Old School Trackplan

RailMix Jan 2, 2019

  1. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

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    I'm looking ahead to retirement and have been trying to plan a new layout. I've discarded everything that fits in my space for one reason or another, but over the weekend I was looking through the original 101 Track Plans by Linn Westcott. I found plan no. 45, the Superior and Iron Range. I would mirror it, move it a couple hundred miles south and reverse the elevations. It would have a largely agricultural traffic base with some industry also.
    My question is, how much importance do you folks attach to the relatively modern belief that a train should only pass through a scene once? This plan has (or can have with a few changes) everything else I want, but is point to point with a dogbone to increase the length of the mainline. I like it, but it's somewhat dated in that respect. I'd be interested in everyone's thoughts on the subject.
     
  2. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I'd build what suits your wants Tom. I tire of stylish layout design maxims; many ignore the realities of space and budget many of us live with.

    Congrats on your upcoming retirement! (y)
     
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  3. Chops

    Chops TrainBoard Member

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    That sounds fun, Tom. Linn was the cutting edge of HO model rail in the day. I studied "The HO Railroad That Grows" until the pages fell out. I must say,
    I've never seen S&IR, or don't remember it. I really want to see what you do with it.

    Linn was big on Cab A/Cab B control, that is being able to use a three way center off toggle to be able to switch back and forth between two power packs. This would be an analog version of DCC, if you will. The wiring is not overly complex, but in practice, I can never remember which is what, and there is plenty of opportunity to crash trains and short (briefly) trains galore. Speaking for myself only, I'm not a big fan of it.

    What I did, instead, was simply add insulating gaps between the two different track circuits and wire the two (you'll need two anyways, if running more than one loop) separately and run them independently. This way I have no trouble keeping track of what train is getting power from where, and the wiring is simplified enormously, which is good, as I hate wiring. Other guys love it- and excuse the pun, but more power to them.

    A lot of serious modellers want to go with ballast, and many, many of them do it extremely well. I've done it, never enjoyed it, and the whole process was a big pain in the keister for me. But like I say, I only speak for myself. A lot of guys got the technique down and make beautiful trackways using it.

    That being said, the typical problems I have from loose ballast include, but not limited to, is the simple fact that even after I think the track is perfectly aligned and joined, a snake head turns up (a misjoined rail overlapping the joiner) and now it's all covered in glue and ballast and requires a big, fat messy overhaul.

    Then, maybe I got the track perfect, and then a change in temperature or humidity causes a bulge or a kink- derailment city- and again I'd have to pull up glued track, scrape the ballast, big stinking fat mess.

    You're going to be working with grades, that's great, they really add a lot of visual and operational interest. But again, grades require a bit of fine tuning for them to work perfectly each and every time a train goes over it. If you glued down your ballast...

    Lastly, my gripe about ballast (and again, my hat is off to the skilled craftsman) is that ballasting requires a glue water mix to set it. A drop of detergent, or rubbing alcohol, is added to the mix to break the surface tension. What inevitably happens to me is that the liquid puddles. If it puddles between the rails, the glue mixture will lap up against the interior side of the rail, often carrying grains of sand with it. All that, once it dries, has to be carefully scraped off because the misplaced gravel bits will derail trains, and the glue and the sand will cause hellacious electrical conductivity issues. Worse, when it gets in a turnout, you're really in trouble on all fronts. BUT, if you have a steady hand, a box car load of patience, and a sharp eye, it can be done, and done well.

    For a boob like me, I found a happy solution by getting a can of Rustoleum textured gray spray paint which sprays nicely onto cork or foam roadbed. For the guy who wants a grittier look, the dried roadbed can be painted with a light wash of diluted cinder, or flat black, paint. This will instantly weather the road bed and cause the coarse texture to be highlighted nicely. This way, if I need to pull up, reroute, fine tune a bit of track, there is no fuss, no muss, no waste- perfect for me.

    You rang my bell, I really, really like the Old School stuff, and the Old School track plans. I look forward to seeing your progress!
     
