A new layout plan and operating questions

Discussion in 'Layout Design Discussion' started by train lover12, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. train lover12

    train lover12 TrainBoard Member

    I recently found the city belt line by
    Rick Mugele and I fell in love with it. Purely by coincidence I had decided to try out Kato unitrack as I had heard so many good things about it. So I decided to try and convert the layout to unitrack. So, without further ado, here is my unitrack interpretation of the City Belt Line in N scale in a HCD:
    and for comparison's sake here is a picture of the original:
    The main shanges I made were to connect the interchange staging tracks to the run around lead to form a continuous run, removed the double switchback bakery spur, and shortened the switchback lead. (unitrack geometry doesn't allow for the configuration of the original).
    Now for my questions:
    1. I am pretty bad at visualizing ops in my head so maybe some one else can explain how the yard is supposed to be operated. The configuration of the tracks are strange to me.
    2. Did i seriously mess anything up operationally/functionally while converting the plan?
    3. Are there any suggestions on how to improve the plan? note, at this point I am done with the converting part of the track planning process and am just trying to make the best design possible. I also plan on expanding the layout in the future and I would like suggestions on where I could/should expand from and whether the yard is big enough and if so how to expand it.
    thank you for reading,
    just in case legal/copyright stuff:
    I do not own nor plan on making any money off if the city belt line track plan, which belongs to its owner, (i'm assuming
    Rick Mugele but I could be wrong.
  2. ken G Price

    ken G Price TrainBoard Member

    I'm sure that others will chime in with help, but this is my take on the track plan.

    This looks like a track plan for very short wheel base engines.
    If diesel, then 4 axle. Cars no longer then 50 foot
    Definitely not made for passenger, long flats, or well cars.
    I do not know any thing about steam types though.

    Though the grade to get up to the yard looks like it would have to be way to steep.
    You are correct in that the yard looks like it is not very useful are easy to get in or out of.
    I can not really give you any other help on the questions you are asking as this is not a track plan that I would consider.
  3. mhampton

    mhampton TrainBoard Member

    I like your inclusion of a path for continuous running though having the passing siding and spur under the yard could prove problematic. You will have quite a climb up that curve into the yard. I assumed a 0" elevation at the top of your plan and a 2" clearance going into the yard. It looks like that will come to about a 4.5% grade.
  4. steinjr

    steinjr Passed away October 2012 In Memoriam

    Mmm - I am not sure that the climb up to the yard would be so bad - I did a quick workup of a similar plan in 4x8 feet in H0 scale (before noticing that the OP had wanted N scale on a HCD - so he has more space and needs less clearance, relatively speaking).

    This is an interpretation in H0 scale, using Peco code 75 small turnouts:

    To be sure - 3.1% up to the yard is rough (and so is 4.5% up around an 18" radius curve at the left end of the layout).

    But notice that the OP actually have quite a bit more space - 30"x80" in N scale is about the equivalent of 4.5 feet x 12 feet in H0 scale, and that he needs less clearance - 2" ought to be ample clearance in N scale. Simply recalculating inclines for 2" clearance (without taking into account that the inclines could run for longer) gives less steep inclines - about 2% up to yard and down under yard on the right, about 3% up from under yard on left side.

    So it seems doable. As long as he doesn't try to cram in a couple of hidden staging tracks under the yard - those will be inaccessible.

    Edit - tried to try to run some trains on the layout and think about industries. Looks like it has potential for some interesting running sessions:

    This is still too small - the OP has an area equivalent to the 4.5 x 12 foot area. But even in 4x8 in H0 scale - apart from the steep inclines, the layout has potential.

    Say you start your session with the Rickville job switching industries in Rickville (top half of layout), and an inbound morning train sits on the hidden main under the yard with a 7-8 car train.

    Yard switcher switches local industries (warehouse and team track), prepares outbound cars.

    Mainline train arrives from staging, goes into a track on front of yard (track 1 or track 2) road engine first, trapping engine. Yard switcher pulls cars off road engine and puts into another yard track. New road engine comes out from engine service, moves aside. Old road engine moves into engine service. Yard switcher places caboose on caboose track.

    Yard switcher builds outbound train and places on one of the bottom yard tracks. New road engine connects to right side of outbound cars, does air test and leave, looping around going into staging (under yard).

    Yard engine sorts inbound cars, spot cars at local industries, park yard engine out of the way and take their lunch break.

    Rickville morning job finishes switching industries in Rickville. Heads back to yard with a 4-5 cars from Rickville. Take them into track 1, cuts of road engine, run around cars, put cars into yard track, takes engine to engine service track.

