Old School Trackplan

RailMix Jan 2, 2019

  1. Chops

    Chops TrainBoard Member

    A very interesting track plan, and looks like you have been most methodical, and patient, with the pattern. I will be looking forward to your
    new thread. 3/4 inch birch, heavy stuff. Is this to minimize the need for additional bracing, or have you worked with this material before?
  2. Lawrence

    Lawrence TrainBoard Member

    Hi Tom, have just come across your thread and have read it start to finish (so far) and you have already received some sage advice but the best, I believe was this
    Over in the UK I'm a member of the Ngaugeforum where we have something called Rule 1, Rule 1 is simple, it's your layout, do what you want with it and run what you want. So Rule 1 applies here, just make sure the layout works for you, does what you want it to do and allows you to sit back with a brew and watch some trains running, it is supposed to be enjoyable after all.
    I'm not what you would call a rebel but I have just never subscribed to the latest trends (you should see my wardrobe!) or what the self imposed gurus insist is the right way, I do what works for me.
    I have an 8' x 6' shed, it has 2 levels, the top level is where I am building a double roundy roundy Jappanese layout with some minimal shunting options, this allows me to have some trains going round whilst I turn my attention to the lower level which will house my B&O layout (eventually).
    None of this is prototypical, none is, or will be, based on anything remotely factual, but it will, eventually give me pleasure and I'll be able to watch trains going round.
    astrotrain likes this.
  3. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

    Actually, yes, the idea is to minimize the need for bracing and create sturdy construction, since there is every possibility that the benchwork will be built where I live presently and then hauled to our place up north where the layout (as well as my wife and I) will reside in the future. I have previously used 3/4" AC (fir) plywood along with dimensional lumber. It builds very substantial benchwork but is very heavy to handle. The birch material has been favored by the staff of Model Railroader for some time, having been used for several project layouts. It is of good quality and light weight. Looks like the best of all worlds, but is somewhat pricey.
    BNSF FAN likes this.
  4. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

    One of the things I wrestled with was including a continuous run connection, which if I could have done it at all, would have created an uncomfortable level of trackitis.
    Although I've had to make some compromises (Green River was inspired by Bay City, Michigan, a waterfront city with an extensive history of lumber mills and other industry) but the high line and extensive trestle work are not hallmarks of the prototype, while the swing bridge is very typical for a city that straddles the Saginaw river. Hicksville was inspired by Bad Axe, Michigan, although it includes a sugar beet processing plant like those found in Croswell, Caro and Sebawaing. Hidden track is nearly a must to disguise the twisting, climbing nature of the main line, which is not normal in the understated topography of this part of Michigan. I did attempt to make sure that the hidden track is readily accessible from underneath and through a pop-up on the left side of the plan and at the suggestion of another member here, I used several rerailer sections on the hidden track. However, one of the reasons I selected this track plan is that it features a reasonably long main line even though some compromise was needed.
    This layout will feature the kind of local freight railroading I grew up with combined with the short line character of the Detroit, Bay City and Western/Detroit, Caro and Sandusky:


    Although I would like the mainline to meander through woods and farm fields punctuated by small towns like the prototypes I drew ideas from, I felt that this is the best I'm going to do in 8'-6" X 9'-0"
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2019
    BNSF FAN likes this.
  5. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

    Oops. Had a couple of layers shut off, so had to make some changes. This one is right.

    Benchwork Pattern Final.jpg
    BNSF FAN likes this.
  6. Tom Crofton

    Tom Crofton TrainBoard Member

    I'm planning on a hidden staging area (lower level) that has a couple passenger trains and a a couple of longer freights ready to come up and run around the layout from different directions, stopping to cut cars or take on passengers and then go back down. That way the local switching and delivery/pickup at industries dominates but through trains add variety. Also am including a Doodlebug local passenger service to the industries
    RailMix and traingeekboy like this.
  7. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

    I haven't had a chance to start construction on this layout yet, but have spent more time in planning and selecting structures, etc. I did want to know if the layout would look the way I pictured it and didn't want to spend the time on a 3D CAD model, so I developed a rough hand rendering based on an isometric view of the 2d file.


