Forget 4x8, how about 4x6, a modern take on the Yule Central

Discussion in 'HO Scale' started by YoHo, Apr 3, 2012.

  1. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Member

    I asked a few months ago if any of you ever had the urge still to build a 4x8 layout. I got a few people that said yes and many more that talked about other alternatives, but how many of you get the urge to build a 4x6? a glorified under tree layout?

    My favorite Kalmbach model train book growing up was small railroads you can build (1978 ed, not the dumb newer version). This book had 2 layouts that absolutely captured my imagination growing up. The dogbone outlined in the section "from trainset to model railroad" was the basis of my first nscale layout and I will probably use it again, modified for wider curves, but the first article in the book is one that I always loved, The Yule central. This is a drawing I found which is not quite right, but close enough.

    It has an Arizona/New Mexico theme with tall rock outcroppings along the center divide and edges with really impressive painting and carving and it was the first layout I've ever heard of using extruded styrofoam insulation. For a kid sitting in a Chicago suburb, it absolutely captured my imagination.

    Today, 25+ years later, I am at a crossroads. I live in an apartment and so don't have space for the layout in my head, I don't want to go back to n-scale, I am a member of a club, so I have the space to run my big power and long trains, but still, I want something at home to work on.

    One reason to have something at home to work on is that I'm in the process of converting my engines to DCC and it would be nice to have something to test them on without bringing them to the club.

    Originally, I had planned to just make a small 1x4 module. And I may still do that. Something with just a little switching and enough mainline to run an engine back and forth, but I have the itch to have roundy round.

    And so I return to the Yule Central. It has advantages, it is light weight and using newer techniques could be more so and so could be set up and taken down with ease. The layout offers an industry, a few in town tracks and also has an interchange track designed to work with an addon module. Perhaps that addon is the 1x4 switching module I mentioned.

    The downsides are:
    Even a 4x6 takes up a lot of space when operating
    18" radius curves throughout mean that while I could certainly test and break in my 4 axle equipment, I could not break in my 6 axle equipment and my modern rollingstock would not help
    1 industry, 2 shippers and an interchange is some switching but not much. Probably enough for me though, especially if I add in the module.

    Some other things I have considered.
    1: The original layout recommended trains based on the old Atlas Roco GP40, the Athearn SW1500 and the Athearn F7 and an AHM 0-6-0.
    Obviously, I plan to use this layout to test my existing stock, so it doesn't matter, but if I were to go with some realistic power, I have the Athearn SW1500 already (and some F7s, though I think those are only good for a tourist train which is what they're used for in the article.) but Bachmann has those wonderful GE 70tonners and 44tonners and there are good models of GP7/9s out now and CF7s which would look at home on this layout.

    2: While I love the desert southwest scenery, I love Pacific coast/Sierra/Cascades mountain railroading even more. I think with some careful planning this track plan could represent a shortline supporting a small mountain town and a lumber operation. It would justify the tight radius

    3: While I'm a modern modeler, I do have a bunch of old Transition era equipment that I never got rid of. This would be a good opportunity to run it.

    4: By replacing the Atlas snap switches with Peco switches with their excellent locking mechanism, I could gain small amounts of realestate on the plan and have it look better too.

    5: Along those lines, I pondered using curved switches to allow for perhaps a bit wider radius? I bet I could goose the average radius up to 20"-21" (obviously using flex instead of snap track.)

    6: If I did this my goal would be to start off cheap, I would probably only sink money into the peco switches, I would try to buy used track where I could. Troll the scrap bin at home depot for lumber, etc.

    7: I won't be in this apartment forever and someday, possibly as soon as a year from now I'll be in a place with enough space to do SOMETHING bigger. When that happens, I could donate a layout this size to a local organization, or more likely, I could have it auctioned off as a raffle for my club and have the proceeds go to an organization the club supports.

