Denali Subdivision - A Freelanced BNSF Logistics Park Layout

Denali_Subdivision Dec 27, 2022

  1. Denali_Subdivision

    Denali_Subdivision TrainBoard Member

    Hello everyone, I am starting a new modular layout in N scale loosely based off of a BNSF Logistics Park. When I say loosely, I mean very loosely, meaning literally just an idea that was sparked from doing research on BNSF lines. It follows no particular real life prototype, rather my own designs based around the large industries I am interested in modeling. BNSF has 3 Logistics Parks in the US according to their website, so I am going to just say this one is the 4th... lol

    I am calling it the Denali Subdivision. When you think of Denali, you may be thinking the Denali Mountains, and you would be correct, however that is not where I got my inspiration for the name. Denali is name of my trucking company, Denali Transport, that I operate here in SoCal. The trucking company name was originally inspired with the purchase of my 2020 GMC Sierra 3500HD Denali pickup truck to start a car hauling business back in 2020. I thought how cool would that be, Denali Transport and the truck doing the hauling is an actual Denali! Well I bought the truck, got a trailer, and started the company up. I ran that Denali dually for about a year and a half with my 5 car trailer hauling salvage vehicles. In July of 2022, I graduated and upgraded the equipment to the next level, having bought a 2019 Mack Anthem and 2022 Hyundai 53' Dryvan trailer. And yes, of coarse my company logo includes a mountain lol. Anyways, thats a little backstory on the inspiration for the naming of my n scale modular layout.

    The layout will feature a 9 track (roughly 12') classification yard where incoming trains from the BNSF Branchline can be broken down, and re-assembled for local switching in the Logistics Park spurs. The layout features 8 large industries that include the following from left to right:
    1. Auto Parts Manufacturing Facility
    2. Gypsum Manufacturing Facility
    3. Bakery & Milling Facility
    4. Intermodal Yard (roughly 14')
      • 5 Track Loading/Unloading
      • 5 Track Arrival/Departure Yard
    5. ADM Grain Facility
    6. Paper Mill Facility
    7. Cargill Chocolate Manufacturing Facility
    8. US Steel Facility, Buildings include the following:
      • Electric Arc Furnace
      • Continuous Caster & Reversing Mill
      • Structural Beam Mill
      • Pipe & Rod Mill
      • Coil & Plate Mill
    Smaller industries and buildings include a small lumber distributor located over by the steel facility, a Engine Maintenance & Fueling Facility as well as a Rail Car Repair shop at the right end of the classification yard.

    it has taken me several months and maybe even the better part of a year to get to a point that I am happy enough with to start building, and even to this day I find myself making changes. Ive designed the layout using Rail Modeller Pro track planning software. The module dimensions are mostly 30"x48" but some of them are different sizes/shapes to accommodate the needs of extra real estate for certain facilities. If all of the modules were assembled at once (which I hope to someday be able to do) it would stretch out to be 36' with the left end L being 4' and the right end L being 11'. Mainly I have intentions of operating a few modules at a time right now givin the lack of available space, which means that I will not really be able to make actual use of the classification yard, but thats okay for now. All modules have a 1" foam base ontop of the tabletop. I wont be using trackbed, rather just laying track directly on the foam base. All track is code 55, flex track is Atlas and turnouts (including curved) are Atlas #7's. Double crossovers, double slips, and 3-ways are Peco Code 55. Minimum radius is 15" everywhere but the steel mill facility, some tracks in the facility that will have shorter length rolling stock are as small as 12.5" radius in some areas.

    Here are some zoomed out screen shots of the modules showing the trackplan and various industries starting from left to right. The last one being a zoomed out overall shot. As I work on each module, I will post zoomed in trackwork screenshots of each particular module.

    Screen Shot 2022-12-26 at 9.52.46 PM.png
    Screen Shot 2022-12-26 at 9.53.13 PM.png Screen Shot 2022-12-26 at 9.54.32 PM.png Screen Shot 2022-12-26 at 9.54.56 PM.png Screen Shot 2022-12-26 at 9.59.29 PM.png

    This will be it for post #1. Next post will be the starting of Module #4, the Bakery & Milling Facility
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2022
  2. Denali_Subdivision

    Denali_Subdivision TrainBoard Member

    Ive decided to start with the Bakery & Milling Facility Modules, which are Module #'s 4&5. These modules also include the start to the east end of the classification yard, and the start of the east end of the Intermodal yard. I decided to start with these two modules because I already had most of the structure kits for these modules and a fresh idea in my mind of how I wanted to kitbash to make the main structure for the Bakery & Milling Facility.

