First layout planning... Take 2

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Hello All,
First I must apologize for my 6 month absence. I previously got some discussion rolling on ideas for my first layout, I got a lot of good advice, and Jos/Grove Den put together some spectacular sketches. A lot has changed in the last 6 months. The wife and I finally completed our first home and we moved in a several weeks ago. The space that will eventually house the layout has been debated to exhaustion and after several changes of heart I believe it has finally been settled upon. At one point the model was to be housed in a spare bed room (where Jos had some great ideas), but that space was deemed critical for house guests who have had a little too much fun to drive home; so it will now be erected in a portion of the FROG. The space will be 9’x11’ bordered by 3 walls; the center wall has a window that is fairly low to the ground. See the attached room plan.

I appreciate all of the great information many of the users here have on their personal websites. I have read a lot of it and it has helped my planning immensely. I’m eager to build a layout but have hit a point where it has become more frustrating than fun... not what a hobby is supposed to be! Maybe some input from readers would help. I fear this post will get so long nobody will take the time to read it, but here we go anyway....

Givens
The available space and the window are the only givens. Everything else is subject to change or modification. I can live with blocking off the window.... the wife may have a differing opinion!

Druthers
-I know this is basic, but I haven’t decided on a scale. I’m about 85% sure of N scale because I can get so much more railroad in the available space. The other 15% of me leans towards HO because more products seem to be commercially available. I’m sure scratch building structures is a ton of fun, but until I’ve tried a few, I fear I will royally suck at it.
- When I envision my layout, I imagine near prototypical length 1980’s-1990’s era trains making large radius curves with terrain varying from low lying woodlands to open fields with small creeks. One major river crossing would be nice!
- I’ve considered 2 major options of what to model. From a scenery stand point I really like the Lancaster & Chester which is a small short line outside of Charlotte. If I were to freelance, I’m leaning towards the region from Columbia to Charleston, SC. I know the area well having grown up outside of Columbia and currently residing in Charleston. Plus, wouldn’t it be symbolic of the journey of my life! I could make scenes on the layout, which while ordinary in every way to the visitor, are actually experiences from my childhood... say fishing with my grandfather on the Congaree River for example. As an added benefit, that region contains many industries I find interesting and would like to model. Steel mills, sand mines, cement factories, granite quarries intermoddel facilities, ports and recycling facilities are commonplace. I’m not as worried about the inner workings of the facilities as much as I just want them to be an origination/destination point.
- I envision at least one yard, two would be nice! I realize there is a delicate balance to this, but I would like enough industry to make for interesting operation, while not having a spaghetti bowl of track... I think I would be happier with a layout that has enough open terrain to separate one or two industries into a ‘scene’ rather than having complex switching maneuvers from closely spaced industry.
- I definitely want adequate staging, more than just one track hidden behind a structure or inside of a mountain. I like the idea of having the staging yard separated by a scenic divider as opposed to residing on a second level below the main layout. I also envision the layout operating as a point-to-point but having the ability for continuous running with the staging ‘completing the loop’ behind the scenes.
- I think a dual mainline would be nice, but I would consider it pretty low on my ‘druthers’ list. I would prefer ‘conventional’ or ‘broad’ curves on the mainline.
- I would like industry sidings to be long enough to accommodate more than just 1 or 2 cars being dropped off or picked up. ‘Sharp’ curves are perfectly acceptable on sidings!
- Although I may regret it later, I don’t particularly find passenger trains all that exciting and could sleep easy tonight having omitted them from my layout.

I guess that about does it. The list is probably more like a 4-year olds Christmas list than a realistic expectation of what can be fit into a 9x11 space. Which leads me to quite possibly my biggest fear... am I being overly ambitious for a first time layout?

I have tried several versions of a generating a track layout, all of which left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m still coming up to speed with XTrakCad, and I’m shocked at how impossible it is to take my thoughts from paper into the Cad program and maintain a decent curve radius. Everything seems to take a lot more room than I think it should.

