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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had reintroduced myself after a two year hiatus and I'm here for some advice and help. My last layout I was working on, I had a 10x10 ft room to work in. I got my wish, sort of, of some extra room with the new house. The new room is 17 ft by 10 ft-kind of. Here it is roughly drawn up in SketchUp.
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So I spent some time trying to come up with what I should do. I will be using Kato Unitrack, because I have a bunch of it. So I've been playing with that in AnyRail for about a week. I came up with a few layout ideas. But none of them is quite perfect. I want to incorporate a coal mine, intermodal yard, saw mill, engine shop, and car repair shop. I also like the idea of a double main line to have trains passing in opposite directions while others are doing local runs of drop-off and pick-up. I want long run times, or as long as possible given my space constraints with prototypical train lengths, or as best as can be done with 2 or 3 locomotives. Bottom of benchwork will need to be at least 48 inches to accommodate my desk/racing sim.
Idea #1
L-shaped dog bone. Too busy on the long side and too empty on the short side. Roughly 15 x 10 ft. 12 inch grid.
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Idea #2
I liked this idea until I started to go through running the layout in my head. Yellow is the main yard, red is the engine and car repair shop, light blue the saw mill, the purple would be the intermodal yard, and green the coal mine. Several elevation changes, tunnels allow trains to "disappear" and reappear for more visual interest. But overall, not pleased with how I think it would operate. Still 15 x10 ft on a 12 inch grid.
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Idea #3
Probably the best one I've had so far. But still not ideal. I'm not crazy about the 3 foot layout depth at 50-52 inches since I'm only 68 inches tall. Duck under the yard to a triangular space to operate from. River on the left side. Incorporates the desired elements I want. It seemed boring visually, so I started adding some of the generic buildings and trees in AnyRail to give me an idea of how it might look. Yes I used a grain mill to simulate a coal mine. The row of 6 buildings was to simulate a town. Still 15 x10 ft on a 12 inch grid.
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I want thoughts and input on what I should do. Idea #3 is the closest I've gotten to an idea I like. But I'm also not opposed to a 2 ft shelf around the room (even if it means hanging the door so it swings away from the room), I just don't know where to start for that. Around the room would be about a 50 ft run and maybe throw in a peninsula to make it closer to 60 ft. I've also toyed with the idea of a narrow shelf around the room double decked layout, but I would need to either wrap around the room once to make the elevation change, or build a helix or two. I've got everything I need minus benchwork (unless I need more track) and I can't do that without a track plan.
 

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If I may make an unusual suggestion?
Instead of first planning on paper based on room size; get your office stuff arranged in a preferable location in there, and then using boxes of still unpacked stuff of saved empties/seasonal decor etc, stack those up to occupy space the proposed layout would consume. This way to can determine if an aisle/peninsula is even a good idea in the area, and if 3ft minimum aisles will work? You may discover that getting things out of the closet & out of the room would be easier without a peninsula? Bumping into stacked boxes would give you a full size mock up layout to navigate, adjust, rearrange, etc… Which works a lot better than 2D paper planning.
Once you have that area with sufficient elbow room, closet access, and desirable aisle positions in the full size mock up, tape off the outline on the floor to get exact dimensions of the layout foot print. In fact you may want to have a “Plan B” arrangement too. Then paper plan track to fit that area.

As an example; it seems second nature to put a computer desk against a wall. But you may find it is better positioned center of the room straight in from the door, rathe4 than having to walk around the layout peninsula? Window access may also play a role in layout design.
On the other hand, you may find an indirect route to the closet and utilizing that 6’ angled wall with a 4x8 jutting into the room with an attached L shape heading toward the right wall and down toward the bottom wall… With office desk located under the 4x8 area. That would put the aisles around the walls, layout center as an island design, computer desk accessible in a straight line from the door, and closet access would require walking the perimeter of the room. The mainline would be shorter but only by 2-3ft which may be worth it?

I would play around with full size “box mock ups” to decide what location and arrangement works best. I did this. I went through about 6 or 7 arrangements, having 2 or 3 eureka moments in that journey. Just my opinion. Worked so well for me I wouldn’t do it any other way. Results may vary.
 

