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Old 01-28-2015, 06:30 PM   #11
Overkast
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All good calls Don! I took your post to heart yesterday, and decided to hunker down and make some layout changes in SCARM after your post. You're right in that doing more spur action will prove more fun to the overall layout operations, so I got back to work to see what I could do.

I'm still making some progress but I'm about 80% done with my layout plan changes and will post pics when I'm done. But funny you should mention running a spur line off the outer engine shop lead, because I did something VERY similar to that! I actually decided to eliminate the engine shop altogether -- I felt like it was going to take up too much space for just 2 engines and it wasn't worth it. Rather, I will have my locos sitting on the smallest yard rails out in the open instead. This allows me more space overall in that tight area, and I used that space to run a spur line into that open space area to the East of where the engine shop was.

I also managed to create a 2nd spur line off the gravel mill spur line (Branch Line 2) where I can add another 1 or 2 industries as well... and in the process I was also able to simplify some of my other track configurations and eliminate a bunch of odd elevations that would require some pretty complex modeling techniques to get right. I even changed my Tunnel Reverse Loop to become a more simple straight-line tunnel that just crosses the table and reconnects to Mainline 1 on the North side.

I'm excited about the changes - thanks for the inspiration!!
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Old 02-08-2015, 01:23 PM   #12
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Lots of updates to report since my last post on this thread. I have spent the last 2 weeks going from layout revisions per Don's inspiration, to laying out and finishing the track for the entire Mainline 1 loop. I still have to do the reverse polarity tunnel line that branches off Mainline 1 - I plan to nail that down this week.

Here is a before and after loop to show the layout changes I made after Don's post:



To help you understand some of the changes above, I color-coded all my inclines based on their grade percentage. In the "Before" pic, I had one 1% grade (in green), a lot of complex 2% grades (in yellow), and one critical 3% grade (in orange) that helps trains go from the low level Mainlines 1 & 2 to the upper level Mainline 3 / Rail Yard / industry sidings. In the "After" picture, I completely overhauled the inclines to reduce complexity (and minimize risk factors for operations) by doing only one simple 2% grade on the North side of Mainline 3 and still keeping the critical 3% grade for the level 1 to level 2 transition.

Here's a new scene from the East perspective showing the length of the layout.



I'm planning to have a small river in the canyon on the left because I needed a reason to validate why a canyon was there in the first place. Making the Yard and Mainline 3 on an upper level required this canyon, so now I needed a way to validate the canyon from a terrain / construction perspective. A river was the perfect answer! The 3% grade incline will have a challenging bridge to cross the river at the midway point of the incline too.

I also mentioned in my last post that I was going to consider eliminating the 2 bay engine shop because it took up too much room considering I needed more space to create additional sidings. Well, I came up with a better solution to keep it and still have the space! I found a Walthers 3 track "car shop" that is made for train car maintenance, but I decided I would use it for both loco and rail cars. Now I have the best of both worlds



And finally, here is a shot from the North perspective, showing the back side of the quarry mountain where Mainline 3 runs along it on an elevated height, and Mainline 1 & 2 are below. You can also see the tunnel portal that goes underneath the layout where the polarity reversal track comes off Mainline 1.



So with that, here are some pictures of my benchwork and track laying progress!

North side - Mainline 1



Close up of switches on North side of Mainline 1



My benchwork and paper templates laying out the South side Mainline 1 flex track double-curves



Close up of my paper templates for South side Mainline 1 flex track double-curves



South side Mainline 1 flex track laid, and drying with weights on top of it



I have actually made more progress than this but I need to take more photos still. I'll post again when I have them.
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Old 02-08-2015, 02:18 PM   #13
DonR
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If I'm not too late coming in with another suggestion. Could you do one
more spur next to the track you'll use for loco storage? If so, you could
add a sand tower and it's associated use of a hopper full of sand, and also
a diesel fueling station (hardly more than a vertical pipe with a hose or
pipe extension, with it's associate tank on a frame. You would spot an
oil taker there next to the hopper. I have a lot of switching activity with
mine.