    Yard switcher organizes cars for the Rickville evening job. And so on and so forth. Lots of operations possible with this layout. Especially in N scale, where you have more space, where 18" curves are wide curves, and where you can have less steep inclines.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 14, 2012
  5. paulus

    paulus TrainBoard Member

    when speaking about an enlargement you have so many possibilities it should be considered early.
    Are you thinking about just a few "small" additions, like on the current MR-project-layout. Or a larger one like on Dave Vollmers 8x4.
    Or by adding a second hollow core door, turning your pike into a L-shaped layout?
    Stein already showed you all the operational values of the City Belt. You could have the yard at the junction however; replacing some of the industries up hill at the very same time.
    Just an example:[​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 14, 2012
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    If you can add a slight upward grade to those tracks coming out from underneath the yard, that would reduce the climb up to your yard.
  7. train lover12

    train lover12 TrainBoard Member

    Paulus, for the expansions I was thinking all of the above. I can't ever decide whether I wand city or country, ops or scenery. So I thought that I would make 2 self contained yet connectable layouts. This one would have the "hub" yard and a power plant. The other one would represent a branch with a coal mine. On top of that I may decide to smaller extensions along the way. I probably won't do both but I would like to keep the option open. I love your alteration to the plan but I don't know if that would fit with unitrack (that's what I plan on using right now but even if I decide to go with flex I think I will still design with unitrack because with me when I am given complete freedom I tend to try to cram way too many things in a d end up compromising on things like turn radius, siding length, and spacing, including not leaving enough for buildings). I'm away from xtrackcad right now but when I get the chance Ill try out your suggestions.
  8. cuyama

    cuyama TrainBoard Member

    I see that the original poster picked up Rick Mugele's track plan art from my blog post on the City Belt layout.

    The full article in Layout Design News (LDN-8, August 1991) published by the Layout Design SIG explains that this is based on a real area in the Oakland/Richmond area of California. Rick is a railroad engineer and has worked this area in real life.

    The original article (available as a back issue) explains the operating scheme in quite a bit of detail. It's the first place I learned about the concept of "sure spots" to create much more operating interest in a small space.

    The "continuous run" in the original plan is actually a double-ended interchange track representing two different locations -- quite clever.
  9. train lover12

    train lover12 TrainBoard Member

    here is my application of paulus' ideas:
    I like it, but i think I like the one with the yard elevated even more. what do you guys think?
    and stein, thanks for reminding me about the clearance issues with the staging. how should I add staging? maybe two cassettes off either end of the layout at the lower loop?
  10. paulus

    paulus TrainBoard Member

    Hi TL,
    I would start with a drawing of the room and how you envision your HCD in it.
    If you connect two staging cassettes (how long do you envision them?) onto the bottom,
    you have a solid reason for having the yard there as well.
    If the major connection with the remainder of the world is made at the top, I would obviously like to have my yard at the upper part.
    Are you thinking about two additions like on the current MR-project layout?
  11. train lover12

    train lover12 TrainBoard Member

    here is a quick diagram of the room:
    the dresser can be moved and the entrance is in the area that I marked off as unusable.
    and when I was talking about putting the staging cassettes on the bottom I meant the lower level going off to the left and right but now i see that if i did that the layout would be too wide.
    I am thinking of train lengths of 1 engine, 6 50' cars and caboose. that would mean that my cassettes would have to be about 34" long.
    That is true, about the yard location. Considering each of the two designs above (yard on "north" side and yard on "south" side) where would you want to put the staging if you were going to be the one operating it?
    I'm not an MRR subscriber so I don't know what the plan looks like. Would you either post a picture/trackplan or explain it to me?
  12. paulus

    paulus TrainBoard Member

    hi Kyle,
    you could buy the February MR-issue of course or look it up in a library.
    Two additions are planned, a pretty long 3-track staging addition and an old one: Jim Kelly's Turtle Creek Mine.
    The theme of the layout is Virginian coal mining, a unifying theme.
    I added the Turtle Creek Mine to your layout, though it's completely out of place on a Southern Californian City Belt Line.
    Also a staging yard is added, both are along the same wall, so you are able to walk around three sides of your layout.
    I kept the ATSF and SP interchange with the City Belt Line (CBL). The latter operating from the small yard up to the industrial areas up hill.
  13. train lover12

