Modeling modern grain operations

txronharris Dec 13, 2018

  1. txronharris

    txronharris TrainBoard Member

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    I'm wanting to get a module or two together to get back into N-Trak with a local club. I know we've had a great discussion about T-Trak that's till ongoing elsewhere on this forum, but I think the N-Trak suits my needs better since there's not an NScale Free-Mo club around.

    I really like grain elevators, but instead of just building another big elevator, I've been thinking about modeling a modern grain elevator loop facility that serves the unit grain trains a lot like this:



    Was thinking one could probably do it with two three foot modules, then basically operations would be to pull the train in, inch it though "loading" or "unloading", then go back to running it on the mainline. I know I can't run a 90 car train through like the prototype, but could probably do a pretty long one that's reasonably close.

    I've not seen anyone do this before so asking if you guys have seen anyone do it or have pics of anyone that's modeling something like this. Also, any thoughts or ideas that might help get this rolling.

    Thanks again in advance.
     
  2. txronharris

    txronharris TrainBoard Member

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    Here's another example from Google maps:
     

    Attached Files:

  3. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Well, yes, you can fit 15-25 hoppers on six feet of modules. But you can only load the one in the middle.

    I'd suggest the first step would be to make sure the modules on either end have a third track you can use.
     
  4. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    I look at that Google image and I see a an oval layout that would connect to a modular layout via one module section with a whye. That would be really cool if it stuck out into the walking area. And you'd likely have every other grain train fanatic begging to run their train over your module. ;)
     
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  5. txronharris

    txronharris TrainBoard Member

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    Geeky, I thought about that also. Six feet of N-Trak modules with another 4ft "T" where the elevator would be (it could be 4ft because it wouldn't interfere with the N-Trak standards).
    Thanks for the suggestion and will continue to try and work this out. I was told N-Trak may try to do a huge layout near its big anniversary, and if that happens I'd like to be a part of it. The local clubs here would be fun to get back into as well.

    Any and all comments and suggestions for a trackplan are encouraged and welcome. Thanks again!


    Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
     
  6. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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    Yeah, I was talking about it with Dave Porter, who wants to organize it, at the show in Oklahoma City a few weekends ago. May have to dust off the old Imperial Sugar modules and haul them to the big event when it happens.
     
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  7. txronharris

    txronharris TrainBoard Member

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    Here's another view of what I'm trying to figure out:
    superior elevator.jpg
    And another track arrangement:
    shuttle loader idea.jpg

    I'm wondering if this is too big of a concept. Even if I did do a "T"arrangement for the loop, the "T" part coming off the module would have to be about six feet long to even be close to representing a loop like this. I could come off a siding off the blue line of an N-Trak module to make the loop, so it's a possibility, but I'm probably looking at there needing to be three standard main modules to get the siding length I'd need plus the elevator loop.

    Any suggestions?
     
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  8. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    It appears that the loading loop has but one entrance. How does a train operate in this instance? Does it back in, so it can pull forward emerging?
     
  9. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    I’d guess there’s a track from the loop back to the main in the distance, hidden behind those trees. Such a connection would allow trains to enter from either direction, pull their unit train through and continue to the next major yard. Or (maybe, more likely) drop the cars, let the elevator loco(s) pull the cars through for loading/unloading, then power couples back on at the other end to pull the cars back to the original yard. [Any confirmation or correction from 1:1 operators is welcome.]


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  10. vince p

    vince p TrainBoard Member

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    Actually the one that I had served in Nebraska making a truck delivery of cow chow there were 2 switches off the mainline beyond each side of the elevator.

    Depending on loop size trains can enter with 25-50-75 cars if it's a drop/load the road power most likely will be cut off and head for the yard.

    While a local elevator switcher or RR provided switching crew takes over.

    There are varients of this like coal sometimes the crew will use a pacesetter throttle setting.

    This allows the train a steady speed to load and weigh then roll once getting paperwork without stopping.
     
  11. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    Wow that one is pretty much screaming "make me into a door panel layout!"
     
  12. txronharris

    txronharris TrainBoard Member

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    I'd say that might be a possibility, but with me wanting to do it as N-Trak modules that would be a bit bulky.

    Throwing the portability factor in makes another variable that has to be worked through.

    Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
     
  13. WFOJeff

    WFOJeff TrainBoard Member

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    Prototypes always require a lot of length and space we don't have even in the N world.

    Shorten it some and use imagination to account for length short comings. I'd say 8 ft to account for all is best (x2 4 foots to tie in.

    I'm working on a Ethanol plant with product coming in then spent product out not counting the Ethanol out portion. Hardest part is the building operations in N scale that are not available...mind boggling...
     
  14. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    Thanks for the confirmation, Vince.