    Inspirations (Stand by, this is a bit lengthy.):

    As I mentioned previously, the primary inspiration for the city of GreenRiver and its waterfront/industrial area was Bay City, Michigan. Bay City stretches for several miles along the Saginaw River, and during the 19th century was a bustling industrial city with a large number of sawmills, salt blocks that manufactured salt from brine pumped out of the ground and manufacturers like the Industrial Works which eventually became Industrial Brownhoist. There was even a fireboat service due to the many sawmills and associated sawdust and lumber piles along the river. The river itself was plied by powerful tugs that towed immense log rafts down from the upper great lakes as well as schooners and lumber hookers (vessels as colorful as the name would suggest).

    By the early 20th century, the sawmills fell silent as Michigan's pine forests were logged off. It was at this point that the Kneeland-Bigelow company stepped in, bought two of the sawmills and built a large flooring mill along the river, part or all of which has recently been razed after being used for many years as a warehouse by Fletcher Oil:


    There is a very compressed structure on the layout(3) that will represent this industry.

    Another important feature is the GreenRiver depot, (1), inspired by Saginaw's Potter Street Station, shown here:


    Obviously, Potter Street can't be modeled on a layout this size, but will be represented by Oregon Rail Supply's Menomenee Falls Depot:


    It will receive a canopy over the platform to reflect the appearance of Potter Street and if I had a few more inches in front of the backdrop I would include flats to represent the old storefronts that stood on the other side of Potter Street.

    Finally, out at the other end of the line in the middle of the thumb, an area of nearly endless farms punctuated by small towns, is (5), Hicksville, based on Bad Axe, Michigan. A sugar beet processing plant has been included. Even though there is not one of these in Bad Axe, there are three of them at other places in the thumb area, so it seemed appropriate to model one in Hicksville. The main Bad Axe landmark that will be represented is the grain elevator (6):

  8. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

    I've got this pretty thoroughly planned now, but one question remains. I've been building plastic ships for a long time and have a few in various stages of construction. However, I'm still looking for a true centerpiece for the port area. I have two choices:

    The first choice is Sylvan's great lakes lumber hooker:


    Sylvan has now given the kit the more politically correct "lumber ship" designation, but lumber hookers were wooden vessels, generally between 150' and 200' long built in fairly large numbers during the last quarter of the 19th century. I like the sylvan model for a couple of reasons- first, the subject of the model, the 150' steamer Langell Boys, was built by in 1890 by Simon Langell just a few miles down the St. Clair river from my retirement job in Port Huon. She was named in honor of his seven sons. She ended her service under owners in Carrlton, MI, just a short distance up the Saginaw river from Bay City in 1931 when she burned and sank on Lake Huron. On the plus side, this model has a valued local connection. On the minus side, at 22", it's about the largest vessel that will fit in my dock space.

    The other choice is Sylvan's upcoming model of the motor vessel White Swan:


    (scroll down past the CN wood cabooses)

    The White Swan was an anomaly, 81 ' long and built at a time when the average new great lakes vessel was a 600' long steel ship. The factor that made her practical was her diesel engine, which allowed operation by a small crew. (When she was wrecked, she was carrying a crew of three)

    The White Swan has the advantage of only requiring half the dock space, but is not as typical of the great lakes or as local as the Langell Boys, so at this point, I'm wondering which is the better choice.
  9. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member

    Looks Like a great track and layout plan there Tom! Lots of switching.
  10. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

    Very nice thread to read on a Sunday morning.
    Re: 'Rules' and other modelers' expectations? This morning the 1st action I took was to hit the 'Ignore' button on a person expressing their disapproval for my style of design. Folks are invited to express negative feelings in response to my ideas but, um, let's back it up with at least a modicum of explanation of where an individual is coming from.

    Beyond all of that, as for,
    • A train appearing twice in one scene? I have not yet heard a model train move so quietly I could not 'track' it through its entire rout. So, even if that train is behind a view block / in a tunnel unless it is insulated for sound I'm gonna know where it is. I'll also be able to tell you if there is a couplet dragging.
    • Limiting your grades? Hmm, Touchy subject. Over all I don't recommend it unless a person has time, (and desire), to safely test it. I have only worked in 'N Scale' and have successfully broken that rule but it strongly depends on:
      • Head end locomotives
      • The number of, weight and wheel type of the cars in the train
      • The mid-train locomotive if any
    It's your layout. Do what you want.
    RailMix likes this.
  11. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

    It's always interesting to see other people's ideas and perhaps suggest things that may be helpful, (BTW, thanks to everyone here who has participated in this thread. Your ideas have been appreciated.) but everyone definitely should do what suits them. It is, after all, a hobby and should be a place for personal expression.

