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3.5 x 5 HO layout...Operation?

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3.5 x 5 HO layout...Operation?
Posted by custom1106 on Sunday, October 24, 2021 10:31 PM

A month or so ago I posted about figuring out a track plan for a 3.5 x 5 space in HO. With input from this forum and a few minor changes the track has been put together and things run pretty smooth. The turnouts in the top of the picture will have their switch machines removed like the other turnouts.

The thing I'm wondering about is operations. I've been running trains on this for a couple of weeks...how would you guys operate this setup? What kinds of industries? What track would work best as an interchange...etc?

 

 

Thanks for any info Thumbs Up

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Monday, October 25, 2021 3:45 AM

custom1106
I've been running trains on this for a couple of weeks...how would you guys operate this setup?

First, we are missing some basic information.

1) What railroad are you modeling (or would want to model?) Central Pacific, Western Pacific, Union Pacific, Southern Pacific?

2) What era are you modeling? 1890's, 1923, 1955, 1990?

3) Where is your model railroad located? What part of the country/world? Peru, Great Britain, India, California?  

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by ndbprr on Monday, October 25, 2021 8:11 AM

Well you are obviously from the plan going to need a small engine like a switcher or industrial engine and probably limited to 40' cars. I would make a large factory in the center with receiving cars at one yard and shipping cars at the other with various loading platforms on the sidings.. maybe in the future you could extend one of the yard tracks to a bigger yard or even a bigger railroad

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, October 25, 2021 8:49 AM

custom1106

how would you guys operate this setup? 

It is an interesting use of space. Understandably, because of the small size of the layout, there is no room to turn trains around in the opposite direction, so you can only run trains in one direction at a time.

My guess is that you are operating trains counterclockwise. If so, you are able to place rolling stock on those upper two tracks without trapping your locomotive. The same would apply to those three inner tracks toward the bottom of the layout. However, that lead track into the other two inner tracks is quite short, Could it be extended to allow a few more pieces of rolling stock for spotting purposes?

I am not sure of the purpose of the crossover track at the bottom of the layout. Is that an escape track for whatever the purpose? 

In your earlier thread, speedybee offered an alternative track plan.

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/11/p/289471/3363617.aspx#3363617

In some respects, it seems superior to your chosen track plan. Would you reconsider your current track plan?

Rich

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Posted by snjroy on Monday, October 25, 2021 9:02 AM

Hi there. I would have an industrial site in the South, using the South West area to store a few locos. I would put a "feeder" industry in the North, something like a coal mine. Hoppers could move from the mine to the industry site. Could also be a grain distributor providing wheat to a flour factory. A tiny passenger platform could fit in the North East to justify a mixed train.

Simon

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Posted by dknelson on Monday, October 25, 2021 9:42 AM

One feature of the layout is that, in either direction, some turnouts are facing point and some are trailing point.  And in most, but not all, cases, it looks like there is room to shove a car that has just been picked up so that a car that is being delivered can take its place.  That is an important part of realistic operation.

Those features immediately makes me think that the primary train or trains to run would be "patrols" or locals or turns; various railroads had their own names.  Starting perhaps from those short yard tracks one sees on the upper right of the layout picture, which we could regard as the home yard or visible staging, the day's train makes its round, switching as many of the trailing point industries or businesses that it can, then using what looks like the run around track in the lower left corner of the photo, the locomotive, and perhaps there is a caboose involved, swaps ends and starts back, but this time picking up and setting out in the opposite direction, now serving the trailing point switches that were of course facing point before.

A refinement on that, and one that I actually saw when watching the local switcher do its work in my home town (which also had facing point and trailing point switches to work) is that cars newly picked up might not need to be behind the locomotive until it is heading back to its point of origin; they can be tucked away here or there on sidings to be picked up on the return.  

The main things to remember in setting up for operations are that not every industry has to be (or would be) switched every day, and that sometimes such patrols or locals are very short trains -- there were days when locomotive and caboose would run light, or have one freight car to set out, perhaps an empty, and head back to the yard with no cars, or just a handful of cars. 

To keep operations on a small layout interesting avoid that sense that every train is the same, every op session is the same.  Same number of cars, always going to the same places.  Also avoid if you can that as soon as you see a certain car you know exactly where it goes because your forwarding system does not create enough variety and always sends it there, or there is no allowance for taking cars off the layout and waiting a while for them to be put back on.  There are ways to keep operations feeling fresh even on a smaller layout than this one.

Whether this track plan has enough space on it to permit your local switch job to duck into sidings to allow a through freight (or passenger train) to go by is hard to say.  I'd develop the scheme for the local switcher first and then see what complications can be created that actually work and seem realistic.  That does not mean by the way that that through freight has to be a long train.   

