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too many spurs

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too many spurs
Posted by gregc on Wednesday, February 10, 2010 5:58 PM

I'm planning a small point-to-point layout that I would describe as two small switching layouts connected together.   I wasn't sure about this until I saw Tony Andy Sperandeo's San Jacinto District.  But I'm not sure how many spur sidings is too much, or to little.   It doesn't look like the San Jacinto has that many and has room for more.

Are there any guidelines for how many sidings there should be to support operation on a switching layout?

Tags: Operations

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Wednesday, February 10, 2010 9:47 PM

There is no fixed number of spurs, because tracks are laid to provide the necessary service to the industries, freight stations and the general public.

If your local switcher has slide valves and runs saturated steam, there will be a lot of spurs - pretty close to one for each building side or loading door, plus a bunch for coal unloading if you are modeling the northeast or upper midwest.  The buildings followed the street lines, and frequently the tracks were laid in the street.

More modern industrial parks have been laid out for greater efficiency, with longer, double-ended sidings that may serve several industries or provide pull-through loading/unloading of bulk commodities.  These will still have spurs wherever needed to meet customer demand.

No matter what era you model, the general rule is, Every track has to serve a purpose.  Of course, the purpose may be to provide temporary parking for cars that either can't be delivered (loading door blocked...) or are home-road cars temporarily surplus to requirements.

A common error is to design a track plan, then try to figure out how to shoehorn appropriate structures into it.  This is exactly backwards to the way the prototype did, and does, it.  In older commercial areas the buildings were often there first.  More recently, buildings and track plan would have been designed at the same time to fit together as efficiently as possible.  It's possible that a railroad might lay out an industrial park and pre-lay track in anticipation of future construction - but I've never heard of that being done.

Chuck (Modeling Central Japan in September, 1964)

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Posted by markpierce on Thursday, February 11, 2010 2:04 AM

Back in the days when there were lots of lineside industries and every town had a freight house or combination depot, double-ended industrial sidings were very common along the main track.  They could be switched from either direction.  Modelers often mistake them for passing sidings.  My local SP San Ramon Branch had many more double-ended sidings than stub for its duration (1890s to 1970s).  Here is an example of a small town showing two double-ended sidings with a crossover in the middle of one.  There were warehouses on the left end of the bottom siding, while the house and team track were at the right end.  The upper siding served an aggregate plant and perhaps more.

 

Many sidings raise the cost of the layout because of the turnouts, and too much track reduces space for scenery and structures.  Two few and the layout may not be very interesting to operate.

Mark

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Posted by steinjr on Thursday, February 11, 2010 2:12 AM

gregc
Are there any guidelines for how many sidings there should be to support operation on a switching layout?

 

 To support switching, you need at least one turnout and one single ended spur.

 You could e.g. have two industries with three different car spots each, plus maybe team track or materials unloadin spot between those two industries that one siding.

 Here is a simple switching plan by Lance (correction: Mindheim, not  Armstrong) - it has room to model a lot of switching, but it does not  have a lot of spurs:

 

 

 Here is a stretched (to seven feet) version of Dave Howell's four foot layout "63rd street yard":

 

It isn't the amount of track that does it - it is what switching you do on the tracks :-)

Smile,
Stein

 

 

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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Thursday, February 11, 2010 7:47 AM

 I think the number of spurs is okay.  There's a good number of industries and car spot locations - more than one train can haul on this small layout.  If you build it as is, you could always had some extra spurs later if you find they are needed.

BTW it's Andy (not Tony) Sperandeo.

Enjoy

Paul

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Posted by Paulus Jas on Thursday, February 11, 2010 2:37 PM

Hi

After Tony Sperandeo and Lance Armstrong what can I say.

The San Jacinto District is IMHO one of the best "smaller" layouts and can be operated by a two man crew.

You found yourself a gem on an outstanding website.

Paul

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Posted by steinjr on Thursday, February 11, 2010 2:46 PM

Paulus Jas
After Tony Sperandeo and Lance Armstrong what can I say.

 

 Ouch! Corrected to Lance Mindheim :-)

 Grin,
 Stein

 

 

 

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Posted by dehusman on Thursday, February 11, 2010 4:08 PM

gregc
I'm planning a small point-to-point layout that I would describe as two small switching layouts connected together.   I wasn't sure about this until I saw Tony Sperandeo's San Jacinto District.  But I'm not sure how many spur sidings is too much, or to little.   It doesn't look like the San Jacinto has that many and has room for more.

