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

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MOWboss

Member
NIGHTMARE! Removable bridges in a word are a nightmare. I've been struggling with two bridges for years. This first bridge I'll share now is against the door casing. The bench work is "L" girder and I made the decision for the bridges to rest on the L leg. The bridge is electrically connected via phone jacks on the left side. The bottom of the bridge rests on the L and slides into the phone jacks on the left side. Track on both ends of the bridge are soldered to the pins. Bench work track is hardwired at each table end where it meets the bridge. Styrene shim stock is used to assist in bridge alignment. This is the easiest bridge to install as it stops next to blocks on each side of the doorway. The fit is tight (notice the scratch marks in the 1/8 plywood edge) and flexes when sliding the bridge into place. This bridge is 3" wide and the track is on homasote. There is not much seasonal expansion or contraction in this area since the bench work is anchored to the wall. However there is a slight twist where an outside bridge rail dips below the outside bench work rail. The bridge fit is tight (30" bridge) and I'm able to align the bridge to the bench work track by hand and it pretty well stays there.

I'll share my comments on my other bridge that is 32" away from the doorway and may provide interesting trackage for you to consider.
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back of left side with phone jack (mating plugs)
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MOWboss

Member
Bridge Nightmare. I just attached the bridge sides last night and am in the process of weathering. I want to post my bridge issues so you might have more information. The "red" bridge sits out from the doorway 31". I have an in swinging 30" door (currently removed) that I can open and still install this bridge. This bridge is 30" long on homasote and carries a gauntlet track that allows me to carry two main lines over a narrow bridge. This bridge also sits on "L" girder. There is a bearing imbedded into each "L" that aligns with a mating pin at each end of the bridge. Electric power is passed on to the bridge via copper strips on the bridge that mate with copper strips on the bench work. Each end of the bridge is connected to a copper strip as is each bench work end connected to track. I have good electrical conductivity from bench work to bridge. The problem is that this being a drop in bridge the edges are not crisp and stationary. Depending on the seasons this bridge will drop in or slide in. Thus the gap becomes a bigger or smaller problem. I used a piece of circuit board to (a) attach and align the rails at the end of the bridge and (b) span the gap created by moisture in the air. The bridge is not hard to drop in however left and right alignment is an issue. It's not uncommon for a train to cross the gauntlet track and the loco goes one way and the train follows the other track.... I'm trying to devise some type of gradual curved guide that I can mount to the bench work sides to glide and lock the bridge into place. I store my bridges out of the way above the door.

Reality check; Once I install the bridge(s) I and my guests are a prisoner in my train room. Crawling in and out gets old - fast. Track alignment; up/down, left/right multiply by 2 sides. Having the grandkids eyeball the train coming across the bridge - priceless.
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@MOWboss thank you for sharing your experience, albeit a frustrating one. It is good to understand what one is getting into for sure. Unfortunately I am dealing with a physical disability that prevents me from being able to really crawl underneath a permanently fixed structure, so I'll have to keep reading the circumstances of everyone's various success and failures in ways they were able to create spans.

Looking back at the design that you use, can you think of any other designs you wish you have tried?
 

MOWboss

Member
@MOWboss thank you for sharing your experience, albeit a frustrating one. It is good to understand what one is getting into for sure. Unfortunately I am dealing with a physical disability that prevents me from being able to really crawl underneath a permanently fixed structure, so I'll have to keep reading the circumstances of everyone's various success and failures in ways they were able to create spans.

Looking back at the design that you use, can you think of any other designs you wish you have tried?
I've seen articles where the bridges are hinged and swing up. I could never grasp how they close the gap on the hinge side. There was an interesting story where someone used a pair of extension drawer slides - attached to the door casing - to track the bridge up/down.

I didn't think of this but my bridge core is 30" long and about 4 1/2" tall, and about 3" wide. Solid wood with large holes drilled thru to reduce the weight. I would guess the bridge weighs in at around 5 pounds. I noticed that it was awkward carrying the bridge down to my shop to weather it. I didn't want to collapse the bridge sides and there's concern about poking something. I only mention this because my bridges have always sat above my doorway (see photo); so picking then off and setting them in place was never a worry about damage. Convenient storage should be a consideration for you.

I enjoy switching operations. My RR services several industries. All industries are serviceable without the bridges in place - the route is much shorter.

The bridges come into use for East and West bound traffic. I also enjoy running a train (around on the bridge) to act as an interloper disrupting local switching operations. I run a track cleaning train around the layout and with the bridges in place cleaning is easier.
 
