General layout shape - more curved or more straight sections?

TrainzLuvr Nov 14, 2017

  1. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    Oops! My bad....I didn't look thoroughly enough at your website, because I missed your (obviously well-considered) Givens and Druthers page. And until this post, I hadn't paid attention to the compass you included on your previous posts. I apologize for my muddled comments. Upon re-reading them today, I realized I had compounded the incoherence caused by my incorrect compass points by incorrectly mislabeling which deck I was talking about in 2 places and by not even being consistent in what direction I (mistakenly) called "North". Here is a revised version of how I should have described my understanding of how trains would move over your layout (revisions in red):
    "Westbound trains will leave the westbound staging yard on the lower level, go up the helix to the middle level, travel North (left to right as you face West) at the front of the middle level, then cross South (right to left) at the back of the middle level, go up the helix to the upper level, then North (left to right) across the upper deck, continue clockwise around the layout back to the helix by going over the Nod-Under Bridge, travel down the helix to the lower deck and past the Ready Tracks, but bypass the Westbound staging by cutting across the base of the peninsula to enter the west end of the Eastbound Staging Yard ."

    Assuming 200 inches of Mainline from helix to base of the lower level peninsula, 200 inches to the Westbound Staging side of the peninsula, 200 on the Eastbound Staging side of the peninsula, 200 on the inside of the support column shelf, and 200 on the outside of the support column shelf, plus a possible 200 from the outside of the support column shelf through the backdrop, across the base of the peninsula (bypassing both staging yards) plus 200 inches in the Ready tracks Yard, yields 1400 inches of possible lower level mainline.
    Rising 14 inches with a 2% grade yields a 700 inch run in the helix from lower to middle level.
    Assuming similar numbers for the middle level, gives a 1400 inch long mainline (but could be 1600 inches,if the elevated line back to the helix runs around the tip of the peninsula instead of across the base of the peninsula).
    Rising to the upper level gives another 700 inches of mainline.
    Running north (left to right facing west) from the helix to the tip of the support shelf gives 800 inches, and across the Nod-Under Bridge adds 50 inches more for a total of 850 inches mainline on the upper deck.
    Down the helix to the lower deck is 1400 inches.
    If you run from lower level Westbound staging to upper level Nod-Under Bridge and back to down to lower level Eastbound staging, then the mainline would be:
    Lower level 400, helix 700, middle level 1400 (or 1600), helix 700, upper level 850, helix 1400, and lower level 400 inches...Total run = 5850 inches (or 6050 inches).
    800 inches (800/6050=13%) in staging yard or ready track yard; 2800 inches (2800/6050=46%) in the helix; 2450 inches (2450/6050=41%) in sceniced layout.
    It would be possible to have a larger percentage of mainline visible and sceniced if:
    1. one staging yard was repositioned from the lower level peninsula to visible staging in a sceniced yard on the inside of the lower level support column shelf (where there is ample headroom) and there was a yard lead to feed tracks at the west (left) end of the shelf,
    2. a second visible staging (sceniced) yard to the inside of the upper level of the support column shelf with a lead feeding tracks at the east (right) end of the yard (so both yards could be switched without operators interfering with each other),
    3. the entire lower level was sceniced, including outside of the support columns, although there would not be much (any?) switching done there because of the ceiling height.
    A Mainline could run 800 inches from the lower level support column shelf to the helix, 700 inches up the helix, 1600 inches on the middle level, 700 in the helix, and 800 from helix to upper level inside support column shelf (or 1200 if it crosses the front edge of the shelf inside of the support column shelf at 59 inches and then loops around to the outside of the support column climbing toward the basement door and curving back through the backdrop to enter the upper level visible staging yard on the inside of the support column shelf at 61 or 62 inches). This plan would yield 4600 or 5000 inches of mainline: 1400/4600=30% or 1400/5000=28% in the helix and 70% or 72% visible/sceniced. [4600 inches/396inches per scale mile = 11.6 scale miles of mainline]
    If a branchline interchange/junction was established one side of the middle level peninsula or the other, it would be possible to run a branchline turn from the middle level peninsula north to the middle level support column shelf (600 inches) and then on the middle level elevated track back south (400 or 600 inches)to take the helix up to the upper level (700 inches), and circle (north) across the upper level to go over the Nod-Under Bridge at 62 or 63 inches (1250 inches) and take the helix down to the lower deck (1400 inches) and across to the visible staging on the inside of the support column shelf (800 inches). 2100/5150=41% or 2100/5350 = 39% in the helix and 59 or 61% visible/sceniced. If the branchline was worked as a turn, then the run would be 26 scale miles long.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018
  2. TrainzLuvr

    TrainzLuvr TrainBoard Member

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    [​IMG]
     
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  3. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    ROFLMAO


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  4. TrainzLuvr

    TrainzLuvr TrainBoard Member

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    I just wanted to lighten up the conversation for a moment.

