Taking my Time & Exploring Layout Ideas while Playing w/ SCARM

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Hello everyone, as a person re-entering the hobby, it has been fascinating to read this site and watch lots of YouTube videos on the many angles one can go for in running model trains! I gave some details in the welcome/introduction forum, but in a nutshell I dabbled in HO from age 7 to 15, and much inspiration was from watching trains with Dad at age 7 & 8. This left me interested in the 60's through 80's era (I think?). I saw lot's of high nose locomotives IIRC pulling boxcars, coal hoppers, and tank cars.

I'm open minded to exploring. I have a spare room I plan to use. It's 13' 4 " x 11' 6", with a door in one corner, and a quirky corner on opposite corner of that same wall due to a closet from the neighboring room.

I am interested in doing HO scale. From the YouTube videos I watched, I like the idea of some yard operations, and sending cars off to some industry, and having a continuous running loop to rack up some miles maybe. I'm thinking one industry area of coal, another involving oil, and another with freight.

I also downloaded SCARM, and I am having a lot of fun playing with this puzzle! I started off selecting Atlas code 83 snap track with the intention of not going anything tighter than 24 inch radius turns (item #536). I then did my best to apply number 6 (by Peco) or greater. As I made adjustments, I swapped out a lot of the snap track with Peco code 83 flex track and kept all turns greater than 24" radius.

I was hoping to get some feedback on a couple of attached images I included with this post. I'm sure I have made some classic mistakes that any beginner might make, such as maybe being trigger happy with turnouts? Feel free to rip it apart and tell me where I might be getting myself into trouble. In the meantime I'll keep reading through this forum and watching videos. I look forward to learning a lot from anyone willing to share.

FYI, each grey box = 12 inches.

Trackplan DRAFT 6 3.12.2021.jpg
Trackplan DRAFT 7 3.16.2021.jpg
 
Last edited:

BigGRacing

Aka. Gary Russell
My vote is #2, and I think it looks awesome, very similar that some members of our local club are doing up for a charity.
 
Thanks @BigGRacing, I like that one too. How far along is the charity project? I hope there will be pictures!

Of course I played around with it some more, which led me to try a version with the yard on the inside line, and the "main line" around the outside. I also placed turnouts at points were one line can skip to the next to access the majority of the spurs going to industry. On the east side of the yard at the north, I placed three lines for parking switching engines. I like the idea of placing a crossing on the west side.

As stated previously, any thoughts are appreciated.

Trackplan DRAFT 10 3.16.2021.jpg
 

EngaugeAndGo

New Member
Like you, I'm back to the hobby after being lightly into it years and years ago. I dabbled a few times along the way but made the re-beginner's mistake I think maybe you're making now. And it's one I did not make this time - don't bite off more than you can chew. Planning using software is definitely fun and addictive. But eventually you have to do something. And both of your layouts look like all or nothing type layouts. How about do something that's expandable - for example just create a small town area in one corner of the room. Then expand from there. Just a thought. Or go big from the start! One thing I definitely noticed for myself was that designing on software (I use AnyRail) is different from "designing on the fly" by just placing track on plywood. I had big plans for a pond, until I roughed out the layout on the actual plywood. A pond at that location just wouldn't work.
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
the yard on the inside line, and the "main line" around the outside.
With that many turnouts branching to that many tracks, there is a point of diminishing returns. For example the 2nd and 3rd tracks, and the 4 and 5th tracks from the bottom have a bit more than 2.5-3 feet of track usable fo storage space each or 11 total. Without the turnouts and just two tracks, there is about 5 feet of storage each, or 10 total. Is it really worth all those turnouts just for 1-1.5 more feet of storage?

Then the curved turnouts used off the main for the bottom track each form an "S" curve. S curves are notorious for derailing equipment.

I placed three lines for parking switching engines
I think that 3rd track (upper most) will only be usable for a short loco. From the foul point, it looks to be only 8 inches long.

As stated previously, any thoughts are appreciated.
The industrial tracks look very curvy. It is often hard to couple and uncouple cars on a curve. Besides, most structures one can buy are set up for a straight siding next to them. I would make them as straight as possible.
 