Hello again everyone,

So in addition to listening and reading a lot of stuff on this site, and content within this thread, I have been trying to increase my understanding about the terms and concepts related to operations. More specifically, better understanding of the specific use of each yard track, the switching operations in the yard, and delivering cars in industrial operations. There are some good videos out there, but I still find it hard to grasp! The input you've all given and the reading has lead me to explore some changes, and of course some questions.
  • Starting with the north side of the layout where the yard is, I was curious if bottom tracks 1 & 2 could serve as a "lead track". Most video examples and diagrams seem to show a lead by itself off to the left or right, but given that space is limited, can tracks 1 & 2 serve this function in their location below? I guess this might also be considered a departure/arrival track?
  • Tracks 3, 4, 5, and 6 (and 7?) would obviously serve the industries as classification tracks(?). The lengths of the straight sections of tracks 3 & 4 are about 60 inches, and track 5 is surrounded by 52 inches of straight track, and track 6 has about 48 inches of use.
    • A 60 ft car in HO is about 9 inches w/ couplers
  • I added a "run-around" track on the west side of the yard. Was this done correctly? Is it useful on a double-ended yard?
Trackplan DRAFT_16 3.27.2021.jpg


  • The industry spurs have the following lengths of straight track:
    • Northeast corner off the outer track loop = 15 inches
    • East side off the inner track loop = 36 inches
    • Southeast corner off the outer track loop = 19 inches and 28 inches
    • South side off the outer track loop = 13 inches and 20 inches
    • South side off the inner track loop = 20 inches (north of the inside track loop)
    • Southwest corner off the outer track loop = 24 inches and 22 inches
    • Northwest corner south of the outer track loop = 26 inches

  • A "siding" was added to the southwest side of the layout's inner track. The one in the overall-layout picture above has a useful track section of 28 inches. The zoomed in version below is 40 inches. Would either of these be useful in serving the industries on the southwest side?
Trackplan DRAFT_17 Southwest Corner 3.27.2021.jpg


It looks as though the total length of straight spurs are not too far off from the lengths of the yard's classification tracks. Although, I guess not every inch of straight spur would be servicing freight cars.

Last thing for now, call me crazy, but I'm contemplating taking down that closet area.

Any thoughts and observations are welcome and appreciated!
 
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MOWboss

Member
Your openly seeking out advice and input and I applaud you for that. However you're going to get other peoples vision of what they would do. If a classification yard is your passion focus on that and only that - the rest is just track coming in or going out... I honestly think you're trying to plan too much with too little (space). Analysis Paralysis!

A classification yard is a huge operation and your plan appears to have no room for repair facilities. Build your table on the north wall, lay down your track plan and I bet you'll soon discover that the track (plan) has overrun your table parameters. Will you be able to successfully do any detail work on the siding in the NE corner? Those corners get awfully distant when your reaching across actual bench work. Personally I quit track plans after my first layout. My approach has been to plan an industry here and need to lay track to there....

I had a piece of real estate that was 6' x 14" and could only think about using it as some type of storage track. My mentor gave me this bit of advice "a railroad makes revenue when its' cars are moving product, not sitting in storage." That advice along with that space sat vacant for years. One day, at a show, I got that eureka moment. A manufacturer displayed a Coal Dealership;


I added a junkyard next door and that vacant space became filled with two busy industries.

The point I'm trying to make is that one day, when you have pondered actual empty space, you'll get that eureka moment and everything will fit perfectly. In time you'll find that it's easier to plant a structure and adjust the track rather than to build a structure around previously laid track.
 
@MOWboss I did expect others to chime in on how they would use the space, even if based more on what they are into. I think that's an additional benefit to forums like this, because it gives the person asking (along with others reading in the future) things to consider that they did not know to consider.

Part of my challenge may be my rookie-ability to describe what I would like to do since I'm still learning these terms that are new to me, and also discovering new things I'd like to do after watching interesting videos posted by hobbyists! That being said, I hope any replies I give don't appear to ignore advice, some of these concepts are still ricocheting off of my dense skull :)

So, basically I'd like to assemble trains in some form of yard (as opposed to strictly using it for storage), then run some mileage on the outer loop of track. At a certain point I'd deliver cars to some industries around the layout. Then, I'd eventually (same day or different day) pull the cars from the industry and haul it back to the yard. I find the challenges appealing on both ends, as far as yard and industry. I think I'd like to have a crossing on the east side and west side... it's nice to have a reason to ring my bell and blow my horn!

