Looking for folks to review my mainline track plan... N Scale

execsys Nov 25, 2020

  1. execsys

    execsys TrainBoard Member

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    So thanks for having me guys :)

    I have a new house and a new 8 x 11 space for an N scale railroad (only 6 feet at one end)
    I have crafted a track plan for the mainline with the following objectives:
    I am attempting to model the Belt Railway of Chicago
    The mainline allows to trains in opposite directions running in continuous loops
    The trains can enter into a termination yard at either "end" of the route (one will be "the clearing yard" of BRC fame) and the other probably South Chicago) OR
    The trains can turn around in a reverse at either end
    15 inch radii is about the minimum, the drawing is all flex track with Atlas #6 turnouts - no easements in this drawing.
    I also know I'll need better access to some parts of the layout (reach > 36)
    Once the mainline objectives are met, I intend to add industrial tracks/sites, a downtown skyline backdrop with south chicago neighborhoods (maybe an L train)
    So, give me your thoughts!
    upload_2020-11-25_14-13-43.png
     
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  2. S t e f a n

    S t e f a n TrainBoard Member

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    Nice drawing!
    My random thoughts:
    'Belt Railway of Chicago' as the prototype means you want to do a lot of switching of freight cars? Then it would probably be important to draw the yards, and make sure they are in accessible locations, and mainline comes second.
    You could go larger than 15" in minimum radius for the mainline, but maybe there is no reason for that.
    (Just for comparison, I want to run passenger trains, so in a room of similar size I gave up on turnaround/reverse loops, and instead made the whole layout one big triangle with the largest curve radii I can fit.)
    What is the circle/helix/loop at the bottom right good for? Just to get more running length, or to move the duck-under higher?
    Apropos duck-under: have you already decided what height you want to put the railroad at?
     
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  3. execsys

    execsys TrainBoard Member

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  4. execsys

    execsys TrainBoard Member

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    So this post was just to get the mainline reviewed. I didn't include details on the yards but they were foremost in my thought process for the mainline. So while you are correct usually one would draw in the yards, I have them in my head and drew the mainline in corresponding fashion. Since 9 3/4 is a tight radius in N I am keeping them to 15 inch minimum because track density is one of the goals - my memories of the south side of chicago are of tangled webs of tracks and thats what I'm going for - so you will notice its a two track mainline but there are parts of it that look 4 track. The use of the circle is just to achieve a folded dog bone interest - trains will run continuously so we needed a loop and this was more interesting. I build my railroads at 48 inches (I'm the only one who ever looks at it or works on it :)

    I have a couple of track plans from other sources that deal with the switching and yard elements - I am researching what industries to put along the the route and you see that the reverse loops are likely to be the yard and spur feeds - the mainline is segregated from the rest of the switching by those loops

    So I am going to try and include a little bit of downtown (including a chicago back drop) I want to include south side neighborhoods, I want to include a small version of the "clearing yard" as well as an origination yard such as south chicago. I am not interested in switching puzzles :) My industries, spurs etc should make sense.

    So please just consider this a review of the operational-ability of the mainline - Please note, I've already taken the "westbound" reverse loop and moved it to create more room for the yard on the left side of the layout.
     
  5. execsys

    execsys TrainBoard Member

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    upload_2020-11-26_8-52-45.png

    Revised.....
     
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  6. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    As I look at the locations of Yard 1 and Yard 2, how will these be joined to the mainlines? Whether they're to be stub end yards or open at both ends, I'm a bit concerned that you might have to use some rather tight curve radii for your leads into them.

    I'm not a wiring expert (I'm an old skool DC guy), but the reverse loop locations might bring some headaches. Hopefully someone skilled in DCC can tell us if it matters.

    If you'll somehow be using the Green Loop as your yard lead, your yard locomotive might often be working back and forth over the section where the ends of the loop meet. This is a critical location, probably close to where rail gaps might be placed to wire your loop. Your Purple Loop connects Red and Blue mainlines. This may be fine, but again, some DCC expertise is welcomed.

    At my age, that Duckunder would be trouble. :)

    I like your theme. Neat to see someone wanting to model the BRC! (y) You're probably aware of it, but Athearn, Atlas, Bluford Shops and Bowser have offered some nice BRC N Scale items in past years.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2020
  7. Todd Hackett

    Todd Hackett TrainBoard Member

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    Broad curves - like that! With those curves you are probably planning running reasonably long trains. I do have a question or two. Room is 11x8 of which you only have 6ft on the left side. Where is the entry? Your border for the room size is 10x8 assuming those squares are 1ft. Is there a reason that you are not planning the whole 11ft width? The next is access. I plan 28in as that is what I can reach in to comfortably. If the layout on the right side is up against a wall, how are you planning on dealing with that in case of derail, scenery falls over ... etc?

    2 yards should make for good action. Looks like there is only one way to get to Yard 2 which would be just to the right of the duck under. This would mean that you would use the blue main for the switching lead. If it were me, I would try to put those along the long sides of the room -or- maybe combine them into 1 area but separated by scenery, building, slightly different level ... etc.

    Looks like you have a good start going, post more.
     
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  8. execsys

    execsys TrainBoard Member

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    Tight radii - well thats what excelllent track planning software is for :) I'm running 50' cars for the most part, maybe some 60 foot passenger - my era is 50s-70s but I'm not a stickler for historical accuracy, might see Metra on this layout :)
    I am old school and not planning on DCC :) using standard wiring this track plan is relatively easy.
    Both yards are intended to be single-ended - thats the reason for having reverse loops on each end so you have the choice of either running continuously, passing the time, and then pulling into the yard OR just reversing direction and going from red line to blue line in the opposite direction.