Dave Nelson 

 

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Posted by custom1106 on Monday, October 25, 2021 11:42 AM

Thanks for the replies so far. Very good insight / info. 

Additional info:

Era is 50's / 60's

location is southwest US, will be desert type scenery similar to southern Arizona or New Mexico

Shortline type operation is what I'm going for. 

All equipment is pretty short. 40ft rolling stock, currently using an Alco RS1 and an GP9 for power, these handle the tight curves just fine.

The crossover at the bottom left is used as a runaround when needed. 

The facing spur on the middle right can handle a locomotive plus one 40ft car to back into the two spurs on the middle left. 

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Monday, October 25, 2021 12:45 PM

Copper was a multi-billion dollar industry in Northern Arizona. If you made the two tracks in the center parallel, you could have a nice copper mine as the center piece of the layout. Ore can be shipped to a refinery and the copper could be delivered to an exchange track. 

The Copper Basin RR. operated in this area and the SP also ran short line services in the area. 

As a side note--the Camp Navjo Railroad existed in during the 40's and it's main industry was storing and transporting munitions for the WWII war effort. 

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by custom1106 on Monday, October 25, 2021 2:50 PM

SpaceMouse

 

The Copper Basin RR. operated in this area and the SP also ran short line services in the area. 

 

Yep! That's the area I'm loosely basing this on. They seem to use a lot of geep power and some rag-tag / bizarre rolling stock. 

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Monday, October 25, 2021 3:02 PM

Coincidently, I ran across this layout plan I never built. It's  little bigger than yours, but...

The circles are a mountain.

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by custom1106 on Monday, October 25, 2021 4:17 PM

That's a decent setup, if only I had the extra foot lol. Having to get everything within a 5 foot length is interesting. 

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, October 25, 2021 4:23 PM

Any interest in speedybee's alternative track plan from your other thread?

Or, are you satisfied with your current track plan?

Rich

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Posted by custom1106 on Monday, October 25, 2021 4:34 PM

I'm happy with what I have for the most part. At first I had a bit of an S curve issue , but I put in some straight easments as suggested in the other thread and it's been pretty smooth since. I like the amount of track to stash rolling stock or locomotives on. I feel it's the most action I can come up with in the small space I have. Just trying to figure out the best way to operate it at this point. However, I'm not totally against small changes that may streamline things.

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Monday, October 25, 2021 4:48 PM

custom1106

That's a decent setup, if only I had the extra foot lol. Having to get everything within a 5 foot length is interesting. 

The idea is to show that you can get pretty much everything I've got (minus the turntable) into your space. The mine can go in the center as can the refinery. The cattle can go on your single spur to the lower right. The top tracks can be interchange. The negine house and service can go in the lower left. 

You still have to make your center double track parallel, which ytou can do simply by bending it around.  

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, October 25, 2021 4:52 PM

custom1106

I'm happy with what I have. At first I had a bit of an S curve issue , but I put in some straight easments and it's been pretty smooth since. I like the amount of track to stash rolling stock or locomotives on. I feel it's the most action I can come up with in the smal space I have. Just trying to figure out the best way to operate it at this point.  

Got it!

You are doing a great job of managing this thread. Yes

Rich

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, October 25, 2021 5:03 PM

That lead track into the other two inner tracks is quite short (see blue arrow), Could it be extended to allow a few more pieces of rolling stock for spotting purposes?

Alton Junction

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Posted by custom1106 on Monday, October 25, 2021 6:35 PM

richhotrain

That lead track into the other two inner tracks is quite short (see blue arrow), Could it be extended to allow a few more pieces of rolling stock for spotting purposes?

 

I have an industry planned for that lead track (is this even proper?) Also to extend the lead I'd have to curve it towards the north making coupling difficult in that area. 

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, October 25, 2021 6:39 PM

OK, just a thought. Yes, you would have to curve the lead track up north, but it would allow more rolling stock to be pulled onto the lead track and then spotted onto those two industry tracks. The problem that I see with placing an industry on that lead track is that the locomotive gets trapped.

Rich

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Posted by custom1106 on Monday, October 25, 2021 9:24 PM

Believe me...I tried it curved, got it all set up and then has to fiddle with couplers to spot cars Lol. 

To spot cars there on that lead, you have to do a runaround move  then shove the car in and drop it. 

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Tuesday, October 26, 2021 7:53 AM

You put the curve between the turnout and the straight. That doesn't change the uncoupling of a car on the straight track. Not sure if you have enough room but if you do then you can have a curved piece of locomotive escape track with enough room on the straight end of the siding to include a car for switching. 