I have been thinking about that NE corner industry, @santafewillie had cautioned me about that too. It's why I modified the NW corner spur to the inside of the outer "main". I suppose the far SW corner spur might be an issue similar to the NE corner.

Not sure if my description alters your advice, but I wanted to throw it out there. Thanks for taking the time to write your response!
 
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MOWboss

Member
Don't know which turnout manufacturer you intend to use but PECO offers full size turnout templates. You can download, cut out and lay them out on your floor to get a truer size perspective.


Don't be afraid to ask questions. Some of us seniors are easily excited and have forgotten those growing pains of long ago.
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
I have been trying to increase my understanding about the terms and concepts related to operations. More specifically, better understanding of the specific use of each yard track, the switching operations in the yard, and delivering cars in industrial operations.
  • Starting with the north side of the layout where the yard is, I was curious if bottom tracks 1 & 2 could serve as a "lead track". Most video examples and diagrams seem to show a lead by itself off to the left or right, but given that space is limited, can tracks 1 & 2 serve this function in their location below? I guess this might also be considered a departure/arrival track?
  • A yard lead is just a track where a locomotive working the tracks in the yard can "backup into", usually without blocking another track. Model railroads often don't have space for a yard lead and just use the track approaching the yard to be the lead. Since your yard is double ended generally speaking it would have a lead for both sides. Once again most model railroads just don't have that much space.

  • Tracks 3, 4, 5, and 6 (and 7?) would obviously serve the industries as classification tracks(?).
    How to describe this one. Yes and no. Well,... I've erased about 5 answers now, and still can't come up with words. So, yes you can classify your cars any way you want. Sounds like you are planning on bringing in a train and classifying the cars according to the Next industry they need to go to. That works in our tiny simulation of train operations. I would think it would need to be a pretty big industry to have a whole classification track. I guess GM, Ford, General Mills, etc. One example of an industry that has a whole set of yard tracks to them selves is Coors (but they have an entier railroad to themselves so probably not common). More likely it is a destination, all cars on track one are headed to Atlanta, or all cars bound for the BNSF interchange. An example - Our club had a large yard (13?) classification tracks where one was for each town on the layout, plus one for eastbound off the layout and westbound off the layour. When a train was built, it was then blocked by industry (blocked meaning cars kept together in the train as a block). I am still not doing well with this ... can others help please (Dave1905?).
  • I added a "run-around" track on the west side of the yard. Was this done correctly? Is it useful on a double-ended yard?
    Usually a "run around" track is considered to be out in the industrial area where when switching the crew needs to get the locomotive to the other side of the train, or certain cars. In a double ended yard, any empty track can be used to run around to the other side of cars. What you really have there in yard terms is a "ladder by pass track". In practical sense it is a track that a locomotive can go down where it doesn't have to worry about setting every single turnout in the yard just so it can get through to the other side. They are often arranged so the locomotive can be bypassing the yard ladder so it doesn't effecting a switcher working the yard. So no, I don't see that it adds any value to your design.
An Arrival track is just the track that a train from the mainline comes into the yard on. It is usually one of the longest tracks since it has to handle a whole train including locomotive. On a double ended yard any track can be the arrival track, as the locomotive can just cut off and go out the other side. On a stub end yard, there would be a crossover near the end where the locomotive could cut off, move to the adjacent track and go around the train to the loco service or storage facilities. That track is called the loco escape track. Once again not needed in a double ended yard.

A departure track is simply the track where a train is built. Sort of the opposite of the arrival track. After the train is built, the locomotive is moved into place. On model railroads our space is usually so limited we combine them into a single track.

A large yard has many other tracks. Work train track, Repair In Place (RIP) track, caboose track if you are in that era, service tracks (for supplies for locomotive fuel, water, sand, parts, etc), Often the freight house, and express house (REI) are either off the yard or adjacent to it. If you are in the earlier eras there are icing plateform tracks for reefer cars.

Don't know if I am helping or just adding to the confusion.

Last thing for now, call me crazy, but I'm contemplating taking down that closet area.
One does not have to take down the closet area to run a train through it. Tunnels through walls are very common. One very famous model railroad ran the tracks through the wall and through the bathroom to the other side. They added a couple of industries there and it became the town of "Bath".
 
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MOWboss

Member
Iron Horseman offers a good insight about running trains thru a wall. Outbound trains could be made up in your closet and sent off to peddle their cargo or end up at your classification yard.

If your in a position to eliminate your closet you might want to consider it as storage for all the "stuff" you'll acquire over time.
 
