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Layout to run trains or operate a railroad?

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Saturday, August 7, 2021 2:38 AM

I remember John Armstrong did a piece on modeling the Yosemite Valley, a California short line that interchanged with the the Southern Pacific.  John adopted the "Stage Set" concept first enunciated by Frank Ellison for the SP. While the YV was to be an operation oriented pike, the SP was to run between two small "off stage" (concealed) staging yards that connected to allow for continuous running if desired. The modeled portion of the SP would be the station and interchange with the YV at Merced. Merced would be the "stage" on which the "actors" (trains) would enter, "perform their role" (drop off/pick up cars for interchange and/or stop at the passenger station), then depart "off stage". Of course, some trains wouldn't stop, but just roll on through. 

The genius in this idea was to build the SP first. Due to its simplicity, it would make for rapid construction and meet the desire to get something up and running. Then the modeler could build the YV - reverting back to "running trains" on the SP when he or she wanted relief from that project. 

The YV ran to El Portal, CA the gateway to Yosemite National Park, so had a fairly impressive passenger operation for a short line (including Pullmans - some stopping at Merced with the passengers continuing on a YV coach and others interchanged and running through to El Portal). It's a perfect setting for running a set of those shorty MDC "Harriman" cars lettered for the YV or SP It's real purpose, however, was to haul timber from the various logging operations (including a spectacular incline) the mill and finished lumber to Merced. 

Yosemite Valley Railroad - Wikipedia

60' Harriman passenger cars? - Model Railroader Magazine - Model Railroading, Model Trains, Reviews, Track Plans, and Forums

Tracing the Yosemite Valley Railroad - Yosemite National Park (U.S. National Park Service) - Yosemite Ranger Notes (nps.gov)

(140) Yosemite Lumber Co incline.wmv - YouTube

(140) Yosemite Lumber Company Logging Inclines With Jack Burgess - YouTube

Books

Short Line To Paradise: The Story of the Yosemite Valley Railroad: Johnston, Hank: Amazon.com: Books

Railroads of the Yosemite Valley: Johnston, Hank: 9780939666805: Amazon.com: Books 

The YV layout is contained in this book

John Armstrong on Creative Layout Design: John H. Armstrong, Mike Schafer: 9780890245385: Amazon.com: Books

 

 

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Posted by E-L man tom on Friday, August 6, 2021 1:26 PM

I like both running trains and "operations". I say that in quotes because it involves a class 1 branch line and a short line and it is pretty simple. The class 1 line drops off cuts of cars on an interchange track for the short line, while then continuing on around the oval. Within that oval is the short line, which can do most of its switching operations without having to be out on the class 1 main. So yes, I like both watching trains (railfanning) and switching operations (crew perspective). Additionally, I like doing scenery and building structures and rolling stock as well.

Tom Modeling the free-lanced Toledo Erie Central switching layout.
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Posted by Southgate 2 on Wednesday, August 4, 2021 6:30 PM

It's good to sort this out before you build! I built a complicated ISL for lots of slow switching and uncoupling action. Discovered that when it comes time to operate, I don't feel like concentrating on that. I ended up heavily revising the layout to allow continuous running,  and made 4 of the 5 big customers run through sidings, not spurs. I still have 2 industries that require back-in switching when I feel like it.  Keep your options open.

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, August 4, 2021 1:24 PM

Well, the original question was:

Lastspikemike
Do you want to watch trains run from here to there without worrying too much about modelling here or there or do you prefer modelling a real operating railroad albeit in compressed scale?

Which might mean, 'do you prefer a "railfan" layout to watch trains, or a layout meant to do switching / operations on?'. However, the OP then talks about how modelling the area he lives in would mean long stretches of scenery with no towns or industries...so maybe the question is 'are you building a layout designed by you to have lots of operating potential, or are you more interested in recreating a specific time and place as accurately as possible - even if it means limited operations potential?'

Stix
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Posted by ricktrains4824 on Wednesday, August 4, 2021 12:09 PM

So the question of having a layout built to "Run Trains" (Railfan Style) or "Operate" was the original question.

"Yes." is my answer.

The planned layout will have the option to both "railfan" via continuous running loop, or "operate" by going from the staging yard out to industries and/or interchange point and back.

The design will also allow run-through ops via the staging yard connection and the siding design will allow both run-around moves for the out-and-back ops, or meets between opposing trains. Most times it will accomplish both, with a "railfan" style main-line freight or passenger train running the loop, while I operate the local(s) out and back during the "in between" times.

So, my planned layout will be able to do both "run trains railfan style" and "operations style".

So my answer to the question, is "yes".

Ricky W.

HO scale Proto-freelancer.

My Railroad rules:

1: It's my railroad, my rules.

2: It's for having fun and enjoyment.