    train lover12 TrainBoard Member

    After doing some research on it I realized that the plan was introduced a year earlier than I had thought. I do have the issue where the plan was first introduced, and I was able to see on MRR's track plan database what the expansions looked like. And yes, that is very similar to what I was thinking of.
  14. train lover12

    train lover12 TrainBoard Member

    sorry for the double post but I can't figure out how to edit my post.
    Now that the "copy the published plan" phase is over I can be a lot more flexible with the design. I don't need or even want a HCD/rectangular layout. The only reason that I used a HCD was because it is simple and sturdy and the layout needs to be able to be moved. I will be moving in about a year and a half and the layout needs to be able to fit in the bed of a pickup truck. So if any one can come up with a layout shape that is about the same size as an HCD (the limit is about the size of the truck bed, roughly 4x9 I think). You I am ok if it needs to be split up to fit in the bed.
  15. paulus

    paulus TrainBoard Member

    hi Kyle,
    at your age a love is easily forgotten.
    If you ever had the honour of transporting an 8x4 you would be less optimistic;
    so a last advice or two:

    *Build something like the HOG in N scale, e.g. by dividing a 8x4 board into six 48"x16" sections.
    Dividing it in 4 sections was done to create the Heart Of Georgia
    The next plan might give you an impression what could be achieved on just two of those sections.
    *Start building something today, time flies, you are talking about model railroading way to long.

    BTW editing a post is only possible for an hour or so on this website. The "edit post" key is gone then.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2012
  16. cuyama

    cuyama TrainBoard Member

    Paul's suggestion to build in sections is excellent. Especially if you expect to move, sections often adapt to a new space more easily than an island layout.

    Here's the image

    The full story of this HO shelf layout is here.

    Since the original poster is in N scale, here's a similar N scale shelf layout concept

  17. paulus

    paulus TrainBoard Member

    Hi Byron,
    two questions for you.
    1)Did the link to the Orphan Branch not work properly? Anyway seeing the plan is always a treat.
    2)In the second plan you have the team track between 2 other tracks.
    Transloading to and from trucks might be complicated when the other tracks are used. Is transloading supposed to be done in between sessions?
  18. cuyama

    cuyama TrainBoard Member

    I just thought it would be easier for others to see it directly and to have the link to the full layout story.

    Yes, that is a compromise in order to place the team track near where it was located schematically in real life. It was pretty tight, but there was a little more room on the real thing. We were limited to existing shelving for this client, but he wanted to keep it as close to the real schematic as possible.

    A more pleasing visual scene would be to leave a bit more room for the trucks to drive in and out. But in real life, it seems as if trucks did have to drive in over other tracks -- this was not a busy mainline.
  19. paulus

    paulus TrainBoard Member

    Hi Byron,
    thank you, for your fast and and great reply.

    Hi Kyle,
    The Milwaukee Beer Line was modeled by the MR-staff about 3 years ago; also a tabletop split in 4 sections.
    It could be operated as the beloved rectangle, the sections could also be connected like a big "J"; many configurations were possible.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2012
  20. train lover12

    train lover12 TrainBoard Member

    Paul, I have those issues, and yes that is a nice layout, though after playing around with it in xtrkcad for a while I decided that it wasn't what I was looking for. I have been playing around with the HOG RR and here is what I have come up with:
    Turnouts are kato #4 (except for 2 which are #6)
    minimum radius: main-13.75 (there is 1 12.375 section but it is only 15 deg.) branch-12.375
    max grade is 3% for the branch (and yes I did allow for vertical easements) that first crosses the main at 2" then ends up at a final height of 3".
    The yard can hold 30 cars for an operating capacity of 15.
    there are four staging tracks, the shortest of which can hold 8 50' cars an engine and a caboose.
    So how does it look? I am thinking of replacing the staging yard with another town or maybe just some nice scenery and using removable cassettes instead, what do you guys think?
    *warning philosophy ahead* you know, as I am writing this post I am having second thoughts about this plan, yeah, it represents my 'dream' first layout but is it really feasible? Maybe I should just build a small shelf layout and use an oval of unitrack on my table to get my roundy-rounder fix. I think thats why I was always so stubborn in the past about not downsizing my layout plans in the past: Everything that I wanted in a layout was theoretically within my reach, I had enough room to do what I wanted to do. And that dream layout seemed so wonderful and close that I refused to give it up. I think that the next plan I post will be smaller and/or pared down.
    so anyways now that my philosophical bit is over, What are all of the faults in the track plan? even I decide to completely change my plans, I still value critiques so that I can find where I still need to improve.

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