    I learnt so much in the last few days from your posts, and a lot of it is things I never considered, and over my head even, so the image above describes how I feel right now. :)
     
  5. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    I can’t count the number of times I would have posted that meme, if I’d had it.

    “...standing on the shoulders of giants. “


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  6. TrainzLuvr

    TrainzLuvr TrainBoard Member

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    By the way, this is what the space looks like, if you haven't had a chance to browse my website: https://trainsluvr.com/2018/01/test-fitting-backdrops/

    With so much new information I feel overwhelmed. Honestly, I do not know what would be the best way to proceed right now.

    Should I continue to complete the benchwork at this point - I have to finish the peninsula and the helix area? Or do I wait before a layout direction is reset, or a new direction set, before finishing the remaining construction (does that even impact the benchwork)?
     
  7. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    Sorry for throwing so much at you. When we get a lot of new information in a relatively short period of time, we need to step back/slow down/consider how the new information affects our original priorities.
    For several months now, you have been basing your construction decisions on the assumption that operations were going to flow from staging on the lower level peninsula. This assumption led to designing a double track helix with one track to connect the lower and middle levels and a second track to connect the lower and upper levels, and to including a nod-under bridge from the upper level support column shelf to the helix. If there was a loop on the lower level, then the central placement of the eastbound and westbound staging yards on the peninsula would offer a balanced run on the lower level for both eastbound and westbound trains. But, when bridges from the support column shelf to the helix on the lower and middle levels interfered too much with operations, the middle level loop was redesigned to be a returning track at the back of the middle level instead of a bridge over the gap to the helix. But on the lower level, the staging yards remained on the peninsula and Lockport was considered for the lower level support column shelf.
    When I originally designed my current layout, I was going to have staging only on my lower level, but quickly changed that when trains spent more time in helixes and staging than on the sceniced portion of the layout. With your layout, it seems like mission creep (shifting from 3 closed loops connected by a helix to an Open E footprint with connecting helix and an upper level nod-under) had led to inefficient use of your 3 shelves and WAY too much time in the helix or staging. Shifting the primary staging to the top and bottom of the layout and making it visible/sceniced staging, uses your 3 shelves much more efficiently.

    Regarding construction...
    The final track plan does, indeed, influence construction of the benchwork, so a pause to consider the implications of some of the proposed variations is certainly in order. New information always affects our priorities.
    1. Think about how you would run trains from visible staging at the bottom "end" of the layout, over the 3 levels, to upper level visible staging at the other end of the layout.
    2. If a junction or interchange was located on the middle level peninsula, how could branchline trains from there connect to the visible staging at the top and bottom of the layout without traveling over the levels in exactly the same order as the Trains from visible staging yards?
    3. When you have a ballpark idea about how many trains you want to run at the same time, you can decide if you want to keep the double track helix or go with a single track. (You will gain a little more space, but not a lot.) Regardless of single or double track, I would encourage you to connect the middle level with both the upper and lower decks.
    4.
     