    Anyway, that's what I'm currently pondering. I'm not pondering too hard, because I have a 3 month old at home so not so much time.

    What brought this on you ask?
    Well, I recently bought a new to me, used copy of "Small Railroads you can build (1978)" (God bless powell's books in portland and I had lost my old copy years ago and it rekindled my love of this layout and the dogbone design (the name of that one was the Manchester and something and I can't remember the something while I'm here at work without the book). I don't have room for a dogbone, but I do have room for a 4x6. It would be big enough for the loop, but small enough to store in the garage when not in use.
  2. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Supporter

    You know, with a little cassette or staging track off to the side, that layout could present a lot of activity, and a good bit of scenery modeling, too, if that's your thing.

    Why not re-build it in some layout software with the curved switches, see if you can goose up the radius a bit without expanding the overall size any or much... if you can get the curves big enough to handle 6-axle modern stuff (for testing, not necessarily for looks) without much sacrifice of space, I think you'd have a winner...
  3. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Member

    Yeah, the original article had a 2'x3' optional extension, but I'm thinking a 1x4 would be more what I'd want and would fit in better with future plans.

    I'm going to try and lay it out in some layout software and see. I really think it's possible. If nothing else, maybe make it 4'6" x 6'6" or something like that.
  4. paulus

    paulus TrainBoard Member

    Hi Yoho,
    the dogbone is called the Marquette and Independence RR. I build it myself. After a couple of changes, going around the corner twice, it became a quite different railroad.
    The artwork of the Yule Central in your posting is done by me. It is a wee bit different from the original version, to get a longer run-around.
    A cassette or staging/storage addition would be great.
  5. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Member

    Yes, Marquette and Independence. It will get burned back into my mind eventually.

    I'm sorry I didn't credit you initially on the picture Paul.
  6. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

    Small layouts are always a good way to get going if you need a layout. I still like one of the old atlas 4x6 layouts with two passing sidings and three spurs.

    As you said 4x6 is a lot of space in an apartment. If you could run a shelf on a book case somewhere you might get more layout with less lost space.

    Wasn't the marquette and independence 4x14 feet long? I always love that layouts little yard.
  7. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

    oops double post
  8. shortliner

    shortliner TrainBoard Member

    Conrails Hallsville Pa. Interchange from MR October 1995 by Nick Palette ( a mate) may be what you need - It is built from a 6x4 ply sheet, but cut and re-assembled into a 8x4 with a hole in the middle. It dis-assembles into 2 boards 4x2, and 2 boards 4x1, so storage/movement should be easy - I have a scan of a photocopy if you want it - send your email addy to chacmool at lineone dot net
  9. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    I'm not likely to be in sync with this progressive thread. Allow me to throw in here anyway.

    The N scale layout I have now started out as a 4x6 and went crazy....much to my delight.

    If you don't have a layout I would encourage you to build a small layout to start with. Let it teach you and don't stop until you get what you want.

    Have fun!
  10. paulus

    paulus TrainBoard Member

    for the the younger folks the version of the Marquete & Independance RR I built. Version 5A is very close to the original design, only the available length I had was 12" in stead of 14". I managed to get it in by using a 16" radius in stead of the 18" of the original.
  11. Dave Jones

    Dave Jones TrainBoard Supporter

    I agree with Traingeekboy's suggestion about a shelf type layout. You've got a two-sided layout there which means it really needs to be free standing except possibly for one side. Add a two foot aisle on one side and you no longer have a 4'x6' (24 s.f.) you'll probably need to use 36 or more s.f. of the room area. Would think somewhere you'll have at least 22 lineal feet of wall you could extend the layout along, that is along a 10 ft. plus a 12 ft. wall - or possibly more.

    There are some beautiful examples of shelf layouts using IKEA, or similiar units or even 18" hollow core doors, some with, some without a "ground" of 2" foam board (swales, gullies, creeks and rivers).

