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Second stab at PRW track plan... need some assistance

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Second stab at PRW track plan... need some assistance
Posted by crossthedog on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 10:23 PM

Modelers, I need help. I realized my last plan was all big swirly curves, just to get a folded dogbone into this tiny, wacky space. There was no room for switching. I'm just learning about switching operations -- had no clue about runarounds, drill tracks, team tracks, etc. I studied Turtle Creek and the Virginian as some of you suggested (thanks) and after watching some operations videos, I've scrapped the first plan and started over. I've tried to do less here, and it's mostly working, but I'm stuck.

First, here's what's going okay:

1) I replaced my too-clever dogbone mainline with a simple boring oval (in red here); I gotta have continuous run, if only to be able to have the longer freights come in from "somewhere else" to drop a cut of cars, or to back a passenger train into the station in the yard. Mainline radius on the north curve is 24", about 26" on the south curve. I know that passenger cars won't look great but hopefully they won't derail.  

  
2) An extension to the loop (green here) runs west out of the yard under the town, reconnecting to the mainline north of the town. Radius here is 18" so only freights can duck out this way. 

3) A siding is in blue at the top of the mainline. This is where non-local trains will drop a cut of cars. 

4) The yard (also in blue) is not a must have, but the shape of that lower edge just screams to be filled with parallel stub tracks, so I get a small yard without even trying.

5) The branch (in orange) took a long time to figure out. I wanted to get up out of the oval into the "town" extension at lower left, but I didn't want it to look like a ramp, so I finally decided to go outside, which works well topographically and also because I can come out of the yard and onto the Priest River branch without fouling the main. Grade is close to 4%, but I'm okay with it.

Here's where I need help: I have dead space in the middle of the layout (I know, this is why around-the-walls is superior, but I can't do that here). I'm having trouble figuring out how to get into it efficiently. The access holes can move left to right if necessary but they cannot move up or down along the long axis of the layout without moving stringers (I could do that; rather not). 

I'm still unsure about how to design tracks into industries, other than a single track. I've seen drill tracks and runarounds used, but inside the loop it's very tight, especially working around the access holes. Nothing seems to just jump out at me.

Any ideas? Feel free to scribble on my drawing or annotate if you like. Really feeling like I'm close to a viable track plan, but the dead space in the middle is killing me.

Thanks in advance,

Matt

Edit: May not have been clear, when I say I'm trying to get into the middle, I don't mean getting my body in there, I mean getting my trains in there, drawing tracks that use the space efficiently.

 

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by Doughless on Thursday, April 1, 2021 7:08 AM

Makes way more sense than your first plan.  A simple oval is fine, no need for a complex mainline stuffed into a space.  With a small layout, your sense of distance is going to require imagination anyway.  If you want the towns to be 5 miles apart, do 5 laps around the oval.  If they are 20 miles apart, do twenty laps.  Its okay if the scenery repeats itself.  Give the rivers and creeks new names each time you cross them. 

I like the branch line idea.

Refresh my memory, how many sides do you have access to?

What I would want to do, is to be able to take a train out of the lower yard, head to the main line, do 5 or 50 laps around the oval, then head up the branch line to the other town and deliver/swap out.  As it stands, the turnout that heads to the branch requires a backup maneuver to get to the branch line, or, you've got an alternative route but it passes through the town. 

To be able to go right from the oval to the branch line, you could put a curved turnout in the oval at 5 oclock so that it connects to the green line, thereby by passing the town.  The virginaian used a curved turnout in this manner I think, or used it in a very important place. 

The pillars of the layout would be the lower yard, the branch line, and the upper town, all with sufficient radius to run the longest equipment.  Maybe that means 26 radius everywhere.  Once those three areas are designed properly, with proper radius to handle the equipment and for proper operation, then work on filling in the blanks with other stuff, if you still have room.  If you don't have room, then don't force things.

As far as passenger ops.  The main town could serve as two towns, A and B, the origination and destination.  You could restrict passenger cars to the oval, and run cars from "a" to "b" by doing laps.  That way you could keep the radius of the branch line tighter if you had too, and have it be served freight only. Or maybe one old shorty or combine that's been downgraded to branch line service.

 

- Douglas

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Posted by mbinsewi on Thursday, April 1, 2021 8:22 AM

I like it, it kinda reminds of the twice-around.  