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  8. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    4. Some modelers really enjoy switching cars and are bored by long runs without any switching action. Others just want to run trains from point to point without much switching. Where are you on the continuum of running trains with lots of switching versus very little switching. The proportion of your layout focusing on industries and switching opportunities versus running mainline tracks that flow uninterrupted through sceniced landscapes (or cityscapes) with no switching should reflect your preference.
    Some modelers try to find a balance. They like to put a train on their layout and let it orbit (essentially, unattended) around a continuous loop while they work a switching job that requires them to get off the mainline every time the through freight or passenger train passes. I tried that on two of my earlier (non-DCC) layouts, but even the larger 2nd layout's loop, which filled 2/3 of a family room, was too short and had too few long sidings near industries, so the road switcher never had enough time for switching before having to clear the electrical block for the superior train to come through. I suppose I could have made it work on the second layout, if I had DCC back then and had jammed in several really long sidings near industries...but the resultant spaghetti bowl of track would have been ugly.
    My current layout is essentially a point to point layout in a letter H shape and is designed for operations. But I've put most of my industries on the upper deck and fewer on the lower level so that the majority of through trains are running on the Southern and Northern mainlines on the lower level, and the local jobs with heavy switching responsibilities are mostly in the Eastern and Western Divisions on the upper deck where most of the industries are located.
    If you set up half of your industries on the lower level, and scatter the rest over the middle and upper levels, then you could switch the lower level industries from a wheeled chair/stool, even on the outside of the support column shelf. And, if you adopt the visible staging options on the inside of the lower and upper support column shelves, then I'd encourage you to locate the industries on the south half of the middle and upper decks and leave the aisle by the support column shelves free for visible staging on the lower and upper levels and for the interchange with the branchline on the middle level peninsula-side of the aisle.
    5. Hmmm....in re-reading this, I see that most of my "construction" remarks relate to "track planning concepts" more than benchwork construction...which is what I had initially started yesterday's post to address. So, some comments more related to benchwork construction.
    Regardless of whether you go with a double track helix or single track, the isosceles right triangle will be better for your space than the 3-4-5 right triangle.
    5a. Bowl-shaped helix or Stacked Helix? A double tracked bowl-shaped triangular helix would have a larger footprint than a stacked helix, but initial construction and future maintenance would be infinitely easier. A single tracked bowl-shaped helix could fit in the footprint of a double tracked stacked helix. If you put a passing siding next to the helix on the top and bottom levels, then it would be unnecessary to have a double tracked helix. (And if you absolutely want to set up an unattended train running a continuous loop over all 3 levels, then it would be possible to set up some sensors and auto-reversers to automate switch alignment up and down a single track helix.)
    5b. Do you already have some ideas about supporting the loops of the helix?
    6. I proposed a track running across the front of the inside upper support column shelf at 59 inches and looping and climbing around the outside, then passing through the backdrop (if it goes all the way to the ceiling) to enter the visible staging yard at 60 or 61 inches. This variation might require adjusting the length and/or height of your upper level support horizontal pieces on the inside of the support column shelf, and the height of the bottom edge of your upper level backdrop (if you are using a backdrop instead of having hills, structures, or trees forming a viewblock between the inside and the outside of the upper level support column shelf.) I have a spot on my upper deck (64.5 inches elevation) where a track passes along the front edge of a 6 inch wide shelf at 63.5 inches. Trains on the front track are completely hidden by the fascia board, the top edge of which is at about 65.5 inches. Your height and your layout height might require tweaking the height of the fascia board to totally hide a passing train from view. Or the track could be fully visible, just lower than the tracks of the yard that are farther back on the shelf.
     
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  9. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    These are pics of a track at a slightly lower height passing in front of slightly higher tracks, while hidden by a higher than usual fascia.
    Middle view:
    Middle view from the normal viewing level while standing on an operator's bench (only the back tracks are visible unless the operator deliberately leans in to see the hidden track:
    Middle view from an angle with all tracks visible:
    View from left:
    View from right:

    On the prototype, the lower track and the other tracks run parallel with each other, but about a 1/4 mile apart from each other. Because the layout shelves on either side of the narrow section were deep enough to separate the two sets of tracks with low hills and trees while still providing room for industries, I wanted to preserve the illusion that the 2 lines were separated from each other even though, for a 3 foot span, they shared a shelf only 6 inches wide.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2018
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  10. TrainzLuvr

    TrainzLuvr TrainBoard Member

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    @ppuinn

    I don't mind the information overload - actually I prefer it to no information at all. :)

    There is a number of things I'd like to discuss, and your track suggestions are very intriguing. From the first two photos you posted, I would not have guessed there was a track next to the fascia unless I looked inside. That was a very clever way of hiding it, and I'd like to apply something similar here, if I can.

    I'd like to save the track discussion for later as it's probably going to be more involving than a helix, so could we talk about a helix first and get that out of the way, please?

    I did several mock-ups so that we have a base point:

    helix_options_for_newbridge_and_lockport_rr.jpg

    Perhaps the isosceles triangle isn't the right size, but I don't know how bigger I'd let it be, as it's already a foot into the yard space, the same with the 3-4-5 triangle. The stacked oval on the other hand kinda keeps to itself. To me the oval and 3-4-5 appear better because they have longer straight sections. For an isosceles triangle to have longer straights it would have to be huge!

    The oval and 3-4-5 mock-ups are stacked helices, while the isosceles triangle is bowl-shaped. I am not sure how many loops I would need to make (4? 5?) to climb from lower to the middle level.

    What happens from the middle level to the upper level with the isosceles helix?

    Also, what is the lowest radius I can get away with in that bowl-shaped helix (that inner loops is about 12")?

    Does the shape of the helix depend or have impact on whether the layout remains a walk-in, or if I switch to a full swing-gate (all 3 levels)? Obviously benchwork below the helix (towards the bottom of the screen) would need to be adjusted accordingly.
     