    And, if you like the Pacific Northwest, you might want to do a little research on Souhern Pacific's numerous branch lines to and along the Oregon coast. Mostly (but not exclusively wood prodcts) connecting numerous small (therefore modellable) small towns. And it seems S.P. used everyhing from G.E. 70-tonners to multiple SD-9s.

    Downside, at the end of the branch you should have a run-around track to get your engines on the right end of the train - or possibly not.
  12. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Member

    Oh, I'm very familiar with SP
    s Oregon ops. ;) that's what brought it up.

    I appreciate the suggestions for a shelf layout, but it really completely defeats the purpose of this railroad.
    Perhaps what I should do is give you the givens and druthers.

    H.O. period end of story. The goal is to make a glorified DCC test track. Making it N-scale or Z-scale defeats the purpose.
    Continuous running in order to perform DCC install testing and engine break-in.
    Extremely portable. I live in an apartment and happen to have an assigned garage. This layout will likely need to be set up and taken down regularly, it may live in the garage or the apt or sometimes maybe in the parking lot.

    I'd prefer to have a 22" minimum radius for the main to support my modern 6 axle diesels.
    It would be nice if it was self contained enough to be easily sold or Auctioned off.
    If not sold/auctioned off, then it would be nice if it could be utilized as part of a larger layout down the road.
    I'd like to use a classic track plan that excited my imagination as a child.

    So you see, a shelf layout simply doesn't meet my requirements at all. I appreciate the suggestion. I as always wonder why people always try to suggest something that clearly doesn't meet the givens and druthers. I've been model railroading for almost 30 years now and this isn't my first layout thank you. I know what I want and why I want it.

    Shortliner, I have access to that issue of MR. I must have read that article, but I can't remember it. I'll look it up tonight. That option, while not a classic from my youth is interesting. my big concern would be space, BUT it likely offers a good ability to be integrated into a larger network later which is not my original intent in this thread, but is another option.

    The advantage of the straight 4x6 is that it doesn't take up that much space even with the mountains. About the same as a bicycle in the garage.
  13. Tim Loutzenhiser

    Tim Loutzenhiser TrainBoard Supporter

    Here's a shot of a 4x6 I built for the kids to mess with years ago. I kind of figured that a 2x4 extension could be hooked up to it one day.
  14. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

    What you need is two layouts.

    One of them is a test track oval on a hollow core door or even just a slab of foam. it gets the large ovals for testing locos and running. Or if you have some legs or drawer units you use the hollow core door as a desk and velcro some sectional track onto it so when you aren't using it as a desk you can run trains.

    The second layout is a switching layout complete with scenery. It allows you to do your actual model work and display it nicely. If you ran shelves in the garage you could have a pretty big layout.

    This guy in england has a huge oval in his garage. If you have a sedan you could build a bridge high enough to still drive your car in and out without hitting the layout.

    I just don't believe the line about not having space anymore. It's just a matter of finding the space you have.
  15. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

    Tim you posted this once before. I always liked this plan of yours, it looks a lot like the atlas one I like too, as it's got a little of everything especially for kids. it would be perfect for a 48 year old kid like me.
  16. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Member

    So, I grabbed this issue from the club and photocopied the article. It is a good layout, essentially a small modular layout. 2 ends and 2 modules, but it's a bit bigger than I was looking for and being in 4 pieces makes it a bigger chore to store. I did like it though and have filed it away for future use.
  17. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Member

    This just seems like adding a lot more work and more storage space. A test track would have to be at a minimum 4x4 hollow core doors aren't helpful here.

    I wish Kalmbach had pictures of this layout online, because you'd see that there is no lack of options for scenery. I much prefer starting with the 4x6 that has the interchange track for expansion. If I get that "done" by the time I move, then I can build the switching module to go to that interchange.
    And again, part of the goal is to build a round the round 4x6. That's part of the goal. To in fact build one close to what the Yule Central is.

Share This Page