks for the kind words – but you were well on your way when you got me involved – I just suggested a few enhancements and alternatives.

lifeontheranch
If you nailed the "enjoy" definition then a high "quality of run" will be the outcome whether it be 10' or 1000' feet of track.

Exactly ...

  • Member since
    December, 2016
  • 142 posts
Posted by TrainzLuvr on Sunday, January 08, 2017 2:14 PM

It seems I have quite a bit of soul searching to go through then. I grew up around trains, had relatives work on the railroad. I honestly can't poinpoint exactly what I like about trains, something about machines on tracks that always appealed to me.

I like watching trains pass-by or shunt cars around, trackwork disappearing into the distance, or curving through the valleys, signals changing aspects or turnouts switching points; I like freight just as much as passenger trains; steams, diesels, electrics, no matter, I like it all. :)

I don't even know where to start if I was to narrow things down. And I'm not sure I want to take away from the wholeness of experience that trains are to me. Sigh.

If I was to build a "chainsaw" layout, what kind of a layout do I build, how big, what shape, scale? Do I just find a plan on the internet I like and dive into it?

As I was tired of imagining various curve radii, I though it would be worth while seeing them instead, and comparing the scales as well as cars in real-world space.

Those autoracks are on the 26" curve, and it appears barely enough for them, although that flatbed has the same footprint as autoracks and it seems it could make the 24".

And then the sad realization of the size of H0 curves needed to make a full turn and how it fits (or doesn't) inside my space. To the right is a mockup of a small yard made with compound ladders. Not fitting much as the track before and after the yard would need another foot or more, and then make the turns.

My space seems incompatible with H0 as my train area depth is only 12' which falls short of two full turns at 28" and a decent aisle space in-between. :(

Looking at N, I could make full turns at 16" or 18" radius and have multiple aisles in-between.

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