  11. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    I'm trying to add as much length as possible to the sides of the 3 helix shapes without disturbing the 36 inch aisle, but am having trouble determining exactly how many inches from the peninsula my various sized helix footprints are falling. Would it be possible to add a red line arc overlaying the 3 helix images above, that demarks a 36 inch wide aisle around the end of the peninsula?
    Also, I like how you've put the helices in a different color than the tan of the lower level shelf... the 1 foot grid marks are helpful, but I can't tell exactly how far the first grid line parallel with the east wall is from the east wall. 8 inches? 8.5 inches? 9 inches?
    If we use the upper left corner where the east and south walls meet as a 0,0 coordinate, what would be the coordinates for the fascia at the tip of the peninsula, for the track centerline at the tip of the peninsula, and the centerpoint of the peninsula loop of track (so I can use the radius to locate the south and north edges of the peninsula). (The shelf and aisle dimensions on your other posted pics show the centerpoint of the peninsula loop is probably 79 inches from the south wall (making south fascia 55 inches and north fascia 103 inches from that wall, but I'd like to have an exact number for the distance from the east wall so I can figure distances between the curves of the various helix shapes I'm proposing and the curves of the peninsula.)

    It's fairly clear what we have with your stacked, double-tracked oval helix with 24 inch sides, so most of the variations I've been considering are with bowl-shaped single-tracked helices. A 7.5-loop bowl-shaped oval helix with 33 inch sides and a 1.25 inch wide ramp will have an outside footprint of 52 5/8 inches and will produce a momentary choke-point with the peninsula of about 28 inches before widening out to roughly 36 inches and closing again to 33 on the south edge of the loop. This choke-point could be widened a little by running the fascia closer to the track in that portion of the peninsula, or by reducing the length of the peninsula by a few inches (so the eastern-most tip of the peninsula is 2 or 3 inches farther from the east wall)...or by doing a little of both.

    I've assumed that the helix will spiral upward in a counter-clockwise direction with a 2% grade, and will have a minimum radius of 16 inches, but that radius is only held momentarily. As the track goes around the first loop, the radius will gradually increase. I assumed a 1.25 inch wide ramp, so in one loop, the track centerline radius will increase from 16 inches to 17.25 inches, and after the second loop the track centerline radius will be 18.5 inches. At the top of the 7th loop, the radius will be 24 3/8 inches (track centerline). At the top of the helix (end of the 7 1/2 loops), the outside edge of the ramp will yield a footprint that is 52 5/8 inches wide.
    I used a lower deck elevation of 31 inches. The first loop of the helix starts at 31 inches elevation, and rises 3 7/16 inches by the end of the first loop. On the 4th loop, a turnout at the north end of the helix will let trains onto the 45 inch elevation middle deck, and another turnout at the south end of the helix will let the elevated track that comes back from the other end of the middle level shelf enter the helix to climb to the upper deck. From a turnout at the northern end of the helix, just before reaching the top of the 7th loop, the track will leave the helix footprint and continue to climb at a 2% grade for another 5 feet or so to reach the 59 inch elevation of the upper deck. The 7th loop will continue around the south end of the helix and start an 8th loop as it passes along the east wall before connecting with a track that has come over the Nod-Under Bridge at 62 or 63 inches elevation.
     
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  12. TrainzLuvr

    TrainzLuvr TrainBoard Member

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    @ppuinn

    Thanks for sticking out with me this far. :)

    Please find the updated images below, with all the dimensions and the arc around the peninsula:

    helix_options_for_newbridge_and_lockport_rr_red_arc.jpg

    These dimensions are on the plan, e.g. in the virtual world. As the peninsula is not built yet there could be variations in the distances from the South and East walls. I was also considering making the peninsula smaller (smaller radius than 24") to give more room...Still thinking about it though as this is supposed to be the "hero" scene so a nice broad radius is desirable.

    The oval shape helix in my original plan is 1.67% grade, iirc. While the calculation you present for the bowl-shape helix talks about a 2% grade, isn't that rather steep? What kind of train length and consists are we talking about at 2% grade?
     
  13. TrainzLuvr

    TrainzLuvr TrainBoard Member

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    @ppuinn

    Last thing for the night from me, here's a crude rendition of the spiral (bowl) helix, as proposed.