    Possible operations could look like this:
    1. Grain cars are gathered in a rail yard.
    2. AM shift (6:00?): A string of x number of cars is shuttled to the facility and dropped off for 12 hours for loading/unloading, and RR power goes back to the rail yard light...(or, assuming there is a yard big enough to hold all outbound cars, or a double track loop [one track for inbound cars, 2nd for parking outbound], possibly taking a comparable string of empties/loads back to the rail yard).
    3. Facility loco pulls the cars through the loader/unloader.
    4. PM Shift (6:00?): Loco from rail yard comes light and picks up the loaded/unloaded cars left in the AM and returns them to the rail yard...or brings a string of x number of cars to the facility and drops them off, and the AM shift cars are returned to the rail yard.


    Big Edit:
    I've gone through a number of plans but finally settled on a 10'x18' double track loop made of
    4 standard NTRAK modules (right and left 3'x5' special junction modules, and two 2.5'x 4' modules with the extra 6 inches added at the front) and 7 oNe TRAK modules (five 1'x4' modules and two 3' corner modules). Both junction modules have a double crossover which allows trains to enter and depart the facility from either direction. The outside (outbound) loop can hold up to 50 cars after they have been loaded/unloaded, and the track configuration allows a train of 50 cars to be brought into the facility from a rail yard and set out on the inside (inbound) track. Then, instead of returning light, the loco can pick up the 50 cars delivered from the rail yard the previous day and loaded/unloaded by the facililty loco and set out on the outside (outbound) track for return to the rail yard.

    This track plan isn't complete and it certainly isn't pretty, but it gives an idea of how the modules could go together. Some of my earlier versions had a smaller footprint, but also deviated from the NTRAK standards so far that I trashed them.
    Ron, you'll need to check with NTRAK officials to determine if my track configurations on these modules are still within acceptable limits (minimum 24 inch radius on the 2 mains and 18 inch radius on the branch line (loop); all curves would have small easements; and all tracks are straight/perpendicular at the ends of the modules).
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
  15. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    FAIL! Yesterday, I tried to reproduce the double crossover and minimum 18" radius curves of my paper-pencil plan within the outline of a 3'x5' special junction module using some actual #4 Atlas turnouts, but the final arrangement extended beyond the 3' dimension. Unless a 4'x5' special junction module is a legitimate option within the standard NTRAK guidelines, it may be necessary to have two 3'x5' special junction modules at each end of the facility to enter the loop (one with a single track, and the other with two tracks and the double crossover). And then, there would need to be some way the 3 parallel tracks would get onto a single module with just the two tracks of the inside and outside loops.

    Maybe the double crossover could be positioned between the branch line and a fourth track that comes off of the branch line and runs parallel with the 3 standard tracks. Then the right/left pair of special junction modules at each end of the facility would each have a single track that curves off of the branch line to go onto a 1'x4' module for the inside and outside tracks of the loop.
     
  16. txronharris

    txronharris TrainBoard Member

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    Here's a very rough sketch taking into account suggestions from everyone above:
    [​IMG]

    Dave, I took a look at what you've got going and I really, really appreciate your comments and the comments of others.

    I looked at the oNe Trak standards since they somewhat mirror the N-Trak standards, and even looked at T-Trak standards. I like the idea of the elevator being right up front, and the loop going back from the modules off the blue line. I am thinking I can do 3 three foot N-Trak modules with the sidings coming off the blue lines and turning towards the back, then use T-Trak spacing for the return loop for the grain cars.

    By my thinking, that gives me four two foot by one foot wide T-Trak modules, and two T-Trak corners, then one more three foot by one foot back module also on the T-TRAK standard spacing. This would create an operating area in the middle for me to have a seat and operate the elevator/watch trains go by.

    I'd do minimal scenery like the plains on the two T-Trak corners and one foot wide T-Trak straight modules, and if I use T-Trak spacing, that makes them all viable for dual use. I'm also thinking lexan or clear plastic sides along the one foot loop modules to avoid any mishaps. I could even just run a loop of my own locos and hoppers around in a circle slowly to simulate the operations of the elevator, or if someone operating a grain train on the blue line wants to take a loop with their train they could and then continue back onto the blue line.

    This puts the elevator front and center on the middle N-Trak module for people to see and gives a little over 15ft for the loop for the grain hoppers. With creative turnout spacing, the grain train could pull off the blue line and onto the outside loop, take a crossover to the inside, and loop though the elevator to load or unload. It could then go from the inner loop to the outer loop and then pull back onto the blue line, going which ever way the trains are going on the blue line.

    Any comments are encouraged and welcome. I'm going to float something like this by a couple of N-Trak guys at the Plano Tx show next week and get their opinions too. One of the issues I see is having room for the elevator loop within the inside of an N-Trak layout. To help that if needed, I could always make the loop smaller by removing one of the T-Trak straight modules.

    I can transport and set it all up myself so that won't be an issue. To me, adding nine feet of mainline to a club layout seems like it would be cool, but I'm not sure if other club members will share my affinity for grain operations or want to deal with the size of this type of setup.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019

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