HO Scale walk-in with continuous running looking for help

XcaliburNick Jan 21, 2021

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  1. XcaliburNick

    XcaliburNick TrainBoard Member

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    Hi all, I'm starting out from scratch, but I have a few things I'm already looking at after reading MRR magazines and a few books over the years.

    Scale: HO
    Physical Location: Well lit and finished basement
    Era: Late steam/early diesel (not locking in time period quite yet)
    Setting: British Columbia, especially the Revelstoke-Vancouver route of the CPR
    Goals: Primarily scenery and train running, with some interest in solo operations
    Industry: Passenger transport, standard freight and lumber/sawmill
    Summary: I'm hoping to model 3 primary scenes, starting in Revelstoke at the station, traveling through the Fraser Canyon and then into Vancouver's waterfront station. The locomotive I'll be buying soon is the Royal Hudson 4-6-4, and I'll be acquiring passenger cars in the coming months (have several freight cars/caboose).
    • Revelstoke: Station, and the start of the Revelstoke-Vancouver section of the CPR passenger trains. Will have a turnaround loop after the station (likely hidden by a tunnel).
    • Fraser Canyon: Hopefully as long a run as I can fit, with some mountainous terrain and tunnels.
    • Vancouver: Waterfront (then Cordova) Station. At this point the track will go under the main layout surface into a lower deck turnaround loop. On top I'm planning to model as much of the city as I can fit.
    I've attached the plan of my basement I threw together with a rough outline of the area I have dedicated for train layout.

    Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated!
     

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  2. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    That is an interesting space. Have you considered a shelf type layout with return loop balloons for a continuous run? Maybe like a big Letter U that you step into.

    You could then extend all the way around the room on narrow shelves.

    Or you could build a shelf layout all the way around and build a lift bridge for entering the room without ducking. With roughly 12 x 17 feet, you'd get a 58 foot mainline, almost a scale mile. If you had your mainline doubled so trains ran the room twice that's some serious trackage. ;)
     
  3. XcaliburNick

    XcaliburNick TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks very much for the advice! I’m likely going to keep it to the walk in (for now) like you were mentioning. My thought is I can always add the lift out later but I’ll be in and out of this space a lot while building so don’t want to block the entry/exit.

    Based on a recommendation I’ve given some thought to a Byron Henderson layout example. I’ve rotated it and attached below to give an idea of what I was thinking. This would be able to be extended since it’s 10’ and I will have roughly 13’ of length to start with.
     

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  4. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

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    That's a nice plan. Not sure exactly what you were thinking, but this is what came to mind:

    byronhendersonlayout_flipped.png

    Stretching the plan as shown would also allow you to use a larger radius on your turnback loops if needed- Don't know what the minimum radius is for your Royal hudson or other power you plan on using. If you are going to run full length passenger cars, I would try to make it as generous as possible. Stretching the plan as indicated would allow you to increase the radius of the turnback curves to perhaps 24" or more without narrowing your aisleway.
     
  5. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    @XcaliburNick, you addressed the lift bridge idea, but not this.

    You show how you've compartmentalized your basement. Den goes here, railroad goes there, but must the twain really never meet?

    He's not just talking walk in. He's talking lounge in. He's saying you'll get a longer mainline track if you stop segregating. Give the layout the walls all the way around, and put your den right in the middle. Now you have one end loop to your right as you come down the stairs, the other around that corner on the left, the TV on the wall above the rails, the stereo below them, a roomy lounge right in the middle of the room, and a main line scale miles long.
     
  6. XcaliburNick

    XcaliburNick TrainBoard Member

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    @acptulsa ok, understood. @traingeekboy I did never really address the around-the-walls layout you suggested, sorry.

    The primary reason I want to focus on this separated area is for containment and getting something done in a shorter timespan. If I go super deep into the hobby, I quite likely will expand this around the walls but for now want to keep things contained in one area to make building it a bit easier up front. At least for me, this helps plan it out and spend a bit less time building all the bench work before laying track and running a train.
     
  7. XcaliburNick

    XcaliburNick TrainBoard Member

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    Cheers, that’s the same area I was thinking about extending the 2-3’ I have available. I was also considering the 24” radius, as I do have the space and I’ve heard it looks a lot better with passenger cars. I’ve also heard 30” is even better but that seems like it would generate a LOT of extra space.

    Regarding that length of track on the left, I’m going to omit it from the first few versions, as that would intrude quite a bit on the open area of the basement room and I’d only really add it if I was creating a donut layout or a temp staging track.

    Something I’ve been struggling with lately has been I initially wanted the loops to “turnaround” (maybe even reverse loop) so the train returns instead of coming back around. Looking at this layout and seeing others it feels like this is less important than I first thought it might be and I like the ability to work in more ‘scenes’ and possibly industries than just a turnaround would allow. Thoughts?
     
  8. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    True. Good idea. But if you don't want the later expansion to be a matter of salvage what you can and start all over again, think ahead. Make it modular--design everything as sections that can be disconnected one from another. Design the thick parts, the end loops, so they can be moved, and so they'll fit the spaces they may be moved to.

    I prefer that. Reverse loops are a challenge electrically, but single track is more realistic, and looks longer.

    But there's a thing called a "dogbone". This is basically just a big loop. But the two long sides are squeezed together in the middle, so they become double track. That simplifies things.

