Has Anyone Seen the Following on a Layout....

Sumner Nov 28, 2020

  1. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

    I have a project in mind and wonder if anyone else has seen something similar. Might give me some additional ideas. Not sure if I'll ever accomplish the following but I spend a lot of time thinking about it and had done quite a bit of work in Fusion 360 coming up with a possible structure that would maybe work with it.

    The idea is to create the illusion of a train entering a coal mine's loading facilities empty and leaving with the hoppers full of coal.

    The mine would have two parallel tracks coming off the main line that would service the mine. The upper purple line entering the mine from the upper right would be hidden in a hill. A loaded coal train would enter the mill on the hidden track and exit on the same track where it becomes visible to the left of the mill.

    A train with empties would enter the mill on the visible red track to the right of the mine. In the mine the track would turn just before getting to the purple track and exit the mine on a hidden track through a building that is part of the mine and into a hill behind the building.

    The trains would be identical with identical locos (same type and number) except one is empty and the other loaded. As the empty one is entering and leaving on the hidden track the train with the loaded hoppers has entered on the hidden track and exits on the visible track giving the illusion that that the train has been filled as it enters and exits the mine's loading facilities.

    The parallel track though the mine would probably cross the other track with a crossing inside the mine. A train could be parked on that train with loaded cars after the crossing and empties on the other side.

    Here is the rough draft of what I've come up with for the mine itself.


    It is a large structure and will require 3D printing it in sections. Wall and roof coverings have to be added along with windows and doors so lots of work to still be done.

    Here is a bottom view of the mine and Tracks...


    The radius of the curves under the mine building are 11" to keep the mine as short as possible.

    I've seen some layouts where a train with loaded hopper leaves or enters on hidden tracks but not where one appears to be loaded. I did see a very cool one where the train dumps cars on a rotary dump. Very impressive.

    Any input on this is appreciated.

    gmorider likes this.

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

    I haven't seen anything like that done. It is a cool idea. In addition to the identical train sets, you would need some way to speed match the two trains. I guess that could be done fairly easy with DCC locos?
  3. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

    I no longer recall the details, but I think Model Railroader magazine worked a somewhat similar arrangement with a mine and electric utility on their N Scale Clinchfield Railroad build from the late 1970s.
    BNSF FAN likes this.
  4. Joe Lovett

    Joe Lovett TrainBoard Member

    I remember the article your talking about.

    Go for it Sumner, your drawing looks cool and should be a fun project.

    BNSF FAN and Hardcoaler like this.
  5. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

    I found this...


    ... and reference to what you are talking about ( I think ) on another site posted back in 2005 ("Power plant on one side of a wall, coal mine on the other. "). I went to the link above that was in that post and wow great work on that layout but couldn't find anything about the power plant/coal mine and that doesn't look like N scale so not sure where to go from there.

    From reading another post there it sounded like the trains went into the coal mine and then out through a tunnel (you couldn't see them exit). Then they would come out of a tunnel (unseen) at the back of the power plant so it looked like the cars were going into the coal mine to be loaded and came out of the power plant empty. You could do it the opposite way where they entered the power plant loaded and came out of the mine loaded (but going in the opposite direction than the empties going into the mine.

    Thanks for the input and let me know if you find more about that operation,

    BNSF FAN likes this.
  6. IronMan1963

    IronMan1963 TrainBoard Member

    The reference is to a system called "Loads in Empties Out". Using 2 tracks you push your empties into the mine which pushes them to the out going side of the power plant. Pull out and over to the loaded track and pull the loaded cars out of the mine which is pulling the full cars out of the power plant. run around the layout and drop the loaded at the power plant and pickup the empties to take back to the mine.
    Sumner likes this.
  7. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

    Not in quite that way. As others have said, many layouts use the empties in loaded out method to move cars through a tunnel or back drop between a coal mine and a power plant.
  8. drgwspup

    drgwspup TrainBoard Member

    I really like your idea. It solves the Clinchfield empty in/load out paired industries dilemma that I have always struggled with, that is, an entire train enters loco first into the mine and hidden tracks, while a loaded train comes out of the mine/hidden tracks locomotive first. Your idea more faithfully represents the loading and unloading process, I am curious as to the radius of the curves to get to your hidden tracks and of course you have to have topography that will cover the hidden tracks. Good luck with the project and please keep us informed!
  9. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

    The hidden curves are 11" radius. I'm trying to keep the main line to 18". Here is what I posted about the topography elsewhere...

    "On the side the 'full' train is entering from is a larger mountain ridge and the track would come in at the same elevation as the tracks to the mine from that mountain.

    The exit track on the other side for the empties is harder to hide, as you mentioned, but I think I can do it with the track exiting the back side wall of the building there. That wall would be backed up to a narrow ridge, like a hog-back ridge that is narrow and tapers in and ends at the back of the building. The building is butted up against it.

    Under the ridge the track would descend on a 4% to 6% grade to drop it down under the layout pretty quickly where it could then go back to a staging area. The train will never have to climb that grade so I think that will work. The small ridge above it can also taper down to flat ground fairly quickly following the grade down. It would look somewhat like the hog-back ridges you see on the front range north and south of Denver and some that we have in the 4-Corners area where I am."


    Spent some time yesterday adding siding to the center section of the building. I'm cutting the building into about 4 separate prints and this will be by far the largest of them. Still need to add windows, door, and other detail,


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