Help Please....design a dbl-deck layout in its own Hand-House shed

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beiland

Active Member
#1
Objective:
I want to build a double-deck, around-the-wall, peninsula style layout in a 12x16 shed I have prepared for the job.

I have picked out two plans that I found among many that I had saved over the years from magazines, particularly Model Railroader *. A combination and modification of these two layout plans should produce what I am looking for. I realize there are any number of computer aided programs that have come into existence to help with layout planning, but at my older age, I'm not real excited about taking a great deal of time to learn how to use these computer programs. I'm hoping some folks with that sort of knowledge will come forward and help me plan the layout, and visualize it with 3d images before I begin final construction.

*I contacted Model Railroader magazine about posting some images of older RR plans they had published in the past, but were not currently available on the internet. They informed me in writing that it would be permissible if it was in pursuit of my own individual effort to design my personal layout, and if I gave them credit where appropriate. So please don't anyone bring up this 'copyright' issue.
 

beiland

Active Member
#2
Over the years I have seen many really nice train layouts that had to be cut-up (and destroyed) in order to remove them from their home place, due to either the owner's having passed away, or his moving to another residence. Very often they are rather a custom fit in their home built environment, and thus aren’t likely candidates for a new special location. I'm even currently in possession of a very nicely detailed waterfront scene that had to be cut out of an estate sale layout, and I am hoping to incorporate it into my new layout, but I see problems on the horizon.

With these experiences in mind I decided that I would purchase a stand alone Handi-House shed, and build my new layout in there. Then if I should change residence again, I can simply load that shed onto a trailer and move the whole layout to a new location. Or if I should pass away my wife could sell the layout and shed as an entity, and the buyer could move it to his new location.

I retired to a trailer home here in St Augustine, and it had an almost full length carport attached to it. I thought why not pull that new shed into the back portion of the carport and take advantage of the extra shade provided by the carport cover over the shed. It was a tight fit, and in fact to get a 12 foot wide shed into my carport I had to move all 5 of its support columns out a distance of 1 foot (had to pour concrete footer for those new column locations). I also had to remove 3 big beams attached to the underside of the shed in order to get enough clearance to fit under the carport's roof (I had initially given considerations to chopping the peak off of the shed), but became convinced I'd rather trim the height by modifying the bottom. I needed only a few inches, but it became a major undertaking. And I did this all by myself at the age of 74 using skid pads I made and a come-along attached to a tree in the back yard.
DSCF0628, ps.jpg DSCF0607, ps.jpg
DSCF0609, ps.jpg DSCF0611, ps.jpg

I have now just finished insulating the entire shed and installing a ceiling fan and a small air conditioner. My interior dimensions with the insulation all in is now 11 inches short of the overall dimensions of the 12x16 shed, ie; 11' 1” by 15' 1”

I want to build a dbl-deck, around-the-wall, with a peninsula layout. At first I was wondering if the peninsula might project out from one of the 'long walls' of the shed, but I am now convinced that the peninsula needs to project out from the 'back narrow wall' of this shed that sits at the opposite end from the big door.

I intend to have a helix (likely single tracked) to move the trains between the 2 decks. And since the helix’s take up so much room, I intend to make the helix structure in its own 'box' external to the interior of the shed. This will be like a 'winged box' structure hung off a rear corner of the shed, about 5-6 foot in size to house the 26-30 inch radius helix. There will be two small holes in the shed's metal siding to allow the trains to enter and exit the helix. At the moment I am imagining the train will enter the helix at an opening just off center of the shed's wall at the rear of the peninsula, and proceed its upward climb to the top deck, where it will reenter the shed over near the a perimeter (side) wall.
 
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beiland

Active Member
#3
BTW, I have LOTS of ns track, lots of Peco turnouts, all sorts of crossovers, some slip switches, etc to build this layout. Plus I have lots of structures (both unbuilt and some built). I've been collecting this material for a good number of years when I lived up in the Balt/DC/Annapolis area. And I have a wireless DCC system by NCE. (its all stored in a cargo trailer I purchased to move this 'stuff' and store it until I could make use of it).
 

tootnkumin

Active Member
Staff member
#4
It's good that the door opens outwards, that will avoid some difficulties.
 