Too bad you couldn't stretch the length out, so that hidden track with the 18"r. could be strtched into a 22" or 24" radius.

I think adding any track to the inside space would just clutter it up.

If you have access to all sides, maybe use view blocks in the middle.

Mike.

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Posted by rrebell on Thursday, April 1, 2021 9:05 AM

You are still trying to do too much. Peopl,e that run modern cars and anything passenger are talking larger radius. Your drawing dosen't show the whole space, this is important as sometimes even an inch changes things.

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Posted by Doughless on Thursday, April 1, 2021 9:17 AM

mbinsewi
I think adding any track to the inside space would just clutter it up.

Agreed.  If OP bended the branchline more to take up more of the middle, he could swing the town more at 90 degrees and open up the lower corner for lengthier tracks in the lower town.  Essentially giving up another switching district in the middle of the plan, that he doesn't need, for better/more space for what he has now.

- Douglas

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Posted by Doughless on Thursday, April 1, 2021 9:35 AM

deleted

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Posted by snjroy on Thursday, April 1, 2021 9:43 AM

I took a quick look at the plan. Four things:

1) The tunnel at 9 o'clock (or south west) will be difficult to access if there are derailments or track maintenance to do. You could make an access window from the other room.

2) Upper level: I would make sure there are no slopes on the yard or the turnout leading to it.

3) 7 o'clock: I would not bother with a return track for such a short siding. Also, plan for reliable and well thought out uncouplers as that track will be difficult to reach. 

4) 5 o'clock:  those switches look tight - not sure they will fit. For areas that are difficult to reach, I keep things really simple...

Simon

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Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, April 1, 2021 10:47 AM

Hi Matt,

First, I wouldn't worry about whether or not you are trying to do 'too'much'. What consists of 'too much' is very subjective. There are no rules. Its your railroad. If you want to do switching then you need someplace to switch!

As was mentioned, we don't know what sides you have access to and which sides are up against a wall. I can see the wall on the left. Where are the other walls?

You said that you want to do something in the center. My layout is similar in size (5'4"x12'). I have reserved the center of the layout for a city scene but I have been able to add tracks which are closer to the center and which provide lots of switching opportunities. My layout is open on all four sides. If your layout is not open on the right side you still might be able to fit something similar around the access hatches.

Eventually I will have a yard on the upper left which will extend several feet beyong the layout.

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by crossthedog on Thursday, April 1, 2021 12:54 PM

Thank you all for such great, specific feedback. Here are some answers and responses.

@Douglas
    There's good or bad access to all sides except the town's West edge, where those five feet touch the wall. Otherwise it's open all around, but a tough pinch to get into NW corner viewing spot (that's a climb-under) b/c of heavy semi-permanent steel shelving. There's no easy place to move that to.
    The space is a half of a 2-car garage. Ish. The whole east side is open to access, but expansion that way is prohibited by a post holding up the house and access to the car.
  

Doughless
Give the rivers and creeks new names each time you cross them.
  Nice.
    Thanks for so many specific ideas. I didn't quite grok the A-B operation. Where would A and B be here? Is one of them in the yard?

@Mike
    I would LOVE to be able to have more length here, but as it is the garage door will come up when my wife comes and goes in her car and hang over the north half of the layout, and the cold Northwest air will blow in. I'm lucky the rain generally slants the other way in these parts.
    View blocks, yes. Still considering separating the town above from the yard below with a divider, could also continue it up the middle if I ditched the access holes. That would help the topographical logic.

rrebell
Your drawing dosen't show the whole space, this is important as sometimes even an inch changes things.

    Sorry, rrbell, that's twice I've failed to include a plan of the whole garage. I'll try to supply one soon. Really, only the wall along the West side is a hard edge, and I could take an inch in any other direction if I wanted, but the layout already fouls daily garage functions, and some of this is a matter of not inviting divorce proceedings.

@Simon
    True, the tunnel under the town is on the wall side, but that track is not on a flat board (the town itself probably will be); it's all open underneath, so I plan to be able to climb under to handle any derailments. The layout is chest high on me, so while inconvenient, it is not difficult to move under it.   
    Thanks for the tip on uncoupling - I have lots to learn about that.

snjroy
3) 7 o'clock: I would not bother with a return track for such a short siding.

