Thoughts on a new N Scale layout

tony22 Jan 27, 2014

  1. David K. Smith

    David K. Smith TrainBoard Supporter

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    No offense, but that stretch of four tracks winding through the middle of the layout is PRR-ish only by virtue of being four tracks; the curves are way, waaaaay too tight to be believable as a PRR mainline, IMO.

    Now, if you want something that's more in keeping with the PRR, try something along these lines:

    [​IMG]

    The PRR main dominates the space--just as the real railroad did--and serves as something of a scenic divider. It could go under all of the other track instead, but then the loop becomes much more obvious. Now you have something that won't make an articulated look awkward. Would also be cool to electrify it.

    Edit: Further to the above, I might consider changing the setting to an urban area, with the PRR running through town on elevated track, and the loop/yard being an industrial shortline serving an industrial neighborhood. Then you have densely-packed buildings dividing the space, which would further disguise the loop and justify the tight turns; it would be more believable, I think, than trying to cram mountainous terrain around everything. Just a thought...

    I just tossed this together in a rush, so I'm not sure it uses your track inventory properly, but it ought to be doable with some tweaks.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2014
  2. tony22

    tony22 TrainBoard Member

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    David, if you could post the .any file I'd appreciate it. Clearly there's more than one way to skin this cat (no offense to cats!).
     
  3. David K. Smith

    David K. Smith TrainBoard Supporter

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  4. tony22

    tony22 TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you sir! I have to really consider whether the 4 track is a component I need to have. I may have to settle for a single track going off into the world and call it a connection to the larger PRR big iron. I think I prefer the semi-rural to semi-suburban locality.

    I keep going toward something along these lines.


    el_7e3.jpg

    To me it seems like there's more opportunity for operation if I give up on the thought of representing a classic part of the PRR main.

    Hmm, I'm getting an "Invalid Signature, File Open Error" on the last .any you linked to, David. Didn't have any problem with the others.
     
  5. David K. Smith

    David K. Smith TrainBoard Supporter

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    You certainly gain a fair bit of real estate, that's for sure! About the last plan you posted... any reason for the extra crossover in the yard? You can drop one of them (the middle one would be my pick) as it's redundant the way it is.

    Not sure, I double-checked the file, seems OK on my end. I'll re-upload it just in case it got corrupted on the way up.
     
  6. tony22

    tony22 TrainBoard Member

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    I was playing around with leaving them in and I forgot to get rid of those. They were originally part of a three track set of crossovers so that I could cut off the lead engine if the inbound train arrived of Tracks 1, 2, or 3 (left to right). This pair was originally further down and the next pair connected Tracks 2 and 3.
     
  7. tony22

    tony22 TrainBoard Member

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    Okay, here's the latest idea. I was pretty unhappy with the yard the way I had it set up. I didn't like that the longest to shortest storage tracks were front to back on that shelf. I remember John Armstrong recommending against this (with good reason). So I like what you did with the rearrangement of the yard, David. I'm not sure I like that it gives up the runaround immediately around the main yard approach track, but I think I see how it can still work.

    el_7e4.jpg

    Part of the reason I liked the original main line layout is that it has a passing siding, but I felt it didn't have enough of a "destination". So I extended the elevated branch over on to the shelf. Now I think it makes for a whole lot of work up in those parts. Logging or mining will be the trade, with some sort of intermediary industry (sawmill or coal breaking) on the elevated portion which is on the main table (where the red structure is located). The yard now looks to me like it makes more sense, and there is enough room on the right side of the shelf for some end of the line industries (furniture factory, coal oil dealer). My conceit to the PRR is the small 4 track hint at the bottom, showing how my little world connects to the PRR main.

    Yes, this does use switches beyond what I have, so I will have to scrounge up a few more.

    I'm sure there are problems, so I await the critique.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 17, 2014
  8. David K. Smith

    David K. Smith TrainBoard Supporter

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    At first glance, I'm not seeing what that really short runaround on the line in front of the yard does for you; to be useful, it needs to be at least as long as the train that would be pulled onto that line, which certainly would be longer than just a couple of cars. I also think there may be a couple of sidings you can drop from that same line, as there doesn't appear to be space for that many industries.
     
  9. Backshop

    Backshop TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks, Dave -- your PRR version looks much better than mine. But I was right -- putting the big main through the middle of an oval makes good use of a space that otherwise is hard to make look real.
     
