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Old 07-31-2019, 03:54 PM   #1
usafajk324
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Location: Shreveport/Bossier City, LA
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Scales Modeled: N Scale
Newish Layout

This is lengthy, so please bear with me and offer any insight and advice.

So for the last 2 years I've been struggling with a design for a layout. I initially started with Code 55 on a 36x84" door. My wife then graciously surrendered one of our spare bedrooms for my hobby. It's roughly 10 ft square. I gave up on Code 55 and went to Kato Unitrack. The Salt Lake Route and some extra pieces, with the intent to come up with my own layout. There is a KCS line that I cross daily to and from work that they also lease rights to the UP for. I attempted to model the area of the UP Hollywood yard in Shreveport, past Shreveport Regional Airport and the like, but quickly became bored.

That was a continuing theme. I would come up with a track plan, get trains running, turnouts remotely controlled, and tear it all down. I finally decided to take the Salt Lake Route layout into consideration, added or modified things to my liking, and got to work. I'm again at the stage of tear it down. I don't know what to do.

Issues with the Salt Lake Route:
-Too short for length of trains I'd like
-Coal mine (formerly the furniture warehouse) spur is on the wrong mainline track for prototypical direction (counter-clockwise on inner track instead of outer)
-Intermodal yard is attached to the "main yard"-would like it to be a destination.

Things I'm looking for:
-sizable yard with engine and car maintenance shops
-coal mine with tipple
-intermodal yard
-a wye
-physical track distance between main locations
-extra "random" industries as well

I've mocked up in Anyrail the Carlyle Division with a few changes and I'm relatively happy with it (another $600 in track necessary of course) but not 100% behind it due to cost.

So I'm looking for suggestions. Double or single track? I want the track plan to by as interesting to run and look it. Could do more with single track then right? Point-to-point with helices at each end? Would be better suited for double track no?

Locos currently:
-Kato UP#1943 The Spirit w/ sound consisted with Kato SD70M UP#4848
-BLI UP#8104 ES44AC w/sound consisted with Kato ES44AC UP#5530
-Atlas SD60 UP#5949
-Bachmann DDA40X UP#6919
-Bachmann S-4 UP#1156 (barely works, would not recommend)
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Old 07-31-2019, 05:20 PM   #2
DonR
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I understand your preference to model an actual
area or geographical situation. But it takes a lot
of space to do that, even in N Scale.

In layout design I always think that the builder is
going to want to have the ability to run trains continuously
but also have the ability to enjoy the challenges of
switching.

For continuous running I prefer a single track main
with a number of passing sidings. Since you indicate
you are running DCC, that makes possible running
train A clockwise, and train B counterclockwise. Makes
for interesting 'meets' that require use of a siding.

For switching, I've enjoyed installing a number of
small freight users. They will need cars specific
to their business. If you can have both producers
sending cars to customers you'll have even more
switching fun. A big coal mine is fun to build and
looks great. But you'll need a big power plant or
other major coal user to give it a purpose. Both take
up a lot of layout space also.

You'll likely need a helix if you're going to have two
or more operating levels. But remember, a helix is
a slope on a curve. It would take a very powerful
consist to pull many cars up it unless your grade is
better than 2%.

I hope I have given you some points to ponder that
will help you build a layout that works and is your
kind of fun.

Don
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Old 07-31-2019, 05:56 PM   #3
usafajk324
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That was very helpful actually. I had never really thought of what other industries would be served by the coal mine and intermodal yard. The modified Carlyle division I drew up may actually be exactly what I'm looking for. Plenty of space and locations for servicing by another industry
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Old 07-31-2019, 09:15 PM   #4
traction fan
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West Replied in other section

Quote:
Originally Posted by usafajk324 View Post
This is lengthy, so please bear with me and offer any insight and advice.