But that's the only way for a loco to get out if it comes up the grade at the head of the train. Would you push all trains up to the town?
    There's no slope except the branch grade to the town; the yard and loop (and extension) are all coplanar and flat. The town, once arrived at, is all at a level four inches above the rest.
    Yes, I'm worried about the switches into the yard, if that's what you mean. I'm not sure how they will roll out. I'll probably start with those, so they don't cramp the mainline.

@Dave
    I love your layout. Thank you for sharing it. It's wider than mine by 4 inches, yet you have no access holes? I guess since you've scenicked your town already, access is not needed unless your trolley tips over, or does part of it lift out like a giant manhole cover?

hon30critter

As was mentioned, we don't know what sides you have access to and which sides are up against a wall. I can see the wall on the left. Where are the other walls?


    I've noted the accessibility above. Sorry, I won't put another plan up without including the whole garage.
    I see you've got short, single tracks leading to a couple of industries (no runaround, no drill). Good to know that's okay. But I keep seeing runarounds everywhere in modellers' videos. Makes me worry I need at least two tracks everywhere.
    I would love to know the logic of the tracks around Heritage Furniture. How do they function? Could you give me an example operation?

All, thank you SO MUCH for this feedback. Feel free to add more when you wake up in the middle of the night and something about this plan just keeps bugging you.

-Matt

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by swisstrain on Thursday, April 1, 2021 1:14 PM

Maybe the term "too much" is not the right term to use, since it is the OP's layout, and he decides what is too much.   But he has asked for input, so here is mine.  I am assuming we are talking about an HO layout.

Overall, and in principle, I think it is a simple enough and workable concept with the oval and the branchline in the given space.  Here are some considerations.

You indicate that you are ok with a 4% grade on that branchline.  In addition, some of that incline goes through sharp curves, so the effective grade in those curves is more like 6.5%. I would recommend that you test the trains that you want to run on those types of inclines.  I did, and for my own, similarly sized layout, I have decided that anything over two percent is a no-go.  I am running small steam, and maybe with diesels you have a bit more headroom, but I strongly doubt you will have reliable operation on a 4% incline with sharp curves.

My gut tells me that the track configuration for the yard at the bottom is not realistic, if workable track lengths should be maintained in that yard (e.g. for switching, buidling trains, run-around).  I read the term "longer freights" in your description, but I don't think it is realistic that this yard would manage anything longer than trains with amaximum of 4-5 40' cars. I also doubt that engine house will fit as drawn in.  You should verify workable track lengths either by setting that track configuration up with real pieces of track, or in track planning software, that shows turnouts to scale. Using track plan software will also help you figure out exact grades. Maybe despite conventional wisdom, I believe track planning software is more important when planning a small layout than for a large layout, because you want to make absolutely certain everything really fits as planned before you start building (ask me how I know).

Lastly, I would rethink the industries.  The way they are located in the drawing right now appears to just leave space for a small shed by the track in most cases, with little room except for just the building itself.  I believe less would be more.

Good luck with building your layout!

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Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, April 1, 2021 1:18 PM

crossthedog
I love your layout. Thank you for sharing it. It's wider than mine by 4 inches, yet you have no access holes?

Hi Matt,

I don't have access holes, but I can reach all of the track from the outside except for the trolley track. The trolley will be on an automatic reverser circuit so it will just shuttle back and forth. It is a brass trolley with just two axles so I'm not worried too much about derailments if I get the track right. I may forego using proper trolley track and go with Code 83 flex track to allow more space for the flanges.

As far as working on the layout, I have built it on a rotisserie so I can flip the layout up on its side to get close to the center for laying track and scenery, and I can get at the bottom to install the wiring without having to go under the layout at all. The layout is at 36" so I can operate from a chair. Here is how it works:

Here is a shortened version of how I built the layout benchwork.

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/11/t/287007.aspx

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by crossthedog on Thursday, April 1, 2021 1:37 PM

Here's a quick 'n' dirty sketch of the space: Orange M&M is in the center of the layout. Path from doorway lower left to back of car upper right is very high foot traffic by people carrying heavy bags of groceries, like a  firelane. "Do not park train layouts here."

