Input needed for new layout

Ericrph May 10, 2016

  1. Ericrph

    Ericrph New Member

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    I would like to get some input on the n scale layout I am designing. This is loosely designed around the Museum of Transportation and Kirkwood Amtrak station in St. Louis. This will be a two level layout connected by single track Kato 348mm radius helix. I have not decided on the height of the two levels yet. I am thinking about the top level at 51" and the bottom level at 35". I would need to build a 8 turn helix at 2.3% grade and 2" of height between turns. The top level thickness will be 4" so that would give me 12" of deck separation. I am 6'1" btw. Mainline turnouts are #7 or greater. The M.O.T. track is just for display purposes. I probably wouldn't be doing any real switching there. (I had to use #5 turnouts to keep the space compact). The majority of the time I will be the only operator. The minimum radius is 15" except the lower level loop which is at 14". Any thoughts on the layout design or height?
    Nscale.any Rev5.jpg
     
  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I don't recall ever seeing or reading of someone modeling the MOT. You must have some interesting things to display there?
     
  3. jhn_plsn

    jhn_plsn TrainBoard Supporter

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    A couple things stand out to me. I do like that you seem to be keeping it focused and somewhat simple.
    There are a few concerns in my opinion.
    1. The radius is to tight especially in the helix.
    2. If you are planning to do any switching on the lower level consider some space for a leed. The current plan requires you to pull a string of cars into the helix to move from one track to another.
    3. Much of your uncoupling would be done reaching far into the layout on the upper level. Can the switching be moved into the forefront?
    4. 35" high first level would drive me nuts. I would tire of only looking at the tops of the cars and my neck would hurt attempting to read car numbers.
    5. Would you consider moving the lower level to say 48" and slightly forward from the upper level? This way the separation does not have to be so great between levels. You will be at elbow high on the first and chest high on the second.
    6. You could even flip the entire level putting the Kirkwood station along the backdrop and allowing you to view your trains with the station in the background. Since it is only a passing siding it does not need to be close enough to reach for uncoupling tasks.
    This is just my opinion so trash in trash out if you get my meaning.
     
    saintduiex likes this.
  4. Ericrph

    Ericrph New Member

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    We do indeed! Check it out. http://transportmuseumassociation.org/

    "The Museum’s rail and transit collections have grown to encompass more than 190 major exhibits. These include the mid-1800s Boston & Boston & Providence Railroad Passenger Coach built in 1833; Providence “Daniel Nason”; Union Pacific #4006 (“Big Boy”), the largest successful steam locomotive ever built; the diminutive “Charles H.”, a small steam engine from Chicago’s Lake Street Elevated rapid transit line that was cosmetically restored in 1996 to its original appearance; and the 6,600-hp, two-engine Union Pacific diesel #6944 (“Centennial”), built by General Motors’ Electro-Motive Division in 1971."
     
  5. Ericrph

    Ericrph New Member

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    jhn-plsn,

    Thanks your you input!
    I'm going to try to re-design with a minimum radius of 15". I have a helix that I built from my previous layout where I use the Kato 348mm (just under 13- 3/4"). It was tight but all of my long equipment seemed to work OK on it. Admittingly, it didn't get a lot of use before I had to dismantle the layout.

    The lower level is going to be primarily used for a staging area, no real switching there.

    I agree about the switching in the upper level corner, I had that concern too. I'm going to see if I can flip it like you said.

    I looking at this right now.

    Nscale.any Rev6.jpg
     
    jhn_plsn likes this.
  6. Backshop

    Backshop TrainBoard Member

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    I assume all the tracks at the museum are for displaying RR equipment? If so, if you might think about putting that trackage at the front edge of the layout instead of the back to show off the equipment there. Maybe this means the back of the museum building is facing the viewer but the building isn't the showpiece of this scene, is it?
     
  7. C&O Railfan

    C&O Railfan TrainBoard Member

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    I love the MOT in St Louis. I'd enjoy seeing someone model it

    Sent from my XT907 using Tapatalk
     
  8. Ericrph

    Ericrph New Member

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    I totally redesigned my layout. I did away with the helix; it is now just a single level layout. I grabbed some more space for the layout than I originally wanted to but I think this works out for the better. It will be a lot easier to build now. The minimum radius is 15". I now have access all the way around the two reversing loops. The maximum grade is 2% around the east loop. The rest of the track is grade level. I add the roundhouse to recreate the NS heritage roundhouse photo with my collection of FVM locos! The tables will be built in four sections so I can take them with me if I move. The two reversing loops make a great spot for the table separation since the track needs to be isolated there anyway. I'm planing on building the frame with with 1/2" x 3" wide cabinet grade plywood with pocket screw joints. The frame will be covered with 1/8" underlayment (luan) and then 1" pink foam. The layout is pretty simple but the size should be me years of scenery building. Do you see any trouble spots that I am missing or any area I change using the existing layout size? Nscale.any A2.jpg
     
    Rocket Jones and RBrodzinsky like this.
  9. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

