Curved-Ladder Yard Design; help needed

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JimD

New Member
#1
New to this forum but here goes:
Any help on how best to lay out a pinwheel or curved yard ladder would be greatly appreciated. I have visited several yard design "sites" and subscribe to MR. I also purchased on-line the great John Armstrong's "Freight Yards" from MR-Products "Information Station" earlier this year. I have learned an enormous amount (including the warnings about fouling the main and having a yard lead)!
I am modeling in HO, using Code 83 track. One end of the yard is coming out nicely as a compound ladder (using #6 Walthers straight turnouts) yielding 7 tracks. The other end appears to be ideal for the "pinwheel" design as I bend it 90 deg. around a corner of the layout. Mr Armstrong's article documents how I can make it work with # 5 or # 6 straight turnouts with an approx effective ladder radius of 35" or 46". He then states further space saving can occur with curved turnouts. Curved turnouts would seem ideal but I have no experience how commercial turnouts can be strung together, if at all, to make this work. Someday I might consider making custom turnouts but not yet! Do I have to stick with straight #5 0r #6's etc.....??? Thanks from Battle Creek, MI (NYC, D&H, RI fan!)
 

julienjj

Noodle is good
#2
If you consider building your own turnout, yes space saving could be considerable, commercial curved turnout are often very large with great radius

What kind of radius do you whant to have on your turnout ?
 
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#3
Making your own turnouts will allow you to get the points of one turnout much closer to the frog of the preceding turnout. With commercial turnouts they include quite a bit of track before and after the working elements of the turnout to ensure the rails stay in gauge. If you're building your own then the extra structural rail is not a necessity because the outermost rails can be continuous material, providing all necessary rigidity.

Curved turnouts can also provide a LOT of space savings. If you're up for the challenge, cost and time are no issue, and you want to make it 'the way you want', it might be worth researching custom curved tightly fitted turnouts.
________
Cumshot virtual
 
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julienjj

Noodle is good
#4
Curved turnouts can also provide a LOT of space savings. If you're up for the challenge, cost and time are no issue, and you want to make it 'the way you want', it might be worth researching custom curved tightly fitted turnouts.
Lets face it, making them will be much cheaper than buying them. One month ago i would have been :eek::eek::eek::eek: on the idea of making them, but now I am already at my 4th handlaid turnout and now I wont spend a dollar anymore on the commercial one. Plus they are 100% NMRA complaint. It cost me 10$ + 20 minute of fun each
 
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Cjcrescent

Master Mechanic
#5
Lets face it, making them will be much cheaper than buying them. One month ago i would have been :eek::eek::eek::eek: on the idea of making them, but now I am already at my 4th handlaid turnout and now I wont spend a dollar anymore on the commercial one. Plus they are 100% NMRA complaint. It cost me 10$ + 20 minute of fun each
You must be using the fast tracks jigs.
 

Rico

BN Modeller
#6
A compound pinwheel ladder will yield the most track in the shortest distance.
You can trim the end of the turnout to get the points closer to the receeding frog for more space saving.
Does that make sense?
Welcome to the funny pages by the way! :)
 

JimD

New Member
#8
Appreciate all above (or below!) FYI CN goes right through Battle Creek (ex-GTW here) and crosses NS which inherited the Michigan Central (NYC) line from Detroit to Chicago.
Regarding the question from julienjj I would be able to fit a curve ranging from 35-46" radius into the 90deg corner of the layout (so I COULD do it with straight #6 turnouts). In fairness I guess I would have to watch someone make curved turnouts before attempting such a project so I would prefer to TRY commercial turnouts (trimmed, as needed as suggested by Rico) if possible. BUT: Can I simply buy six of the same type (outside/inside radius) or would I need to start with the largest radius and work down? Is it even possible to get a yard of seven tracks with commercial curved turnouts? I suspect not.
Thanks ever so much.
With the cold wintry weather, making my own turnouts may not be bad after all :)
Jim
 
#9
Jim, here's a quick and dirty (without easements) pinwheel ladder to give you an idea of dimensions required for a 7 track ladder with one main line feeding it. The yard is 3" off the top wall, and the main is 2" off the left wall. The ruler is there to show how long your yard tracks would be in 10' of actual used space. The smallest of the radi for yard tracks is ~24" (what I consider minimum radius for any layout) and the largest being ~43 inches. So at minimum, for a 7 ladder pinwheel you are realistically looking at a 44" or so radius to fit the the 7th track. All turnouts are fast tracks #6. It should also be known that I set the yard tracks at 2" on center. To get the pinwheel effect you attach the next turnout to the diverging section of the previous turnout, effectively creating a pseudo curved turnout resulting in a compact, yet generous yard throat to maximize track lengths.

You could, I guess, make this more compact by making it a compound pinwheel or trimming the turnouts shorter, which might help you fit the 7 tracks in better, but I just did this fast to give you an idea of what you are looking at to accomplish your goal.