Priest River & Western "hinterlands"

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Thursday, April 1, 2021 1:58 PM

10'x8' is fairly generous space for a compact home layout.

Yard curves can be quite a bit tighter than mainline or branch line curves.

Were it my space to fill I'd be looking for ways to put the continuous running loop outside and the yard inside. Reason being the further out towards the edge you can squeeze your continuous running loop the broader the curves you can fit.

The existing yard configuration could be made to fit inside the main loop and along the 10' side that is towards the centre of the garage. The main and branch lines could then be run all around the outside of the yard.

 I know you can fit a continuous running loop with a reversing loop inside with a small yard into 9'x5' because we've done it. We have some 22" radius inside the main loop but with your 10' x 5' "main table" you should be able to get out to 24" or even 26". Remember a tiny bulge out shelf projecting out from the table edge in just the right spot can get you enough room for broader curves without necessarily intruding into your restricted spaces. 

You're  on the right track by using up paper first though. Keep an open mind. Don't be afraid to begin again with a blank page. 

Alyth Yard

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Posted by Doughless on Thursday, April 1, 2021 2:21 PM

crossthedog
There's good or bad access to all sides except the town's West edge, where those five feet touch the wall. Otherwise it's open all around, but a tough pinch to get into NW corner viewing spot (that's a climb-under) b/c of heavy semi-permanent steel shelving. There's no easy place to move that to.     The space is a half of a 2-car garage. Ish. The whole east side is open to access, but expansion that way is prohibited by a post holding up the house and access to the car.

Okay.  So the entire layout is accessible all the way around for derailments, but you're basically gonna want to run the layout from the east side around to the SW side.

Now that I understand the orientation better, the plan makes more sense.

The shape of the layout is really very good given the constraints, IMO.

I would say that if you can access the west side by going under the layout anyway, do you really need access hatches at all?   

For correcting derailments, you need to be able to reach 30 inches.  It seems to me that you have 30 inch access everywhere without going under except for the those two short spurs in the branch (which really add more clutter than operation, IMO), and that awkward green/orange turnout at 9 oclock.  

Do you really need the south side of the orange oval at all?  Just make the green line that goes under the town the main line.  That would eliminate that hard to reach turnout going into the tunnel at 9 oclock.  You have enough open space at 9 oclock to make the under-town curve radius broader, and eliminating the south side of the oval opens up a lot more space to shift some things around. 

BTW, tell the captain of the house that if you build layout benchwork at standing height, say 48 inches, you've got plenty of room to build storage shelves underneath the layout.  Then you can eliminate the steel shelves and won't ever have to duckunder any where.  Just sayin.

- Douglas

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, April 1, 2021 4:09 PM

Matt,

I am not going to comment on your track plan because I know that track planning is a weak point of mine.

However, I am responding just to say that I am really impressed with the quality of a graph-paper layout plan you were able to put together. It looks well thought out and clearly presented.

My sketches are garbage!

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, April 1, 2021 4:28 PM

I like the idea of replacing the fixed steel shelving with roll out storage under the layout. Having said that, the rollouts have to have space to roll them out to, so that could conflict with the 'fire lane' from the door to the car when you are working under the layout.

Have you thought about backing the car into the garage so you could alter the path of the fire lane? You would have to find a different place to hang the bikes.

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by crossthedog on Thursday, April 1, 2021 6:40 PM

Swisstrain,
   

swisstrain
But he has asked for input, so here is mine.
Thank you. Someone has to do the hard job of telling the newb it won't all fit. I appreciate that. Not that I want EVERYONE to do that. It's great to be cheered on. I think there's every reason to believe you are correct in every instance. Like I said, the yard's a freebie, but I'm growing attached to it with feedback, and I have some ideas based on ideas from Douglas and Mike.
    As for my industries, they will tend toward smaller (the broom manufacturer rather than a giant refinery) and my power and rolling stock will be short (1940s and 1950s). I was hoping to pull maybe 15 cars around the mainline -- a short enough train so the engineer cannot see his own caboose ahead of him on the straights -- then drop half of those in the siding and move the rest of the train off to be dismantled elsewhere. So hoping the siding could handle 7 or 8 freight cars, which could then be sorted out in the yard. If the main gets blocked for a few minutes, more fun for all (and everyone on my layout is paid by the hour). Locals from the yard would pull five, six of those cars up to Priest River on the branch line. I'm hearing you about the grade and curves, but all I can do is start the climb earlier maybe.