    AnyRail does not have option to create spirals easily, so I had to plot a curve point by point and then adjust CVs. Meh.

    helix_options_for_newbridge_and_lockport_rr_spiral_helix.jpg
     
  14. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    Ummm...a 7.5 loop circular bowl-shaped helix fits in the corner, but the 7.5 loop oval bowl with 33 inch sides that I proposed will not. Somehow I got it in my head that there would be perhaps a 6 inch encroachment into the aisle, but the actual overlap of an oval helix into the 36 inch aisle is closer to 12 inches. If the peninsula fascia is at 21 inches instead of 24, then the choke-point will be about 27 inches, and if the peninsula is shortened by 3 inches, then the choke-point will be about 30 inches wide.
     
  15. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    I use two locos (GPs or SDs) on most of my regional jobs--15 to 20 freight cars and a caboose; but for my locals (pulled by pairs of 900/1200 or 1500 switchers which are lighter than the GPs or SDs), only about 14 cars if they must go up/down a helix. I have experienced some slippage with the longest trains (18 to 20 cars) when random assignment yields more than the average number of heavier cars, so I'll probably start routinely assigning 3 locos to those few jobs. The unit coal trains sometimes run with 2 and sometimes 3 locos, but that's more for appearance than necessity.
     
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  16. TrainzLuvr

    TrainzLuvr TrainBoard Member

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    @ppuinn

    Sorry got quiet for a bit, have been working more on the benchwork, installing twin track uprights for the shelving:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    You said you had a way to calculate the bowl shaped helix parameters, is this something you could share with me please? Ideally if it was an Excel file that would be perfect, something to plug numbers in and get output right away...
     
  17. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    WOW! Fantastic progress.

    What are your plans for track elevation(s) on the inside and outside of the upper level support column shelf? The proposal (to "hide" a track behind the fascia at 59", and then loop and climb around the outside to upper level staging on the inside at 61/62" before crossing Nod-Under Bridge to the helix) was a significant departure from your original plan. Our initial dreams sometimes change as we consider other options, and any evolution (or perhaps just clarification) of our dreams influences the priorities we assign to various givens and druthers. And the realities we encounter as we make our dreams real force us into compromises (priority realignments) that further shape our Givens and Druthers. What are your Givens and Druthers today?

    My guess is that they are still mostly intact, but your plan has settled more firmly into:
    1. a reversing loop on the lower level (no track that loops across the gap),
    2. a reversing loop on the middle level that may have an elevated return to the heiix (again, no track forming a loop across the gap), and
    3. an upper level loop that bridges the gap with a nod-under.

    I'm less certain about your current preferences on several other aspects.
    1. How important is it now to have provisions for a continuous loop over 1, 2, or 3 levels?

    2. What are your current preferences regarding staging:
    a) two separate and largely unsceniced staging yards (Eastbound and Westbound) located on the lower level with a (perhaps sceniced) Ready Track area near the helix and a reversing loop (and sceniced Lockport?) on the inside or outside of the support column shelf;
    versus
    b) one sceniced yard (visible staging--where you break down arriving trains and build departing trains) on each level, including Lockport on the lower level, an interchange/branchline town on the middle level, and Newbridge on the upper level. Visible staging can be set up to have very little switching (each operator adds locos and caboose to cars left on a yard track by previous operator) or a lot (someone's job is to continually shuffle the cars that the operators drop off).
    c) some combination of unsceniced staging and visible sceniced staging.

    3. I also don't have much of a read on what amount or type of switching opportunities appeal to you:
    a) lots vs little;
    b) percentage standing vs percentage sitting vs balance;
    c) road switching between towns/interchanges;
    vs manifest freight from Pt A to Pt B
    vs local industrial switching out/back from a nearby yard
    vs in-plant switching by dedicated (24/7 leased) RR loco or a company loco
    vs balanced (or weighted) percentages of these 4 types;
    d) switching activities occurring on all 3 levels vs only one or two levels;
    e) high vs low density of industries/linear foot of shelf.

    4. You've mentioned making compromises necessary between "hero" scenes on the peninsula and adequate aisle space...and we've seen how these compromises are significantly affected by the choices being made for the helix. The Excel file I created for calculating dimensions of a bowl-shaped helix is "stickied" at the top of the Layout Design Discussion home page. It is designed for circles and ovals, but I made some (very rough/unsophisticated) modifications to a copy on my home computer to generate the elevations for the triangular bowl-shaped helix I presented in Post 29 above. If you are comfortable with Excel formulas, you can save a copy to your own computer, unprotect it, and modify it as you wish. If you are not, then we can work together to refine my rough formulas for a triangular, bowl-shaped helix on your layout.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
  18. TrainzLuvr

    TrainzLuvr TrainBoard Member

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    @ppuinn

    Here is where I stand right now, at least in my head, not posted to the web yet.