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  4. Chops

    Chops TrainBoard Member

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    PS: sorry to keep going on and on, but as far as a train going through the same scene twice, well, unless you got an airplane hanger, you're going to have reconcile to a small space. I do a lot of trial and error, with and without plans, and one trick that I like is the twice-around method. The train's mileage is doubled in the very same 4x8 space, and the effect is rather pleasing. I wouldn't worry too much about "gold standards," that can be a joy killer.
     
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  5. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    Not seeing the plan, I am guessing maybe it's the one with two terminals and a passing siding in the middle as a Point to Point.

    Eh, run your trains, have fun. Keep anyone with a closed mind out of your train room. :p
     
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  6. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

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    Strikes me as a good outlook. I'm going to go ahead and tune the plan to suit my needs.

    Thanks to all who replied.
     
  7. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

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    Excellent! Many of the modern layout "rules" seem awfully boring to me. A train only running through any given spot once? I don't think so. I am not trying to denigrate anybody's ideas but it seems many of the modern ones seem to emphasize the static layout instead of running trains. I will never have hidden staging yards either. I want to see all the trains on the layout.

    Doug
     
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  8. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Me too. Years ago I read a magazine that stated yards were a waste of space and that cars that would normally be in a yard would be best removed from the layout. Seeing my cars in service often brings fond memories to mind and I like running them.
     
  9. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

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    Heck, the Milwaukee Road yard near here (the house in which I grew up) was fairly good sized back in the nineteen sixties and they didn't hide the cars there.

    :D

    Doug
     
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  10. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    With that in mind, here's an unprototypical prototype photo of Conrail's Allentown, PA Yard. :whistle:

    [​IMG]
     
  11. WM183

    WM183 TrainBoard Member

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    Speaking of Ballast, I saw a great solution for those of us who dislike doing it somewhere on RMWeb a while ago. A German company named Heki makes a textured paint called "straßenfarbe asphalt" which just means "Asphalt Street Color." It adds enough texture and depth to make fine looking ballast IMO, particularly in N scale.

    Edit: Here is the thread, for those interested (and a beautiful portable British model, too!)

    http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/131535-kylestrome-–-2mm-scale-2fs/page-2
     
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  12. country joe

    country joe TrainBoard Member

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    When I was in N scale I built this 10.5 x 10.5 layout. The 4 track yard at the top was elevated so it was somewhat visually separated from the 2 tracks in front of it. While I sometimes ran it by staging 4 trains in the yard and having them take turns running I also ran the layout as a point to point short or branch line. This is how it ran point to point. The 4 track yard was the base. Going to the left down the grade the outside track at the lower left was the interchange. A train ran from the yard to the right, down the grade around the outside track on the lower right, across the top track nearest the edge, took the switch to the inside track on the lower left, back across the top to the inside track on the lower right. That was the end of the branch. The outside track was used as a run around so the train could follow the same route back to the yard. While the train was on a different track it went through each scene twice. I was so absorbed in the operation that being in the same scene didn't bother me in the least. In my mind it was in a different place each time it went trough the scene. I hope this helps you to make a decision.

    fullsizeoutput_517.jpeg
     
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  13. Chops

    Chops TrainBoard Member

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    An impressive spread. Can you post a view of the new track plan?
     
  14. country joe

    country joe TrainBoard Member

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    If you mean me, I have an inherited condition called Tension Tremors. My hands shake. It's a benign condition with no consequences other than shaky hands but it's very frustrating working on small models or eating soup with a spoon. I tried staying with N for a while but not being able to do simple tasks drove me to O gauge where the models are big and mostly come ready to run.

    This is the last trackplan I was working on for a spare bedroom. As I started to build I made changes like straightening the yard tracks and moving the turntable to the upper right corner where I adjusted the track to make room. I don't remember the exact size but the layout was something like 10 x 13.

    fullsizeoutput_512.jpeg
     
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  15. Chops

    Chops TrainBoard Member

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    Well Country Joe, that is a banging big thing. Sorry about the tremors, but it would seem you've done your best to overcome it.
     