Don
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Old 02-08-2015, 02:38 PM   #14
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Not too late for suggestions Don, and I appreciate all the feedback I can get. I like your idea very much and I'm looking into it now.
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Old 02-17-2015, 12:05 AM   #15
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Some new progress to report. I've had a huge week; going from completing my first "oval" track lay, to soldering most feeders, adding the decoder to the loco, installing the NCE Power Cab, and finally running the loco for the first time tonight!

Complex turnout wiring



About to test the Power Cab



Running the Amtrak Phase III EMD F40PH



Down the straightaway



Rounding the bend
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Old 02-19-2015, 12:14 AM   #16
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Started laying the roadbed for Mainline 2 (left) and Reverse Polarity Tunnel Track (right)

Last edited by Overkast; 02-19-2015 at 11:14 AM..
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Old 02-22-2015, 07:18 PM   #17
IlliniViking
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Coming along nicely. Love seeing the progress.
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Old 03-21-2016, 05:32 PM   #18
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Well it's been over 1 year since my last post here, but I hadn't worked on the train set all Spring, Summer, and most of Fall in 2015. So I got back into it late Fall in 2015 and I've really been happy with my progress the n last few months. Getting a little more efficient all the time, which seems to make even tedious tasks like soldering not so bad once you get good at it. The layout has gone through 18 different iterations in SCARM as well, as for one reason or another I found some real potential headache scenarios in my designs that I knew would be too difficult to pull off in real modeling. So I'm finally executing my version 18 plan at full throttle and think I'm going to be happy with the result. I am pleased to say as of last week, I completed laying, soldering, and the electrical hookup for all the track on the lower level, which accounts for about 60% of the total layout! Amtrak #396 has made her maiden test voyage on all the track to confirm electrical is working without short circuits on every section

uploadfromtaptalk1458599500558.jpg
uploadfromtaptalk1458599521536.jpg

I will post many more pics and updates soon!

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Last edited by Overkast; 03-21-2016 at 06:29 PM..
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Old 03-21-2016, 06:35 PM   #19
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Oh and sorry about all the pics in my previous posts disappearing. I was pulling them from photobucket and I recently re-organized my photobucket library, so it must have broke all the links I'll try to do a chronological re-cap in the next post and build it up to he point where I'm at now...
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Old 03-21-2016, 10:34 PM   #20
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Below is a pic showing some of my track layout progressions. In the early stages (v3) I had planned for a reverse loop that was completely under a tunnel beneath the upper level section in the middle of the layout. I realized eventually that was a really bad idea, in case something ever happened to a train or the track under there, I would have no good way of accessing that area without ripping the upper level apart. Even if I created a large hole or cutout on the bottom of the table along the track for access, I wouldn't be able to do any repairs due to a low 2" ceiling for the upper level foam above.

Another bad idea I eventually scrapped was having a rail yard in the middle of the layout. First off, after doing a couple of feeder solderings to some turnouts, I realized what a PITA it was soldering turnouts (5 wires per turnout, plus 2 jumpers for the closure rails!). It was hard enough doing this on the edges of my layout where most of my turnouts were planned, I could only imagine what a nightmare it would be doing a whole yard's worth of turnout soldering in the middle of my table! Not to mention, something just didn't look right with an elevated rail yard in the middle of the layout anyway, no matter what i couldn't get it to look realistic. So, I scrapped the idea and went for a smaller rail yard on the lower level where I had the most space to work with, between Mainline 2 and the 3% grade track on the southern edge.

Track_layout_progressions.jpg

So as you can see in v18, I still achieved most of my original wish list... I have a layout that can run 3 trains at once (3 Mainlines) and I still have an adequate rail yard to hold freight cars for operations.

layout_Mar_2016_1.jpg
layout_Mar_2016_2.jpg
layout_Mar_2016_3.jpg
layout_Mar_2016_4.jpg
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