    In answer to your question about grades, I ran some tests (again, at the suggestion of some folks here) which were quite simple to set up and replicated the most severe conditions on the layout. Posted here:

  12. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Am getting an error message for Sylvan's web site. :(
  13. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

    I got one the other night, but tried again a bit later and was able to get there just fine. Also was able to access it just now, so give it another try.
  14. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

    Some things in track plan that appear odd to me. Mind you everyone has their sense of taste about these things. Please add grains of sugar to make my comments more palatable. ;)

    Better yet, just consider them as questions about design and function.

    Upper Deck
    -There is a track that comes off the main and goes behind the round house on the upper deck. I personally would eliminate that track as it seems to serve no purpose.

    -Also the spur to the industry on the very top back edge will be a nightmare to get at, unless you have a space around back to reach it from.

    Middle Level
    -Your mid point passing siding seems like a good station location and could have something like a team track, or cattle pen on a spur there.

    Harbor Scene
    -The long track that goes to hidden staging seems like if you moved the turntable into that area and did not have that long hidden track you can create more space for your harbor scene. Why do you have this track in the first place?

    I like the all the curves in this plan, I think it is very good over all.
  15. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

    OK, Geeky,
    All good questions and some food for thought in a couple of cases. I'll take them in order.

    First, the track that branches off the main behind the roundhouse is the supply track for the coaling tower and the sand house, requiring switching on a regular basis. As far as the industry in the corner goes, I also have concerns. I'm thinking I'll get a pickup device and pad the jaws with foam in case of derailments. Otherwise, I'll have to access it through the window from outside:eek:. Maybe a cornfield would work better there.:unsure:

    Middle level- Hmmm.... I have been tinkering with the idea of a small station at the crossing ala John Allen, but had not considered a team track. If I could work it in, it would be mostly a place for farmers to load sugar beets for Michigan Sugar in Hicksville. It's well worth considering and would only require a track and enough space to pull a truck in next to it.

    The staging track- This will use cassette staging in the area underneath Hicksville (access from the aisle) and will be used to simulate interchange traffic with Pere Marquette/C&O/Huron and Eastern, Grand Trunk/Grand Trunk Western, and/or Detroit and Mackinac/Lake State Railway depending on the era chosen for the operating session. All of these roads served the Bay City area at one time or another along with Michigan central/NYC. HESR and Lake State still do. Not only does this provide an off the layout destination, but it will give me a chance to run my collection of motive power and cabeese from these local roads, so is (I think) a good use of the space.

    As always, comments and ideas are welcome.
    traingeekboy and BNSF FAN like this.
  16. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

    Update: Last night I tinkered with the track plan and discovered that a short team track ( 2 car capacity) will fit on the middle level, but the depot I had in mind may not. I'll figure that out later.
    traingeekboy likes this.
  17. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

    This thread has been inactive for a while, but layout planning (and room prep) have still been moving forward. Hopefully,I'll be starting benchwork soon, but have been reconsidering my ideas about construction materials. Initially, I planned on using 3/4" birch plywood as an alternative to dimensional lumber, which increasingly suffers from quality issues along with the use of a Kreg jig for assembly. However, I've been watching videos from the Dream, Plan, Build series and watched the Model Railroader staff build benchwork that has challenged my ideas. They were framing with 1/2" birch plywood assembled with glue and nails ????? and topped with 1/4" Plywood and a layer of foam???. Personally, I find this construction attractive from the standpoint of weight saving, but on the flip side, it looks just a little scary in terms of strength and durability.
    I've come up with a couple of of ideas that might make me more comfortable with this construction. First is hedging on the plywood thickness and using 3/8" or 1/2" as a compromise.
    Second is the arrangement shown below for the joints. Essentially, after assembly, I would come back and screw a pair of 5/4 pine gussets into each joint as shown below. I would feel much more comfortable with these improvements.


    Anyone got an opinion on this?

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