  10. Backshop

    Backshop TrainBoard Member

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    Hmmm, Dave ... think you've got that Hoboken layout on your mind.:)
     
  11. David K. Smith

    David K. Smith TrainBoard Supporter

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    Guilty as charged. That said... I've always had a preference for urban layouts--four of my last six layouts were urban. IMO, they can be much more effective for small plans than those with open scenery. It's far more difficult to realistically impart an Appalachian setting in a small space, for example, than it is a dense urban area. All of those buildings not only offer a lot of eye candy, but they also hide a multitude of sins--like loops and sharp curves--that are otherwise challenging to disguise.
     
  12. Backshop

    Backshop TrainBoard Member

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    Yeah, I love urban scenery too, especially of industrial districts. I grew up in Chicagoland during the 50s and 60s, and you couldn't go a half-mile without running across some railroad trackage -- on the ground, up on embankments, multiple mains, viaducts, spurs, yards, industrial areas -- full of trains going somewhere. I thought that was how ALL RR towns and cities were, until I moved to rural Indiana and was astounded only ONE single-track line ran through the town.
    It's why I'm fooling around with your Hoboken plan, it's just so much fun (and so is using AnyRail!). If anything, the discussion is showing me how much a person's perception affects design. I wish that more guys on the forum would take a shot at varying somebody's design, just to see all the possibilities that come up.
    As you may have guessed, my preference for urban settings is for everything except the track to be built on a grid. A slanted grid, like you have there. My theory is it's up to the RR to get track where it needs to go through and around stuff already in the way. I find the challenge intensely interesting. What makes Hoboken even harder is having to use pre-sized pieces of track. Wow! Don't the Japanese have industrial complexes? Why doesn't Kato have more track selection to duplicate them?
    I did manage to cram in the same schematic (almost) that you have into a complete grid, though I cheated a tiny bit -- have to use a 1/2" section of Unitrack in 2 places (how did you make that piece, btw?). I think I managed to keep all the lengths of the spurs and tail tracks close to the same length you used, though I can't tell because you don't have a scale on the parts drawing. I also used the premise that the upper level was just a dead-end branch, with a bumper at the end, just enough tail track to switch the last industry. I also made the switchback to the grade go straight "east" off the board, just in case an expansion is possible.
    Another thing: I assume the coal trestle is elevated, since if it was depressed it would hit the trains running on the hidden track? What grade is it? How much is grade and how much level?
     
  13. David K. Smith

    David K. Smith TrainBoard Supporter

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    There are two grades on this layout. The first is about 5% to get from the lower loop to the upper area. Then there is a 2% grade from the first set of sidings to the runaround and the rest of the sidings. Here's the plan showing the elevations (as well as part numbers and a 6" grid for reference).

    [​IMG]

    Here's what the grades look like:

    [​IMG]

    I can get away with a clearance of 1.5" because it's a 30s-40s setting, and all of the rolling stock is short. The coal trestle is actually raised slightly, although it doesn't have to be.

    Here is the plan in the context of the streets, buildings and other features:

    [​IMG]

    Many of the buildings are well along...

    [​IMG]

    Making the 1/2-inch piece (which is located between the two 90-degree crossings) was actually pretty simple. After removing the rail from any short straight piece, cut the ends of the roadbed off so that the cuts are right behind the joiner pockets; then just glue the two pieces together. Install joiners and insert bits of rail cut to length.

    Sorry for hijacking this thread...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 17, 2014
  14. tony22

    tony22 TrainBoard Member

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    Hey! That's enough of this OT banter. I'm warning you... (think of Moe Howard). :)

    Couple of things, David. First, have you figured out whether AnyRail can do "smart" grading? I've talked about this in previous versions with the developer and I still think it can't be done. As follows: set zero elevation at a couple of points, set desired elevation at key points that are above 0, have AnyRail project a smooth flow of elevation to the defined non-zero points. Near as I've tried it can't be done.

    Second, with regard to your comment in Post #48, how might you propose a better layout to the right of the yard? I've attached the AnyRail file.
     

    Attached Files:

  15. David K. Smith

    David K. Smith TrainBoard Supporter

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    By "smart" grading, I'm assuming you mean accounting for vertical easements, as opposed to simply calculating a straight grade between two points, as it does now? You're right, AnyRail doesn't do that, and I'm not sure it can be done--but not for lack of the developer's ability. AnyRail uses track joints as points of reference for establishing a grade, and arbitrary points cannot be set along the track, so at present it's not possible, and may not be without some major changes in how AnyRail works. Plus, vertical easements can vary according to circumstances as well as modeler preferences, so accommodating that variable might be a programmatic conundrum. Meanwhile, I run the straight grade and then "fudge" a bit to arrive at the maximum grade. For example, AnyRail calculated the steeper grade on my layout at 4.7%, and I rounded it up to 5% to account for vertical easements.