Attached you will also find one of my brainstorming sketches... any and all advice or assistance would be greatly appreciated to help end this frustration!! More than anything, this will provide an indication of my planning skill level for those of you who have a few layouts under your belt. (It’s sad looking I know...) Please pardon all of my ‘notes’ scribbled in the margins. I was pointing out problems to my self and making note of things I wanted to think about further.

Cheers,
Kevin

http://i221.photobucket.com/albums/dd258/chas_kev/Picture001.jpg

http://i221.photobucket.com/albums/dd258/chas_kev/Picture.jpg
 

Trussrod

Well-Known Member
Trying to assist you!

Hi Kevin,

It's very good that you have given this much forethought to knowing what you want and are attempting to fit it all in which may in some cases need to be revamped at elast to some extent, depending on the scale you choose. Your background certainly helps in the design effort and being familiar with XtrkCad doesn't hurt either.

I'd like to ask for your help learning to use XtrkCad in return for my working with you in the design and building of your layout. You see I had designed an
HO 'U' layout to fit within a 10' x 10' space basically but have decided to lengthen it considerably to fill one half of the garage and form a 22' long plan like your basic table design. So far I've been hand laying all my track using weathered code 70 for the single track main line and code 55 for the sidings and logging areas as well as building my own switches to fit the need and will even use stub switches in the logging areas and possibly even the old time engine house area as well as others. Most all my equipment is smaller steam from around the 1900's. Learning to use Xtrk would certainly be of help to me, I think, in designing the rest of my track plan and I imagine it should help you too to know what you can reasonably expect to fit in for a given scale and space!

Your plan looks like it should be able to be built with a few minor changes possibly again depending on scale you choose. One thing I noticed where you can save yourself some space in the track plan is where you have a double passing siding, immediately start the second switch right at the mainline switch or just add a very short filler between the two if you nee a bit more space between tracks to form your double passing siding.

Not having a track Cad program when I started my current layout I drew everything out to scale first and then transfered the drawings onto the actual
layout celotex board to lay the ties, track and build the switches from.

Probably it's more tedious than you might be planning on doing though. Actually I'm thinking of using similiar flex track by Micro Scale I have available
through a supplier for most of the longer main line runs on the rest of the layout though to save time.

I'm in the process of building my 6th layout in HO, over the past 61 years, and have learned many things along the way that I can pass on to you.

I like the sketch you did as it's a pretty original and seems to fit in what you want but will you be able to fit it all in? It's one thing to draw it on paper
but generally another to get it laid down the same at least in HO but I will have to say that if your planing on doing much scratch building HO is probably the way to go as it's easier to work with along with along with providing more detail.

In looking over your plan though I'm not sure you could fit everything in using HO but that would depend on the size of equipment your planning of running, possibly both engines and longer cars as they may require broader curves which will possibly put a crimp into some of the curves and passing sidings and you've only drawn the mainline single track too which may not be all that bad in trying to conserve space.

Something else you might want to consider, although I'm still checking on it, is a RCC hand throttle by Crest which uses radio control and seems pretty convient over DCC from what I've read so far.

Hope it all make sense?

Talk with you later,

David



Hello All,
First I must apologize for my 6 month absence. I previously got some discussion rolling on ideas for my first layout, I got a lot of good advice, and Jos/Grove Den put together some spectacular sketches. A lot has changed in the last 6 months. The wife and I finally completed our first home and we moved in a several weeks ago. The space that will eventually house the layout has been debated to exhaustion and after several changes of heart I believe it has finally been settled upon. At one point the model was to be housed in a spare bed room (where Jos had some great ideas), but that space was deemed critical for house guests who have had a little too much fun to drive home; so it will now be erected in a portion of the FROG. The space will be 9’x11’ bordered by 3 walls; the center wall has a window that is fairly low to the ground. See the attached room plan.

I appreciate all of the great information many of the users here have on their personal websites. I have read a lot of it and it has helped my planning immensely. I’m eager to build a layout but have hit a point where it has become more frustrating than fun... not what a hobby is supposed to be! Maybe some input from readers would help. I fear this post will get so long nobody will take the time to read it, but here we go anyway....

Givens
The available space and the window are the only givens. Everything else is subject to change or modification. I can live with blocking off the window.... the wife may have a differing opinion!