So for the last 2 years I've been struggling with a design for a layout. I initially started with Code 55 on a 36x84" door. My wife then graciously surrendered one of our spare bedrooms for my hobby. It's roughly 10 ft square. I gave up on Code 55 and went to Kato Unitrack. The Salt Lake Route and some extra pieces, with the intent to come up with my own layout. There is a KCS line that I cross daily to and from work that they also lease rights to the UP for. I attempted to model the area of the UP Hollywood yard in Shreveport, past Shreveport Regional Airport and the like, but quickly became bored.

That was a continuing theme. I would come up with a track plan, get trains running, turnouts remotely controlled, and tear it all down. I finally decided to take the Salt Lake Route layout into consideration, added or modified things to my liking, and got to work. I'm again at the stage of tear it down. I don't know what to do.

Issues with the Salt Lake Route:
-Too short for length of trains I'd like
-Coal mine (formerly the furniture warehouse) spur is on the wrong mainline track for prototypical direction (counter-clockwise on inner track instead of outer)
-Intermodal yard is attached to the "main yard"-would like it to be a destination.

Things I'm looking for:
-sizable yard with engine and car maintenance shops
-coal mine with tipple
-intermodal yard
-a wye
-physical track distance between main locations
-extra "random" industries as well

I've mocked up in Anyrail the Carlyle Division with a few changes and I'm relatively happy with it (another $600 in track necessary of course) but not 100% behind it due to cost.

So I'm looking for suggestions. Double or single track? I want the track plan to by as interesting to run and look it. Could do more with single track then right? Point-to-point with helices at each end? Would be better suited for double track no?

Locos currently:
-Kato UP#1943 The Spirit w/ sound consisted with Kato SD70M UP#4848
-BLI UP#8104 ES44AC w/sound consisted with Kato ES44AC UP#5530
-Atlas SD60 UP#5949
-Bachmann DDA40X UP#6919
-Bachmann S-4 UP#1156 (barely works, would not recommend)
usafajk324;

I replied to your post in the "Introduce yourself here" section, before reading this one. From the information you give here, it sounds like you are further along in your model railroad experience than I had been led to believe, from reading your other post. So, some of the advice I gave you there may sound lame.
However, some, especially that related to shelf layouts, may still help you. If you can build shelves all the way around that ten by ten room then you will have about as long a mainline as you're going to be able to fit in that space. Snaking a longer mainline around a peninsula of benchwork is likely to create some very narrow aisles and therefore poor access.
I would recommend single track, with a couple of long passing sidings, as DonR suggested. Unless the particular bit of the prototype you are modeling actually has a double track main. Single track is the general rule on the prototype today. The introduction of CTC has made double track unnecessary in most areas. Railroad companies don't want to spend the money to maintain anything they don't need. On a model railroad single track also gives the illusion of greater length.

A helix, (let alone two) can have benefits, but it/(they) also have serious drawbacks.

On the plus side, the traditional, circular, helix is one way to get trains up to a second level. It also has a whole lot of track in it, if you are going to climb any significant distance, (like the 16" between the two shelf levels of my own layout.)
That long track can be used as a form of "staging yard", with two trains parked inside the helix until they are supposed to appear on the visible part of the layout.

On the negative side though,

1) All that length of track in the helix costs money, particularly since you are using Kato Unitrack, While it is excellent quality, it is also the most expensive type of track on the market.

2) If you are going to have two helices, then multiply the above cost by two.

3) A smoothly-operating helix is not an easy thing to design and build. The curve needs to be broad enough to allow super-reliable operation (remember this is all hidden track) of multiple units of big, modern, long-wheelbase, road locomotives, pulling a long train, of long-wheelbase modern, freight cars, upgrade through this curve.
That means a minimum radius in the 18"- 24" range, (yes, in N-scale) which means each helix will be 38"- 50" wide (assuming some sort of covering)
A helix is usually hidden, since it's unprototypical, and, well, ugly. Since the track inside the helix will need cleaning, just like any other track, you will need to have people access to the inside of the helix. This is usually in the form of a (Ugh! "Oh my aching back") duck-under! You're young, and fit, now, but age and arthritis will come.

