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Discussion Starter #1
Around seven years ago, I made a trolley loop for my motorized Corgi PCC trolley car. I initially planned to use E-Z Street track, but the trolley would not negotiate the O21” curves so I used O27 track. I used Z scale roadbed between the outer and center rails and craft store 1/4“ foam sheets to simulate asphalt streets. The loop goes around a small park in a small town, goes into the boonies and then under my upper loop to interchange passengers with the train.

About a year ago, inspired by Mr. Willis to motorize a Birney safety car using a streets chassis, I got a Divco and a Birney. I liked the Divco and the Birney so much I decided not to do the conversion. Instead I got more streets vehicles and also converted a 57 Nomad. The streets cars run on the trolley loop, but much of the loop is below my upper track or in the background so you don’t see much of them.

I’ve been thinking about turning my trolley loop into a streets loop with more visibility, but I have been putting it off because it involves quite a bit of deconstruction and changes. I’ll need to temporarily move the Manayunk viaduct, some buildings and some of the upper train loop to lay in new track. I’m not sure if all the work will be worthwhile. Also wonder if the main street will look goofy since one side of the street will have lots of traffic but won’t move and the other side will have very little traffic, but will move. Hmmm…maybe that last thing will look like a traffic jam in one direction.

Now that the weather has cooled, the attic is a better place to work so I am finalizing my plans. Here they are:

- I won’t use E-Z Streets track. I will use a combination of Gargraves, Ross and O27. As I did with some of the trolley loop, I’ll use Z scale roadbed and ¼” foam craft sheets for the streets. I’m not crazy about having all the streets black (like fresh asphalt) so I may make some sections gray.

- I’ll move the section under the upper level out to the street and extend the line a few feet. This will create about 6 feet where the cars are running in the foreground.

- I would like to be able to do some street running with small switchers. I cannot do that with the current trolley loop because there is not enough clearance under the upper train loop support. I tested a BEEP and an MTH 44 tonner on the O27 loop and they were not at all happy. I was thinking I would have to go to O31 or at least something larger than O27, but either way, that means more reconstruction to my little town and park. Bending Gargraves to O31 or smaller is a pain especially if you are using 30 year old track, so I may go with Ross O31 or Gargraves O32 curves. I got some Ross O31 at York, but then I tested the 44 tonner and an SW1 on stand alone O27 track and they seem to work fine.

- There is currently an interference between the trolley loop and a loop 3 siding if I run something with even a small amount of overhang. Reconstruction will solve that.

- The loop will be about 28 feet long. Not sure how many cars I want to run at one time. I’ve read some of the things that Lee has written, but have not decided on how I will keep the cars separated. I haven’t figured out a good place to put the IR sensor blocks (where I could hide the components and have a good line of sight on just one section of track). I don’t really want to remove the rectifiers either since I also want to use the track for AC switchers and trolleys.

- I’m thinking about having each car stop for about 3 seconds at a stop sign, but haven’t looked into what circuitry is needed to do that. I saw a Train Presence Sensor from JW&A the other day so I may look into that. I’ll have a switch to turn the stop feature off for when I run the Peter Witt (Bachmann) trolley.

- I’m thinking I’ll have a DPDT switch so I can run conventional for the streets vehicles and trolleys and DCS for street running of switchers.

- I may run a strip of LEDs behind a shelf to illuminate the background.

Here are the before (trolley) and after (streets) loop plans and a few pics of the area to be changed.

Feel free to chime in if you have any comments or suggestions.


BEFORE
before.jpg

AFTER
after.jpg

This area will remain more or less the same, but will be moved to avoid an interference (circled). Cars will stop at the stop sign (arrow).
IMG_3689_LI (2).jpg

Streets track will run on the roadway. LED strip will be mounted behind the shelf (yellow).
IMG_3690_LI (2).jpg

Passengers on the trolley line (arrow) currently interchange with the train by climbing steps. Upper station platform will be smaller.
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Existing loop (blue) is under upper level. New loop (red) will be in the foreground.
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IMG_3692_LI.jpg

Feel free to chime in if you have any comments or suggestions.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Scenery deconstruction virtually complete. It only took a few hours, but I have no illusion that will take anywhere near that little time to reconstruct the puzzle once track is laid. I also ran my SW1 and 44 tonner around the entire loop. Good to know they will run on O27.

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I think this is a cool plan. I also like the idea of, and have/will use again normal track just made into 'streets with foamboard. Works as well and more options in may cases.

I'm in the process of deciding how much to revise my 'Streets, but plan to do some cool stuff with it, too.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
While I have the scenery removed, I have access to the back of the layout so I added a backdrop, installed some insulating pins to separate points of my DCS star and started working on a wooded area for the back corner. I haven’t even started to modify the loop yet, but that’s next. Here are a few before and after/during shots.

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Nice project! The “interaction” between street cars and trains is really interesting.

