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Discussion Starter #1
Well, here goes nothin'...

Attached (or imbedded, I'm not sure) is an extremely crude pic of my proposed DCC layout done in the trial version of Anyrail. Just got it in under the 50 piece max! Probably the wrong way to do it, but I built my table first and then spent a while trying to come up with a layout to suit it. This around-the-room layout is based on the Lime Ridge & Hercules and Portland & Western RR layout I found in an old Model Railroader magazine or online (I can't remember which). A big problem I had was working around the lally column but I think this plan does an ok job.

My table is 1x2, 1x3 and 1x4 construction, 47" high, with 1" foam on top of 1/8" board. I don't have any track laid yet, but I have plenty of Atlas 36" flexible track (HO Code 83) and cork roadbed and almost enough Atlas turnouts to complete this layout. I also have a couple of Woodland Scenics incline/decline sets (3 and 4%) to get me up and down to where I need to be for the overpass in the SE corner by the column. Due to the door in the NW corner of the room I decided to have a drop down section to get in and out when I need to.

I have no specific industry in mind. I just know I like the look of the old smoke billowing coal engines and also the big diesel electrics. I know they don't go together, but I'm just doing this for fun, not so much trying to recreate a specific time or place.

Input for the layout would be great but the table is pretty much set in stone. I'll be posting more in other areas of the forum as I'm not really sure what I'm doing. Google, YouTube, and forums such as this have been a great help but I know I'll need more. It's taken me 2 years or so to get this far so I know I'm in it for the long haul.

- Dave

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Hi Dave, welcome to the forum!

One thing I would recommend doing in your AnyRail file is to pick a minimum curve radius and turn on "Alert on too sharp radius" in the Settings tab. The software will then draw a center red line on any track segments that are too sharp. This will let you know if you have any "kinks" in your layout. You can also try gradually increasing your minimum curve radius and smooth out areas that are tighter than they need to be.

One other thing I would do with your plan is to remove the "S" curve that you currently have on the crossover between the inner and outer loops at the top center of your plan. You generally want to avoid or minimize any "S" curves and that one doesn't need to exist.

I would also lengthen the 3 yard tracks so that they can each store longer trains.

You don't say what the purpose of the red tick marks are on your plan. Are you going to be dividing the layout into separate electrical blocks? If so, what's the purpose of the blocks? If you're planning to do automation, I would pick different places for block boundaries.
 

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Welcome.

A 3% or 4% grade is quite steep for locomotives without traction tires. Your steam will have a problem pulling more than four or so cars up that grade, and many diesel's will too.

Move your crossover at the top back to the right three feet and your grade will smooth out some. Actually a lot.
 

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Re the plan in #1...

The yard in top center needs longer tracks, perhaps a couple more tracks.
You also need a "runaround" next to the main.

The space on the left might be filled with a couple of industrial tracks.

As others have mentioned, might be a good idea to re-think "the grades".
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I appreciate all of the feedback... I don't really have anyone to bounce ideas off of and the guys on YouTube don't talk back when I ask them questions so thanks!

Mark - Thanks for the tip about the minimum curve radius feature of Anyrail. I wasn't aware of that one. I played with it a bit and was able to clean a few of the curves up. In all honesty, Anyrail was just a way for me to get my plan down on paper - My drawing skills are worse than my soldering skills but that's a whole different thread. I plan on keeping a close eye on the curves as I lay my track. I picked up a few guides to use to help me keep around a 22" radius min. I might fall a little short of that coming out of my tunnel under my bridge in the SE though. I know this limits me to mostly short cars, but I'm ok with that. As I said above, it's a pretty crude pic. It also accounts for the "S" curve you pointed out. Not very pretty to look at on paper but I hope to make it much better on the table.

The yard does look a little weak doesn't it! This is due to the limits on the number of sections I could use in the trial version. The plan is to stretch it out a little more.

As for the red ticks - Yes, the idea was to section off for electrical blocks. It was recommended to me by someone at a show and I've read a little bit online. I think I understand the purpose, but I'm not so wise in the ways of electrons. The only automation I think I might need or want at the moment is something to prevent a train from going over the edge when the drop down bridge is in the down position. Obviously I have more research to do in that respect. I figure at my pace I'm quite a while away from plugging anything in. A topic for another thread.