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beiland

Active Member
#6
East to West theme, and Diesel-Steam transistion era

I have a strong preference for steam engines, but have collected lots of diesels as well. So lets say I will model that transition era were both were utilized. I am also not a strict time frame person that feels a need to model any particular era. I just like the looks of model trains, particularly the highly detailed ones that have come out over the past 15 years.

I found myself liking those big C&O, B&O, NW steam locos, but also some of the Santa Fe ones. And I couldn't resist a number of those Santa Fe diesels with their marvelous paint schemes that harkened back to when I was a kid. So one my first major layout (the Atlas Central Midland) I ran all of these different lines, and would explain that my railroad went from the east coast to the west coast,...Baltimore to California.

I'm imagining doing something similar with this new layout,....the lower deck level will be the 'Baltimore' theme, progressing up thru the mountains of Appalachian mountains (coal county) to the upper layer western mountains supporting logging trains, and finally to a Santa Fe train station. The mountainous areas will exist on both the lower and upper decks of the layout at the base root of the peninsula(s),...I thinking...
 

beiland

Active Member
#7
Lower Level and first layout exanmple

So lets start out thinking of the track plan for just the lower level. As I said I have 2 plans in mind that I tend to like very much, but the need to be melted together. The first of these was published way back in 1991, and was called the Anon & Muss.

Anon & Muss RR, larger size.jpg

It had a 'blob' at either side of the entrance way to the layout, and another one at the head of the peninsula. At the root of the peninsula it had crossing track configurations that would allow for greater radius turns from the tracks running down each side of space into the peninsula area, ….particularly if I intend to 'squeeze' this plan down into a more overall narrower shape than the original plan. There were a number of these 'crossing tracks' woven in to 'over and under' configurations that might be best handled in a 'mountainous area'......the Appalachians I spoke of before..

Another thing interesting about this layout design was expressed in the description of its design, … “the notion that's reflected in the premise behind the A&M track plan. You can have easy (hassle free) operation even with several trains running simultaneously on a single track. Make the layout two separate lines. Interconnections between lines would allow the layout to be run as one railroad. Each route could be constructed independently if the lines were judiciously located to each other. ….
The MUSS loop can be run completely independently of the ANON loop”


Anon & Muss scematic, larger size.jpg

I like to run trains, particularly multiple trains of different configurations, and simultaneously. That’s one reason I like this double loop scheme, and it might even be more versatile if I can place a removable bridge across the shed's entrance to the layout.
 

Attachments

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tootnkumin

Active Member
Staff member
#9
I sometimes have difficulty with editing posts in that once I've edited it won't save. But in order to delete an individual picture after selecting the Edit option, which has it's own field with what you have previously posted in it, scroll up or down to find the image you want to delete, place the cursor right next to the right bottom corner of the image and hit the backspace button. That image should dissappear from the field. Then press save. Hopefully that will restore the corrected post.
 

tootnkumin

Active Member
Staff member
#10
Looking at the plans you've shown, I would suggest if you do include that center peninsular, you only have it on the lower level. You're going to be pretty cramped for aisle space and to try to double up with that "blob" will be difficult, not just access wise, but viewing also.
 

beiland

Active Member
#11
Looking at the plans you've shown, I would suggest if you do include that center peninsular, you only have it on the lower level. You're going to be pretty cramped for aisle space and to try to double up with that "blob" will be difficult, not just access wise, but viewing also.
That's a good point to keep in mind.
 

tootnkumin

Active Member
Staff member
#12
As an alternative to double deck, there is the staggered level method where you can have 2 main lines built on different levels, but within the one base. It is quite surprising just how much trackage and scenery that is possible in a 24-30" wide space, or even narrower. This is a video from my club's layout that was done some time ago, much bigger than your shed, I know, but it does give a good idea of this method. The video has quite a few overlaps in it, so not as big as it may seem because of that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWOvuT7r-a8
 

beiland

Active Member
#13
That is one LONG train !!....how many cars, if you know?
(I reviewed that video, and I see the figure 107 cars)

That type of layout probable works best where the person is walking around the outside looking inward, but in the reverse case I'm not so sure.? Have to look at the video again.
(reviewed that video again and see that it has spots that are viewed from the inside looking out.....time frame 11:00)
 
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beiland

Active Member
#14
......