Like you, I'm back to the hobby after being lightly into it years and years ago. I dabbled a few times along the way but made the re-beginner's mistake I think maybe you're making now. And it's one I did not make this time - don't bite off more than you can chew. Planning using software is definitely fun and addictive. But eventually you have to do something. And both of your layouts look like all or nothing type layouts. How about do something that's expandable - for example just create a small town area in one corner of the room. Then expand from there. Just a thought. Or go big from the start! One thing I definitely noticed for myself was that designing on software (I use AnyRail) is different from "designing on the fly" by just placing track on plywood. I had big plans for a pond, until I roughed out the layout on the actual plywood. A pond at that location just wouldn't work.
Thanks for the reply & shared experience between what you envisioned vs reality @EngaugeAndGo . One of the things I thought will be useful with the software was to push the limits of how far I could go with the space, then scale back based on other modeller's experience on pitfalls and reasonable usability. As far as the issue with the pond you described, was this something you attempted to simulate in the software as well? I have been trying to also keep in mind that any industry model I hope to include will also eat up space.
 
With that many turnouts branching to that many tracks, there is a point of diminishing returns. For example the 2nd and 3rd tracks, and the 4 and 5th tracks from the bottom have a bit more than 2.5-3 feet of track usable fo storage space each or 11 total. Without the turnouts and just two tracks, there is about 5 feet of storage each, or 10 total. Is it really worth all those turnouts just for 1-1.5 more feet of storage?
Ahhh thanks for getting into some functionality @Iron Horseman . I've definitely been exploring the yard as I'm still learning from videos how they even operate. Before I even saw your reply, I made the attached adjustment by selecting different turnouts, which lengthened the straight section of track 3 (counting from the bottom):

Trackplan DRAFT_North Yard 11 3.20.2021.jpg




Then after reading your comments I took out 2 turnouts and adjusted the spacing resulting in straighter tracks (judging from those dots). Is this more useful? I wasn't sure if you were suggesting a yard with two tracks in total or just the lower half of the previous yard.

Trackplan DRAFT_North Yard 13 3.20.2021.jpg


I think that 3rd track (upper most) will only be usable for a short loco. From the foul point, it looks to be only 8 inches long.
I was able to adjust the point on the upper most track so the curve was 24 inch radius and the straight section stated it was 11 inches. I'm guess that might be long enough for a typical switcher?

Then the curved turnouts used off the main for the bottom track each form an "S" curve. S curves are notorious for derailing equipment.
Were you referring to the turnouts on the east side transitioning to the outside line? Or along one point on the south side? I just want to be sure of your reference before playing around.

The industrial tracks look very curvy. It is often hard to couple and uncouple cars on a curve. Besides, most structures one can buy are set up for a straight siding next to them. I would make them as straight as possible.
I shall definitely reexamine those. Thanks for the observations!
 

santafewillie

Same Ol' Buzzard
Ned - I have to agree with Iron Horseman regarding the industrial spurs. It does look like all of them could be straightened out. Another comment is regarding the number of crossovers between the two loops. I count seven! Way too many. Also watch those corners. Depending on the layout height and your height, they may be just a bit tough to reach easily, especially if you are short like me.. They are very close to normal limits right now. Of course just being spurs, derailment issues are reduced to almost none, but uncoupling could be tough. There are ways around that issue though.
The last yard redesign looks much more functional.
 

EngaugeAndGo

New Member
Thanks for the reply & shared experience between what you envisioned vs reality @EngaugeAndGo . One of the things I thought will be useful with the software was to push the limits of how far I could go with the space, then scale back based on other modeller's experience on pitfalls and reasonable usability. As far as the issue with the pond you described, was this something you attempted to simulate in the software as well? I have been trying to also keep in mind that any industry model I hope to include will also eat up space.
"Simulate" as in I drew a blue blob. :) But really it took looking at the real thing to change my mind. Same really with lots of the landscaping, buildings, etc. I did a little placement in the software but I'm just going to wing it when the time comes. That said, I'm also more interested in just having fun and not worrying about accuracy. I'm not hard core like so many folks on this board - hats off to them!
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
Then after reading your comments I took out 2 turnouts and adjusted the spacing resulting in straighter tracks (judging from those dots). Is this more useful? I wasn't sure if you were suggesting a yard with two tracks in total or just the lower half of the previous yard.
I wasn't really suggesting anything. More just pointing out some issues. In my opinion each of the new ones you've posted look better.