Two separate helices that size are going to take up a lot of that 10' x 10' room. You might use one larger, double tracked, helix to get trains both up, and back down, inside the same helix. The grade inside such a helix is going to be pretty steep, since each loop needs to rise high enough, in one turn, to clear your highest cars (double stack container cars for example) on the loop immediately below. Using a "roadbed track" like Kato's Unitrack, exacerbates this vertical clearance issue, since extra height, on each layer, needs to be included to allow for the height of the plastic roadbed. Do you still really want two levels? Now that I've "made your day" (miserable?) let me try to brighten things up a bit.

There is another type of "helix" which might serve you better. It's a "stretched helix", and it's what I use to get my trains between the two levels of my layout. The "stretched helix" idea means that the entire length of the mainline is a continuous grade. My mainline starts at zero elevation in "Seattle" and climbs through "Black River" (the next town) then rounds a 180 degree curve and enters a tunnel. This "tunnel" is really the entrance to a long, straight, hidden track that climbs up to the next level. Another 180 degree curve brings the mainline into the town of Cedar Falls. From there it continues on through some more curves, across a high steel trestle, into another tunnel and enters a reverse loop. (There is another reversing loop back at the "Seattle" end to allow continuous running.) The long length of the snaking mainline allows a reasonable grade and half that length is visible track. The hidden grade, and staging yard, can be accessed by removing snap in/out backdrops.

Hope that helps;

Traction Fan

Note: The file below is one of several that I attached to my response to your "Introduce yourself here post." now that I know what you know, some of the others may not apply. This one though has some sketches of what will fit into a room about the size of the one you have. You may find it helpful. The photos were taken on my layout.

3 & 4 How to build a better first layout.pdf

Black River town view.JPG

Cape Ripiculous long view.jpg

Seattle Union Station inside.JPG

Garrison creek trestle good view.JPG

trees 2.JPG
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Old 07-31-2019, 09:22 PM   #5
sid
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i still like those trees traction. i need to make some.
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Old 07-31-2019, 09:49 PM   #6
usafajk324
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All very helpful

traction fan

I definitely kept it brief on my knowledge about model railroading in the introductory forum. Didn't want to post all this in that page because it didn't seem like the place.

As far as the area I'm modeling, I hadn't picked any particular area, was going to just go with a protolance layout. I like the UP colors and being a veteran the Spirit of the Union Pacific speaks to me. I had originally planned to do KCS since their line runs about a 3/4 mile from my house, but finding the Southern Bell paint scheme locos was a pain.

I've spent hours in anyrail trying all sorts of configurations, including peninsulas and nothing seemed to fit. But copying the Carlyle Division as best I could seems to fit. It will be tight getting into the room, but the wife said the door and closet doors can come down to be able to access the room and storage space. So it will be single track with passing sidings. And the biggest thing was that of destinations after coal or containers were loaded. Something I hadn't thought of. Though I enjoy watching trains run continuously, they are also fun to play with moving cars around and building a train.

All the track in this area on the prototype, mostly KCS and some UP, is all single mainline.

I had seen a video of a layout that used a bridge of sorts between lower and upper shelves to connect and elevate from one level to another. I thought of that and immediately went away with it. Helices are out for now, though Roy Smith, who is modeling the Evanston Subdivision made great use of them. I may be young but being a DV doesn't make the ducking under things as easy.

So for now, it'll be one level. I've attached the layout I think I'm going to go with for critiquing and a quirky part of the UP line south of the Hollywood Yard in Shreveport I would love to add to a future layout.

Are those trees the skewer and coconut fiber pine trees?
Attached Images
File Type: png wye.PNG (4.34 MB, 6 views)
File Type: png layout.PNG (192.9 KB, 5 views)
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Old 08-01-2019, 12:04 PM   #7
traction fan
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West Looks pretty good!