 

The San Jacinto District is a great layout, one of my favorites.  It is designed to be the end of a branchline.  If you are doing the P&R/RDG  then it can be either the end of a coal mining branch in central PA or the end of a branch in New Jersey.  The difference is purely what industries you put on it.  For NJ you will want a couple coal dealers (short, low trestle to dump coal) a vegetable packing shed,  maybe some sand pits, lumber yards and some light industry.  You pretty much want to keep the track plan the same with only a few added spurs.   It will look a lot like a midwest farm layout. 

If you are doing central PA then you will want more rugged terrain,  with more of an emphasis on mines, coal and lumber dealers, textile mills, breweries, dairies and general merchandise.

If you want to do something more in the southeast PA area (Reading, New Hope, West Chester, Cattasuagua) you can make one area more urban, with more foundries, multistory warehouses, textile/clothing/paper mills, lots of retail coal dealers, lumber yards, etc.  You can pretty much pack in the spurs.  Then keep the next switching area more open with fewer spurs, to model a smaller area.  One cool thing about the SE PA area is that you can go from a pretty urban area to a pretty rural area in a matter of a few miles.

The key is not to add so many industries that you overwhelm the scenery.  the denser packed the industries are the more "vertical" the buildings will be.  If you want really dense pack spurs than you need lots of large multistory brick and stone buildings.  If you want more open space go with fewer spurs and more one to three story buildings.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by markpierce on Thursday, February 11, 2010 4:48 PM

This is my favorite end-of-branchline terminus.  After all, I designed it.  It has a combination of both single and double-ended industrial spurs.  At the bottom of the plan, there are two-double ended spurs.  The left one, accessing the turntable, serves a corral, and has two single-ended spurs serving a feed mill.  The double-ended spur on the right serves as both house and industrial track.  Going further up is a double-ended siding serving as run-around/arrival/departure track.  There is another single-ended spur serving an industry (petroleum distributer, in my mind) as well as a several-single-spurred industry complex accessed with a switchback lead track.  It takes about 23 feet in HO to accomplish this.  I was trying to get a "linear" appearance commonly seen with the prototype. 

 

 

 

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Posted by steinjr on Thursday, February 11, 2010 11:26 PM

 Just wanted to add that I agree with Paul, Paul and Dave - Andy Sperandeo's plan is a good one.

 And it has a sensible number of spurs and sidings to give a realistic flavor.

 As for general rules of the thumb, Lance Mindheim has tried to summarize some general advice on designing switching layouts in the book aptly named "How to design a small switching layout".

 Some of his suggestions/recommendations are:

  - don't pack in too much track, try to leave about one third of the layout area for scenery only zones.

  - pick industries that gives quite a bit of play value for the area used, stuff like team tracks, interchange tracks, multidoor warehouses, freight houses, food processing facilities, maybe a larger industry that has several cars spots for different types of cars - that kind of stuff

 - think in number of car spots, not number of tracks. Better with one longer spur with five car spots than two short spurs that each can hold one car.

 Having several car spots on the same siding creates some work if you have to remove some car to get at a specific spot, and having to respot the other cars again after having switched out (or in or both) the car you wanted to get at).

 He gives as an example a single longish spur with two buildings on it, separated by a an open part. You can view that as "two destinations". Or you can view that as 7 cars spots - outermost industry having one spot for boxcars, one (on the corner of the building) for tank cars, then a team track spot on the open area between the industries, then four spots at four gates at the other industry - saying gate 1 is for tenant A, gate 2 is for tenant B, gate 3 is for cold storage and gate 4 is for beverages.

 For instance. So you can get a lot of play value for relatively few spurs.

 For more inspiration, have a look at the train briefs Linda and Dave Sand made for operators on one of their layouts - the Cedar River Terminal: http://www.sandsys.org/modelrr/modelbuilt/crt/,

 And on the the spot diagrams and discussions of switching the produce district of their Plymouth Industrial Railroad : http://www.sandsys.org/modelrr/modelbuilt/pi/

 You can get a lot of play value out of relatively few tracks.

 Smile,
 Stein

 

 

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Posted by cuyama on Friday, February 12, 2010 9:42 AM

Many good points have been made; in particular the idea that operating industrial spurs is more than one-car-in-one-car-out. The addition of "sure spots", which are specific doors, unloading grates, loading spouts, etc., adds a lot of operating interest.