I was able to adjust the point on the upper most track so the curve was 24 inch radius and the straight section stated it was 11 inches. I'm guess that might be long enough for a typical switcher?
Eleven inches is long enough more most locos. My rough estimate was that it was only 8".

Were you referring to the turnouts on the east side transitioning to the outside line? Or along one point on the south side? I just want to be sure of your reference before playing around.
No, I was referring to the 1st track in the yard area. Your second reworked yard has fixed that S curve issue.

And finally remember. Just because someone (like me) suggests something, it is a point to consider. You should not feel obligated to change it if you consider the point and reject it for some other view. Nothing wrong with that.
 
Ned - I have to agree with Iron Horseman regarding the industrial spurs. It does look like all of them could be straightened out. Another comment is regarding the number of crossovers between the two loops. I count seven! Way too many. Also watch those corners. Depending on the layout height and your height, they may be just a bit tough to reach easily, especially if you are short like me.. They are very close to normal limits right now. Of course just being spurs, derailment issues are reduced to almost none, but uncoupling could be tough. There are ways around that issue though.
The last yard redesign looks much more functional.
Hi @santafewillie thanks for the observations. I made some adjustments based some things you pointed out along with @Iron Horseman . Will post it here in a few. Oh and yes, reach is one thing I will be adjusting as those corners do get deep!
 
...And finally remember. Just because someone (like me) suggests something, it is a point to consider. You should not feel obligated to change it if you consider the point and reject it for some other view. Nothing wrong with that.
For sure! I really do appreciate the observations, even if I ultimately end up going a different route. Thanks!
 
Hi again everyone, so attached is another draft.

It has a few less turnouts between the inside and outside lines. I can still switch between the inside and the outside at multiple points, going both clockwise and counter clockwise, so I hope that will still be quite functional.

I also straightened out the end of each spur based on the logical aspect of how numerous facilities serve with straighter spurs.

I did try to reduced the number of S-turns based on a concern for derailment, but maybe I misunderstood the risk. However, the straighter sections and reduced turnouts I think will allow for a road crossing to be modeled at one point.

I reversed the direction of the access to the east side spur on the inside line to head north. I think this might give some more room to model another industry serviced by several freight cars.

For trains heading clockwise, there are 3 industry corners to service. When heading counterclockwise, there are 4. I guess that's pretty cool.

Again, any observations and input is very welcome:

Trackplan DRAFT_15 3.21.2021.jpg
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
Another item I'll have to explore. What are the typical challenges when they are curved?
Going straight theoretically there isn't much stress on one rail or the other. Going around a curve the locomotive is pushing against the outside rail trying to push it out further so it can go straight. Since it can't push it out it wants to climb it. On a curve, if there is a misalignment on the outside rail toward the inside, which would be a tick or a bump on a straight track becomes a place where the loco can get a grip and climb better to the point of a derailment.

Not counting momentum, the cars behind the locomotive are trying to follow it. That means they have the opposite issue. They are trying to go straight to the locomotive rather than around the curve or "string-line". They are putting pressure on the inside rail trying to push it further in. An inside rail contra-misalignment can be climbed and possible derailment fodder

So both rails need to line up really evenly, with as small a gap as possible. Having said that I do have one module that connects (end to end no rail joiners) to another on a curve. I adjust it every time I put the modules together. But it has been set up at most 5 times in one year. Not near as frequently as every time one enters the train room to run trains.
 
How are you spanning the door way opening? Don't know if the curved tracks are through there could be an issue.
To add, I was envisioning something that would lift out. Very interesting insight to the physics involved you just described. Is a lift out / drop in span typically easier to keep aligned compared to a swing out option?
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
To add, I was envisioning something that would lift out. Very interesting insight to the physics involved you just described. Is a lift out / drop in span typically easier to keep aligned compared to a swing out option?
Don't know on that one. The museum has a drop span, and one fellow's layout that I operate on has a swing. They are both on straight tracks. I suppose it all depends on the engineering.
 




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