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Also;
Of the 3 plans you posted, I like #2 best… but I’d relocate the yard. I’d put it front and center of the 90 degree turn, with a ladder near the passing siding and near the double diamond area. This throws a 90 degree turn in the middle of the yard, which everyone would say is crazy, but it’s not. They’d be correct that you cannot couple/uncouple in a curve, but you’d have basically two yards, the West Yard and South Yard. That would enable trains to leave either yard in either direction. It would allow very long unit trains to sit staged, and the yards could serve different functions as well, such as Classification/Sorting and Storage/Overflow or even a Coach Yard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
If I may make an unusual suggestion?
Instead of first planning on paper based on room size; get your office stuff arranged in a preferable location in there, and then using boxes of still unpacked stuff of saved empties/seasonal decor etc, stack those up to occupy space the proposed layout would consume. This way to can determine if an aisle/peninsula is even a good idea in the area, and if 3ft minimum aisles will work? You may discover that getting things out of the closet & out of the room would be easier without a peninsula? Bumping into stacked boxes would give you a full size mock up layout to navigate, adjust, rearrange, etc… Which works a lot better than 2D paper planning.
Once you have that area with sufficient elbow room, closet access, and desirable aisle positions in the full size mock up, tape off the outline on the floor to get exact dimensions of the layout foot print. In fact you may want to have a “Plan B” arrangement too. Then paper plan track to fit that area.

As an example; it seems second nature to put a computer desk against a wall. But you may find it is better positioned center of the room straight in from the door, rathe4 than having to walk around the layout peninsula? Window access may also play a role in layout design.
On the other hand, you may find an indirect route to the closet and utilizing that 6’ angled wall with a 4x8 jutting into the room with an attached L shape heading toward the right wall and down toward the bottom wall… With office desk located under the 4x8 area. That would put the aisles around the walls, layout center as an island design, computer desk accessible in a straight line from the door, and closet access would require walking the perimeter of the room. The mainline would be shorter but only by 2-3ft which may be worth it?

I would play around with full size “box mock ups” to decide what location and arrangement works best. I did this. I went through about 6 or 7 arrangements, having 2 or 3 eureka moments in that journey. Just my opinion. Worked so well for me I wouldn’t do it any other way. Results may vary.
My wife had a similar suggestion. Move the furniture in there (bed, dresser, etc) into my office and get my computer and racing sim in there, but she suggested I just build track on the floor and move the desk/sim around as needed. The bright side to that closet is about 75% of what's in there at the moment, is my train stuff. A few empty boxes from the racing sim and one tote of christmas tree ornaments. Access to the closet would be good, though I've got direct access to the attic over the garage through the bathroom across the hall for storage. But access would be good, especially without needing to do a lift out section or something similar.

And you may have just given me a eureka moment in regards to desk/sim placement. I was thinking put it against the wall. My computer is what runs the racing sim (Forumla 1 2022, software for the wheel/pedals/motion platform), so they can be any arrangement adjacent to each other, even if it means they are under a part of the layout. Even in the center of the room under a peninsula. Don't have to worry about cords because If it's under the layout, I can't walk/trip over it. So I can almost plan whatever shape, so long as I have the overhead clearance to fit the sim/computer desk under the layout.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Also;
Of the 3 plans you posted, I like #2 best… but I’d relocate the yard. I’d put it front and center of the 90 degree turn, with a ladder near the passing siding and near the double diamond area. This throws a 90 degree turn in the middle of the yard, which everyone would say is crazy, but it’s not. They’d be correct that you cannot couple/uncouple in a curve, but you’d have basically two yards, the West Yard and South Yard. That would enable trains to leave either yard in either direction. It would allow very long unit trains to sit staged, and the yards could serve different functions as well, such as Classification/Sorting and Storage/Overflow or even a Coach Yard.
I'll have to play with that in the software and see what works. I've tried a yard on a turn before and it was a pain, both on paper and in practice due to me using Unitrack. But something I've thought of trying while paper planning. IIRC trying to get things to line up on a 90 degree bend with the turn out spacing was the problem. Just trying to model it now and it would require many expanding track pieces to work. But it could be done.