Druthers
-I know this is basic, but I haven’t decided on a scale. I’m about 85% sure of N scale because I can get so much more railroad in the available space. The other 15% of me leans towards HO because more products seem to be commercially available. I’m sure scratch building structures is a ton of fun, but until I’ve tried a few, I fear I will royally suck at it.
- When I envision my layout, I imagine near prototypical length 1980’s-1990’s era trains making large radius curves with terrain varying from low lying woodlands to open fields with small creeks. One major river crossing would be nice!
- I’ve considered 2 major options of what to model. From a scenery stand point I really like the Lancaster & Chester which is a small short line outside of Charlotte. If I were to freelance, I’m leaning towards the region from Columbia to Charleston, SC. I know the area well having grown up outside of Columbia and currently residing in Charleston. Plus, wouldn’t it be symbolic of the journey of my life! I could make scenes on the layout, which while ordinary in every way to the visitor, are actually experiences from my childhood... say fishing with my grandfather on the Congaree River for example. As an added benefit, that region contains many industries I find interesting and would like to model. Steel mills, sand mines, cement factories, granite quarries intermoddel facilities, ports and recycling facilities are commonplace. I’m not as worried about the inner workings of the facilities as much as I just want them to be an origination/destination point.
- I envision at least one yard, two would be nice! I realize there is a delicate balance to this, but I would like enough industry to make for interesting operation, while not having a spaghetti bowl of track... I think I would be happier with a layout that has enough open terrain to separate one or two industries into a ‘scene’ rather than having complex switching maneuvers from closely spaced industry.
- I definitely want adequate staging, more than just one track hidden behind a structure or inside of a mountain. I like the idea of having the staging yard separated by a scenic divider as opposed to residing on a second level below the main layout. I also envision the layout operating as a point-to-point but having the ability for continuous running with the staging ‘completing the loop’ behind the scenes.
- I think a dual mainline would be nice, but I would consider it pretty low on my ‘druthers’ list. I would prefer ‘conventional’ or ‘broad’ curves on the mainline.
- I would like industry sidings to be long enough to accommodate more than just 1 or 2 cars being dropped off or picked up. ‘Sharp’ curves are perfectly acceptable on sidings!
- Although I may regret it later, I don’t particularly find passenger trains all that exciting and could sleep easy tonight having omitted them from my layout.

I guess that about does it. The list is probably more like a 4-year olds Christmas list than a realistic expectation of what can be fit into a 9x11 space. Which leads me to quite possibly my biggest fear... am I being overly ambitious for a first time layout?

I have tried several versions of a generating a track layout, all of which left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m still coming up to speed with XTrakCad, and I’m shocked at how impossible it is to take my thoughts from paper into the Cad program and maintain a decent curve radius. Everything seems to take a lot more room than I think it should.

Attached you will also find one of my brainstorming sketches... any and all advice or assistance would be greatly appreciated to help end this frustration!! More than anything, this will provide an indication of my planning skill level for those of you who have a few layouts under your belt. (It’s sad looking I know...) Please pardon all of my ‘notes’ scribbled in the margins. I was pointing out problems to my self and making note of things I wanted to think about further.

Cheers,
Kevin

http://i221.photobucket.com/albums/dd258/chas_kev/Picture001.jpg

http://i221.photobucket.com/albums/dd258/chas_kev/Picture.jpg
 

grove den

naturally natural trees
Hi Kevin!

Ohw..building your own house:eek: ..That's more important than mrr!;)
Glad there is left some time to do mrr again!

I've watched and read your post and I will try to help you again to start the whole "THING";)
it has become more frustrating than fun
:eek: That is not the way it should go...I think you are right one time!!
Just like Trussrod( David) try to do my best;)
If my own PC works well again( crashed...or something like that) I'll post the first results right away( Idon't have acces to my own "Files"..:mad: )

One thing I want to tell you already: don't block that window!!( Murphy's law!!)
may be the only escape..fire??:eek: ..Think about it ...

Jos
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
Welcome back Kevin! (Were you here under a different username before? Your regular name and list of industries seem familiar...)