    Lower level staging will be on the North side of the columns. The train(s) will leave staging and wind around the entire lower level. I'm thinking to put the main classification yard along the South wall, just before the helix. This would be a sitting operation for couple of people.

    After leaving the yard, train(s) would enter the helix in the South East corner and climb to the middle level. Then traverse the entire middle level (albeit going in the opposite direction now) and upon reaching the left (North East) column, go around it while still gaining height, go through the wall/backdrop from behind and head back towards the helix, now elevated 3-4 inches. The elevation on the middle level would only go along the perimeter walls and not traverse the peninsula (unless you think I should make a provision for a branching to happen for even more added interest). I'm open to new ideas, while I do have some of my own, too.

    There will be a junction point somewhere at the North-West corner that would cause the trains to descend couple of inches and follow the inside perimeter of the North wall, go around the left column and enter the Lockport branchline, on the middle level.

    Once the train(s) reach the helix on the elevated middle level, they'd climb up to the upper level and traverse it, go around the left column and finish in the upper staging.

    There would be no turning back to the helix, or nod-unders in this plan, just so that things don't get too complicated. Lockport branchline would be basically sandwiched between two staging levels. I hope this will not be too crammed - I yet have to see how much space I actually have to work with now that the uprights are in place I can experiment with some brackets.

    Another aspect I like with both staging levels being on this side is that they could be a show piece for trains. It would be a first thing you see when you come down into the basement (beside the Lockport branch). Although I have not devised a way for the trains to re-stage automatically yet as I need to have a loop, and I'm not sure there's adequate space for it on both levels...so it's kinda stub-ended atm (although I bought enough turnouts to make it double-ended as per the original plan).

    I also believe I need to locate another (smaller?) yard somewhere on the middle or the upper level that would service the other direction (upper level staging).

    Regarding switching, I'd like to strike a balance (although, I'm open to new ideas). On the lower level wherever there is switching involved I envision it being done sitting since that surface is at 31-32". I'd get some round stools on wheels and tuck them under the benchwork in key locations that would be pulled out by operators whenever needed.

    I'm fairly clued with Excel so if you have a custom file with formulas for bowl shaped helix, please send it over and we'll go from there.

    I finished putting the uprights on the Lockport side. Next I'm going to complete the peninsula head, and then either work on the helix area or do wiring, or both.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    I like the idea of using Lockport and the upper and lower staging as a display area at the entrance to the train room. And, eliminating the nod-under will provide unimpeded access into the layout from the doorway aisle.

    In your description, you indicated you are considering a classification yard on the lower level along the south wall by the helix, and perhaps 2 people working it while seated. With a 33-37 inch wide south wall aisle, 2 seated operators working the lower level will make it impossible for other operators to follow along with their trains in the south wall aisle on the middle and upper levels, as well as on the lower level...essentially making them watch from afar for 50% of every level. Combining that with time spent in the helix (=30% of the mainline from lower staging to upper staging) operators would only be with their trains for 20% of their run--not too satisfying.

    If half of the classification yard operations were moved to the inside of the lower level support column shelf, and the other half was on the outside with the staging tracks (which I recommend are sceniced/detailed so there is more than just Lockport on display by the door) and would be functioning as an arrival-departure yard instead of a staging yard), you would still be able to have 2 people working classifications (and "staging" for return runs), but the south wall aisle would be open for operators to follow along with their trains. By setting up sidings and tracks into all industries (on all 3 levels) along either side of the south wall aisle so that they are typically entered and worked from deeper in the aisle away from the helix, it would be possible for a train on the main in the south aisle to pass another train working the industries along the south aisle on any of the 3 levels, and for the passing train's operator to stay right next to his train half or 3/4 of the way into the aisle. Just like on the prototypes, trains on the layout mainline would have priority over trains doing switching in industries, so the operator working the industries must move his train off the mainline and move himself deeper into the end of the aisle, so the main (and aisle) is clear for the other train (and operator) to pass.

    With 3 levels, it will be necessary to schedule your trains in a way that facilitates people meets and passes, as well as, train meets and passes. This will mean scheduling an absolute maximum of 2 trains eastbound at the same time 2 trains are westbound... and until operators are very experienced and your trackwork is 100% bullet proof and your electrical system/electronics are totally reliable (so that operators encounter zero delays and can stay within seconds of a prescribed time table), probably only 2 trains should be moving on the mainline and industrial tracks between upper and lower level yards, instead of 3 or 4, so delays of more than just a few seconds don't ever cause more than 2 people to occupy an aisle at the same time.