Something like this?
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I was thinking more like this. If you made the top portion of the table 4 feet deep, you could put the yard like this. The only issue would be being able to reach the back wall.

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I'll have to play with that in the software and see what works. I've tried a yard on a turn before and it was a pain, both on paper and in practice due to me using Unitrack. But something I've thought of trying while paper planning. IIRC trying to get things to line up on a 90 degree bend with the turn out spacing was the problem. Just trying to model it now and it would require many expanding track pieces to work. But it could be done.

Something like this? View attachment 587758
Exactly like that. Mind you it is operationally two straight yards, with connecting curves. Several purposes as mentioned; longer stored trains if that’s desirable (long passenger or coal etc), capability for trains to depart in either direction which is a big plus IMO, aesthetically looks larger, etc. Cars can be stored on the curve, just not coupled/uncoupled there. Around the walls will make opening & cleaning windows tricky though.
I almost did such a 90 degree yard myself, under two basement egress windows (fire exits) but, putting aside the code violation, I didn’t want to climb on the layout to exit/clean/open the windows. That when a Taco Bell slogan hit me, thinking outside the bun I reversed aisle & layout locations. Saved me more on backdrop that switching to geico 6 times.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
So this is kind of what I'm looking at doing now I think. Total distance of the double main line is about 1260 inches. So 630 inches for the full loop or about 1.6 scale miles. Should allow for some good long runs, and I'll avoid blocking the entrance to the room and the closet.

But I haven't decided on exactly how I want it to go. I have visions of a "bridge" to maybe a second level, or an elevated portion of the layout from the U-shape near the door, across the room towards the windows.

The turns on either side of the door would be backdropped, but the U in as you walk in the door would be open to both sides. It won't be the plate style double main line the entire way, but portions would be. I'd like to have some parts that separate a little, like the S near the closet, so one track could be a level grade, while another climbs or descends to join it's elevation eventually. I know the north end of the yard isn't connected to the rest of the mainline in this picture, but it's progress towards a layout I think I'll enjoy.

Part of me feels it might be easier or harder to find a portion of the UP (almost all the locomotives I have are UP) I'd like to model (Evanston sub seems popular in N and HO) but I don't know enough about the actual subs to choose one to model. In Shreveport when I was stationed there KCS ran right by my neighborhood and I had wanted to model that, but not enough locos in the current paint scheme were available. There was also a UP yard in the area. Here in Royston there is a local line that runs between NS north of us in Toccoa and CSX east-southeast of us in Elberton.
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Unfortunately I don’t know much about the UP; they’re yellow, that cliche mustached villain who ties up damsels and leaves them on the rails was inspired by the original CEO or something, and the employ some great track inspectors. cough

I have heard of the Evanston Sub, but only from Roy Smith’s youtube channel. No idea where it is geographically. Wyoming maybe? Or Utah? His oval helix was a godsend for me.
Sounds like you’ve got a great deal of research ahead. Though it sounds like a location that interchanges with Eastern roads appeals to you? So that may be a lead to follow. Maybe more St Louis or Tulsa (big big big aviation maintenance center there if you have aircraft cars etc), or Shreveport as you mentioned. I’m not sure if Amtrak interests you but pretty sure one goes through Shreveport; whereas the Evanston Sub is only an alternate route (from what Roy Smith stated). Then of course is Nebraska, which even plywood might be too hilly scenery wise. But having North Platte Yard “nearby” opens a flood gate of possibilities.
It’s gonna be a tough call.
While a location that is popular to model has pros & cons, someplace not as often modeled does too. That’s a very personal choice & thus no wrong answer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Will it be open on the inside? If not, how will you reach the back?
Yes it would be open. The square area by the door and then duck under the U to access the “island” aisle way if you will.


