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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everyone, I'm new here and am very Green to the habit.... but I've been bit and big time! As most here, I have always had a love for trains since my father bought me a Tyco set 6 months before I was born (because as he told my mother a boy needs a Train Set!). Well... now 36 years later I dusted off (sanded and buffed off) the grime of those old snap tracks and headed to the hobby shop to by traction tires for my Chattanooga (actually lived there for a while and got to hang out on the real thing). Christmas was coming and by God I was going to have a train set under the tree this year. My wife happily agreed, she's good that one. ;) So now Christmas is over and with money in my pocket and my first REAL Engine purchased I am chomping at the bit and slaving over the digital oven, as it were, attempting to forge my first railroad!

Now some here may get put off by my ideas as I am a bit of maverick in everything I do. I have been reading over a years worth of back issues of Modern Railroder and skimming through the forums for the past month and I see a bit of a pattern.... ie. lots of 1950's to 1980's era so that a little of everything can plausibly be run.... well I want to break that mold a bit.

I'm a sci-fi fan and I have a vision (don't we all!). The year is 2065. War broke out 50 years ago. A violent and devastating war. Cities were crumbled. Infrastructure destroyed. Population and resources dwindled. Gone were the Planes and Ships as well as most of the people who could man them. Gone were the Automobile factories. Whole pockets of the earth radiated beyond life sustaining capabilities. Enter the railroads.... the unsung... undestroyed... unaffected travel, transport, and lifeline to those that survived. Steam museum relics were pulled back into service as coal and water were two easy resources to come by and the Old Diesels are slowly starting to be put back into service as a local Oil Refinery was just made operational. The place is somewhere in the plains of what's left of the US. Capitol City a thriving mini metropolis that only the very rich can afford. Below it.... deep under the beautiful walled city lives the heart of the city's rail lines. Capital City Railroad (C.C.R. and yes I get the band reference it's intended. :D ) a conglomeration of any and all rail equipment that could be scavenged from now defunct companies. Deep under the city several miles underground where the coal and oil resources are at easy reach and the solid stone above the vast cavern undercutting the city has kept the radiation at low enough levels that humans can "survive".

This is where this portion of the layout lives... in the underbelly, the cavernous deep. Later up the helix several layers the above ground city and landscape will be built.

Phew.... I can honestly say that's the first time I actually fully fleshed out the details of the back story of my railroad. Sorry for the long read... My posts aren't usually that in depth. I'm looking for feedback and thoughts so far. I'm sure I'm making some big mistakes and there are probably a few things in there that some veteran's will be scratching their heads over. My yard is the biggest concern I think I have at the moment. Even after reading over the Do's and Don'ts of yards.
There is an east and west bound as labeled which will later head up the helix and return as west and east bound accordingly.

 

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Opinion #1
Your helix will not work, it is way too small and will be too steep of a grade. about min is 24" and that's really pushing it! to get 18" you will need to make quite a few loops! Break out the Credit Card!:eek:
Your main yard is way too crowded and useless, a lot of switches and a lot of places to go but no real storage or sorting tracks.:(
The entire layout looks like tracks, just line after line with no real purpose!
If this was a true post war RR they might have one line from one end of the world to the other, they would never be able to find enough materials to maintain such a fast RR empire.;)
Opinion done... Rail on!:D
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yeah I get what you are saying about the helix... the text in the pic is a bit misleading... the "18+ inches" is actually about how far UP I'm going... min radius on the helix as it sits is 20 on the inside and 22 on the out. I was basing this on a helix calculator and the kits from http://www.ashlintrains.com/servlet/the-51/railroad-model-train-ho/Detail . Though I have been questioning in my mind their calculations of the grade only being 2% ... mine put it more near 2.6%. But it is definetly been something I have been grappling with. And I do have the room to widen it and loose a bit of walk space... current the walkin space is near 36"... I'm big... but not that big. :)

The Yard.... yea.... my first yard was way too small... this one is Definetly crowded... I can reason my way through it... but a visitor definetly will not and that isn't my intention. I'll come back with a plan 2 in a couple days I'm sure.

Thanks for the feedback NIMT! I've been seeing alot of constructive comments from you in the forums.
 

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20-22 inch radius is still way to tight, you will still run into problems like nimt says. I would not attempt any helix in ho scale any smaller then 26-27 inch radius and still some will say this is somewhat tight.
27 inch works because scott aka sstlaure has one to prove it works.

Your whole layout seems cramped with track. I know we all want the most track we can get on our layouts but i think you may be sacrificing scenery for all that track. Is there a way you can minimize some of the track?

How big is your layout room? Can you move the helix down south more and open up the radius some???

Also, welcome aboard

If not maybe you can do a mushroom design where your outside mainline keeps climbing like a nolix instead of a helix? This may open things up some for you..
Give us the room dimensions, and sorry if you posted the room details, i must have missed it. Is the room 14x11?
 