    Nothing special, really; just drop one or two sidings and lengthen the runaround.
     
  16. Backshop

    Backshop TrainBoard Member

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    On your final design, if you want less track, you can drop the RH switch and yard lead past it, the yard then tying directly to the passing siding, which you can use as a yard lead (they're almost the same length). Or that would let you use the former lead as an industry track, or interchange to another RR.
    You might think about having your enginehouse tracks go directly into the wye. This would save you having to run out of the house first into the yard and then back out to the wye, turn, then run back to the yard. And coming in, the engine cuts off, goes back through the wye, then directly back to the house and service facilities. It saves you an out and back engine movement for each train over the way you have it set up now.
     
  17. tony22

    tony22 TrainBoard Member

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    I'll have to play with that, Backshop. But I've been sick the last couple of days. Brain not working so good at the moment.:(
     
  18. Backshop

    Backshop TrainBoard Member

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    View attachment PRRoops.any
    Tony22:

    Hope you're better ... I was fooling around with your last plan, and came up with a variation that reduces the depth of the oval section a little -- the red line shows the new edge. Two feet is about the maximum reach for comfortable work, and as you can see by the ruler that switch way in back (which is where most of your derailments will happen, naturally:cute:) is beyond that. The track schematic is almost the same as your plan, some curve radii changes but nothing drastic. The curve up the hill has lots of wiggle room so you can widen it a bit.
    I did rearrange the industries to spread them out a little, and made one large, one medium, and one small. I moved the RH spur to behind the building so the structure can be put against the backdrop to make it seem larger. The two-spur industry I moved over to where the trackage was already dense, plus put in more curved track, so you could have more "branchline look" to the scene. S-curves aren't as bad when running short trains at low speeds. As it is, a lot of the layout has double-track or more density.
    And I don't know how important a "standard" passing track is to your operation, but to get more single track mileage you should think about whether to have one track instead of two along that one side of the wye . The wye itself is a passing track, although one that the train will have to back out of after the other train passes. But then again, on a small layout the more time it takes to do jobs, the longer the mainline will seem (and you could also eliminate the far switch in the back). In any case you have another passing siding up on the branch, one that can be lengthened across the bridge if it's not long enough for your needs.
    I only worked on the track shown in this plan, the unshown track is still the same as your plan.
     
  19. David K. Smith

    David K. Smith TrainBoard Supporter

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    Likewise.

    I too have been tinkering with this plan. A few observations on Backshop's revisions. Reversing the two-track industry at the lower end of the branchline grade does two things--it makes the grade much steeper because the run is now shorter, and it means you need to work the sidings to the industry from a steep curved grade, which could cause problems. The upper passing siding tracks are much too close together, and the trackwork along the front is rather "wiggly"--yes, it's a branchline, but it still seems a bit too much (real railroads always avoid extra curves wherever possible). And finally, a better way to address the reach issue, instead of chopping into the benchwork, is to move that switch forward.

    Below is a rendition with a few improvements. First, the passing siding alongside the wye is shifted forward to address the reach issue. Next, the branchline grade (aqua) is lengthened as much as possible to reduce the slope. Also, I removed the upper passing siding since the line has been extended (blue) and there is now a passing siding beside the yard; this allows the grade to be even lower (about 2.2%). The portion of the line that connects to the PRR mainline (red) is smoothed out and simplified; for added visual interest, you might consider lowing this section by 1/2 to 3/4 inch, with the grade on the orange stretch. The snippet of PRR (dark red) is given a little more prominence, and a couple of #10s are used to dummy up a crossover. As an aside, using #10s elsewhere on the layout looks incongruous, not to mention problematic when used for things such as the enginehouse switch--the stalls are spaced further apart than the #10 could accommodate.

    [​IMG]

    Here is the AnyRail file: http://davidksmith.com/images/el_8a.any
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 25, 2014
  20. tony22

    tony22 TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks guys. I'm still here. It took me through Sunday before I stopped feeling dizzy and nauseated. Then what did I have to look forward to? Going right back to work with almost a week's worth of backwash to deal with (got through what I could from home during the periods where I didn't feel delirious). Busy week, too. Got a customer meeting on Thursday that I've only just started to get ready for. Not going to have my head above water for a while.
     

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