The fact that you have the capability to run small diesels on the trolley line, makes another facet possible. Many traction lines pulled small one or two car freights to local customers. Maybe a siding or two for the customers. Street running is always cool to see...

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The track is in. Everything ran fine except the Corgi PCC trolley which derailed sometimes on a few O27 curves due to its tiny scale flanges. I replaced those with Gargraves/Ross track and the trolley still derailed at one spot. After some manipulation, the trolley seemed to run better on that last spot. Hope it maintains good behavior at that spot. The Corgi trolley is the reason I had to use regular track and not streets track. If it doesn’t behave, it won’t see much track time.

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The track is in. Everything ran fine except the Corgi PCC trolley which derailed sometimes on a few O27 curves due to its tiny scale flanges. I replaced those with Gargraves/Ross track and the trolley still derailed at one spot. After some manipulation, the trolley seemed to run better on that last spot. Hope it maintains good behavior at that spot. The Corgi trolley is the reason I had to use regular track and not streets track. If it doesn’t behave, it won’t see much track time.
I just had a problem with a Lionel tinplate motor. While the wheels are wide with large flanges they where too close together. Thus the electrical contact was poor; somewhat intermittent running along all the track. It ran slow and in spurts. spreading the wheels cured that 100%.

Perhaps the trolley's wheels are too close together. And the small flanges can't help keep it on the track. Take a look. Put it on a straight and test the side to side play. Spreading the wheels on the axles might help.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Haven’t made much progress in the last few weeks. I have been busy making a Christmas present (a folding mini desk) for my daughter in law. Now that I’m applying the wipe on poly, I can get some things done between coats.

I did make some scenery for the corner of the layout. I also hung some LED Christmas lights behind my shelf to shed some light on the street. Not sure if it will be enough light, but if not, I have another string.

And I fished wires for the IR sensor. I’m going to power the sensor with 12 VDC and run a second wire for track power. I want to be able to run the loop with the IR sensor OFF (for street running of trains). I’m guessing that will kill the power to the isolated road section. If so, I’ll need to put in a DPDT toggle to bypass the sensor.

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Discussion Starter #14
The IR sensor is in. I initially had the sending unit too high and was getting only an intermittent blocking on smaller vehicles. Then I re-read Lee’s pdf and lowered the beam so the beam didn’t go over the top of the cars. I was still getting some reflection on my Nomad till I realized that the chrome rear bumper was reflecting the IR beam in spots.

The beam interruption distance is only about 2 feet and the isolated section is only about 1 foot. This is the only spot where I can hide the mirror, the sensor and the isolated section well, so I’ll have to see if I can live with it. I’ll also need to install some diodes for sure to try to get the vehicles going the same speed.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I haven’t made too much progress in the last few weeks. Been too many other things to occupy my time and when I do get time, things are taking longer than I would like. Cutting the craft store foam sheets to mate against the track has been a pain. Especially where I have to shimmy over the platform and under the roof. Still trying to figure out what to do with the scenery. And with stuff blocking the layout tracks, I haven’t been running trains.

I'm starting to think it was a mistake to do the streets loop.

But this morning, I cleared the stuff off of the tracks, vacuumed debris from the streets loop and ran some trains. Ahhh…That’s better.

I’m thinking I will use rigid foam to butt up against the streets track foam sheets. And I’ll probably cut an access hatch. It will still be hard to crawl under the platform, but it will avoid a bunch of deconstruction if I have to get back there after everything is back together. And I think the large Menards station will need to be replaced with a smaller one. It’s a nice station, but it blocks too much of the streets loop. I looked at the small Menards station, but I’ve always liked the Woodland Scenics BR5852 (The Depot) so I might go with that.

IMG_4585.JPG
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I glued the N scale roadbed between the rails for the gray part of the loop. With the Gargraves phantom track, the black center rail really stands out so it looks less realistic than the O27 track. Then I ran streets vehicles and trolleys. Almost every vehicle derailed at almost every corner. Never had that problem with the trolley loop. So, I removed all the roadbed and started reinstalling a few pieces on the outer radii of curves. Ran everything without derailments. Turns out, the larger wheel flanges of the E-Z streets vehicles and the WBB trolley touch the roadbed on the inner radius of curves, ride up the roadbed and derail. I do recall that E-Z streets track has a wider gap on curves. I’ll have to trim the roadbed for the inner radius of curves to allow a wider gap.

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I recently read on MTF that the center rail black wears off after time. You might try a Scotch Brite like pad to see if the wear can be accelerated.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I recently read on MTF that the center rail black wears off after time. You might try a Scotch Brite like pad to see if the wear can be accelerated.
That thread was about Atlas track. I have been using Gargraves since the mid 1980s and see little or no wear on the phantom line track center rail. I made some of the roadway black and some gray. Most of the track under the gray road is Gargraves and most under the black is O27. In hindsight, it might have been better to reverse that.
 
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