3: Any objections, consult above rules.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 10:04 AM

richhotrain
It is virtually impossible to accurately model a specific railroad.

True.

Your model of Dearborn Station sound like an impressive project.

-Kevin

Happily modeling in HO scale. 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 Lastspikemike on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 8:39 AM

In Appendix B of his Track Planning book John Armstrong writes about the desirability of acquiring model railroading experience before deciding on and building a layout that will do what you want it to do. You have to learn about what you want your layout to do before you can build it. 

He suggests joining a club as an example of how to gain experience (or read his book, presumably). 

His other suggestion is a good one: build a simple layout first, a glorified test track he calls it. Doesn't have to be just an oval on 4x8 but it should be simple. Accept you can't really know what you want until you've tried out a few things, so don't start off with an end result plan. Build in usable stages and select a benchwork method that you can easily add onto.

Alyth Yard

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 6:26 AM

It took me a 7' x30' "module" just to model Dearborn Station with its 13 large freight houses. It is virtually impossible to accurately model a specific railroad.

Rich

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Posted by Pruitt on Monday, August 2, 2021 1:13 PM

My own layout is designed to represent very specific locations in the state of Wyoming. It also will have specific industries that existed (for the most part) at those locations during my modeling era - 1930-1945. There may be a few exceptions, like the Bentonite plant at Lovell, which didn't exist until the 1950's, but may be included for operational variety.

Certainly not all industires will be modeled. In the 1930's several towns on the line had small refineries, but I'm limiting the layout to two total. Railroad facilities will also be omitted in a few locations, like the engine terminal in Greybull.

Mostly the layout is designed for operations, bit it also will include significant railfanning locations as well, like a bit of the Wind River Canyon and the bridges over Alkali Creek near Cody.

There was an editorial by John Page in a 1950's editorial, where he talked about layout designs based on three categories, called "spectator," "engineer" and "brass hat" as I recall. John Armstrong also produced track plans based on these categories. They were published in either Track Planning for Realistic Operation or Creative Layout Design, I don't recall which.

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Posted by NorthBrit on Monday, August 2, 2021 12:05 PM

An interesting thread throughout  with many  a thought in that (imo)  there is no right or wrong,  so long it is enjoyable.

My layout has a plausible history behind it  and is operated as a real one be it either 1914/1919 steam  or 1970 diesel  eras.   It is mainly operated by one person (myself)  yet can be operated by two, three or four people  (Grandchildren).

However others operate their layouts (I find) is the magnificent beauty and differences of our hobby.  Long may they remain.

 

David

 

To the world you are someone.    To someone you are the world

I cannot afford the luxury of a negative thought

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Posted by angelob6660 on Sunday, August 1, 2021 6:39 PM

Well I definitely do Protolancing. 

I'm slowly building my late 1940s layout. I dismantled the current terrain I had for 4 years. Only using prototype pictures or information for my car roster. 

My G.N.O. Railway is fictional using real cities but the landscapes will look different using GNOR yards, tracks, and facilities. The struggling part is doing NW and SOU as interchange trackage rights.

The same condition goes with the NYC and CR. I'll be modeling the same city but two different versions within different timeframes. 

Doing Santa Fe/ Southern Pacific in the American desert will easily be converted into UP/BNSF.

So the original question. Prototype switching or running trains. My preference is watching long trains going by. I did create a few layouts in which I designed both by. 

Modeling the G.N.O. Railway, The Diamond Route.

Amtrak America, 1971-Present.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, August 1, 2021 6:07 PM

KitbashOn30
"Elementary, my dear Watson," We should model what works for us

Yes +1

It is so obvious, it must be true!

-Kevin

Happily modeling in HO scale. 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 Lastspikemike on Sunday, August 1, 2021 5:18 PM

For those who have not yet read the article the final section is entitled "No right or wrong" and opens that section with a very clear statement that the author is not advocating or denigrating any version of the hobby. 

His point seems to me to be that Proto freelancing has significant appeal. Since it is not possible to actually model any prototype railroad in 1/87 the reality is that even the most dedicated prototype modeller freelances some aspects of his layout.

If you're forced to compromise your protypical modelling to any degree then it shouldn't matter how far away from "reality" you end up. It seems to me also that what modellers actually mean by prototype modelling is accurate models in a plausible model environment, not an actual version of any prototype.

Prototype freelancing (Proto-lancing?) then refers to the environment more so than to the model locomotives and rolling stock which may be quite accurate. End result is reasonably protypical models running through scenery evocative of  the real railroad but not identifiable as such. 

If your preference is more for running trains then the divergence between the accuracy of the models and the inaccuracy of the freelanced scenery is probably more attractive to you than it will be if you are more into operating a railroad in model form.  Then again, protypical operations are just as feasible in a completely freelanced model railroad.