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    Sorry to burst your bubble (literally), but first thing I see a prob with is the loop on the right. Unless your dark gray wall (?) does stop 4 squares from top or bottom of plan and that you absolutely can walk to very back of the MOT yards, you will otherwise have a lot of problems coupling and uncoupling in it, your arms reaching past Medusa Cement ! If the gray wall does continue to bottom of picture you'd best think of swapping places with MOT and Medusa...Also (and this is purely my taste) the perfect 'waterwings' shape of layout is boring. What about curving one of them inward toward the center to make better use of gigantic space of 12.5 squares wide . Would be easy to begin the extra curvature 2 or 3 squares down from top of plan. Could have a winding, bucolic, steam branch-line in here which would climb up 3-4% grade with 4-5 cars, say, to 3-4 industries (coal, lumber yard/mill, mining). This would also act as a scene divider between the 2 major outer-looped trackage/areas. This would likely be on a peninsula benchwork (there are many ways to make a peninsula sturdy. I have a great way )... M
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2016
  10. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Your intermodal yard will require a long back up move for every train which uses the facility.
     
  11. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

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    Also, to utilize intermodal yard, train will always have to run clockwise past Kirkwood in order to back train into yard. This is OK, but then realize you will always have to take the (curved. Lambert, I believe still makes N, curved TOs ) crossover switches (top of 2nd square down on right) toward Medusa, either on the main or even using Medusa spur to do this. That's fine, and can add some pleasing challenges. But you're technically treating Medusa as a drill track now. What if too many cement/gravel hoppers are occupying Medusa to do this ?!
    Call all our rebuttals tough love.. We're not putting you down. We're leading you in a better direction... The hobby can be very tricky this way...We installed something hastily, only to discover major faults and unnecessary hassles later..... But it's all good because it's all about railroading...M..
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2016
  12. Ericrph

    Ericrph New Member

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    No I do not feel that you are putting me down at all. I really appreciate the feedback! I realized the problem with the Intermodal yard area so I had already redesigned that. Do you see any problems with the yard with the redesign? The walls do indeed stop as seen in the picture so I will have access to all three sides of each loop. At one point I had tried to design the layout so it did turn into the interior and use up the interior space but that was when I was committed to keep the layout size to 14' x 4'. At 14' x 4' there was very little space left for an isle. Since then I realized that I had to extend the loops past the 4' walls if I wanted to have access to the back track. I agree that the layout is somewhat boring. I would like to have some more scenic elements on the layout but also want to keep it somewhat prototypical. Although I guess I threw out prototypical when I included the roundhouse! Oh well! I will take your advisement and see what I can come up with. I know I need to redo the cement company. I just couldn't figure out how to work it. There is a cement company across the street from the MOT but it is not served by train. Thanks again! Nscale.any A2.jpg
     
  13. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    This latest is much better. As for including the roundhouse, I wouldn't worry about it. There are still some around, and in use today. Many have been reduced in number of stalls. And there are quite a few turntables as well, even without a roundhouse or engine house.
     
  14. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

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    Eric, I still worry about a few things : Again, why not bend one of the big loops inward toward center of aisle space ? It still leaves you lots more aisleway and overall shape will not be so symmetrical. In turn this breaks up your walking around routine and adds interest..and you're still remaining no more than your 4 foot limit..Next, do realize you have 3 reverse loops (polarity-wise) you'll need to tend to every time the trains enter them. One starts exactly at bottom of uppermost left square. Another begins top of second square down on right. The hidden 3rd one is the turntable..I'm assuming you're DCC, not analog..If so, you can install an auto-reverser which will handle as many as 6 reverse polarity situations (leaving you 3 unused, so far). OR, you are going to have to use dpdt toggles mounted at edge of bench and throw them after each loco has passed the frog of each loop and before an engine comes off the turntable. I had a toggle- operated wye on my layout. I liked the chore of throwing it.. But it wasn't on the main line. Next, it looks like you have at least 5 curved switches. Unless you are hand-laying your track, commercial switches can be near $35-$55 each..Plus, what No. frogs will you need and then be able to find (I.E. your 5 frog Nos. are not likely going to all be the same due to curve radii involved. Finally, you could take that spur in upper right, at the plant and continue it west (left) and then begin a 3% grade past the window and then go over the BNSF yard left of its ladder track switches and end at a fake tunnel portal in wall behind Chemisphere Corp. This would be a bendy branch with small facing-point spurs off it. No problem running in reverse with cars, back down grade. Engine could push them up, not pull them up ! This would give you some extra challenges and add visual interest to the layout. Pheeew... !! Lots to consider, huh ?
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2016
  15. Ericrph

    Ericrph New Member

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    My layout has gone through many iterations. This is the latest one. I did away with the reversing loops and designed this with a lift out section or maybe a swing up. I have not decided yet. Nscale.any A5.jpg
     
  16. cajon

    cajon TrainBoard Member

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    The switch to the grain elevator(?) in upper left corner could just as easily come off the outside main vs inside main. Would connect the engine service to the left end of the intermodal yard. Seems like that yard could use a few more sidings to hold more cars. And if your layout is in the modern era don't see the need for a turntable & roundhouse. If you need to turn locos put a wye somewhere on the layout.
     

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