    Here is a screenshot from the track plan for these two modules

    Screen Shot 2022-12-27 at 11.25.07 AM.png

    The Bakery & Milling facility main structure is kitbashed using 4 Walthers Red Wing Milling Company kits. it features 4 rail car entrances and multiple types of rail cars can be spotted to different parts of the facility. From left to right, the main building features the following switching operations
    1. Corn Syrup Receiving for tank cars
    2. Door #1 - Bulk Dry Additives Receiving for boxcars
    3. Bulk Dry Additives Receiving (outside) for covered hoppers
    4. Door #2 - Bulk Liquid Additives Receiving (inside & outside) for tank cars
    5. Door #3 - Flour Shipping Warehouse for boxcars
    6. Door #4 - Frozen Goods Shipping Warehouse for reefer cars
    To the far right of the main mill building is the main shipping warehouse where a variety of finished bakery goods are shipped. It features 4 boxcar docks and 7 Truck Loading docks. Below the main mill building is a Bulk Bagged Additives Warehouse. This warehouse will have a covered overhead conveyor connecting it to the main mill. It has 3 boxcar doors and 8 truck docks.

    Next to the Bagged Additives warehouse is a Beverage Distributor that is not related to the Bakery Facility, its just a fill in structure that shares some real estate with the facility. The truck loading dock area will share the same space and utilize a parking lot entrance that comes from the far left end of the bakery facility (located on module #3) between it and US Gypsum. There is also some empty real estate to the far right of Bakery/Milling Facility for possible future expansion to the facility or the location for perhaps another small non-rail served industry.

    Track color code is as follows:
    • White tracks - Bakery/Milling Facility
    • Light Blue tracks - BNSF West Industrial Spur
    • Red track - Run-Around/Siding for Industrial Spur
    • Yellow tracks - Classification Yard
    • Brown track - BNSF Branchline (from local Interchange at BNSF Main Rail Yard)
    • Gray tracks - US Gypsum Facility
    • Dark Gray tracks - Intermodal Facility
    MetraMan01, Dogwood, DeaconKC and 8 others like this.
  3. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

    Is the room outline the extent of the grid shown in the last, overall view, or is there more space available than shown?

    If the grid background is the room outline, then 1 foot, as apparent from the grid, around the left end, and less behind, is not enough room to access the end and rear of the the layout. 24" clearance is the minimum recommended, and that's just for one person (single file in and out of there) The reach is way too deep in many areas to provide access with any dexterity to place and/or re-rail a loco or railcar.

    The reach to the rear tracks of the classification yard is also too far with no access from behind.

    If you cannot provide the room around and behind the layout, I would strongly suggest acquiring a topside creeper. Or reduce the size of the layout to provide adequate access.

    Otherwise, I see a run-around running at the lower right end, but none at the upper left, prohibiting any continuous running. If wanting to show your layout to guests, the ability for continuous running while you explain the layout and operations, is nice to have.
    MetraMan01, badlandnp and BNSF FAN like this.
  4. gmorider

    gmorider TrainBoard Member

    Very interesting. Also HUGE!
  5. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

    Another thought...

    When you have tracks that cross a module boundary at different angles, it makes it very difficult to join all the tracks when you assemble the modules together.
    MetraMan01 and BNSF FAN like this.
  6. Denali_Subdivision

    Denali_Subdivision TrainBoard Member

    Last week I started construction on Module #4. The rough structures have been completed and laid/drawn out on the foam, and then the track plan was precisely measured out from the track planning software and transferred onto the pink foam so I could lay out the track and glue it in place.

    All of the track and turnouts for Module #4 are completed and glued down as of now. Feeders were installed during the track laying process and wires were drilled through the base and left hanging for completion later on.

    Next step with the trackwork will be to drill holes and install servo motors under the tabletop for each switch. After that I will be ready to to air brush paint/weather all the track in preparation for ballasting.