Another thing interesting about this layout design was expressed in the description of its design, … “the notion that's reflected in the premise behind the A&M track plan. You can have easy (hassle free) operation even with several trains running simultaneously on a single track. Make the layout two separate lines. Interconnections between lines would allow the layout to be run as one railroad. Each route could be constructed independently if the lines were judiciously located to each other. ….
The MUSS loop can be run completely independently of the ANON loop”

View attachment 61834
"The MUSS loop can be run completely independently of the ANON loop”
“Passing sidings at Muss and Seldom Seem Summit allow for two-train operation when desired. The latter siding is also the eventual connection point for the branch line. A few industrial spurs at Muss provide a chance for switching maneuvers when the mood strikes."

"The Marcan Jet and power plant/mine connections provide a means of linking the two loops. They can be used as part of a long continuous run (see schematic) or as part of a loaded/empty car exchange scheme. In the latter, loaded hoppers issue from Rabbit Run. From there they must be hauled up the grade through the passing track at Muss to the crest at Seldon Seem Summit tunnel. Dragging loaded hoppers up this hill provides justification for the use of powerful locomotives on short trains. Once over the summit, the run is downhill, diverging from the Muss loop at the Marcan Jet connection. Proceeding through the Anon yard, the hoppers are run in cognito until it is time to pull them out again. Empties travel the same route in the opposite direction.”
 
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beiland

Active Member
#15
A few items that I have researched quite a bit, and are somewhat ingrained in my thoughts at this time.*

Height of the dbl-decks:
I am a tall person (6'4") and still very healthy. I have experimented with various heights of sitting and standing, and have read a number of different accounts of different layouts. At this moment I am stuck on the idea that the lower deck's 'working surface' will be 40" off the floor. Possible I would consider 1 or 2 inches lower.
The upper deck will be 20" higher...60" inches from the floor. I imagine that the depth of the upper deck will be considerable less than the lower deck to allow for best viewing, and to allow for moving myself around even with minimal isles, 22 to 24 inches. It has been suggested that I might consider not putting an upper deck over the peninsula area (at least in the extended head of the peninsula). I will take that into consideration.


Helix
I have debated this question to some great extent, and done quite a bit of reading about it. I am not excited about the gradual rise of an around the wall grade. It would take up that much additional width that I do not care to give up in my relatively narrow shed. In fact I even considered not insulating the shed and thus being able to build some portions of the layout into the 2x4 studded areas, but the better part of valor said I will need AC at various times here in warm humid FL.

I am not married to the idea that my trains need to make constant use of this exchange between levels. With that in mind I am only considering a single-track helix, unless someone can convinced me otherwise. Trains will have to wait their turn to use the single trackage...not unusual?

And someone commented about 'how about when it is raining' on my 'external helix'. First off when its raining perhaps I will have NO traffic on the helix,...just run my multiple trains on the lower level, and a single freight/passenger train on the upper level, and perhaps concurrently my logging train(s) on that mountainous area in the upper level (isolated from the mainline) there.
I'm imagining the donut shaped helix housed inside a short flat box like structure built of square tube aluminum tubes that can be bolted up to rear external face of my metal shed (to the studs of the shed), and with two 'legs' at its outer edges. I will be able to access the inner hollow of the helix from up underneath. Naturally the box structure that houses the helix will have metal sheeting covering it just like the shed itself. I have all of this alum metal already, and chose to utilize light weight alum rather than heavier and rot prone wood-frame construction.

I am imagining that the lower entrance to the helix will be from a track that is already rising in grade from the blob/head portion of peninsula (in order to pass over other tracks at the root of the peninsula)....so one less level required of the helix itself. It will then rise up to the upper level and enter back into the layout room in a straight shot down the long edge of the shed/layout.


Foam Subroadbed
Lots of reading again, and I have become convinced of the many virtues of foam subrodbed. I had some doubts as to constructing many grades with foam construction, particularly as I used to have a cookie-cutter layout with many wood risers. But as I look at it greater depth I see many advantages of foam construction.