Lastspikmike and Douglas,
    I like having that yard close to hand at the south end, but I'm giving a long look to Last's idea about putting it inside the loop, especially in tandem with Douglas' idea about increasing the radius of the under-town extension and making that the mainline loop, doing away altogether with the south curve of the current mainline loop. I tried to do this earlier within the strict confines of the layout edge, believe me, but it wasn't working. It really would solve several issues, but only if I can run passenger trains on it, too. I can probably widen if I cheat that northwest inside corner. You two may have singlehandedly [sic] ensured that you will have to critique yet another version of the PR&W plan.

Dave and Douglas,
    If I could yeet those shelves (my teenagers' word for "toss out") and store all that stuff elsewhere then I could REALLY widen the mainline and use eight more feet along the north part of that wall. Trouble is, even if there will eventually be some space under the layout (getting full under there already), I have to build the layout while the stuff is in situ. There's nowhere else to put it while I work. It's like a tavern puzzle.

     Dave, that rotisserie is just plain awesome.

hon30critter
Have you thought about backing the car into the garage so you could alter the path of the fire lane?


    My wife will not back the car in; it's a nonstarter.

Kevin,
    Thank you for saying. I have gone through almost an entire 11 X 17 pad of graph paper. I have a feeling that planning badly and then replanning keeps me from actually doing any construction and therefore prevents mistakes. So if I'm still showing you graph paper drawings a year from now, somebody PULEEEEEEZ call me on it.

-Matt

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by rrebell on Thursday, April 1, 2021 11:04 PM

I would can the steel shelves and park the car on the other side. That would open up a whole lotta space.

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Posted by Doughless on Friday, April 2, 2021 7:20 AM

A Subaru Forrester is not a long Chevy Suburban. The wife should be able to park it in the slot closer to the door and still have room to walk in front of it to get to the house.  Where the shelves are, should not effect the car much.  Maybe that's not an option.

Since you're thinking about train length, blocks of cars, and operations; the rule is that your shortest runaround should accomodate the longest cut of cars you plan to run around.  Time to take precise measurements and do some math.

On a small layout where you want to run around a 7 car cut, that runaround is probably going to take up more space than you want it to, limiting other spurs and scenery items.  Its okay to consider shorter total train lengths, and to runaround a cut half that length.  There are plenty of pics in the 1940's and 50's showing trains of 7 or 8 cars. 

I would keep the yard outside of the curve.  The yard tracks will be longer and it simply looks better, IMO.  Take them all the way to edge and it gives the impression the yard keeps going. An extra 2 inches might make the difference in having a 3 car or a 4 car cut.  I would gain radius under the town by eating into the space at 9 oclock. 

 If you can find a way to bend the branchline more to bring the turnouts and uncoupling function more to the south or the east, within reach from the front, that would make things a easier to operate and to fix derailments.  Understanding that you dont want to take up a lot of the middle of the layout with the branch line.

You're probably going to have to occupy the main to do a lot of the switching.  That's okay, its a small layout.  But there are times when you can add a parallel track in certain spots and it won't clutter things up.

- Douglas

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Posted by snjroy on Friday, April 2, 2021 8:01 AM

Looking at the tunnel, and back of the enveloppe math about the height of your second level, I still think access will be a challenge for derailments, cleaning track and fixing things. Our club has a passage like that, and it's a bit of a nightmare... for the return track, I meant the blue one, south-west. Have you thought of putting your station on the mainline?

Simon

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Friday, April 2, 2021 8:37 AM

In an area where I have expertise let me suggest avoiding beginning any sentence with "The wife should be able to..."

At least if you plan on using any form of your "outside voice". 

Alyth Yard

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Friday, April 2, 2021 8:56 AM

crossthedog

Here's a quick 'n' dirty sketch of the space: Orange M&M is in the center of the layout. Path from doorway lower left to back of car upper right is very high foot traffic by people carrying heavy bags of groceries, like a  firelane. "Do not park train layouts here."