    Here are some pictures of the progress so far on Module #4

    IMG_1713.JPG IMG_1714.JPG

    These two show the views from the left and right side of the module

    The Beverage Distributor building, kitbashed from 3 Walthers Steel Warehouse & Transload Warehouse kits. 9 Truck Loading Docks & 2 Boxcar Loading Docks


    The Bulk Bagged Additives Warehouse. 8 Truck Loading Docks & 3 Boxcar Loading Docks. Also has 2 large door openings on the backside of the truck docks, one of which will have a concrete loading dock ramp, the other will not. The truck yard pavement has been laid in place, and a curb has been poured along the edge. A chain-link fence will be installed here along this curb, and a yard entrance/gate will be installed to the far left. Yard pavement will need to be painted, then striped for dock lanes, and then finally weathered

    The backside of the Bulk Additives Warehouse with the boxcar docks. The left track is the corn syrup unloading track, and the middle track where the two dummy SD35 Chassis are is the locomotive escape track for the facility when doing run-arounds.

    Looking down the bakery facility trackage. You can see the starting construction for the main shipping warehouse to the far right. Two of the 4 main mill tracks have been laid in place. The other 2 as well as the main shipping warehouse track to the right will be laid in place when work begins on module #5.

    Arial view of the Main Mill Building. As mentioned, it is kitbashed from 4 Walthers Red Wing Milling company kits. The 4 large silos on the left end of the building are cut down HO scale from the Walthers Plastic Pellet Transfer Facility kit.

    Keep in mind the buildings are all still in the construction stage, they are just rough mockups/shells still. Joints will be filled or hidden as best as possible before painting and other building details are applied and weathering is done.

    More progress to come soon!
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2022
  7. Denali_Subdivision

    Denali_Subdivision TrainBoard Member

    Thank you for the reply Andy! I appreciate your insight and suggestions! To answer your questions, this is not going to be a permanent setup for any particular room. In other words, there will be no walls on either side of the modules. You will be able to walk all the way around the modules that are connected to each other at any given time. My intentions are to hook a few of them up together at a time and do some switching on whatever industries I feel like. For now, at least for the foreseeable future, I will not have a space long enough to be able to connect all these modules together and operate them all at the same time. One day I hope to be able to do so, but my thoughts were for now to just setup a few of them at a time in the backyard or garage, somewhere with plenty of space to be able to get around all sides when setup.

    The plan does also not feature any continuous running opportunities, as my main focus is switching and operations. I may some day add onto the far left end of the layout where the auto plant is and add another loop there if I do want to do continuous running one day, assuming I have a space large enough to set them all up at the same time.

    Thank you! I have always been fascinated by large industries, and unfortunately even in N scale they still take up alot of real estate to give the right feel in my opinion.

    Yes indeed you are correct. Ive struggled with that in the past when building HO scale modules. However I am using Kam Konnect modules, they feature a "Cam" lock that turns and locks into the adjacent module, as well as several large dowel pins for perfect alignment every time. Ive used these for several modules before and always had my tracks line up flawlessly. I can post some photos of the cam locks and module ends if you'd like a closer look. They are not the cheapest way to go about module building, but in my opinion are well worth it and they are a great company to work with.

    In the photos above, you'll notice on the left end of the module, I stopped short with the tracks. On the right end of the module, I let them hang over. This is because I will be working on the adjacent module to the right next, and the left adjacent module in the future. The module to the right, when connected, I will finish gluing the tracks down and then once dry use a dremel to carefully cut the tracks/rails at the joint. The module to the left, those tracks will be finished once that module is started. As long as the tracks are glued properly and remain secure, they line up every time without issue. The key is getting them glued down so they dont come loose at the ends, and then being extra careful not to snag the edges when handling them. Of coarse, things happen and its always possible one will become loose over time. Just something you inevitably will have to deal with when building a layout with modules.
  8. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

    Ambitious...I like it !! (y)(y):D
  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    This will certainly be different from almost all other layouts!
  10. pomperaugrr

    pomperaugrr TrainBoard Member

    I am a huge fan of model industries that look like they justify rail traffic. You are doing very well in that regard. Truck and vehicle access to industries is also vital and you have that down too! I am looking forward to watching your progress!
  11. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

    The truck docks are REALLY crowded, with barely space for a street alongside the tracks to access the area, and no place to turn around (to back up to the opposing docks on the right.) Could you cut off the front end of the right warehouse to provide a space to pull past the driveway between the two sets of docks, and back into them from there? Otherwise a driver would have to back all the way in from off the module.