I will use 2” thick foam for the basic shelfs of the layout. I am seriously thinking of bonding a piece of 1/16 Masonite onto the bottom of this 2” foam. With proper gluing it should just add to the stiffness of the subroadbed when it spans the 24 inch wide shelf brackets attached to the 2x4 studding of the shed walls. It is my understanding that this will also cut down on the noise generated by the bare foam. And it will provide good mounting surfaces on the underside of the subroadbed.

There are a number of reasons to chose foam, but another compelling one in my case is twofold. I want minimal 'thickness' in my framing for the subroadbed, Obviously it means one does not have to provide as great of a distance between the top and bottom levels of the dbl-deck layout (for proper viewing, nor for rise of the helix). But I also wanted this minimal thickness for my bottom deck,...why? So I could provide for some staging tracks down under the bottom deck without have them very far down in height. I intend to utilize some of those welded steel shelf brackets that do not protrude down into the immediate area under the subroadbed, like even the stamped steel ones do.



Work Bench & Tools
I am going to try my best not to have space inside the shed devoted to work benches or power tools. I hope to have those outside in their own little covered area


Scale & Track Radius
I saw this questioned posed. The scale is HO.
I'm hoping to limit my radius of track to 24 inches, except of course in the logging areas


Prototypes & Operations
To answer your questions Don, I am not real concerned about prototypes, nor operations. Nor am I a rivet counter. I like to see trains running pass industrial sites, etc. I do have in mind a nice little harbor scene where some operations might be appropriate,...and in the logging scenes, and in the freight yards.


Backdrops
I'm putting up Masonite to cover the insulation I put in between the studs and in the ceiling. I plan on initially painting this some sort of sky blue with clouds. (I also saw a rather neat idea of some hanging 'cotton clouds')
I have a lady here in the park who is suppose to be quite an artist, and who has volunteered to paint some backdrops. Since her 'mobility' is somewhat limited I thought I would have her paint those backdrops onto some sort of 'paper material' that I could then glue to the Masonite backdrop.
 

tootnkumin

Active Member
Staff member
#16
If you can make your oval helix the width of the shed, then you will gain more trackage within it and be able to reduce the grade/turns needed to achieve the hight required between levels as well. Good thinking to start the grade inside the shed too. 1/8th masonite, or ply under your foam would probably give more support than 1/16th and more bite for screws should you fit switch machines etc. Sheet foam doesn't have a lot of load strength on it's own. Inadvertandly leaning on it is a risk.

Nothing wrong wih the helix being single track and having trains waiting to access it. Plenty of real world examples of that. Adds to the interest.
 

beiland

Active Member
#17
My error there, should have been 1/8 Masonite. ...I'm not even sure they make it 1/16.

Wouldn't the 'oval helix' still have to be 5-6 foot deep to contain the needed minimum radius track?
 

beiland

Active Member
#18
Just wanted to add a little sketch of that helix configuration I was describing in my previous posting.....

Helix Configuration (external).jpg

A few items that I have researched quite a bit, and are somewhat ingrained in my thoughts at this time.*

Helix
I have debated this question to some great extent, and done quite a bit of reading about it. I am not excited about the gradual rise of an around the wall grade. It would take up that much additional width that I do not care to give up in my relatively narrow shed. In fact I even considered not insulating the shed and thus being able to build some portions of the layout into the 2x4 studded areas, but the better part of valor said I will need AC at various times here in warm humid FL.

I am not married to the idea that my trains need to make constant use of this exchange between levels. With that in mind I am only considering a single-track helix, unless someone can convinced me otherwise. Trains will have to wait their turn to use the single trackage...not unusual?

And someone commented about 'how about when it is raining' on my 'external helix'. First off when its raining perhaps I will have NO traffic on the helix,...just run my multiple trains on the lower level, and a single freight/passenger train on the upper level, and perhaps concurrently my logging train(s) on that mountainous area in the upper level (isolated from the mainline) there.
I'm imagining the donut shaped helix housed inside a short flat box like structure built of square tube aluminum tubes that can be bolted up to rear external face of my metal shed (to the studs of the shed), and with two 'legs' at its outer edges. I will be able to access the inner hollow of the helix from up underneath. Naturally the box structure that houses the helix will have metal sheeting covering it just like the shed itself. I have all of this alum metal already, and chose to utilize light weight alum rather than heavier and rot prone wood-frame construction.