Alyth Yard

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, July 31, 2021 10:29 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
He does not impress me as someone who has any negitive views about how others enjoy the hobby.

No, I do not have that impression either. I have emailed back and forth with Tony, and met him in person at the National Train Show in Orlando.

My only comment was that the article left out a great way to enjoy the hobby, that while not much in the spotlight now, was very popular in the 60s and 70s, and even into the 1980s.

Nothing is wrong with having fun.

-Kevin

Happily modeling in HO scale. 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 ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, July 31, 2021 8:48 PM

Well Kevin, you are correct in that Tony's article was really about "protolancing".

And maybe that would have been a better term for most of what he had to say.

I don't know Tony personally, but I have had a few email conversations with him. He does not impress me as someone who has any negitive views about how others enjoy the hobby.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, July 31, 2021 8:18 PM

gregc
SeeYou190
ignored those of us that really are freelancing, and having a ball doing it.

 

i'm curious how you would describe Allen McCleland's freelanced V&O  (corrected)? 

My comments had nothing to do with any model railroad that anyone has built. I was commenting on Tony Koester's article in Model Railroader a few months ago.

I do not describe other people's layouts.

-Kevin

Happily modeling in HO scale. 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 KitbashOn30 on Saturday, July 31, 2021 7:38 PM

Lastspikemike
Which should we model? 

"Elementary, my dear Watson," We should model what works for us. Big Smile

I've got "the best of both worlds" with my little 28x80 inch switching layout at home that's supposed to, eventually, be part of a U shaped shelf layout & with our small but hey it exists! club and club layout of a modular 20ft square in HO in this little county seat farm burg.

So, I can build models and switch cars at home & operate or just sit and railfan at club. Life is good. My health is not good and is really slowing down my modeling, but even so, life is good. Big Smile

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, July 31, 2021 6:36 PM

gmpullman

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
That V&O link goes nowhere?

 

It takes me right to the Wikipedia article.  Huh?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginian_and_Ohio

 

Good Luck, Ed

 

I get this

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginian_and_Ohiohttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginian_and_Ohio

 

Edit - Greg fixed it - click on the one in the quote.....

    

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Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, July 31, 2021 6:31 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
That V&O link goes nowhere?

It takes me right to the Wikipedia article.  Huh?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginian_and_Ohio

 

Good Luck, Ed

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, July 31, 2021 3:32 PM

gregc

 

 
SeeYou190
ignored those of us that really are freelancing, and having a ball doing it.

 

i'm curious how you would describe Allen McCleland's freelanced V&O?

i doubt any article/book could fully cover the scope of model railroading

 

That V&O link goes nowhere?

 

    

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Posted by Doughless on Saturday, July 31, 2021 3:29 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

Douglas,

The shortline thing is a great concept if that is whatyou like.

I hope to make room for a totally separate waterfront ISL .

I think what most freelancers today do should really be called protolancing.

I belong to a freelance group on facebook (which I am just learning to use) and all these guys seem pretty serious about stuff being believeable.

Sheldon

 

Well, I may use an existing short/branch line or an abandoned Class I section as the basis, but it evolves so much that it's pretty far away from the actual prototype to call it true proto lance, IMO.  It ends up being more plausibile freelance than being based on an actual railroad.

There is a modeler who base's his home Class 1 railroad on an existing Class 1 railroad, (I think it is/was the UTAH BELT) and updates the layout based upon how that chosen prototype changes.  He even deletes and adds locomotives as that existing railroad updates its roster.  The locations and paint scheme is totally made up, but the ops and much of the equipment mirror the chosen prototype.  Thats intense protolancing, and I'm nowhere near that level of involvement.

- Douglas

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Posted by gregc on Saturday, July 31, 2021 3:10 PM

SeeYou190
ignored those of us that really are freelancing, and having a ball doing it.

i'm curious how you would describe Allen McCleland's freelanced V&O  (corrected)?

i doubt any article/book could fully cover the scope of model railroading

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, July 31, 2021 2:51 PM

gregc
tony koester wrote about this in the july 2021 MR. 

That was a terrible article.

Tony made the usual points he has about freelancing, and ignored those of us that really are freelancing, and having a ball doing it.

The Milwaukee Road Warrior
Since I've been out of the hobby for so long, and never really thought about operation as a kid, the thought of trying to plan a railroad for accurate operation is a bit daunting to me.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with simply enjoying running your electric trains for the fun of it.

-Kevin

Happily modeling in HO scale. 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 ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, July 31, 2021 1:45 PM

Lastspikemike

 

 
Doughless

 

 
Lastspikemike
in which John Hostler identifies three modeller personality types: Dispatcher, Engineer and Railfan.

 

It seems that model builder would be a 4th.  A personality type especially developed if you don't have a layout.

Keeping in mind your OP was about layouts.