    Also it will be called "South Chicago Belt Line" - I don't plan on using anything "prototype" more like "prototypish"
     
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  9. execsys

    execsys TrainBoard Member

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    The reason we only have 6 feet on the left side is the washer and dryer :) The raeson for not using all 11 feet is there is an electrical cord that may need to be unplugged at some point, I was leaving skinny room to slide in there...
    Both yards are going to be single ended - a space compromise - if I can find a way to make the clearing yard double ended that would be cool.... this is interation #2 of the mainline plan.... I expect #72 will be perfect... and I've thought about folding the yards back to back as well as you suggested.

    Thanks for all the input.
     
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  10. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    My new modestly-sized N Scale road will be primarily DC, but will have a toggle to instead use a DCC throttle when I wish. I have one reverse loop (kind of like your plan, my one yard will act as a terminal at each end) and have test wired my circuit so that DC and DCC trains will be able to run the loop in both directions.

    I usually test complex track wiring on the bench beforehand, so as to be certain it'll all work. Sometimes my plans on paper don't react as expected when mirrored using actual current. ;)
     
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  11. execsys

    execsys TrainBoard Member

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    Howdy folks, I am back, having made some additional changes - in particular reworking the mainline to allow the "two" yards to actually be just one terminating both ends of the layout. I have some work to do to make crossings / grade separation work but please feel free to give me some more feedback. The gray line represents the heart of the yard trackage. I believe I have full loop, reverse loop, end to end and out and back capability.....

    upload_2020-11-27_12-37-18.png
     
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  12. S t e f a n

    S t e f a n TrainBoard Member

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    Putting the double ended yard in the center really makes it the focal point.

    Grades/ramps:
    In a somewhat similar situation I am planning to run the mainline elevated everywhere, and keep the yard (and reverse loops, in your case) at the lower level. Additionally, I'm planning to use double crossovers for all mainline to mainline and mainline to yard connections, to maximize flexibility while minimizing the number of mainline turnouts. The main problem turned out to be fitting enough length for the ramps for grade separation.
    On the left it looks like you have plenty of length for the (gray) ramp down, and can still keep the yard ladder on level ground.

    On the right I count 2 1/2 plus 2 1/2 squares to get from the gray underpass to the junction with the purple loop, and then back to the junction with the main on top of the underpass, which seems a bit tight (3% grade for 2" separation), but also almost doable; the vertical curve transitions/easements might be tricky. (What I mean is that you probably can't have one leg of a turnout going up, and the other down; the turnout will have to be level, and you need some length to go from level track to 3% grade.)

    Long straight sections:
    At the top end of your layout is a pretty long stretch of main running parallel to the layout edge; it might be unavoidable, but putting a slight bend might look better.

    Flexibility:
    You could also think about connecting the purple return loop to the green return loop where they join the blue line at the top (with a double crossover connection to the blue main); you almost gain a 'third main' that way, except for a short stretch along the top right corner.
    Just some random thoughts.
     
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  13. execsys

    execsys TrainBoard Member

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    Alright here is the latest iteration. Obviously the yard needs more "stuff" and I need to add industrial spurs etc And there is one grade issue I'm having trouble getting down to 3%. Enjoy....
     

    Attached Files:

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  14. execsys

    execsys TrainBoard Member

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    Okay revisiting..... I am not happy with the reach or grades so I am not considering a two level layout..... knowing what you saw from my previous operational wishlist, what is the opinion of an upper level footprint like this (note still a duck under on the upper level and a helix in the square)

    upload_2020-12-1_9-10-41.png
     
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  15. execsys

    execsys TrainBoard Member

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    to be clear my lower level would like identical except there is no left to right connecting duck under..... and height on the upper level will be 60" at rail head
     
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  16. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    The 2' wide aisle to the right seems a little confined to me, especially for a double-decker layout, but if you ease the upper & lower level corners of the helix block adjacent to it, it might be OK.

    Assuming the 4' square area is for the helix between levels? A 36" diameter helix should allow you to keep under 2% grade. Naturally, you want the normal uphill traffic on the outer track (longer radius for climbing).

    You may want to widen the lower level end near the W/D to allow for a more generous turn around loop there.

    You'll have to think about how you want the duck-under bridge track(s) to tie into the trackage exiting (and entering?) the helix at the upper level. You might want to have the duck-under track a little higher than the right side upper level, to maintain clearance over the last loop of helix on the upper level.
     
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  17. Todd Hackett

    Todd Hackett TrainBoard Member

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    2 Level - you just doubled your railroad size; assuming that the bottom level has ( almost ) the same footprint as the top.
    You have less than a foot between the benchwork and the W/D. Why not push the benchwork closer to the W/D? That would give you a little more room for track or scenery. You can reach it from the inside so that should not be a big deal. I see that you are now wall to wall on the layout; except for the front AND you can reach everything; good! The 5ft height may require a step-stool depending on how tall you are. Step up or stool is no big deal just make sure there is some place to put it out of the way when not in use. Now lets see some track!
     
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  18. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    Could the helix go over the washer/dryer? Are they stacked and front opening?

    Sumner
     
  19. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    You'll have to experiment with dryer loads that give you that deep rumble of the locomotives!
     
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  20. execsys

    execsys TrainBoard Member

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    No they are stackable front loaders
     

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