Alyth Yard

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Posted by custom1106 on Tuesday, October 26, 2021 11:17 AM

Lastspikemike

You put the curve between the turnout and the straight. That doesn't change the uncoupling of a car on the straight track. Not sure if you have enough room but if you do then you can have a curved piece of locomotive escape track with enough room on the straight end of the siding to include a car for switching. 

 

 

Very true. I'll pull out my track scraps and throw a little just after the switch and see what happens. 

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, October 27, 2021 5:54 AM

I took a screen shot of your layout and printed a few copies. Then, I took a pair of scissors and trimmed along your curved track in the southeast portion of your layout. I overlaid that curve on the lead track being discussed and there is sufficient room to extend that lead track. That would permit you to add a couple more cars for spotting onto those two spur tracks.

In fact, if the lead track were extended, you could also add cars in front of the switcher to be spotted at the end of the extended lead track and add another industry.

Speaking of adding tracks and additional industries, if you add a left hand turnout to the spur track below the mainline on the northwest portion of your layout, you could add another spur track there.

Just some additional thoughts.

Rich

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Posted by snjroy on Wednesday, October 27, 2021 10:06 AM

My assumption was that the plan was "final".... If it's still an option, I would actually consider simplifying the track plan. The industrial area's design involves a backup operation to reach the sidings in the centre left. That limits the quantity of cars on that portion of the layout. One option is to remove the sidings in the centre-left, and extend the inner siding in the North West in a circular fashion. Operations would be simpler and it would leave more space for larger buildings or scenery.

Simon

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, October 27, 2021 10:24 AM

snjroy

My assumption was that the plan was "final"

Yeah, you're right, it may be final. But I think that the various replies, including your own, are meant to suggest some track modifications to increase the opportunities for facilitating operations. 

Rich

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, October 27, 2021 10:25 AM

Overall, I am pretty impressed with how much operation has been squeezed into a small space.

-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 jjdamnit on Friday, October 29, 2021 6:33 PM

Hello All,

I too am constrained in the size of my HO pike, and like you, have tried to get the most "bang for my buck" given the size limitations.

SeeYou190
Overall, I am pretty impressed with how much operation has been squeezed into a small space.

After ruminating over your track plan since you posted it (thank you for the photo) I have some observations...

The yard ladder in the upper portion of the photo piqued my concern about reliable operations. 

Any 4-axle diesel, 0-6-0 steamers, and/or "critters" (small wheelbase locomotives) might have issues passing over that many dead frogs so close together.

Equipping your motive fleet with Energy Storage Devices (ESDs) AKA- -"Keep-Alives" can be a solution. However, ESDs do have their drawbacks.

I suggest that the curve in the right side of the photo be elongated "opened" and the two (2) track yard and single spur track moved to the inside of the oval.

The arrangement of turnouts in the bottom center makes operational sense, but like the yard ladder- -with so many dead frogs- -could provide for less than reliable operation.

Again, thank you for posting a photo of your track arrangement and allowing forum members to give feedback on possible pitfalls.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Friday, October 29, 2021 7:17 PM

Opening up the continuous running track radius is a good idea unless you want to preserve the length of the sidings. You can't have both an outside broader radius continuous track and those long sidings.

The clever part of the layout design is exploiting the hypotenuse effect. The loop is offset so that it runs diagonally, in effect, giving just that little bit extra room for the return curves. That leaves the space for longer sidings than if the sidings were inside the loop.

If you like it maximizes the potential of that Rock Ridge layout by laying out the main loop diagonally. 

Alyth Yard

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Posted by custom1106 on Friday, October 29, 2021 9:11 PM

jjdamnit

The yard ladder in the upper portion of the photo piqued my concern about reliable operations. 

Any 4-axle diesel, 0-6-0 steamers, and/or "critters" (small wheelbase locomotives) might have issues passing over that many dead frogs so close together.

 

I thought there would be issues as well, but it's been fine so far. I initially ran my collection of shorty critters and a trolly around and they did ok. 

Of course I would like to move up to 18" radius curves, but then I loose the longer sidings as Lastpikemike stated. I haven't been able to come up with a track plan for this space with 18" curves that allows for a runaround not on a curve, that has this kind of action to support four industries, and have an interchange.

 

 

 

 

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, October 30, 2021 6:31 AM

Well, OK, we have thrown enough track plan changes your way. It seems that you are satisfied with your current track plan, so you should just go with it and pick some suitable industries for the sidings.

I will make a final suggestion for your consideration. If you add a left hand turnout to the spur track below the mainline on the northwest portion of your layout, you could add another track there.

Good luck with your layout and keep us posted on your progress.

Rich

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Saturday, October 30, 2021 9:46 AM

Well Rock Ridge includes two slip switches.....everybody really wants a slip switch even if they deny it.

Alyth Yard

Canada

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