With your space constraints, I think N scale is definitely the way to go since you basically get 4x the layout surface area you would have with HO. That's a large number of 'scenes' you have there - you may need to sacrifice 1 or 2 of them [but it would still be a great layout!]

- About your staging yards: They seem awfully close together, i.e., on the same side of the layout. I always thought the purpose of staging yards was to provide a place on either end of a mainline for a train to hide before and after it traverses the length of the layout.

- Some of your curves [esp. into the staging yard on the right] appear mighty sharp, even for N scale. If you plan on running 89-footers (auto racks and intermodals), sharp curves are a no-go!

I'll post some more thoughts after I get back from taking my son to school, gotta run now!
 

grove den

naturally natural trees
Hi Kevin,

Just one question..: (about the drawing of the room you made/posted overhere) : is the wall on the opposit of the "wall with the window" a real wall or is it , imaginary, the "border"" of the mrrlayout I mean: Is there acces to the layout?

Jos
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
From your druthers and your drawing, I'm sure you are thinking N Scale. I have your kind of space in HO and I could not get any where near that much stuff in.

N scale has plenty of options in terms of engines and rolling stock.

If you are interested in yard classification operations you'll get far more action out of a staging-yard-staging set up than a yard-to-yard with staging as an afterthought.

For laughs and giggles take a look at my article What is Staging and Why do I need it? The staging you have shown does not support the types of operations you are describing.
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
Jos, that is a totally open side, Kevin mentioned something about "3 walls" in the fine-print of his opening paragraph.:D

Kevin, here are some more of my thoughts:

John Armstrong introduced the concept of 'squares' - an area required to accommodate a 90-degree turn of your minimum required mainline radius (including leads to your staging yards). You may want to get some graph paper to redraw your track plan on - since it will give an idea of the measurements at every point of the layout - and apply the 'squares' approach. Also find a coin you can use to trace a minimum radius mainline curve with. This way you can get a more accurate picture of what will actually fit within your allotted space.

One thing I would change immediately, is to swap the positions of Cayce Yard and the right-side staging yard. [You may have to reposition your quarrys to do this.] This way your staging tracks wouldn't need to be boxed-in - they would be hidden by the single backdrop when you're standing in the operating pit, yet easily accessible from the open (un-walled) side of the layout. As for the other staging yard on the left, I would move that to a space in your Port of Charleston area so a passing-thru train can cover the whole length of your main line. Maybe bring your Charleston Yard closer to the aisle, then put a few tracks behind a low-lying facade such as a false-front warehouse (trust me I've seen some really long prototype warehouses!).

I was going to try to copy and modify your drawing to illustrate my ideas, but I don't have enough time to do that because of an annoying thing called a 'daytime job'. ;)
 
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Wow! so many responses so quickly.

I will try to respond to all of them at once.

TrussRod, I hope i did not misrepresent my XTrakCad abilities... I'm still very much learning the program... It's frustrating, but i havent actually thrown the laptop out of the window yet. As i make my way through it and learn more, i will happily assist you with anything i learn... just give me time! I've been dreaming/reading/brainstorming for about a year now, but i have no real experience when it comes to 'application' of these thoughts.

Grove Den... I'll rethink how to NOT block the window... you make a very good point about the fire exit... Maybe i need to make the window big enough that i can save the layout too!!! With regards to the layout space, the FROG (Finish Room Over Garage) is one big open area and the layout is only going to be bordered by 3 walls. The 4th line is only to represent the invisible boundry the wife has set!

CSX Road Slug... I have always had this user name... its just been 6 months since I posted. You're right, the staging yards are close together... I considered that as a problem but was having a problem figuring out how to incorporate staging on the 'charleston side of the layout. I rationalized it to myself somewhat because of Charlestons Geography. Because of its location near the coast, there really are no points South or East for trains to origionate from... only west (staging near window) and north (staging near Cayce Yard for traffic from Florence area. Florence is north of Charleston and east of Cayce). But since i'm not trying to stay true to the prototype, i will definatly rethink the staging positions and think it is deffinatly worth generating some new sketches. All along staging has been a problem for me.... how to make it 'hidden' and accessable.... its not as easy as it looks!