    And yes, 30" radius looks and works a lot better where passenger trains are run. And yes, it takes up a lot of space.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2021
  9. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Let's work within the OP's outlined space, shall we? We all have to negotiate our RR empire space with others (unless we live alone), and this is apparently what has been negotiated and settled upon. Not everyone wants railroad tracks along the wall around their entertainment room.

    I like RailMix's suggested layout and the stretching indicated.

    However, the other dimension has to shrink by 18", which could compromise radii in, and access into, the lower right corner. Maybe flipping the suggested layout left to right would work better? This would provide more scenic opportunities on the "backside" near the OP's doorway at lower left, since that would now be more of a peninsula.
     
  10. XcaliburNick

    XcaliburNick TrainBoard Member

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    Sounds like a good plan. I’m already thinking of this in “scenes” which can break into sections, so when I build the benchwork I can just create them as separate sections so they can be theoretically disconnected and moved with a bit of scenery cutting.
    Bottom left loop = Vancouver/Yard
    Middle section = Fraser Canyon
    Upper right loop = Revelstoke
    Upper area = Lumber/Sawmill near Revelstoke
     
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  11. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Many of us have proven it can be done. I used a couple of types of screen door locks to hold them together and in alignment, and multiconnectors from the local hardware store for wiring. Those who bolt sections together are probably wiser, but I stand by multiconnectors. Use different ones for the wires going to this module, wires passing through this one to Module 3, and wires passing through both to Module 4, etc.

    You'll also be glad you did this if you ever have to move.
     
  12. XcaliburNick

    XcaliburNick TrainBoard Member

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    Allright so I've gone down a well based on advice from some others that you shouldn't run passenger trains visible on anything tighter than a 32"-ish curve. After trying to expand that layout above in several ways I've given up. But before getting dejected, I've tried an honest attempt at a "lift out" as has been suggested. I think I might be getting past my "Mental block" on this, I'll see how I feel in the morning.

    upload_2021-1-23_0-59-27.png
     
  13. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    I wouldn't put too much stock in the absoluteness of such conservative advice for minimum radius, especially when it relegates you to a simple oval, with no reversing (apparent or actual), that forces a lift-out or duck-under, in the space you have available. If you had the whole basement, I would whole-heartedly agree with such guidelines.

    I would focus on a more operationally interesting layout, with _some_ photogenically broad curves. How broad that is has a LOT to do with the vertical angle at which the track is viewed. Near eye-level, the disjointed appearance is MUCH less noticeable than when looking down on a waist level track.

    Sharper curves can be visually masked with scenery, tunnels, etc. even if they simply draw the eye away from the train to more interesting things. A curved snow shed can completely mask the overhead view that would otherwise reveal a non-prototypical curve. Overhanging trees, steep cliffs, etc. also tend to mask, or guide the eye away from, the exposing view.

    Often a 180 degree turn only needs a small section of sharp radius to fit in a markedly narrower area, and the rest of the curve can be significantly broader without consuming undue space. Such small sharp sections are also easier to disguise. Think of it as "easing taken to extreme."

    Since I prefer to have the ability to have a train running unattended around the layout while I tear down and build up another train in a yard, I would ensure that the yard has a switch lead/siding that allows such operations without fouling the main. Small industry spurs along the mainline are different, and working those while the express is laid over in a station is usually a given.

    But in the end, it's your layout, and your choice...
     
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  14. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    He's right, you know.

    Also, there is a thing called an easement. Have you ever given a ride to, say, your mother in law, and eased smoothly into a sharp corner so as to avoid caustic comments on your driving? You can do the same with track, and improve both appearance and stability for but a small penalty in terms of space.

    The easy way is to insert a section of 30" between the straight track and the 22". The better way is to create a decreasing-radius curve with flex track.
     
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  15. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Yes, as a Unitrack user, I have found using longer radius curves to "ease" shorter radius ones is an easy, effective tool for ensuring smoother running (and looking) trains.

    Think of a curve being (or approximating) elliptical, or even parabolic, rather than circular.

    Even though the shortest radius is shorter than it would be in an equivalent constant radius turn, it looks and performs better. And since the shortest radius is only a short section of the turn, it is easier to hide or distract with strategic scenery.
     
  16. XcaliburNick

    XcaliburNick TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks very much, I read about the easements but the examples/descriptions help a lot I really appreciate it!

    As for the layout, I’m going to build up some benchwork in sections and pick up some flex track ASAP. I think I’ll source a few of these heavyweight HO passenger cars as well and just try them out on various curves and easements and see what I can really fit and what looks acceptable to me. Sitting in Anyrail and moving stuff around is super useful but I’m trapped in analysis paralysis and think I need to test things.

    It’s possible I’ll be super picky about curves but maybe I’ll be ok with some 24” and a 22 in the middle hidden as suggested. Won’t know until I see for myself I suppose.

    I do think the lift out will end up being a bit necessary and might even be cool if I model it as a different ‘stop’ on the way back to the destination on the same route so it doesn’t feel as much like it’s running in circles.
     
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  17. XcaliburNick

    XcaliburNick TrainBoard Member

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    To close the loop on this (pun slightly intended) I’m going to start with the enlarged water wings above and make the benchwork movable/semi-modular.

    so it begins...
     

    Attached Files:

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