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Is there a "secret" to track planning?!

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  • Member since
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Posted by gregc on Saturday, November 11, 2017 4:22 PM

another of John's book that describes some of his layouts

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by railandsail on Saturday, November 11, 2017 4:26 PM

cuyama

 Step 3: With that basic understanding of layout design principles and your preferences, look at published quality layouts to understand why the designer did what they did and reflect on how that lines up with your own ideas. While it’s (really) long, here’s my process for analyzing track plans. Model Railroad Planning magazine is one publication that often includes the background thinking on a design. The Layout Design SIG's Layout Design Journal is a deep dive into these topics.

Byron

If you guys keep feeding me good reading material, I'm never going to get back to drawing,...
 
PS: I tried making a copy of this text so I could read it at leisure....     but it would not let me do so???

 
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Posted by BigDaddy on Saturday, November 11, 2017 7:34 PM

railandsail
PS: I tried making a copy of this text so I could read it at leisure.... but it would not let me do so??? process for analyzing track plans

I didn't have any trouble dragging my mouse to highlight the text and copying with control c and pasting to Word with control V, but an even easier way is to click on the little envelope icon below and to the right on each topic and email it to yourself.

 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by Track fiddler on Saturday, November 11, 2017 9:01 PM

Is there a secret to track planning?

Yes

1)  Minimum radius.

Try to exceed minimum radius by as much as you can.

2)  Maximum grade.

Try to reduce maximum grade by as much as you can.

3)  Tangent between S curves

Make your tangent length the length of your longest running stock or greater.

4)  Easements

Adjust your vertical and horizontal changes as gradual as possible.

5)  Vertical height and side clearances.

Make enough height clearance for your tallest running stock.

Make enough side clearance for your longest running stock.

Reference the NMRA National Model Railroaders Association for guidelines on all of the above.

This is what I did, just trying to help.

Best wishes

                      Track Fiddler

 

PS   I was first guided to all this information by the members of this forum.

             

 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Sunday, November 12, 2017 8:26 AM

Track fiddler

Is there a secret to track planning?

Yes

1)  Minimum radius.

Try to exceed minimum radius by as much as you can.

2)  Maximum grade.

Try to reduce maximum grade by as much as you can.

3)  Tangent between S curves

Make your tangent length the length of your longest running stock or greater.

4)  Easements

Adjust your vertical and horizontal changes as gradual as possible.

5)  Vertical height and side clearances.

Make enough height clearance for your tallest running stock.

Make enough side clearance for your longest running stock.

Reference the NMRA National Model Railroaders Association for guidelines on all of the above.

This is what I did, just trying to help.

Best wishes

                      Track Fiddler

 

PS   I was first guided to all this information by the members of this forum.

All of the above I pretty much learned from reading John Armstrongs "Track Planning for Realistic Operation".

If there is one single book for track planning any budding track planner should get, it's that book.  It covers pretty much all of the basics listed above.  After reading my copy many times over the years, I still keep it handy to look things up as a reference.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Contrarian's contrarian
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Posted by BigDaddy on Sunday, November 12, 2017 9:06 AM

Are you are looking at these threads, where someone is showing his layout build, and there's dozens of post, hundreds of photos, and the construction from walls and lighting to benchwork and roadbed all look gorgeous.  No wonder you can't get started.

If this is your first layout, the Dream Layout, it maybe a bigger bite of the apple than you are ready for.  Maybe you should build a switching module, a grain elevator or a yard on a 2' x 6-8' piece of foam that could be incorporated into the larger railroad.  Take a look at Ken Patttersons youtube videos.

He is building scenes for his photography, but some of them fit into his layout and he drags them outside for his photo shoots.

Once you have a piece that looks like you want your model railroad to look, then you can think; where is my railroad going and what else is it here to do.  Don't rush to ballast the track.  It's easier to change things if you don't like it.

 

 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by dehusman on Sunday, November 12, 2017 9:11 AM

NWP SWP
What are some basic steps to start track planning?

If you are building an "around the walls" type of layout, divide the square footage by 4 (wide aisles or 3 for narrow aisles) and that will give you a rough idea of what your length of run will be.  A 12x24 room is 288 sq ft = 72 ft of run with wider aisles or 96 ft with narrow aisles.  That gives you an feeling for how big a layout you are planning.  If you are doing multiple decks, each deck would be somewhere in that ballpark.

Then figure out what the normal train you want to run and how long it is.  If I want to run an HO 2000 era 20 car train, that's about 15 ft long.  Dividing my 72 ft main line by 15 ft that 4+ train lengths.  That means I can only fit 2 sidings on my layout (siding-1 train of run-siding-1 train of run) or a yard and 1 other siding.  If I want to run an HO 1900 era 15 car train, that's about 8 ft long.  Dividing my 72 ft main by 8 gives me 9 train lengths, which means I can model 4 sidings.

Remember minimum radius is the MINIMUM.

The biggest problem people have is wanting too much.  It is easier to have 3 or 4 things you want and then fit a few more in than to fit 45 industries on a 4x8 sheet of plywood.

Look at both ends of a shipment.  People seem to always want a coal mine, why?  There are more customers that recieve coal than there are coal mines.  And they both use the same cars.  You can easily have a coal dealer with a large bunker in the middle of a city where a coal mine in a city looks odd.

Don't be afraid to look at the prototype.  They have lots of the same problems as modelers and they figured out how to do stuff long ago.  Anybody that tells you not to look at the prototype is giving you bad advice.

Don't be afraid to make mistakes.  Realize that your first layout isn't your last layout.  I'm had about a dozen layouts over 50 years of modeling (including a decade or so with no layout.)  Plus your goals will change.  What you want and like in your first year of modeling will not be the same thing you want in your 10th, 20th year of modeling.