SpaceMouse, I've read the article you referenced... and its quite good... I'm still workign the kinks out of not just my layouts... but the way i rationalize thoughts while planning. I'll get there...

To all, I've only shown my sketches at this point b/c my process goes something like
1) Daydream about what i would like to see on my layout
2) sketch it on paper and imagine trains on it. When a train enters a yard will the engine be able to get out, is there adaquate passing tracks for run around manuvers, is there somewhere for my steel mill to be able to set out cars awaiting pick up, is there room to 'lay-out' cars at intersections with another carrier, etc...
3) Take my sketch to XTrakCad and see if i can make it work. (This is were all of my plans seem to fail. Even at N scale, switches take up SO MUCH SPACE! And i might be a little over-paranoid about making sure sections of straight track exist between points of reverse curvature, switches, and the like...
4) I would like to think that i would continue to plan/layout buildings, trees, rivers; but i honestly havent gotten a play to sucessfully make the transition from step 2 to 3...

Thanks for the input... i'll provide revised sketches as they become available... with a little luck, i'll soon be providing Cad drawings!
 
Last edited by a moderator:

CP9302

Member
Welcome back Kevin.

I would have to agree with some of the earlier statements. Based on what you want to have on the layout, N scale is the only way to go. There is a huge selection of N scale on the market these days, especially for someone modelling towards more modern times.
I built an HO scale Intermodal terminal module from my club, it is 16ft long. And large cars in HO need large corners, 22" should me a main line minimum.

As for the layout, I can't see any way to leave the window totally open with out flipping the layout and having to duck-under it to get inside. I wouldn't worry too much about blocking it.

I would recommend putting your stagging yards under the layout, This would keep them hidden, free up space up top for industry/scenery and allow for lots of stagging space, a hidden connection track for continuous loop running and even a reversing loop.

I look forward to seeing what you come up with.
 
Ok... last night while watching "The Office", i made the attached sketch. Hopefully the arangement of the layout in relation to the walls is much clearer now! I'm much happier with some aspects and very displeased with others... i guess it's progress though. Either way i feel better about my planning process than i did a week ago. Thanks for everyones comments... they have me thinking in different directions.

I modified the bench work so that the window is no longer blocked, and it only reduced my square footage from 56.5 to 51.5. and the mainline run may actually be a foot or two longer.

I removed two industrys (Steel Mill and Sand Mine) and one yard (Cayce), since there were concerns that i might be a bit cramped for space. I'm still not very happy with the 'ballance' on the layout. I feel like there is too much going on in between the port and the charleston yard and not enough on the rest of the layout. The reentrent corners between the edisto river crossing and the quary just seem awkward to me.

Staging is still a problem. I'm not sure that i want my staging tracks below the layout, but i'm not incorporating them well or in sufficent quanity yet!!!

Still no ability for continuous running yet. That is something i will correct before all is said and done.

I also don't feel that adaquate passing tracks exist... one at the congaree crossing, and through the charleston yard since it is now double ended.

http://i221.photobucket.com/albums/dd258/chas_kev/Layouts.jpg

Cheers!!

Kevin
 
Last edited by a moderator:

grove den

naturally natural trees
Hi Kevin,
yes...designing is:) , isn't:mad: , is :D , isn't:confused: IS;) actualy fun...:D ?
But did you try to make such a square Ken L told of:
John Armstrong introduced the concept of 'squares' - an area required to accommodate a 90-degree turn of your minimum required mainline radius (including leads to your staging yards). You may want to get some graph paper to redraw your track plan on - since it will give an idea of the measurements at every point of the layout - and apply the 'squares' approach. Also find a coin you can use to trace a minimum radius mainline curve with. This way you can get a more accurate picture of what will actually fit within your allotted space.
This gives you many information about the "space" that is left for straight tracks and switches/turnouts you have to use...
btw: did you ever thought of using a helix? Because with such a "construction: you can go "down" 4 inches each cirkel( 180 degrees)r.= 13/14 inches. and I think a height of 8/10 inches is a minimum for a staging yard with more than 4 tracks close to the edge of the layout...because of a good acces to your "equipment" for example chanching loco's or cars at the farest track wich could be 6-7 inches from the edge..reaching over the other "stored" trains.
Now, I cannot show you the ( ROUGH!) plan I made but i designed a helix in it..:eek: ;) But it can be "removed" easily and replaced for on other "descending"solution"...