I am imagining that the lower entrance to the helix will be from a track that is already rising in grade from the blob/head portion of peninsula (in order to pass over other tracks at the root of the peninsula)....so one less level required of the helix itself. It will then rise up to the upper level and enter back into the layout room in a straight shot down the long edge of the shed/layout.
 

beiland

Active Member
#19
Lone Pine & Tonopah RR

Lone Pine & Tonopah

I spoke previously of 2 layout plans that were very interesting to me to review in my effort to arrive at a combo of two. That second layout was the Lone Pine & Tonopah. The dwg I have on file came from a Nov 1993 issue of Model Railroader mag. I believe he has since made a number of changes to this original design.

Lone Pine & Tonopah RR, larger size.jpg

No matter, as I would seek to make a number of changes as well to it in order for it to scale down to fit my shed. Its more the concept I would be looking at. I have mentioned that I might be looking at the Balt/east coast theme for the lower level of my layout. With that in mind I would be interested in that roundhouse scene and city backdrop being located somewhat similar on that right hand side 'blob' of my layout as one enters the layout. I have a goodly number of real nice steam engines I would like to be 'on display' in that roundtable scene (with more on the outdoor tracks than inside any roundhouse). I had a similar 'display of steam' on my old Central Midland layout.

I figure my lower level in that area would have to neck down much more to give aisle clearance. So my railyard tracks would have to be perhaps half in number to those he has. And my city backdrop would have to be just a single layer of very thinly sectioned buildings, and a good painted backdrop. I would still like to have that circular mainline going around the roundtable facility and 'under' the city. I would also like to have that mainline join with the one that would cross the shed's door opening via a nice lift-out bridge (Chesapeake Bay Bridge or whatever).

I'd also like to have a small diesel engine service area at the other end of the railyard in front of the city. (perhaps down where the tracks begin to turn in toward the peninsula)?

I'm thinking I could locate my 'condensed' steel mill complex at the head of the peninsula blob (after all Balt was a big steel town at one time). I'll have to find some old photos of the York Pa model RR club layout that had a steel mill located within a loop of track something like that. Then a middle portion of that peninsula might have a coal mining area at the base of the mountains that I would put at the root of the peninsula to camouflage the multiply crossing tracks like those on the Anon & Muss.

I've also got quite a bit of oil tanks & refinery structures. Perhaps those need to go over near the waterfront scene I have in mind for the other 'blob' across the shed door's opening from the roundtable scene??

My peninsula may have to be offset to the left like the LP&T in order to get that yard and city scene in an acceptable manner. But off-center shouldn't be a problem with what I have in mind locating on the peninsula platform itself?

I would like to have some staging area, and I'm thinking it might be located just below that rail-yard and city scene,.....very close up under the sub-roadbed so that it could have some short steep entrance/exit tracks.

...my thoughts for now
...anybody have some software we could sketch up a few of my crazy ideas?
 
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beiland

Active Member
#20
Central Midland by John Armstrong for Atlas tracks

FWIW, I once had a pretty good size layout designed by John Armstrong for Atlas track plans. It was called the 'Central Midland'. I inherited the basic bench work from an estate sale, then proceeded to modify it and run lots of trains. Placed a lot of structures on it, but never got around to scenic it. I looked upon it as an experiment in what I might eventual build, and ended up developing a 'theme' for it. Sold it off when I thought I was moving to Asia full time.

I had lots of photos and a breakdown of the scheme (theme) here, but somehow all of the photos have disappeared from the forum site. I reposted a few photos and alternative descriptions here:
http://www.modelrailroadforums.com/forum/showthread.php?39925-Central-Midland-Atlas-HO-29-layout-questions

The older descriptions start here:
http://www.modelrailroadforums.com/forum/showthread.php?8141-Problems-with-quot-The-Central-Midland-quot-Atlas-HO-29-layout-w-Pics/page2
 



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