 

 

 

Thats my thinking.

 

Agreed, and I have nearly equal interest in all four. My weak area being "locomotive engineer".

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by John-NYBW on Saturday, July 31, 2021 1:14 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

 

 
gregc

tony koester wrote about this in the july 2021 MR.   that freelancers have the additional chore of determining destintations for their trains, the industries served by the RR and train schedule.   these things are determined by a specific RR when modeled.

Tony has written about Allen McCleland's freelanced V&O.   Allen even came up with a paint scheme for his locos and rolling stock.

again this is just one aspect of modeling that not all modelers choose to follow.

 

 

 

Seems Tony is saying what I have been saying on here for a long time........

Some of us do both. I freelance with my ATLANTIC CENTRAL, but the ATLANTIC CENTRAL also has interchange with the C&O, B&O and WESTERN MARYLAND.

A small section of the layout represents a short section of the WESTERN MARYLAND.

Sure, those connections are fictional, and I make no attempt to squeeze the ATLANTIC CENTRAL "exactly" into real places or the existing track arrangements of those other roads.

BUT, the flavor of the operations, the scenery, the place names, reflect the history and charactor of the Mid Atlantic.

Just like Tony and Allen did with their freelanced roads (remember, Tony was a big freelancer too before his current Nickle Plate layout).

So, while I may not be trying to copy exact places (something I likely would not do even if I did not freelance) my modeling of the C&O, B&O and WESTERN MARYLAND equipment and operations is as accurate as practical and reflects the history and operations of those railroads.

Here is my take on trying to model actual places  - it is a noble goal, some people pull it off pretty well, but none of us have enough space.

My modeling interests, and my operational goals, are too broad to restrict myself in that way.

And even if I had more time, money and space, I would not want to build a larger layout. WHY?

Because I don't want my layout to REQUIRE more people than just myself to build and maintain.

I know I can handle what I am about to build, any more would be to much.

Your thoughts pretty much echo my own. My New York, Binghamton, and Western is a fictional railroad based very loosely on a composite of the Lackawanna and NYOW. All the modeled portions of the layout represent fictional towns but my staging yards represent interchanges with real railroads in real places. On the east end, the staging yard represents interchange yards with a number of real railroads on the west bank of the Hudson across from New York City. On the west end, the staging yard represents Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Utica. The main trunk runs to Buffalo but it has major branches to the other three. It's main interchange partner on the west end is the Nickel Plate. Much of the freight is bridge traffic but there are enough set outs and pick ups on the modeled portion to keep it interesting. Some freights pass through while others terminate or originate in my main classification yard. 

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Saturday, July 31, 2021 1:01 PM

Doughless

 

 
Lastspikemike
in which John Hostler identifies three modeller personality types: Dispatcher, Engineer and Railfan.

 

It seems that model builder would be a 4th.  A personality type especially developed if you don't have a layout.

Keeping in mind your OP was about layouts.

 

That's my thinking.

Alyth Yard

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Posted by John-NYBW on Saturday, July 31, 2021 12:58 PM

With my railroad, I can and have done both. Sometimes I'll do full blown operations and other times I just parade my trains across the layout from one staging yard to the other. It all depends on my mood. Until I complete my branchline, which is taking much longer than I expected, I can't fully operate the layout as I planned so running trains has been what I have done more of in recent years. Even in my operating scheme, I have trains that simply pass through the modeled portion of my railroad without stopping to do any switching. 

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, July 31, 2021 12:52 PM

Douglas,

The shortline thing is a great concept if that is whatyou like.

I hope to make room for a totally separate waterfront ISL .

I think what most freelancers today do should really be called protolancing.

I belong to a freelance group on facebook (which I am just learning to use) and all these guys seem pretty serious about stuff being believeable.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, July 31, 2021 12:40 PM

gregc

tony koester wrote about this in the july 2021 MR.   that freelancers have the additional chore of determining destintations for their trains, the industries served by the RR and train schedule.   these things are determined by a specific RR when modeled.

Tony has written about Allen McCleland's freelanced V&O.   Allen even came up with a paint scheme for his locos and rolling stock.

again this is just one aspect of modeling that not all modelers choose to follow.

 

One more important thought about modeling a specific prototype and trying to model actual places.

IF I did, I would be interested in recreating iconic scenes, the like the B&O crossing the Patomac at Harpers Ferry, the Thomas Viaduct, the wye at Point of Rocks, or the PRR bridge over the Susquehanna, or maybe an iconic passenger station.

Oh, that's right, my new layout has some scenes amazingly similar to those mentioned above.........

What I would not be doing is trying to recreate BayView yard in Baltimore......

In my opinion, for good operation, model yards and terminals need to ignore actual geographic track arrangements from the prototype and be arranged for good operator access.

Sheldon 

    

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