Quote:
Originally Posted by usafajk324 View Post
traction fan

I definitely kept it brief on my knowledge about model railroading in the introductory forum. Didn't want to post all this in that page because it didn't seem like the place.

As far as the area I'm modeling, I hadn't picked any particular area, was going to just go with a protolance layout. I like the UP colors and being a veteran the Spirit of the Union Pacific speaks to me. I had originally planned to do KCS since their line runs about a 3/4 mile from my house, but finding the Southern Bell paint scheme locos was a pain.

I've spent hours in anyrail trying all sorts of configurations, including peninsulas and nothing seemed to fit. But copying the Carlyle Division as best I could seems to fit. It will be tight getting into the room, but the wife said the door and closet doors can come down to be able to access the room and storage space. So it will be single track with passing sidings. And the biggest thing was that of destinations after coal or containers were loaded. Something I hadn't thought of. Though I enjoy watching trains run continuously, they are also fun to play with moving cars around and building a train.

All the track in this area on the prototype, mostly KCS and some UP, is all single mainline.

I had seen a video of a layout that used a bridge of sorts between lower and upper shelves to connect and elevate from one level to another. I thought of that and immediately went away with it. Helices are out for now, though Roy Smith, who is modeling the Evanston Subdivision made great use of them. I may be young but being a DV doesn't make the ducking under things as easy.

So for now, it'll be one level. I've attached the layout I think I'm going to go with for critiquing and a quirky part of the UP line south of the Hollywood Yard in Shreveport I would love to add to a future layout.

Are those trees the skewer and coconut fiber pine trees?
usafajk324;

No sweat on the shortness of your introductory post. You're right, it shouldn't be a novel in that section. Your track plan looks OK to me. A little more crowded than I prefer, but it's your railroad, not mine.

Here's a couple of critiques:

First, I counted about thirty turnouts. That's going to be very expensive. Good quality commercial turnouts like Peco or Micro Engineering, retail for about thirty dollars each. The Kato Unitrack turnouts are even more expensive. Overall that's somewhere in the neighborhood of $1000 for turnouts, and in most cases, another big chunk of cash for switch machines to operate them. I make my own turnouts, which is much cheaper, but consumes a lot more time. Could you live with, or at least start out with, fewer industrial spurs?

Second, in the lower left, the 180 degree curve has a passing siding that appears to be on a grade. That would work OK for just passing two complete trains with the locos attached, but you could not spot cars there. They would roll away. I don't know if you intended to spot cars there or not. It would be possible, by using a thin bit of fishing line sticking up between the rails, just high enough to grab an axle, on the downhill side of the grade.

Third, in the lower right you appear to have a nasty double reverse curve. A train coming off the lower 180 degree curve enters the crossover, where it must instantly go from a right turn (the loop itself) into a left turn, ( on the first turnout of the crossover) and then instantly back into another right turn (as it exits the crossover.)
I suggest putting the first turnout back a bit, and incorporating it into the bigger loop's overall curve. The "straight* main" route of that turnout would then "spin off" the loop curve into the "straight" main route of the other turnout. That way the train would go from the right hand curve of the big loop, onto straight track, and then into another bit of right turning track in the second turnout. This would be much smoother than the "right,left,right of the present plan. That may be fine for marching, but its tough for trains to follow, especially if they are being pushed backwards. This kind of "snake trail" turnout configuration is common in a lot of yard ladders. Being a devote of the K.I.S.S. principal, I prefer simple, straight ladders where access to any yard track requires only one turn, and all the track's turns are in the same direction.

* Except for the awful Atlas "Snap Track" turnout, and of course, curved turnouts, the two routes through a turnout are both straight track. It may just be the way Anyrail shows turnouts, but if you look closely at your track diagram you should see the "snake trail" I'm talking about.