Priest River & Western "hinterlands"

 

Have you tried iterations involving rotating the footprint of your layout to permit your tiny access/operating point to serve double duty? Plus that way the yard can be accessed by hand if you place the yard where I see room for it.

On our layout we put three tracks down the outside mainline next to our inside yard, creating three passing sidings or three main lines or any combination thereof. That allows the main line to serve also as sorting or storage yard as well as passing sidings.  Double track your mainline down the outside edge of your yard. Include crossover access to your yard from somewhere on  the inner main line  of your double track section, allowing the  utilizing of one mainline for runarounds. The ends of the double track section will also create a long passing siding. 

What we did was to (a little sneakily) add the three main line sections to the outer edge of the yard for anyone wanting to do some heavy duty switching. We also use a long section of mainline as the yard lead, also highly sneaky and not prototypical. But the first rule of model railroading is the same for any form of fiction be it theatre or novels: suspension of disbelief. If it is imagined to be real that's real enough.

It seems to me that by placing your operating position in a tiny square box you may be "wasting" some potential layout space.  If part of the "fire lane" is also used to stand and operate from then you might squeeze in more actual layout area. After all, you aren't going to be standing there playing with trains while your wife is passing by loaded up with grocery bags? Are you? If you are then that situation maybe not for too long is my only suggestion....

As for creating a shorter yard by placing it inside the main line I suggest that may not be the case. The secret is the sharper curves you can use in a slow speed yard at the end of each siding.  By pushing the main line out closer to the edges of the layout and accepting curved ends to each of the yard sidings actually you can fit the same total yard siding length. On our layout we were actually able to connect the "far end" of each of our yard sidings into pairs with Atlas Code 83 double curved turnouts creating switcher runarounds off the curved end of each siding while allowing the tails of those runarounds to serve as siding capacity when not needing to runaround.  We had enough length but not enough width so we ran four into three into two into one using a Wye and two double curve turnouts. 

Alyth Yard

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, April 2, 2021 9:16 AM

Matt,

Do you mind me asking where you live?

Sorry if I missed it in one of your posts.

Down here, garage layouts seem like a good idea because we have no basements, but often the incredible heat six months out of the year causes problems.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by crossthedog on Friday, April 2, 2021 11:28 AM

I love this. Guys safely bunkered away across the Continental Divide instructing me in what to tell my spouse about her home management operations. Now that we've had a good laugh, let's be serious about the space I have available to me.

@Douglas,
Douglas, I'm really appreciating your specifics about car length and runarounds, etc. That helps me imagine what I can do with less, and maybe more importantly, what I can live without. I do agree with you that the yard looks and "feels" best where I have it, outside the loop, angled along the edge. There's 8 feet there minus the curve getting into it, and my attempts to put that inside the loop have seemed clumsy, where this position feels "organic". I'm now drafting a widened radius on what you christened the Undertown Tunnel to make that the mainline.

@Simon,
    I was confused which runaround you meant because the yard is the easiest place to reach on the whole plan, where it is now.

snjroy
Looking at the tunnel, and ...the height of your second level, I still think access will be a challenge for derailments, cleaning track and fixing things.
Agreed, four inches of clearance will be a tight ceiling in the Undertown Tunnel, but I will be able to duck under to clean track because under the town it's just gridwork and a narrow roadbed.
    For finger clearance I can probably get a slightly higher ceiling with that long grade into town. Right now it stays level after the first bridge-over-track. I do hear you, though. It's a risk.
    Yes, I've considered putting my station on the mainline, but it always seems to be in the way of everything if I do that. And I've heard of places where pax trains are backed in, and I think it's kinda sweet. But sell me on your idea, where would you put it and why?   

@Lastspikemike,
Lastspikemike
We also use a long section of mainline as the yard lead, also highly sneaky and not prototypical. But the first rule of model railroading is the same for any form of fiction be it theatre or novels: suspension of disbelief. If it is imagined to be real that's real enough.

    Thank you for saying this. I tend to get wound around the "right way" to do stuff.
    Yes, I've tried many versions of spinning the L so that it snugs into that corner by the shelves, but the only iteration that worked that way was my big, now-abandoned, loopy doopy plan with too much mainline.
    