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If you exclusively run shorter rolling shock, and you can stretch the helix to a bit of an oval it might be successful. It'd give you a bit more track length per loop, which means a lower overall grade %. Maybe even make it a single track helix, pretend it adds operational interest :p
I'm not sure if 20" would cut it... unless thisnis N scale? not HO?

I'd cut a track or 2 out of the bottom left corner to give you more room for industry type buildings / scenery.

Have a look here [ www.modeltrainforum.com/showthread.php?t=14130 ] for a little yard inspiration, Towards the end is a redesigned slightly simpler yard that just needs a turntable added. Could work?
But in short, (re)move part of the blue caboose(?) runarounds and extend the yard tracks a little, which would simplify it a bit.
Probably the orange track to the turntable is redundant too.


Cheers & good luck :)
 

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Yeah I get what you are saying about the helix... the text in the pic is a bit misleading... the "18+ inches" is actually about how far UP I'm going... min radius on the helix as it sits is 20 on the inside and 22 on the out. I was basing this on a helix calculator and the kits from http://www.ashlintrains.com/servlet/the-51/railroad-model-train-ho/Detail . Though I have been questioning in my mind their calculations of the grade only being 2% ... mine put it more near 2.6%. But it is definetly been something I have been grappling with. And I do have the room to widen it and loose a bit of walk space... current the walkin space is near 36"... I'm big... but not that big. :)

The Yard.... yea.... my first yard was way too small... this one is Definetly crowded... I can reason my way through it... but a visitor definetly will not and that isn't my intention. I'll come back with a plan 2 in a couple days I'm sure.

Thanks for the feedback NIMT! I've been seeing alot of constructive comments from you in the forums.
Ashlin trains calculations are off. I've emailed them before on that. For reference

24" radius = 150.8" run = 2.65% grade (assuming 4" rise)

That's about as tight/steep as I would go as that grade is also continuously in a curve making the pull even harder.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Here's what I have come up with so far... I've only worked on the yard itself so far. Industries and Helix widening will come after I get this darn yard worked out. I think I have a much cleaner design now. I do know I want lots of storage/classification track available to me to be a bit future proof. I think this gets the job done and is a lot closer to what good yards are supposed to have... but I am still open for changes etc. You all know better than me of course! :) I haven't finalized the turntable setup yet... not real sure on that as it currently sits a round house kit won't actually physically fit. Though if I moved it left a bunch I could squeeze in at least 3 stalls if not more. Yes that is a double slip switch in the middle there... I couldn't see another way to get that move done and still allow good flow throughout the yard.



I'm using SCARM for layout design.... but here's the file incase anyone wants to crack on it.

http://gojimi.com/trainlayout/HoLayoutLowerSwitchMods5.scarm
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
And to answer an earlier question about room size. 14'11 by 11' is all the room I have to work with... but it is an open basement and this is a corner of it. So my space is open on the bottom side of the layout diagram.... I can't creep past the 11' mark but it is open on both sides of the bottom for me to allow a wider section and still reach everthing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Took a Step Back

Well I decided to take a step back. Reevaluate the space I have available. Read some more NMRA Recommendations. Gathered some inspiration from a few layouts in the forums and have decided to make a few changes to my setup.

  1. The Main Line is now a minimum of 28" radius
  2. The Branch Line is now a minimum of 26" radius
  3. The Helix is redesigned with every other loop being an oval to reduce incline %
  4. Outer helix Ascending track is now 30" radius and 2.1% incline
  5. Inner helix Descending track is now 28" radius and 2.3% incline
  6. And the layout is now turned 90 degrees which allows the greater radii.

The Yard now has two nice long Arrival/Departure tracks with the inner most one serving as part of the yard lead. Both Tracks have a minimum radius of 28". I'm a little worried that I don't have enough classification track though that is about all the ladder I can fit. I do know that according to my calculations I would be able to build 2 complete trains on the A/D that filled the straight section of both of those lines if the classification yard was full.... which it should never be... but you get the point.

The green industry spurs are a rough outline... a more firm plan for those will come more when I get benchwork laid and the track and industry building footprints laid out.

As always.... thoughts, concerns, ideas, or just plain yelling bollucks.... :) So far I have tried to incorporate all the current ideas and changes mentioned above that I thought possible.



And some Gratuitous 3D Render Shots for fun.

Shot of the helix without support structures from outside the layout


Shot of the helix from within the layout


Overhead view as a fly on the wall might see


View of the yard


View of the industry spurs area from outside the layout
 

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That does look good. Seems like there will be lots to do everywhere.

The "person" standing in those last couple shots reminded of one of the guys from the money for nothing video from dire straits. :D
 
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