As for the coal and containers, it's not necessary (and seldom possible, except on giant, club-sized, layouts) to model both the large source (mine/port) and large destination (power plant/container terminal) on the same layout. One, or even both, can be "off the layout." (a.k.a. imaginary)
Either end of the cargo's journey can be operationally simulated with hidden staging tracks.

The "bridge of sorts" you saw in the video may have been a train elevator. Many have been built, and are in use, but they restrict train length, and you said you wanted long trains.
Master track planner, John Armstrong, in his classic book "Track Planning for Realistic Operation," described his train elevator as a "dehydrated canal lock" He also described a "vertical turnout" a track-topped shelf that pivoted down to let a train enter it, then pivoted up to let the train exit onto a higher level. This kept the grade percentage low, yet enabled a greater distance between levels. However, it had the same limited train length drawback as the elevator.

By "DV" do you mean Disabled Veteran? If so, does your disability require any special provisions in the design of your layout? (ie. wheelchair height)
One big mistake I made was mounting my layout too high. It was fine when I was young and fit. The top level was at my (6'-6") eye level. Now that I'm 71 and partially disabled, I plan to mount it lower when we move, in a couple of years. Speaking of moving, I strongly recommend sectional construction for all model railroads. You have quite an ambitious undertaking in your track plan. It will likely take years of labor, and thousands of dollars, to finish. It would be a shame not to be able to preserve, and re-use, as much of that as you can if/when you move. There are other advantages to sectional construction outlined in the files I sent you.

No, the trees in the last photo are not made from skewers and coconut fibers, but rather from paintbrushes, and Scotch Brite scouring pads.
This file describes how they were made, but the trees shown in the file are somewhat crude early versions. Those in the bottom photo were improved by cutting the Scotch Brite thinner, dispensing with sprinkled on "needles", and using a darker color green paint.
(The trees in the trestle photo are even earlier, even cruder, versions made with skewers and cotton batting.)

Paintbrush Pine Trees.pdf

Have fun;

Traction Fan
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Last edited by traction fan; 08-01-2019 at 01:24 PM..
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Old 08-01-2019, 05:32 PM   #8
usafajk324
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I'm at work right now so I can't really see what your referring to on the layout while reading. I'll look when I get home. But as far as the turnouts go, Kato are actually reasonably priced. The turnouts have switching electriconics built in. A dpdt switch, 2200 microfarrad cap, and some resistors and leds and I'm good. I can get the turnouts for about $19 each. I have about half of the required track already though. But I'll look at the layout and what you pointed out and see if I follow

Edit:
So I looked at it while on my lunch break. The concern with turnouts isn't a big deal. I priced any rails part count against what I have and I'm looking at an extra $550 or so on top of what I have

I hadn't planned to spot cars in any of the passing turnouts.

And on the lower right I had tried to do what you suggested initially but could not make it fit how I wanted. The crossovers are one unit that's closer between tracks than I can get with the #6 turn outs from Kato. Those crossovers run about $34 each.

And as you mentioned, the Kato track being a snap system, the turn outs have a curve to them. The #6 have a 28 1/2" radius.

Yes disabled vet. Nothing of special consideration. My back isn't as young as I am. I'm looking to make it as high as possible and still be able to reach the back of the deepest parts of the layout

Paint brush handles is a genius idea for tree trunks. I'll have to do that. Though maybe only for edge trees on a slope. Scotch Brite pads make sense as well. Finer than coconut fiber
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Old 08-07-2019, 12:08 AM   #9
usafajk324
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Layout Started

So I started on benchwork yesterday. I have all the materials for it, have 3 sections left to build. I also ordered the remaining track I needed.

While doing that I was browsing for more locomotives. I don't have a location set for my layout, though it is basically what I could fit of the Carlisle Division done by MRRM, but what other rail companies run with/on UP track?
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Old 08-07-2019, 09:26 AM   #10
sid
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cool can't wait to see it come together. i'm a big kato track fan . love that track.
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