The illusion of distance--do I need it or what?

ModelRailroadForums.com is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.


SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
I don't see it mentioned to much in print anymore, but in the past there was a lot written about preserving the illusion of distance. I get that I really don't want my combine taking on passengers in one sation while my business class passengers depart at another. But what is this about parking in a tunnel?

I mean, even if I am sticking to a fast clock, I still know I am parked in a tunnel. What's up with that?

Does this fire anyone's rockets?
 

jacon12

Member
Park her in a tunnel.. huh :) I get what you're driving at Chip. Out of sight out of mind, been gone a loooooooong time, but you know it's just sitting there in the tunnel and hasn't been anywhere. When I first read your title I thought you were referring to distance compression, as in using N scale items in the background to give the illusion of distance.
Jarrell
 
SpaceMouse said:
in the past there was a lot written about preserving the illusion of distance. ...
I mean, even if I am sticking to a fast clock, I still know I am parked in a tunnel. What's up with that?
Its the same thing as staging. Staging just creates an illusion of distance by pretending the train has gone somewhere. When in fact, one still knows it hasn't really gone anywhere (and if hidden staging, then it is just sitting in a tunnel).
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
GandyDancer said:
Its the same thing as staging. Staging just creates an illusion of distance by pretending the train has gone somewhere. When in fact, one still knows it hasn't really gone anywhere (and if hidden staging, then it is just sitting in a tunnel).
For me the difference in staging is that one train comes out, it gets switched and drops cars, picks up a few, returns to staging never to return that session.

That's different than stopping in a tunnel to eat time--to create the illusion of distance.

The best rendition I had heard, though, was a n engine with a camera, that entered a tunnel, and you follow it in your monitor. Only it has stopped and a computer has taken over the journey and you watch the train on the monitor go to distant lands. When it returns via computer to where you left it physically it returns out the other side of the tunnel.

To my knowledge that technology, while possible, is not available.
 

Lady_Railfan

House Mother, Cheerleader
Whew! For a minute there, I thought I was going to have to start to build part of my G layout in HO scale to give an illusion of distance.

Oh! Wait!!! What a great excuse to extend the layout. Just wait 'til The Husband hears about THAT. :D
 

Cjcrescent

Master Mechanic
SpaceMouse said:
For me the difference in staging is that one train comes out, it gets switched and drops cars, picks up a few, returns to staging never to return that session.

That's different than stopping in a tunnel to eat time--to create the illusion of distance.
Chip, that is one type of staging, but so is going into the "tunnel", al la the staging yard, waiting a certain amount of time, and then reappearing later on into the schedule. That actually was the original concept of staging as stated by Frank Ellison. His trains would disappear into staging several times during a session, just to increase the time between stations.

Well where did the train go? According to the Railroad's published schedule it went up the West Fillmore Branch (which is not modeled) and picked up passengers, freight etc up there, got turned and came back down the branch. It rejointed the main at West Fillmore Junction, (Again, not modelled, but it is a station stop on the schedule!)

It took 3 hours to do this by fast clock, 5-30 actual minutes before it reappeared, depending on fast clock speed. I've known several operators that has used this "trick", and it does work quite effectively.

Since on a layout, you can't increase the distance actually traveled, you give the illusion of a greater distance traveled by stopping the train in a hidden space for a certain amount of time.
 

fsm1000

Stephen
I believe it is a 'time' thing. You park anywhere really. Tunnel, last station etc. Long enough for the fast clock to move forward enough to give the illusion [like everything else we model] of going a longer distance than we have.

For instance. The story [yet to be told] of my layout has it that you go from the station [that is off layout] around the mountain once before getting near the center of activity. To do this I go around twice. Once for the initial 'once around' and second for the 'once around' that actually exists.

Does this help? It is all part of creating illusions of space and time.
 

jacon12

Member
Soooo..... if a train goes to a staging area to drop off cars and to pick up others, then comes back... you've got to have a way to 'turn' the train. How do most modelers handle this 'turning'. Loop, the ol' number 5 crane, lift the entire track section the train is on, or what?
Jarrell
 

hminky

Member
jacon12 said:
Soooo..... if a train goes to a staging area to drop off cars and to pick up others, then comes back... you've got to have a way to 'turn' the train. How do most modelers handle this 'turning'. Loop, the ol' number 5 crane, lift the entire track section the train is on, or what?
Jarrell
Frank Ellison, one of the original "operators" who wrote in the 1950's, disparaged staging as a waste of space. Use the staging yard space as a working yard and make up and break down trains as an arrival yard where trains are broken down to be taken elswhere.