Unfortunately I don’t know much about the UP; they’re yellow, that cliche mustached villain who ties up damsels and leaves them on the rails was inspired by the original CEO or something, and the employ some great track inspectors. cough

I have heard of the Evanston Sub, but only from Roy Smith’s youtube channel. No idea where it is geographically. Wyoming maybe? Or Utah? His oval helix was a godsend for me.
Sounds like you’ve got a great deal of research ahead. Though it sounds like a location that interchanges with Eastern roads appeals to you? So that may be a lead to follow. Maybe more St Louis or Tulsa (big big big aviation maintenance center there if you have aircraft cars etc), or Shreveport as you mentioned. I’m not sure if Amtrak interests you but pretty sure one goes through Shreveport; whereas the Evanston Sub is only an alternate route (from what Roy Smith stated). Then of course is Nebraska, which even plywood might be too hilly scenery wise. But having North Platte Yard “nearby” opens a flood gate of possibilities.
It’s gonna be a tough call.
While a location that is popular to model has pros & cons, someplace not as often modeled does too. That’s a very personal choice & thus no wrong answer.
I follow Roy on YouTube and came across someone modeling Evanston in HO as well. If I could get some shells that were already painted in NS/CSX for my current line up of locos (SD60, SD70M & ACe’s, ES44’s) I’d be fine choosing something prototype wise to model from either company. But I’d also be happy to stick with UP and do a prototype or just something that suits my liking.

Right now I’m just trying to wrap my head around how to get two levels that connect but aren’t so vertically separated I need to run around the room to get there. I’m not opposed to a helix but they take up a lot of space and I don’t know where I’d put one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'm working on refining the shape of the tracks to look more "natural" and still trying to figure out a way to add a second layer to the layout. I have an idea for that, it may only be a single line up there with a loop about 8 inches above the main layout, so not double deck, but much higher than any mainline variations.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Why not 2 different tracks at different elevations? One at sea level, and one up in the hills.
That is kind of the direction I'm leaning with the double main. They will be nearby, sometimes completely parallel, but other times they will split and run at different elevations. Then the outer most line may branch off and elevate even higher to a separate single main run. I can see it in my head, it's just figuring out how to make it work now.

This is as far as I got today. Starting to get somewhere. Near the closet is a spot where the two main lines will split, one eventually splitting off to head across the room, maybe to a wye, and climbing to a slightly higher elevation on the U-shape near the door. I haven't quite worked out what the upper loop will do. Might need to get the lower level figured out and built before I move on to the upper level. I had thought of doing a folded dog bone as well. Having the double main climb up to a second level, but you can't then do any cross overs from one side to another with out reversing polarity.
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So I've been playing with the idea above and in order to get what I want out of the layout, I think I'll have to include a helix and make it two levels. So here's what I've got so far. Helix in the closet (just take the doors off it) and the upper level will be 10 inches above the lower level. About 3% grade on the elevation changes. Total track is about 10 scale miles, but that includes the yard and helix. So likely more like 6-8 scale miles of running.
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Pardon me for saying this, but yuck. It’s the circle helix, in a closet that is huge red flag. Bad location for access, and enclosed are always bad too.
But you’ve already got a better location in that plan. You see that peninsula over toward the right? Put an oval shape helix under that area, open on the sides with a central backdrop. Easy to see, access, watch, and clean, from three sides no less.
That’s how mine will be.
Don’t thank me, thank Roy Smith and his Evanston Div. UP layout.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Pardon me for saying this, but yuck. It’s the circle helix, in a closet that is huge red flag. Bad location for access, and enclosed are always bad too.
But you’ve already got a better location in that plan. You see that peninsula over toward the right? Put an oval shape helix under that area, open on the sides with a central backdrop. Easy to see, access, watch, and clean, from three sides no less.
That’s how mine will be.
Don’t thank me, thank Roy Smith and his Evanston Div. UP layout.
So bright side for the helix, and less so for me wanting two levels, is that unless I lower the main level, the second level would be too high for me to see. And I can't lower the main level because I need to be able to fit my desk under it.

So it will be some kind of shelf layout around the room that maybe doesn't have quite as extreme an elevation change as 10 inches. But should hopefully not require a helix. But I'm about at my whits end coming up with a layout I like and actually want to build.
 
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