As Andy Sperandeo mentioned in the original article on the San Jacinto Branch in the February 1980 Model Railroader (reprinted in Kalmbach's Track Planning Ideas from Model Railroader [1981]), seasonality played a huge role in the real-life branch. Fruit-packing "rushes" would add a lot of interest to a series of sessions.

Other layouts not based on the citrus-packing industry would have other kinds of seasonality, shift impacts, etc.

I wrote about sure spots and seasonality (and more) on this web page about adding interest to operations.

Sperandeo's article was about a specific real-life branch, so the track plan mainly contains what was actually there. For someone designing a freelanced layout, I think team tracks are always a great addition. These were found in many locations in the steam and transition era, and even well into modern eras.

Clean-out tracks were also very common and are not modeled often enough, in my view. Clean-out, icing, and Repair-In-Place (RIP) tracks add interest because they require a single car to be spotted multiple times on the visible layout before returning to staging.

One last element that could be added to many freelanced plans is interchange with an additional railroad. This can be in the form of staging or simply a long spur that appears to run behind a building, a clump of trees, or a hillside.

Byron

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Posted by fredswain on Friday, February 12, 2010 10:55 AM

There has been lots of good advice here and much of it I think gets missed by those attempting to cram in as much track in as small of a space as possible.

I actually take a slightly different approach to layout design than some others do. All to often we see someone pick a theme for their layout and then try to fit it into the space they have. This may or may not work well. If you are into O scale and want sprawling mountain scenes but need to fit this all into a 10' X 11' room, you aren't going to get a very realistic or convincing setting. In n-scale however you can probably pull it off just fine.

I think in reverse. I like so many different aspects of railroading that I know there is no way possible for me to represent it all. My goal is to best represent a certain aspect in the space I have available. If I were doing O scale in that 10' X 11' room, the only real option comes from a small highly industrial area where sharper curves are acceptable. This would be a much more believable scene. Tall warehouses well detailed could make a very convincing plan. If space is at a premium, regardless of scale, an industrial area is always a good thing to do. You can add as much detail as you desire as lots can be crammed into a small space if necessary. I try to avoid puzzles though. Runaround moves are fine. Just don't limit yourself to the point of making movements very difficult. This gets old quickly.

Although I like staging regardless of layout size, with a very small railroad, I'd emphasize it even more as it will add longterm interest. Instead of using half of your space for a visible yard, why not just use it for another believable industry with scenic possibility but then use a removable cassette system to simulate the rest of the world? Now you are doing more than moving cars back and forth from one side of the layout to the other. You are moving product to and from different parts of the world. Nothing against yards. I've love a good yard switching assignment. However there isn't always a need for one as even a small one will take up space that could have been used for other areas of operation. In small layouts, compromises need to be made to keep interest high. A yard is typically the focal point of a layout but you may find that you don't need one as long as you can still have a way to send trains out of sight for staging.

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Posted by markpierce on Friday, February 12, 2010 1:42 PM

fredswain

Although I like staging regardless of layout size, with a very small railroad, I'd emphasize it even more as it will add longterm interest. Instead of using half of your space for a visible yard, why not just use it for another believable industry with scenic possibility but then use a removable cassette system to simulate the rest of the world? Now you are doing more than moving cars back and forth from one side of the layout to the other. You are moving product to and from different parts of the world. Nothing against yards. I've love a good yard switching assignment. However there isn't always a need for one as even a small one will take up space that could have been used for other areas of operation. In small layouts, compromises need to be made to keep interest high. A yard is typically the focal point of a layout but you may find that you don't need one as long as you can still have a way to send trains out of sight for staging.

In regards to classification yards, I couldn't agree more.

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Posted by markpierce on Friday, February 12, 2010 2:05 PM

cuyama

As Andy Sperandeo mentioned in the original article on the San Jacinto Branch in the February 1980 Model Railroader (reprinted in Kalmbach's Track Planning Ideas from Model Railroader [1981]), seasonality played a huge role in the real-life branch. Fruit-packing "rushes" would add a lot of interest to a series of sessions.

And, of course, the particular era would impact one's types of industries.  For example, I have a photo looking in the opposite direction than the one I posted elsewhere this week for Walnut Creek.  The other photo was taken decades earlier and showed a corral for loading/unloading stock cars along the house/team track.  The corral was gone by the time the later photo was taken.

Mark

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