 
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#10
That was incredibly helpful. I have printed it out (after saving and flipping image!). It also looks great! Better get to work!
For three interesting and very appropriate local pictures I took just down the road from me, check out:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/iowafamily/4895307693/in/set-72157624608421965/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/iowafamily/4895308703/in/set-72157624608421965/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/iowafamily/4895904012/in/set-72157624608421965/

It looks like a compound pinwheel type ladder!

This is looking North (Westbound trains) on the ex Michigan Central (NYC), now NS tracks as they loop under Michigan Ave. just east of Battle Creek. The yard will bend left, and just beyond the curve will be a liquid sugar plant across the street from Kellogg's Battle Creek Cereal Plant. Another 0.5 mile along the line will be the Post Cereal Plant (Honey Bunches of Oats!) and the joining of the CN (ex GTW) line through the city of Battle Creek before they split up again. Amtrak's Wolverine service uses the left most tracks 6x per day (3 in each direction) between Chicago and Detroit!

Thanks for everything. I think I'm ok to proceed. This was a great forum. Everyone was a ton of help. Look out.... I may have another question later!
Jim
 
#11
The more I look at the pictures the more I wonder if that NS yard is really just a compound ladder type with curved tracks beyond the frog and not truly a "pinwheel" ?? But then "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" (apologies to Shakespeare!). Stay thirsty (for trains) my friends. ;)
 
#13
Jim, here's a quick and dirty (without easements) pinwheel ladder to give you an idea of dimensions required for a 7 track ladder with one main line feeding it. The yard is 3" off the top wall, and the main is 2" off the left wall. The ruler is there to show how long your yard tracks would be in 10' of actual used space. The smallest of the radi for yard tracks is ~24" (what I consider minimum radius for any layout) and the largest being ~43 inches. So at minimum, for a 7 ladder pinwheel you are realistically looking at a 44" or so radius to fit the the 7th track. All turnouts are fast tracks #6. It should also be known that I set the yard tracks at 2" on center. To get the pinwheel effect you attach the next turnout to the diverging section of the previous turnout, effectively creating a pseudo curved turnout resulting in a compact, yet generous yard throat to maximize track lengths.

You could, I guess, make this more compact by making it a compound pinwheel or trimming the turnouts shorter, which might help you fit the 7 tracks in better, but I just did this fast to give you an idea of what you are looking at to accomplish your goal.

Thank you so very much for this! It's exactly what I wanted! Never thought to ask though. Would you be as so kind as to tell me what turnouts were used? I'm a-ok! with all the curve radii.

Thanks a ton man! I never would have thought about that!

Manny


EDIT: NEVER MIND. I JUST SAW THAT IT WAS FT #6. PERFECT! I'M USING FAST TRACKS!
 
#14
Jim, here's a quick and dirty (without easements) pinwheel ladder to give you an idea of dimensions required for a 7 track ladder with one main line feeding it. The yard is 3" off the top wall, and the main is 2" off the left wall. The ruler is there to show how long your yard tracks would be in 10' of actual used space. The smallest of the radi for yard tracks is ~24" (what I consider minimum radius for any layout) and the largest being ~43 inches. So at minimum, for a 7 ladder pinwheel you are realistically looking at a 44" or so radius to fit the the 7th track. All turnouts are fast tracks #6. It should also be known that I set the yard tracks at 2" on center. To get the pinwheel effect you attach the next turnout to the diverging section of the previous turnout, effectively creating a pseudo curved turnout resulting in a compact, yet generous yard throat to maximize track lengths.

You could, I guess, make this more compact by making it a compound pinwheel or trimming the turnouts shorter, which might help you fit the 7 tracks in better, but I just did this fast to give you an idea of what you are looking at to accomplish your goal.


One thing to be aware of in any curved yard tracks is what minimum radius is needed to allow cars to couple reliably. Test for yourself to see if your cars will couple consistently on a 24" radius or if a larger radius is needed. Just because a 24" radius will handle the train does not mean that cars will couple on it. A real advantage of pinwheel ladders is the extra storage on the curved tracks. You don't want to lose that.
 
#15
Great point. I will check coupling and try to keep radii to the maximum I can fit in the corner.
I have been using Shinohara/Walthers #6 turnouts on the other (compound) end of the ladder. Will this pose a problem on the pinwheel end, that the Fast track #6's will not?
Since I have recently purchased a resistance soldering system (it makes soldering really a snap) the thought of making my own TO's is getting better every day though I am still curious about the option of using commercial TO's. Thanks. Jim D (moved to Michigan from Iowa City, IA)
 
#16
Hey Jim,

I'm not trying to hijack your thread, but build upon it. I copied on Anyrail 4, the pinwheel ladder. My prospective train room is 17x11. What I did was recreate the ladder and mirror it on the opposite side. It seems like a huge yard for 17'. I'd like to shorten it a little, but I'm not sure how. I also would like to add an engine facility with a turntable and roundhouse; along with all the necessary buildings for a steam facility.

Here is what it looks like. Any tips would be appreciated.

Thanks!

Manny
 



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