Lastspikemike
On our layout we were actually able to connect the "far end" of each of our yard sidings into pairs with Atlas Code 83 double curved turnouts creating switcher runarounds off the curved end of each siding while allowing the tails of those runarounds to serve as siding capacity when not needing to runaround. We had enough length but not enough width so we ran four into three into two into one using a Wye and two double curve turnouts.
I wish I could see this. I'm better with visuals. Sounds like you were able to get a long yard inside your loop by curling it inside one of the loop's end curves, but I'm having trouble envisioning the turnout details. Could you paste a plan or photo?

@Kevin,
I'm in Seattle. "Incredible heat" only happens in July and August here if at all; it's more likely the "incredible cold" eight months of the year, not a severe cold but more a creeping damp chill if you're standing still in a basement or garage, makes you want to go upstairs by the fire with a cuppa, read about other people's layouts.

Very grateful for all the careful attention to this plan, guys.

-Matt

 

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: In the heart of Georgia
  • 4,183 posts
Posted by Doughless on Friday, April 2, 2021 1:27 PM

crossthedog
I love this. Guys safely bunkered away across the Continental Divide instructing me in what to tell my spouse about her home management operations. Now that we've had a good laugh, let's be serious about the space I have available to me. @Douglas, Douglas, I'm really appreciating your specifics about car length and runarounds, etc. That helps me imagine what I can do with less, and maybe more importantly, what I can live without. I do agree with you that the yard looks and "feels" best where I have it, outside the loop, angled along the edge. There's 8 feet there minus the curve getting into it, and my attempts to put that inside the loop have seemed clumsy, where this position feels "organic". I'm now drafting a widened radius on what you christened the Undertown Tunnel to make that the mainline.

Understanding that your garage sketch is not to scale, if you could shove the NE corner of the layout right about 12 inches....rotate the benchwork so to speak...and narrow the top of the layout that holds both the oval and branchline curves (by slightly redesigning the branchline), which might gain another 4 inches, you could open up the access past the shelves by another 16 inches.

Added to the space that's already there, it might be enough room to have walkaround access on three sides, so you could make the layout an actual three sided plan.  If the branch line town was concealed by a backdrop from the lower yard, where you walked around the layout to view it, that would give you a greater sense of distance traveled.  It could be, say, 30 inches deep; leaving you with a generous 30 inch deep lower level for more track,buildings, or scenery.

A view block takes up only 1/4 inch of linear benchwork space. 

Maybe lay the footprint of the layout out on the floor with masking/blue tape.  Cheat that corner 12 inches closer to the Subaru.  Then bring your wife out for approval....innocently pretending that's what she agreed to....Surprise.

And I would try hard to make the yard abutt the wall/backdrop.  Tracks that dive into a pure blank blue wall tend to give the impression of continuing into infinity.  Makes the scene and the whole layout feel bigger and less confined, IMO.

- Douglas

  • Member since
    February 2021
  • 44 posts
Posted by crossthedog on Friday, April 2, 2021 7:46 PM

Doughless
if you could shove the NE corner of the layout right about 12 inches....rotate the benchwork so to speak...and narrow the top of the layout that holds both the oval and branchline curves (by slightly redesigning the branchline), which might gain another 4 inches, you could open up the access past the shelves by another 16 inches. Added to the space that's already there, it might be enough room to have walkaround access on three sides, so you could make the layout an actual three sided plan.

This is actually doable. It would mean some wasted lumber -- I've already screwed four 1x4x8 stringers to a ledger on the wall at the town edge, so rotating would mean that three of these four would not be long enough, but that's not a crisis.

And I've been seriously considering view blocks since the beginning. It's worth consideration.

Also, all joshing aside, my wife is extremely supportive and accommodating about all of this. It less a matter of my being in the doghouse and more a matter of not wanting to make her life more difficult.

-Matt

 

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Bradford, Ontario
  • 12,883 posts
Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, April 3, 2021 12:48 AM

crossthedog
Also, all joshing aside, my wife is extremely supportive and accommodating about all of this. It less a matter of my being in the doghouse and more a matter of not wanting to make her life more difficult.

Hi Matt,

I'm glad to hear that your wife supports your interest in the hobby. My wife is very supportive too. In fact, she is so supportive that she has given up any hope of ever seeing our van in the garage! Seriously, the van wouldn't fit anyhow but she has been quite willing to let me take up half of the garage with my layout, and she is even willing to allow me to add a yard that will intrude into the other half of the garage in the future.