Don't know which turnout manufacturer you intend to use but PECO offers full size turnout templates. You can download, cut out and lay them out on your floor to get a truer size perspective.


Don't be afraid to ask questions. Some of us seniors are easily excited and have forgotten those growing pains of long ago.
Thanks MOWboss, I know what you mean as I am also heavily into flight simulation and have been on the other side of giving advisement to those coming into that hobby! As far as the turnouts, I developed the drafts of the plans I shared based on using Peco #6 or higher.
 
...Don't know if I am helping or just adding to the confusion.

One does not have to take down the closet area to run a train through it. Tunnels through walls are very common. One very famous model railroad ran the tracks through the wall and through the bathroom to the other side. They added a couple of industries there and it became the town of "Bath".
Iron Horseman once again thanks. Definitely helped, and less confusing since I've been gaining some familiarity through the other reading I'm doing and videos I am watching. I think that goes to show just how complicated it can be and takes time to absorb. And I love the origin of the town of Bath! :D
 
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Sirfoldalot

Curse You, Red Baron!
Staff member
I have many Senior moments - and they seem to be coming more frequently - lately!
This thread is most interesting and enlightening - much GREAT advise from all corners.
I am trying to get to my add: We have a member here who recently rebuilt portions of his layout with a bridge over a doorway!
I want to say that his name is Kevin ??? and I think he goes via the name KB02 ???
He constructed a lift up or swing down bridge (SM again) that gave him exact alignment and ease of operation.
Off hand I would say that the larger problem with where you want the lift out is the fact of building on a curve!
 

Sirfoldalot

Curse You, Red Baron!
Staff member
Here is the thread that I was looking for.

KB02 seems to have constructed an excellent " bridge".
 

boatwrench

Active Member
Looking back at the design that you use, can you think of any other designs you wish you have tried?
Ned, and MOWboss About the lift bridges, in the thread "Northeast Switching Layout" the OP (and please excuse my lack of acknowledgement by name) showed a photo of hinges on scrap wood that he was testing to use on sectional/module legs. The photo got me thinking this may solve the lift or drop bridge gap problem.

About the overall design I saw was the number of "S" turns, although visually appealing trains it may cause tracking problems.

Have fun with whatever you do. My layout space I just acquired is almost the same footprint as yours so watching your progress will be helpful.
 
Hi @boatwrench .... yes the hardware being used along with the techniques described are something I'll have to investigate.

As far as the S-turns, looking at the last image I posted with the full layout plan, can you point out what area had a potential S-curve issue? I ask because the resolution of the screenshot may have missed some small straight sections I attempted to apply since others voiced your caution.

Speaking of S turns avoidance, I'm curious if there's a rule-of-thumb that one can go by in determining the the minimal length of straight track between two curves in the opposite direction. Might that be the length of the longest trucks on a particular locomotive? Or the entire length of the locomotive between the front axle to the rear axle? The first thought makes more sense (in my rookie mindset) since I have read on here that "6 axle locomotives don't always do well on #4 turnouts". My assumption was due to that having a longer straight truck with more wheels on a tighter curve.

For example, let's say we had an SD45 that has a distance of 2 inches from the truck's first axle to the third axle, which will obviously be the same for the 4th axel to the 6th axle. And, let's say the distance from the first axle to the 6th axle was 8 inches. So do we ensure a minimum straight section of 2+ inches, or 8+ inches? ...or, am I way off base?
 

boatwrench

Active Member
Ned the 'S' turns were straightened out when the spurs were made straighter. On the Northeast corner the lead to the three spurs has an 'S' turn, but since this appears to be for locomotives only should not cause trouble. On the northwest center at the top the RH turn out immediately turns left downward into a run around track in the drawn plan. This run around if for locomotives only won't be an issue but shoving cars through there may cause derailments. I think the straightening of the industrial spurs eliminated potential problems.

The wheel base of the truck of the SD45 will not be the cause of any possible derailment issues, it is the length (and weight) of the cars. the couplers push against each other sideways as on car end is facing one way and the next is facing the other way. That opposing pushing force is what causes the problem.

My adversity to 'S' curves comes from a club that I once belong to. The layout was built when steam ruled the rails and 40' cars were the norm. As the sessions gradually turned to diesel and intermodal the longer cars especially when being shoved increase the number of derailments. Because of a relocation my next club was a module group that had a nice set of building standards. The standard for a module with an included 'S' turn was a minimum of one foot length of track between the two curves and a minimum 24 inch radius. The longer equipment worked fine including one members 18 car passenger train.
 




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