Michael - The grades. This was probably my biggest issue with the whole layout. Looking at the original plan that I stole from, they were all over the map as far as track height was concerned. To add to my problem was the drop down bridge. I figured that needed to be at 0". I also figured my over/under had to be at 4"/0". So, using those two points I did some rough math and figured that a 3 or 4% grade was about all I could handle. I've included a slightly different picture here showing the start and stop points of my slopes as well as some VERY general heights. As you can see, I start my climb at the beginning of the drop down bridge and go almost completely around the table (past the crossover). I've combined both 3% and 4% incline/decline pieces here and there so its not a straight 3% up one way and 4% down the other. I guess I can try to add some 2% pieces and see what that does for me. I didn't realize that it would limit me to only 4-5 cars. I'll have to weigh that heavily in my decision making process. (You've got me reading about traction tires and Bullfrog Snot now.) A small problem I'm running into is the transition from the higher levels to the lower levels from the turnouts on the North and South sides. I'm tinkering with foam, cork and track - I figure I'll come up with something.

J - Because the left-most track is in a tunnel and the next two tracks are at a high elevation, I was thinking about some kind of waterfall feature eventually turning into a river and flowing to the "pond" to fill the space on the left. I'm not too much of a fan of having a lot of dead ends so I don't think I'll be adding any more tracks there. In all honesty, I haven't got much of a plan as far as scenery or buildings in mind, so I don't have much of a vision of what those tracks would lead to if I did put them in. However I did think of putting in a runaround track in but with the different heights of the tracks as close as they are together I couldn't really see a place to make that fit without making it look a bit too crowded. The original plan looks very crowded to me, but the designers had their vision - my glasses seem to be fogged up.

Thanks again for all the input. It's a huge help.

- Dave
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The purpose of 'power districts' on a model railroad is to keep trains running on a large layout
such as a train club when one district has a 'derail' that causes a short. A layout the size you propose does not
have need for power districts, Using them adds expense and complexity that are not needed. Since you don't have any 'reverse loops', a simple bus under
the table feeding track drops every 6 feet or so would be sufficient. The power supply that comes with your DCC system should be
sufficient to power 3, 4 or more non sound trains at the same time. However, if you add a number of Sound locos you might
consider adding a 'booster' to the system.

I see that you are planning a 'drop down' section to afford entry to the center area of the layout.
I would suggest a hinged LIFT bridge instead. In my opinion you would be able to maintain track alignment
easier. Be sure to provide for a 'dead' section of each track that would stop any train when the bridge
is up. This can also be easy. Cut, for example, the RIGHT rail of each track 2 or 3 feet out from the bridge.. This creates a 'dead'
section that is powered only when the bridge is in place. Use one small brass strip on the 'open' end of the bridge.
A matching strip on the main fascia. When bridge is down current flows. A wire from the main strip to each isolated section. A wire from track bus
to the bridge end strip. When bridge is UP trains from 'open' end are stopped by lack of current...the hinge end
tracks are blocked by the bridge. This prevents your cherished locos from making a fatal floor dive.

Another bridge tip: Lay a long piece of flex track that reaches past both ends of the bridge. Attach it
to the base and the bridge.. Use a Dremel or
saw to make an ANGLE CUT of the rails at each end. Oh the hihge end use the / angle...on the open end use the \ angle.
This will permit the bridge to smoothly move up and down yet keep the rails in alignment. It worked for me and I
had two curving tracks similar to your situation.

Don
 

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IMHO, purchasing Anyrail is well worth it. It will highlight problems. You can have it show grades, etc. and as Mark mentioned the "too tight" curves. I typically "elevate" and lock the height of specific pieces of track that I know have to be at certain levels and then have it smooth the slopes and see how it turns out. Keep in mind that while it will do easements into turns, I don't think it will even consider an easement on starting a grade. My experience tells me the transition from level to sloped track, specifically starting uphill, is critical. I bought the longest, lowest piece of rolling stock just to test with. I basically had to scrap the plan because I couldn't ease into the grades and get to the height I needed without screwing up the geometry of the layout.

Welcome and I look forward to following along with your progress.
 

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Hi.
To not have the engine get trapped in front of its cars in the spur/yard tracks you will have to run trains counterclockwise only. The very bottom spur will still present that problem though, unless you create a runaround track for it.
If you are going DCC you do not need any of the (red) gaps/insulators.
 

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I appreciate all of the feedback... I don't really have anyone to bounce ideas off of and the guys on YouTube don't talk back when I ask them questions so thanks!

Mark - Thanks for the tip about the minimum curve radius feature of Anyrail. I wasn't aware of that one. I played with it a bit and was able to clean a few of the curves up. In all honesty, Anyrail was just a way for me to get my plan down on paper - My drawing skills are worse than my soldering skills but that's a whole different thread. I plan on keeping a close eye on the curves as I lay my track. I picked up a few guides to use to help me keep around a 22" radius min. I might fall a little short of that coming out of my tunnel under my bridge in the SE though. I know this limits me to mostly short cars, but I'm ok with that. As I said above, it's a pretty crude pic. It also accounts for the "S" curve you pointed out. Not very pretty to look at on paper but I hope to make it much better on the table.