I have always agreed with his point of view. There is too little space in most layouts to "park" trains.

Just a thought
Harold
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
I understand the use of staging in a tunnel, at least to a certain extent. I used John Armstrong's Pennyslvania and Potomic as a example in my staging page. Byron Henderson does a good job of explaining it's use and operation of the layout.



It's this whole time thing.
 

Cjcrescent

Master Mechanic
hminky said:
Frank Ellison, one of the original "operators" who wrote in the 1950's, disparaged staging as a waste of space. Use the staging yard space as a working yard and make up and break down trains as an arrival yard where trains are broken down to be taken elswhere.

I have always agreed with his point of view. There is too little space in most layouts to "park" trains.

Just a thought
Harold
Harold;

That was my take on what Frank said in his articles originally until I followed several modlers description of a operating session with a copy of the trackplan in my hand.

I lived in Mobile, Al for awhile, met and knew several operators there that would go over to NO quite a few times a year for sessions on the Delta Lines. One of them even told me the story of once when the NO Police "raided" the RR, because neighbors thought a "gambling den" was functioning in his basement. The officers were quite surprised to find just a bunch of guys "playing with trains", instead of something illegal going on.

Granted he did advocate not adding additional track as a true staging yard he did advocate having enough track to allow for "hiding" trains in areas not easily seen until needed. His "all the world is a stage, and the trains merely actors" concept is what we now know as staging. He used small yards, long sidings, generally hidden by buildings &/or some scenery, to set up the "staging" of getting trains ready to come from the "wings" onto "center stage" do their work, and exit back into the "wings".

The main reason, I believe, he never advocated separate staging areas, is that the Delta Line trackplan as built, would not allow for it. It was O gauge, and for lack of a better term, a real spaghetti bowl of track. He had enough places built in to the plan, those yards, sidings and some spurs, to allow for the type of staging he practiced. He did indeed practice staging, and advocated staging, but without the use of a "dedicated" staging yard.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

jacon12

Member
hminky said:
Frank Ellison, one of the original "operators" who wrote in the 1950's, disparaged staging as a waste of space. Use the staging yard space as a working yard and make up and break down trains as an arrival yard where trains are broken down to be taken elswhere.

I have always agreed with his point of view. There is too little space in most layouts to "park" trains.

Just a thought
Harold
A friend of mine says that 'if you go with conventional wisdom, you have to have a staging area, and I say it's a lotta phooey'.
Different strokes, I suppose.
Jarrell
 

jacon12

Member
Cjcrescent said:
Harold;

That was my take on what Frank said in his articles originally until I followed several modlers description of a operating session with a copy of the trackplan in my hand.

I lived in Mobile, Al for awhile, met and knew several operators there that would go over to NO quite a few times a year for sessions on the Delta Lines. One of them even told me the story of once when the NO Police "raided" the RR, because neighbors thought a "gambling den" was functioning in his basement. The officers were quite surprised to find just a bunch of guys "playing with trains", instead of something illegal going on.

Granted he did advocate not adding additional track as a true staging yard he did advocate having enough track to allow for "hiding" trains in areas not easily seen until needed. His "all the world is a stage, and the trains merely actors" concept is what we now know as staging. He used small yards, long sidings, generally hidden by buildings &/or some scenery, to set up the "staging" of getting trains ready to come from the "wings" onto "center stage" do their work, and exit back into the "wings".

The main reason, I believe, he never advocated separate staging areas, is that the Delta Line trackplan as built, would not allow for it. It was O gauge, and for lack of a better term, a real spaghetti bowl of track. He had enough places built in to the plan, those yards, sidings and some spurs, to allow for the type of staging he practiced. He did indeed practice staging, and advocated staging, but without the use of a "dedicated" staging yard.
So, did those sidings he used as 'staging area' serve a dual purpose, as in having industuries along them that were picked up/delivered by locals coming from the yard?
Jarrell
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
Jarrell, I'm with you. I have ~1000feet of track and do not have a designated staging area. If I want the illusion of time lapse, I park my passenger or freight on an out of the way siding or just leave it at a station for a little longer. If I were to use a time clock, then I would build this into the schedule. Nothing complicated about it. For a smaller layout, I most definitely would use this method.
 