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

  • Member since
    June 2020
  • 1,945 posts
Posted by Lastspikemike on Saturday, April 3, 2021 8:35 AM

Not willing to set up photo posting capability. If the website owners adopt new era software then I'll be happy to. 

At the moment our layout is in 6 pieces sitting on edge in a garage awaiting re-assembly. 

Some redesign is required because, as luck wouldn't have it, we built the layout inside out relative to the new space. No worries since we planned for a move and deliberately built the layout with moving in mind. Most important is we wired the layout with moving in mind. We have a double ended two wire main bus and every  the electrical connection that crosses a joint in the table style modules is labelled and connected by plugs or terminal strips. The whole wiring system is essentially reversible either end to end or for moving powerpacks  to anywhere between the two electrical ends. We used a variation of common rail, it works like home run in plumbing terms. Although we used double isolation blocks the one side (+) is all connected in series. The - side is connected in multiple parallel. The whole thing is DCC convertible and in fact we can run DCC or DC without changing a thing, just ensure no DC locomotives are on any DCC powered track, ever. Because we also use Atlas 205 Connectors (the yellow ones) that switch off the - side power of all of our locomotive storage tracks we have a layer of redundancy protecting locomotives from being powered up when we switch on main power. Not foolproof but a handy feature to have. We tend to leave all the Atlas 215 block Selector switches and 220 Controller switches  in the center off position also. Not foolproof but a good habit.

We are unfolding one side of the 9' x 20' U and folding in the other side. We will end up with an L shaped along the walls layout with the main 9x5 continuous loop rotated 90 degrees, the 5x2 end connector which originally formed the U will move to the far end and connect the 9'x2' yard to the other return loop. That other return loop will be rotated 90 degrees to form the short leg of the new L. We will then have a 9' x 23' layout but it will total 2' less linear benchwork. We have to chop 2' out of the longer side of the previous U to allow the other 9' side to become only 5' after rotation.

I describe this to illustrate the potential available if you plan and build a layout in modules, albeit big modules and not interchangeable. It's pretty amazing we can completely invert and open out our U into an L and lose only 2'. Mind you we have no scenery yet!

The move has opened up tremendous potential in the layout. Current plans are to raise the elevation  of the second return loop, remove a crossing, remove a redundant crossover and reconnect the connecting track between out two continuous running loops to the opppsite direction of track which will then match polarity of the inside and outside rails simplifying our wiring by a lot.

It pays to always keep an open mind when planning a layout either new or modifying existing alignments. I'm currently drawing and redrawing the necessary changes and it has been a most illuminating exercise.

I recommend you just try every idea that occurs to you  by drawing it all out on graph paper. As many times as you need and before you screw anything up.

Alyth Yard

Canada

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 12,158 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, April 3, 2021 10:05 AM

crossthedog
@Kevin, I'm in Seattle. "Incredible heat" only happens in July and August here if at all; it's more likely the "incredible cold" eight months of the year, not a severe cold but more a creeping damp chill if you're standing still in a basement or garage, makes you want to go upstairs by the fire with a cuppa, read about other people's layouts.

My middle daughter lives in Seattle. She is having a custom house built right now.

She wanted air conditioning, but the building loan would not cover it because central forced air cooling does not add any value to a house in Seattle. She had to pay the HVAC contractor in cash to get AC installed! Interestingly, the AC system is completely independent of the heating system.

Anyway... I am not sure what special concerns you would have building in a garage in Seattle where temperatures would reach substantial differentials.

That would be a subject for a new thread.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: In the heart of Georgia
  • 4,183 posts
Posted by Doughless on Saturday, April 3, 2021 10:56 AM

crossthedog
I've already screwed four 1x4x8 stringers to a ledger on the wall at the town edge, so rotating would mean that three of these four would not be long enough, but that's not a crisis.

You don't have to change that.  I didn't mean to actually rotate the benchwork away from the wall, just redesign the peninsula so 10 oclock through 2 oclock angles right a little more if you still have the space for car doors. 

Also, you can curve the benchwork around the shelving corner.  More complicated carpentry, but there is nothing that says you have to have straight edges there. 

 

 

- Douglas

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