    You've mentioned having 2 yard switching jobs in the lower level classification yard, and perhaps another operator on the upper level (staging) breaking down arrivals and building departing trains. In addition to these 3 yard jobs, do you plan to have any industrial jobs worked by a loco(s) dedicated to just that industry (no switching on the mainline, all switching is totally confined to in-plant tracks and to an industrial siding where road switchers pick up and set out cars specifically for that industry). If you set up any switching jobs confined to a single industry, you may want to have those industries mostly worked from the northeast end of the peninsula or east end of the support column shelf, so an operator on the mainline of any level has enough space to easily pass the operator working the industrial job (also, potentially, on any of the 3 levels of the peninsula, and on the middle level of the support column shelf) without either interfering with the other or the operators in the yards.

    So...it is looking like your layout could provide jobs for 5 operators: 2 operators on the 3 levels of the mainline, and 3 operators working in 2 yards/staging. And you might be able to add 1 or 2 more operators working 4 in-plant industries (1 on lower level peninsula, 2 on the middle level, and 1 or 2 on the upper level. With 5 to 7 operators, careful scheduling will keep your aisles from getting over-crowded.
    At 30 scale miles per hour, I think it will take about 20 minutes to go from your lower staging (Newbridge?) to Lockport to upper staging (Upton? Highpoint? Summit?) without any stops or speed restrictions through towns or junctions. Depending on how long industrial spurs and interchange tracks are, roadswitchers switching at 5 scale mph take at least 3 minutes to pick up one car and set out another on a trailing point spur. Pick-ups and set outs requiring a runaround to serve a facing point turnout/switch may take considerably longer. Let's assume Newbridge to Highpoint takes about 20 to 30 minutes, and roadswitching jobs take 30 to 60, and turns from a yard out and back to the same yard take 15 to 45 minutes, depending on where they go and how much switching they do, and whether or not the operators hostle their own locos from Engine tracks to pick up cars in the classification or staging yard, or if the yard operators hostle locos instead.

    How many, and what sort of trains do you expect to run: through/dispatch/priority freight, local/roadswitching jobs, passenger jobs, hotshot intermodal jobs, slow coal trains? Your schedule of trains should take into account that different trains will have different speeds and thus will affect how many operators end up in the same aisle at any moment. I have one aisle of my double deck layout that is restricted to just one operator at a time, and I must allow trains 4.5 or 9 minutes to pass through it, depending on which mainline they are on. When any of the 4 roadswitching jobs that must be performed in that aisle are working, no other traffic is allowed through for 12, 16, 18, or 21 minutes. If switching takes longer than the allowed time (which it almost always does), the operator has to step out of the aisle for 4.5 or 9 minutes while the other train goes through.

    On my layout, it takes about 15 minutes for an operator to run the Corn Products transfer job of 15 cars from the main terminal/RR yard out to the Corn Products plant (which has its own dedicated loco), and then bring 15 cars back to the original yard, and about 10 minutes to run the ADM transfer job of 8 cars out and to the ADM plant and then back. Because these jobs are so brief, I have the operator who runs the transfer job, also run the in-plant jobs associated with the transfer job, The 2 combined Corn Products Jobs (Transfer job and in-plant job) take about 30 minutes, and the combined ADM jobs take about 20 minutes.
    I have 4 local jobs that each take 15 to 20 cars from the main terminal yard out to industries in 4 cities and bring back 15 to 20 cars from the industries: the East Peoria job takes about 30 minutes; the Pekin Job about 40 minutes; the Peoria Job about 60 minutes; and the Bartonville job about 90-100 minutes.

    The BN Peoria Yard 1st Shift Yard Switcher Job is responsible for breaking down BN 104, building the BN Alley Job and the BN Transfer Job to the main terminal RR Yard (about a 15 minute task), and then running the BN Alley Job (taking 20 cars to 15 industries and bringing back 20 cars), which takes about 45 minutes. The BN Peoria Yard 2nd Shift Yard Switcher Job is responsible for classifying the Alley Job cars and building the BN Transfer Job and BN 105 (about a 15 minute task), then running the BN Transfer Job (about a 10 minute job); and then breaking down the 20 BN transfer Job cars and building the BN 105 and the BN Alley Job (about a 15 minute job). The BN 2nd shift job takes about 40 minutes. BN 104 arrives from Galesburg in early morning and BN 105 departs to Galesburg in late afternoon. Both BN 104 and BN 105 are manifest freight jobs with no switching at all, and each takes about 22 minutes to run.