  16. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

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    Finally completed the CAD work on this trackplan. I wanted an urban industrial area (Greenriver) and a mainline running through a rural area to serve a grain elevator, sugar beet refinery and a lumber yard at Hicksville (typical rural Michigan customers) and a mill at Erehwon. The original plan in Linn Westcott's 101 Track Plans was 8'x10'. I narrowed it to 8'x9', mirrored it and reversed the elevations. The Hicksville peninsula will be removable- a small concession to getting in and out the door. I also included a staging area under Hicksville that will use Ian Rice's cassette staging. (Yeah, I know some folks here don't use staging, but where else can I model the Pere Marquette/C&O/Huron and Eastern, Grand Trunk Western/CN and/or Detroit and Mackinac/Lake State Railway as the fancy strikes me in 5 feet?)

    I've provided a minimum radius of 24" out of staging to the yard and a 12" turntable at Greenriver, as such fairly large steam power as a Bachmann Berkshire and an Athearn Mikado and Pacific will operate there.

    Since the rest of the layout will be operated with smaller power, I've left the original 18" minimum radius alone. The tunnels are to be made as invisible as possible using cuts, sneakoffs behind bridges and structures, etc.

    The only thing giving me pause is that there's a pretty steady 3% grade up from Greenriver yard to Hicksville with a stretch of 4% from the crossing to Erewhon. Trains will be short, no more than 5-6 cars and a caboose, and I am strongly suspecting a helper would be needed on the 4% grade, which isn't a problem since it would add operating interest.

    My question is, do these ideas about train length and grades sound workable to you guys? I know the diesels I'll use in the more modern era can handle some pretty tough grades, but what do you think about such light steam as the Mantua ten wheeler and prairie and an IHC 4-4-0?

    HC2.jpg
     
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  17. Chops

    Chops TrainBoard Member

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    Quite an interesting track plan. My experience with grades is that like the real thing, once you get over 2% you may be in for a very big surprise how
    few cars anything short of a Big Boy or DD40-X can pull. Perhaps you might want to make a test grade, first?

    I've had a few variations of IHC stuff, both diesel and steam, and I've never known them to be very good pullers, at all. "Bull Frog Snot" can help a bit, but it is prone to wearing off after time. Also, with the IHC stuff, they've few split their gears on me more than once.

    The Hicksville section could easily become a real pain in the neck, the back, where ever, unless you are a really talented carpenter. Can it be made as a lift up section, instead? Even then, the slightest changes in humidity and temperature can cause the wood to swell and contract, throwing the rail head alignment off, so you'll want some rerailers at the joint, or close to it.

    One more thing, the curved indent in the center is a good feature- again if you are an excellent carpenter, but the reach to Green River and the turntable area could be a real issue, unless you have room along the backsides. Any reach over two feet, two and a half feet maximum, will be very, very difficult.

    ANY track that goes under the layout would greatly benefit from having a rerailer, or two. Trying to fish out a derailed train from under an overhead is a real joy kill.

    I am not an expert, but I've had a lot of hard lessons!
     
  18. Chops

    Chops TrainBoard Member

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    Whoops
     
  19. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

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    Those are good observations and some that I have already considered. There is no room along the back of the layout, but to start with, I would build the layout fairly high to make access from underneath as painless as possible. The swing bridge and the "water" in the harbor area would be removable for access, probably rippled Plexiglas for the "water" as I've had good results with that in the past. The staging under Hicksville would be open to the aisleway for the use of cassette staging as discussed here:

    http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/11/t/104826.aspx?PageIndex=1

    A piece of melamine would be used as a surface to set the cassettes on.

    Where the IHC 4-4-0 is concerned, I wouldn't expect it to do more than pull a couple of old time passenger cars, but the idea of a test grade is a good one. I'll have to see what I can put together.

    The problem, in truth, is that I have a somewhat small space, am not satisfied with a one location layout, and am not partial to switchback operation, so I am willing to put up with a number of other things to avoid these.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2019
  20. wvgca

    wvgca TrainBoard Member

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    if any of the track plans require specific brands of sectional track, a notation should me made somewhere ...
     

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