Jos
will post it asap!!:eek:
 
Ahhh.. the squares method... I'm famaliar with it (if you consider having a reference that describes it famaliar). The paper i'm "sketching" on is graph paper. It has a 0.1 inch grid printed on the back so that it is visible when writing on the paper but does not show through when photo coppying. We use it in the office because standard quad paper would make design calculations unreadable when scanned/coppied.

While i haven't by any means strictly adheared to the squares method, i have given a little thought to what 'should' fit. The tightest radius show in my post earlier today is approximately 12 inches for example. There is only one location where the Center line of my mainline is within 3 inches of a table edge. Reasonable for such a rough sketch i would think.

I have been working towards learnging XTrakCad to see what will actually fit when time allows. My sketches are little 'quickies' i crank out between house and work tasks... i'm hopping to find one i feel good about before i get to refined with it!
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
I think the window is causing you too much grief. Simply build the layout up to the window and then put a small bridge across the window that can be lifted out as needed. then continue the layout around as you previously wanted.

Since you obviously are interested in operations, design the layout to the operations and let that dictate to your space rather than designing the space and adapting the plan to it.

I see your druthers as:

Operations
Continuous running
A yard
Assessable staging.

In the space you have you can have all that in N-scale.

As for what can fit, it is the angles of your turnouts that will cause you the most grief.
 

grove den

naturally natural trees
finaly..

Finaly ,PC is O.K.:)
I've got "something"...
So far....it is just a very rough sketch/drawing..
Most of the turnouts are #6( angle1:6) and on the mainroute : #8 (1:8)
You can see a double mainline and one track is going up to the railway station( on the bottom left just right after/before the tunnel..) and there are some tracks going to the harbour and one "leaving"the station ( on the top) and ends over the "helix"on the bottom left both with industry...
Staging is at: -8 inches on the long "leg" under the mainlines ...
This drawing is only mentioned to give you (more?) ideas dont bother about the many turnouts you could skip many of them...;)

Jos

btw Chip, what do you think...?
 
Well, there you go again... making me look bad... :)

Plan looks good (as usual), i hope to be able to work some of its traits into my next version soon.... I will comment further if i magange to tear myself away from the office tonight!

Thanks... You are truely a master!
 
Last edited by a moderator:

grove den

naturally natural trees
Hi Kevin,

Throw the drawing in the garbagecan:mad: ...The window and the acces to the layout are at the wrong place...:mad: ( I'm getting older:eek: )
But draw a ( start of) a new( rough/rudimental) one..:)

Jos
 

pcarrell

Just a guy
This is an interesting conversation. I have a few ideas that may be usable, but I'm short on time right now. I'll throw them in the ring later.

I'd agree with the others that N scale sounds like the only way to go given what you're wanting to do and the space available.

Any word of the window "issue"? The point could be made that most any plan is either going to be directly infront of the window and block the view, or it's going to extend across the view of the window further into the room. Either way, the window is blocked. The only ways around it are to go above or below the window, or as was suggested earlier, bridge the window. Whatever the case, that window is going to dictate a lot about the layout design. Settling that issue first should probably be high on the priority list.

Also, maybe I missed it, but are you looking for a walk-in plan, or is a duckunder OK? That could have a lot to do with the design too.

I take it by the drawing of the space that you only have two sided access on the right side of the space and everything else is up against a wall?

Any AC/Heating ducts or vents in the area?

Is additional lighting and electrical possible without too much work? You may need it and now's the time to start thinking of it (before you have tons of benchwork in the way).

Just some thoughts.

You definately have a workable space. There is a workable plan that can be made for this area. Don't loose heart.

I went through 22 redesigns before I got something worth building. Hopefully you won't have to go quite that far.
 




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