    On your layout, it would be possible to set up 3 locals that work out of the Newbridge yard and serve industries on the lower level, middle level, and upper level. The Newbridge Yard Master in Yard Switcher #1 could be responsible for breaking down the 3 arriving local trains and building point-to-point manifest freights to Summit and roadswitchers working industries and interchanges from Newbridge to Lockport and to Summit. The NB Yard Switcher#2 would be responsible for breaking down arriving manifest freight trains and roadswitchers and building the Locals to the 3 levels. The Lockport Yard switcher would break down/build arriving/departing "branchline" traffic that LP Road Switcher #1 brought in or delivered to local industries or interchanges, and LP Manifest Freight Engine #2 would take to/bring from NB or Summit.
    Note1: The NB locals and the NB Roadswitchers will probably be serving the same industries, unless you are have more than 12 industry spots for picking up and setting out cars.
    Note2: "Branchline" is in quotes because, unless you have more than 20 industry and interchange spots for cars on each level, most of your industries will have to be served by trains out of both Lockport and out of Newbridge/Summit.

    If you put 2 interchange tracks that hold 4 cars each on each level, then it would be possible to run a 12 car Interchange Transfer job from Newbridge to half of them and a 12 car Interchange transfer job from Lockport to the other half, and swap out 3-for-3 cars and return to the original yard with 12 new cars to use in building locals or manifest freights. Only Interchanges (no industries) are worked by the Interchange Transfer Job.
     
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  20. TrainzLuvr

    TrainzLuvr TrainBoard Member

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    @ppuinn

    Once again I must bow to you for an ability to envision the operation of a totally foreign and yet non-existent railroad. Thank-you for sticking around with me and providing me with this invaluable information.

    My description of the classification yard was purely hypothetical. When I said two operators in the yard, I thought that based on its length and being double-ended, it could accommodate two operators there. That is not a must at all and one operator would probably be more than enough, considering the size of my layout and aisle space.

    Now, when it comes to location of the yard, I just don't see half of it happening on the inner lower shelf of the support columns, and the other half on the outside shelf. The space there is pretty tight, both on the shelves and aisle wise (especially on the outside). The only reasonable place I thought a classification yard could be located was along the South wall, being the longest uninterrupted surface and deepest of all (22-24").

    I also never considered the timings between levels (or inside the helix), or operators bumping into each other. Somehow I always took it for granted and thought that things sort themselves out, on a per situation basis. This whole arrangement seems very intricate and delicate, from where I sit as an operations n00b. I'm now worried about yet another parameter (or two) that I need to consider in the further planning (as if there weren't enough already :LOL:)

    I think I need to go back to my (unfinished) plan and block out LDEs for all of the levels which would hopefully give a glimpse of a bigger picture and how they inter-operate. Originally, I was under an impression that I could go level by level with both design and construction - build one level at a time and see how that works out first. It appears now that might not be possible, considering the operation of my railroad you've described above as a whole. Am I correct in that assumption or is there some wiggle room to work within?

    How does one pick industries to place on their layout? I have some I like, but I'm not a *huge* fan of any particular one, so maybe that's what's making it difficult for me. I'm thinking my approach would be to block out size and location of all of the LDEs, based on my default train length first (2 x train length + 2 turnouts, one on each side of the siding). Next decide where towns/cities are among those LDEs and then designate industries to each of them, having in mind the goods/resources supply and demand (both on and off the layout). Does that sound reasonable or is it overly complicated?

    How would I decide the possible number of operators on my layout to begin with? Also, how do you figure out the congestion/crowding points when it comes to the operators moving around, etc?

    I do not have a roaster of trains either - should I be working on that as well? Because I do not have preferred industries, I guess it makes it harder to figure out what trains should run on the railroad. I'd like to see a variety of trains and jobs, just so I don't end up feeling bored with too much of one and the same thing.
    Perhaps I should decide on the industries first and assemble possible combinations of trains based on that, or could certain trains be put together irrespective of the industries (I'm thinking here through freight, passenger trains, anything that doesn't really touch industries on my railroad).

    Aside, I manage to finish the peninsula head few days ago (those brackets there are just to test the look)...

    [​IMG]

    Right now I'm waiting for the primer to dry, so I can paint everything sky blue and call that part done.

    I started mocking up the staging on the lower level. I added a turntable so that a locomotive can disconnect, turn around and go back to the end (beginning) of the train, which could be a hostling job during an op session.

    [​IMG]

    That spur on the right that leads off from the turntable and goes through the backdrop is actually going to connect to the main line there, giving me another choice to run the trains through and then back them into the staging yard.

    I saw this concept with the turntable from Vikas Chander's Abendstern layout and liked it:

    [​IMG]

    I also like the way he scenicked his staging:

    [​IMG]
     

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