The yard does look a little weak doesn't it! This is due to the limits on the number of sections I could use in the trial version. The plan is to stretch it out a little more.

As for the red ticks - Yes, the idea was to section off for electrical blocks. It was recommended to me by someone at a show and I've read a little bit online. I think I understand the purpose, but I'm not so wise in the ways of electrons. The only automation I think I might need or want at the moment is something to prevent a train from going over the edge when the drop down bridge is in the down position. Obviously I have more research to do in that respect. I figure at my pace I'm quite a while away from plugging anything in. A topic for another thread.

Michael - The grades. This was probably my biggest issue with the whole layout. Looking at the original plan that I stole from, they were all over the map as far as track height was concerned. To add to my problem was the drop down bridge. I figured that needed to be at 0". I also figured my over/under had to be at 4"/0". So, using those two points I did some rough math and figured that a 3 or 4% grade was about all I could handle. I've included a slightly different picture here showing the start and stop points of my slopes as well as some VERY general heights. As you can see, I start my climb at the beginning of the drop down bridge and go almost completely around the table (past the crossover). I've combined both 3% and 4% incline/decline pieces here and there so its not a straight 3% up one way and 4% down the other. I guess I can try to add some 2% pieces and see what that does for me. I didn't realize that it would limit me to only 4-5 cars. I'll have to weigh that heavily in my decision making process. (You've got me reading about traction tires and Bullfrog Snot now.) A small problem I'm running into is the transition from the higher levels to the lower levels from the turnouts on the North and South sides. I'm tinkering with foam, cork and track - I figure I'll come up with something.

J - Because the left-most track is in a tunnel and the next two tracks are at a high elevation, I was thinking about some kind of waterfall feature eventually turning into a river and flowing to the "pond" to fill the space on the left. I'm not too much of a fan of having a lot of dead ends so I don't think I'll be adding any more tracks there. In all honesty, I haven't got much of a plan as far as scenery or buildings in mind, so I don't have much of a vision of what those tracks would lead to if I did put them in. However I did think of putting in a runaround track in but with the different heights of the tracks as close as they are together I couldn't really see a place to make that fit without making it look a bit too crowded. The original plan looks very crowded to me, but the designers had their vision - my glasses seem to be fogged up.

Thanks again for all the input. It's a huge help.

- Dave
View attachment 548463

Dave;

I'm going to disagree with DonR on the bridge direction. I think you had it right with a drop down bridge. At first, I thought he was recommending a lift out section. After reading Don's reply further, I realized he means a hinged bridge that tilts up rather than down. While tilt-up, tilt down, swing sideways, lift out, and even (gasp horror) duck under, sections will all work, there are Important differences in both ease of construction, and ease/aggravation of use. The attached pdf file "sections 3&4 of How to build a better first layout", covers this in detail. Since you have your table shape already cast in stone, you can skip most of the file, and start out with sketch # 4, which is an around the room shelf layout somewhat similar to yours. The comparison of entry/exit options follows sketch # 4.

While your still in the planning stage, look carefully at grades, and curves, as several have suggested. Keep curve radius as large as possible, and don't cheat yourself by having one tight curve, especially in an awkward-to access location. Likewise keep grades to as low a percentage as possible. Do you really need to raise a track 4"?
An HO-scale train isn't 4" high. Be kind to yourself by setting as conservative a minimum curve radius, and maximum grade percentage, as you possibly can, and then sticking too them, without cheating. There's not much satisfaction in spending time and money on a layout that won't run reliably.
You mentioned Atlas turnouts. are they the "Snap Switch" type or the better "Custom Line" turnouts? The Snap Switches have some design quirks that have caused their full share of problems, for many modelers, over many years. Most of these are fixable using the information in the "Improving Atlas Turnouts" file attached.

Good Luck & Have Fun;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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You're crossing over the yard lead track with the mainline track with a tunnel on the upper left.
Move that tunnel entrance around the curve some and you will be able to cross the lower track
at about 3 inches instead of 4, that will help your steep grades.
The amount of clearance you need will depend on what rolling stock you intend to run.
Modern day autoracks and double stack containers will require more clearance than older
boxcars etc.
Check the clearance by measuring form the top of the lower rail head to the lowest
part of the upper track structure, I'd go with a small bridge there leading into the tunnel.
Edit: Looking at your track plan you would need to cross over the lower track on a curve,
a bridge might not work unless you did a little re-configuring of the track to have a straight
track there. Also moving the top crossover more to the right will help.

Magic
 
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