Comments wanted for switching layout

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#1
Hey guys,

I'm new to this forum. I decided to build my first layout as a small switching layout in N scale due to limited space. I've spent some time to design a track plan that fulfils several requirements:

1 fun to operate
2 visually pleasing yet simple
3 a bit prototypical
4 contain a 'hidden inglenook' (for the puzzle)
5 designed for using two switchers

I've been inspired by several small switching track plans, among others the great looking Haston Nomad and Port of LA. My 1x3 foot track plan looks like this:



So I was thinking that the concept would be the end of a branch line somewhere in New England in 60’s. Does anyone have an idea about what industries/merchants would be fitting for the trackplan and New England? Maybe something wood related?

To keep it simple I’ve considered making the branch line serve a warehouse facility. But it would be nice to know about alternatives to this.

So if anybody has comments regarding the track plan and concept, please feel free to enlighten me in my first novice steps into model railroading. All inputs will be highly appreciated!

Greetings from Denmark :)
 
#2
In real life, the use of two switchers is very rare, especially in eras before about 2000. In your era of the 1960s in the US, men worked cheaply and locos were very expensive, so trackage was built so that one switcher could do the job.

Runarounds are fun to operate and add more interest -- and you probably have room, even in your small space. Note that even Bob Smaus' LA Harbor HO switching layout you cite has a runaround (although hidden within the crossing trackage).

A very small layout doesn't really need separate dedicated arrival and departure tracks, in my humble opinion.

You'll find dozens and dozens of well thought-out small layouts in 4 square feet or less in HO (which would be well within your size constraint in N) in Carl Arendt's mico layout site here and here.

Best of luck.
 
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railfan

junk collector
#3
While I appreciate and look to Byron for his knowledge and expertise.....some of us end up wanting to add extra bits of fantasy that reflect our own style and imagination. It's important to know what the prototypical base line is and then go from there.....if we decide to expand on reality. :)



Mike
 
#6
Hey,
thanx a lot for your comments! I guess I wanted to use two switchers in order to ad to the operational fun - that's why I avoided the runaround in the first place, so that it could be easier justified.

Well, having done some thinking I've added the runaround like this:



As you can see, it's heavily inspired by the cool runaround from Bob Smaus' Port of LA - mine is just a little simpler. I think designing the runaround like this will greatly add to the operational fun. Length of the spurs is still a bit uncertain.

Does anybody have suggestions regarding the industrial theme for this New England based layout - like papermill or cannery?

Thank you! :)
 

railfan

junk collector
#7
Well, having done some thinking I've added the runaround like this:
I see that you added a section of track between the lower left and right spurs. Is this typically what is meant by a runaround? I thought maybe a runaround was a circle of track.....but then that wouldn't fit on a small shelf layout. I'm just trying to learn.


Mike
 
#8
I see that you added a section of track between the lower left and right spurs. Is this typically what is meant by a runaround? I thought maybe a runaround was a circle of track.....but then that wouldn't fit on a small shelf layout. I'm just trying to learn.


Mike
I second that, I'm new to the hobby as well, but I'm pretty sure by runaround they mean a connection of track so a train can continously go around.
 

cv_acr

Active Member
#9
No, a runaround is a double-ended track that allows a locomotive to "runaround" its train to change ends.

It's absolutely essential to being able to switch spurs that face in opposite directions.

Mr. Switcher: the plan, with all its switchbacks is a little limited in places where cars can actually be spotted. As the plan is drawn right now, the runaround prevents you from using those tails as industry spurs, since you can't use the runaround or switch other spurs without moving cars from those locations. Unless the switchback is really long (which yours aren't) the railroad would be highly unlikely to be serving and industry on a switchback tail. This layout really only has TWO places to spot cars: the top "spur" at left, and the "arrival/departure"? track at top right. Every other track is the tail or lead for a switchback or the runaround. (And on that plan you still need to use the entire layout to effect a runaround.)

The layout is very much like the TimeSaver puzzle layout, and operating it will basically be like solving one of those "move the empty space" puzzles, and you'll be able to move one, at most two, cars at a time. If "puzzle" is actually what you're going for, that's fine, but realistic it isn't.
 
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Selector

Well-Known Member
#10
I second that, I'm new to the hobby as well, but I'm pretty sure by runaround they mean a connection of track so a train can continously go around.
You are thinking more of walking or driving, maybe, but in the prototype rails and on our hobby layouts, it is merely a siding with a turnout at each end that allows the engine to escape, including via the track on which it first dragged the cars with the engine leading.

Suppose you come to what are called 'facing points', where you have to drop off some cars trailing you. It might be a sawmill, say. It is a small operation, and there is only the one spur into the property, and because you are leading, you must tow all the train into the spur....hopefully nothing too long because you don't want to confound your work in the property, but you also don't want to have to leave a chunk of your consist out on the main blocking traffic.