Dave H. Painted side goes up.

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Posted by Doughless on Sunday, November 12, 2017 9:35 AM

Ditto what Track Fiddler said, and dehusman.  There are simple laws of physics that can't be defied.  So many plans doodled and even published can't really be built effectively. 

Radius, clearences, grade, turnouts, etc can all vary based upon the types of equipment that's being run.  A string of Ore Jennies is going to be more tolerant with most design issues than is a string of Autoracks.  A 2-8-0 is more tolerant than a 2-10-0

I am generally only interested in building room sized to single garage size layouts.  Even with that somewhat decent sized space, I would limit my equipment to 65' in length, and that lenght with only a few cars.

IMO, you first have to start by understanding the basic constraints your modeling interest places on the track design.  Again, shorter equipment provides more flexibility and opens more possibilites.

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Posted by Track fiddler on Sunday, November 12, 2017 9:43 AM

Rio Grande.  I am curious about that book.  I'm sure there is more information in it than what I know.  Thanks for the tip.

            Track Fiddler

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Posted by kasskaboose on Sunday, November 12, 2017 9:46 PM

Yes, pls tell me the secret sauce too!  I tried using different free COTR programs to design layouts and gave up.  The inspiration for my next layout came from depicting part of the actual N&W line.  Looking at different layout plans is useful to a point: you can soon suffer from analysis paralysis.

Talk to others, look at how they design a layout, and don't be afraid to base your layout a bit on reality.  Reality is often free.

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, November 13, 2017 7:17 AM

 The only "secret sauce" I know about is having at least some idea of what you are going for. Maybe not 100% detailed out, but going at it like "today I will design a track plan" with no idea of what you intend it do be is just as likely to result in failure as anything.

 My previous layout, based on a specific prototype branch, took far less time to design than the previous generic 8x12 donut or even the one before that I designed as a 4x8 test track and chainsaw layout while planning to fill my old basement. And event he whole basement, based off prototypes, was taking forever because I was trying to design a layout for more than just my own personal interests, and sometimes there was conflict between those interests.

                               --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by RR_Mel on Monday, November 13, 2017 9:02 AM

My first layout at the age of 14 didn’t need a track plan, it was a single track around a small room shelf layout.  At 14 I made a very good hinged lift up at the door.  I even had a safety switch that killed rail power with the bridge up.
 
My first real layout (at 29) was a close copy (4’ x 8’) of John Allen’s Gorre & Daphetid (3’ 7” x 6’ 8”).  John is my model railroad mentor!
 
From the John Allen Remembrance Site
 
I stayed with the basic John Allen design for two more layouts.
 
My current and last layout design took roughly 6 months of after hour work on my CAD (at 51).  I made a list of my wants and made sure I covered all the bases for as many Don’ts as I could come up with.  I included everything on my list but missed on one really bad Don’t that had to be fixed after construction.
 
My error was placing a turnout at the bottom (transition) of my 3½% grade, a very bad Don’t!  The derails were specific to specific locomotives, articulateds and 4-8-4s.  Everything else passed with flying colors.
 
 
There are many Don’ts so you could post your designs for the Forum experts to review.  Transitions are at the top of my problems list.
 
 
 
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 dknelson on Monday, November 13, 2017 5:35 PM

All too often guys have actually laid the track and only when they started to run the trains did they comprehend what they've done and what they ended up with.  So not the secret perhaps, but one secret or at least one challenge, is to be able to imagine and visualize what it would really be like to run model trains on what you have drawn on paper or see in a magazine or online as track plan.    

One problem is that we tend to draw track plans as lines whereas our track and our trains have genuine width.  Track dangerously close to the edge of the benchwork can be just one consequence of failing to remember the genuine width.  Sometimes you see track plans drawn that have turnouts impossible close to one another from a purely practical tracklaying standpoint.  

Consider the classic oval with reversing loop in the middle.  At least in Lionel it doesn't create a wiring issue, but I see too many guys try that on a scale layout. Once you have run through the reversing loop -- now what?   They should visualize that before they build.

Or consider yard ladders where the shortest track can hold only one car, or worse yet is too short to hold any car.  I have actually seen that.  It looked good on paper.

Dave Nelson

 

 

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Posted by richg1998 on Monday, November 13, 2017 6:05 PM

The most important requirement is going to be patience. Sometimes, lots of it.

I started HO with snap track many years ago with no Internet. I made mistakes designing to much and too fast.

I started with the four by eight sheet of plywood. Many did.

Today you can do a lot of research with an iPad. Loads of videos available. Don’t have to sit at a computer.

As an example, I keep all my recipes on my iPad and use it in the kitchen, store when shopping.

Only MRR magazines and trips to something called a library. Today that library is called the Internet.

Bachmann EZ track would be a benefit also. The nickel silver track. Not the steel track.

Rich

N

Jor
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Posted by Jor on Monday, November 13, 2017 9:41 PM

As the tried and true advice to starting writers, "Write what you know", track planning follows the "Model what you like" thrust. First figure out what you enjoy seeing or what brought you to the hobby, then using Armstrongs "givens and druthers" use these things to develop what you want your railroad to do. If it's passenger operation, then a station and service area for theses is a good place to start, if you like the way-freight and switching, then a complex of trackage in an industrial are can be your focus. If you narrow your ideas to what is truly enjoyable to you, your layout will be more rewarding over the long haul.

After this step, try using the LDE (layout Design Element) cocept, espoused by Tony Koester. This is simply taking a prototype town or industry or even a scenic feature and design a segment  of trackplan to portray this. Then string several LDE's together connected by track segments and voila! you have a trackplan.

In short, determine what you like, use the prototype to help you design elements, and then add them together to make a satisfying trackplan.

Have a Great Journey!

 

Jor

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