Cjcrescent

Master Mechanic
jacon12 said:
So, did those sidings he used as 'staging area' serve a dual purpose, as in having industuries along them that were picked up/delivered by locals coming from the yard?
Jarrell
IIRC, no. According to the operators, the trains were staged in areas that could/would only be used as a place to "hide" a train. Any switching areas generally were in places that wouldn't get blocked by a parked train. Frank also had most areas set up to allow for them to be worked without fouling the main.

I just wish that I had met the man and seen the layout before he died. Back when I lived in Mobile, most of the modelers there, esp. the O gaugers tried to do everything as Frank Ellison did it. But as they all died off, so did his memory and legacy. I bet that most of the guys there now, haven't even heard of him, how close to them he lived, or what a pioneer he really was.
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
jacon12 said:
Soooo..... if a train goes to a staging area to drop off cars and to pick up others, then comes back... you've got to have a way to 'turn' the train. How do most modelers handle this 'turning'. Loop, the ol' number 5 crane, lift the entire track section the train is on, or what?
Jarrell
Jarrell, that was a limitation of my first layout. I really liked it, but it was not properly laid out...no skill at the time. Accordingly, I could not turn trains unless it was handraulically. Believe it or not, I dislike handling my locos. It isn't pathological or anything, but I know that it is risky, and that it contributes to a deterioration of their looks...secreted acids and oils, other contaminants, etc.

So, for this time, still with a folded over loop, I took pains to design in a reversing loop that literally makes the whole thing look like a figure-8 with one of the cross-overs missing. It means that I must choose between two pits in which to operate because the middle is bisected by a river and bridge on a plywood bridge (some day I'll post an image, but can't at present).

Anyway, there is a LOT, like in staging, to be said for a reverse loop, no matter where it is on your layout and what shape it takes. Also, I feel that it adds an element of variety, just like a roundhouse and TT.

-Crandell
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
See this is where a combination of staging and layout-bound yards comes into effect:


In my "pelimnary" design (don't worry about the size YET I was just testing to see what my "perfect" size room/space would be), there's two yards, the San Bernardino Intermodal yard, and the Barstow Classification yard. BUT at the bottom of the layout I've also included space for a staging room (this plan shown calls for a 25'x40' space). The staging room, idealy will have 10-15 staging "lanes" with a 4-5 track engine yard. These lanes would hold trains that head "North/West" out of Barstow, or "West/South" out of San Bernardino. It would ALSO have to hold special trains, like the BNSF & UP business cars, MOW, rail grinder, and weed sprayer. To top it off, staging is representing all points on the Metrolink system, BESIDES the San Bernardino station.

But I've found another use for the staging room, making it the crew lounge & shop area. Then upon finishing a new model, I can load it directly onto the layout, in the staging area, and it can be run in on a new train.

BUT the Barstow yard will ALSO do its job, in tearing down & building trains, as you would in a staging yard... Lots of fun...
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Cjcrescent

Master Mechanic
Josh;

Nice plan, even if preliminary. I would hope however that you're gonna try and make that hump yard at Barstow bigger. With your longest track there appearing to be about 7-8 ft long a modern free rolling car would have to be severely retarded to not roll completely out of that yard.
 

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
RexHea said:
Jarrell, I'm with you. I have ~1000feet of track and do not have a designated staging area. If I want the illusion of time lapse, I park my passenger or freight on an out of the way siding or just leave it at a station for a little longer. If I were to use a time clock, then I would build this into the schedule. Nothing complicated about it. For a smaller layout, I most definitely would use this method.
Rex, I thought you had plans for hidden staging in the back with CCTV to monitor. Anyway, the main problem I see with "hiding" trains on the layout is the unavailability of some sidings for opposing moves. Also, the staging yard would give you much better traffic density to fill up your future operating sessions. Just a thought.:)
 

Lady_Railfan

House Mother, Cheerleader
Gentlemen, I apologize for my earlier flippant post. This discussion is an excellent example of the wealth of information available on these forums, the amazing knowledge and expertise displayed by all of you, and your generosity in sharing it. My hat's off to all of you!
 




Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)


ModelRailroadForums.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

RailroadBookstore.com - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section.

ModelRailroadBookstore.com - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

Top