For our purposes, it is you, the locomotive, and six cars. You leave the main by taking the facing points diverging into the sawmill's spur. If there is just the one in-and-out track leading from the main via that facing point turnout, how will you drop the cars and get back to towing the rest of the train to points beyond? The solution is to have a 'run-around' track. Think of a smallish siding paralleling the track on which you entered the property, but this one has a turnout at each end allowing the locomotive to enter that siding at either end. If you lead cars in, you drop them between the turnouts on the runaround, but on the parallel spur, proceed past the far turnout, back down that run-around, through the first turnout, line the points for the through route once more, and shove the string of cars you just dropped forward toward hoppers or loading ramps.

Note that the need for run-around functions is critical in large classification and switching yards where there are often long strings of cars being coupled to form long mainline trains. Often this can be done by backing out to a ladder lead and taking the next free track over. Sometimes there really are short run-around tracks meant to be left clear for just that purpose.
 
#11
You are thinking more of walking or driving, maybe, but in the prototype rails and on our hobby layouts, it is merely a siding with a turnout at each end that allows the engine to escape, including via the track on which it first dragged the cars with the engine leading.

Suppose you come to what are called 'facing points', where you have to drop off some cars trailing you. It might be a sawmill, say. It is a small operation, and there is only the one spur into the property, and because you are leading, you must tow all the train into the spur....hopefully nothing too long because you don't want to confound your work in the property, but you also don't want to have to leave a chunk of your consist out on the main blocking traffic.

For our purposes, it is you, the locomotive, and six cars. You leave the main by taking the facing points diverging into the sawmill's spur. If there is just the one in-and-out track leading from the main via that facing point turnout, how will you drop the cars and get back to towing the rest of the train to points beyond? The solution is to have a 'run-around' track. Think of a smallish siding paralleling the track on which you entered the property, but this one has a turnout at each end allowing the locomotive to enter that siding at either end. If you lead cars in, you drop them between the turnouts on the runaround, but on the parallel spur, proceed past the far turnout, back down that run-around, through the first turnout, line the points for the through route once more, and shove the string of cars you just dropped forward toward hoppers or loading ramps.

Note that the need for run-around functions is critical in large classification and switching yards where there are often long strings of cars being coupled to form long mainline trains. Often this can be done by backing out to a ladder lead and taking the next free track over. Sometimes there really are short run-around tracks meant to be left clear for just that purpose.
Thanks alot, that cleared it up tremendously!
 
#15
Hey Chris,
thanx for your feedback. I guess my ambition to make the layout a bit prototypical is a little far fetched. Given my restricted space I guess I prefer to squeeze in fun operations rather than go strictly for a prototypical operation (not saying that prototypical operations are not fun!). Model railroading always involves some kind of reduction, of course, and I guess that in this case I will also have to reduce the prototypical aspect. I wanted to be able to do some puzzle solving (like John Allens timesaver) since it's an easy way to add operational principles to a layout immediatly when you're no expert. But I also wanted to not be restricted to only making puzzles - I guess that's where the challenge lies :)

Regarding the trackplan I'll try to prolong the spurs - as you suggest - in order to have more options to spot cars :)
 
#16
By cuyama:

... and how important a basic foundational text like Armstrong's Track Planning for Realistic Operation is for anyone planning to design their own layout.
This book is more important than any locos or rolling stock that anyone new to the hobby could buy. It is an excellent primer on the how and why of prototype track arrangement and how they are operated. Without this book you will be guessing at the way things are done in real life.
 
#17
By cuyama:

This book is more important than any locos or rolling stock that anyone new to the hobby could buy. It is an excellent primer on the how and why of prototype track arrangement and how they are operated. Without this book you will be guessing at the way things are done in real life.
I actually have that book but it seems way to in depth and I get bored of it real quick. Maybe I need to chain myself down and read a few pages every day. I also have HO model railroad from start to finish. I read that one, its a little easier.
 
#18
A recent proto example of an industrial park with no runaround was Progressive Rail at Airlake (?) Park in Minnesota. They did use two switch engines. (Details were published in Model Railroader a few years ago along with a trackplan. You can probably Google it.) I think I read though that they've since added a runaround somewhere.

If you don't want a runaround, don't use one. But I think it would be very difficult to operate without DCC in that case - DC blocking would probably be a PITA.
 
#19
By rdemattio91:

Maybe I need to chain myself down and read a few pages every day.
I never sat down and read it front to back, but rather skipped around and read a little here and there. Pretty soon things will start to click and what was cloudy and unclear will start to make sense. I would especially recommend the chapters on yards and operations, but the whole book is really a "must read".
 
#20
One way of switching an area with a mixture of facing and trailing point spurs is by doing a Dutch Drop, but this is impossible to do with model trains and was frowned upon in the best of circumstances on the prototypes. I've seen it done a couple of times in my hometown back in the late 60's and early 70's but not since.
 





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