    Sure, drivers can and do back there rigs into long, tight spaces, but usually for one-off pick-ups and deliveries, not for a busy warehouse/transload complex. Only one truck at a time can effectively maneuver like that, which reduces throughput, causing docks to lay idle, which begs the question about why so many docks are there in the first place.

    But it makes for an impressive display space for your truck/trailer models!
    BNSF FAN, DeaconKC and badlandnp like this.
  12. badlandnp

    badlandnp TrainBoard Member

    Impressive! There will be a lot of fun both building it, and then operating it! For hours of fun run time!! So many switching opportunities and puzzles to solve! And it is all done up in such a small space.

    The only suggestion I have is for your locomotive service and maint area. Usually the fuel and service pit is a run through, as units enter and then leave again very quickly. Then the Maintenance building will be at the end of the stub tracks for more in depth maintenance. Just swapping the locations with what you have would make that more prototypical.
    BNSF FAN and BigJake like this.
  13. DeaconKC

    DeaconKC TrainBoard Member

    You are showcasing N scale's greatest advantage by having full size industries to be serviced. As far as crowded truck dock areas, I ran a warehouse facility on the South Side of Chicago many decades ago, and many truck areas are just as crowded as the ones you have underway. It took really good drivers to work their trucks into many of the docks. Looking forward to following your progress.
  14. Eugen Haenseler

    Eugen Haenseler TrainBoard Member

    You are ont the right line!
    I also like buildings they are scratch built or kitbashed.
    That looks so real!
    Keeb your work go one!!!
    MetraMan01 and BNSF FAN like this.
  15. Denali_Subdivision

    Denali_Subdivision TrainBoard Member

    Thank you guys!!

    Thank you! As am I, I would rather have less buildings to sacrifice for larger structures. Its really a problem when I build in HO scale. a 30"x48" module can easily be swallowed by 1 large warehouse. I was working on a couple of them about a year ago but stopped on them for now to start the N scale stuff. I had 2 modules started that housed 2 LARGE warehouse buildings, one of them had over 50 truck docks on it with a large trailer storage yard. If I get some time, I will post a new thread to show those as well. Unfortunately I had to put those in storage when I moved and have not been able to work on them since so I only have pictures that I took a year or two ago.
  16. in2tech

    in2tech TrainBoard Member

    @Denali_Subdivision You too must have really good wood working skills? I envy you folk's that have that talent as well as the tools to do so. As far as trucks not being to turn around and such, we have to give up a lot in our attempt to make scenes in model railroads. Almost all of them are static, so things never really move. You just have to live with what the hobby gives. And yours looks awesome! Can't wait to see it progress!

    So I am a little confused? You said you don't have the room to set them all up as in the original plan at the start. But are you going to build them all, and store them? And bring out certain ones to work on or run trains on? Or just these two until you have more room in the future?

    Amazing work!
    MetraMan01, badlandnp and BNSF FAN like this.
  17. Denali_Subdivision

    Denali_Subdivision TrainBoard Member

    Andy, I appreciate your attention to detail and suggestions. While this area is very tight and crowded for trucks, it will have to remain this way. I am an owner operator here in SoCal, I pickup from warehouses in the LA and Orange County area that are very challenging to get in and out of. Before I pickup or deliver to a location, I always look at google maps and get an areal view of the location and plot my arrival. Upon arriving, if it is not 100% clear on where I need to go, I park on the street and get out and walk to find where I need to go. There is nothing worse then pulling your truck into a space and then realizing you cant turn around and have to back up back to the street. This is the biggest mistake I see from alot of truck drivers, especially in areas where streets are tight and buildings are very close together.

    There is one place in particular that comes to mind that I pickup from on a regular basis where turning around at the docks is not physically possible with a sleeper and 53' trailer, it is also very tough to pull straight in and back into the docks because there is not much room between the dock and their yard fence. They also store pallets and storage containers against the fence, which take up alot of room that should be left for trucks to turn around and maneuver. Nearly everyone who pulls into the yard head first attempts to turn around and ends up having to back out of the yard and snake their way back out the driveway onto the street. To add to the complicated extremely tight situation, the building is located at the end of a narrow street with a cul-de-sac just passed the driveway to the yard. It is barely wide enough to turn around in, and it always seems that someone has parked their car in the way. Its a very busy pickup hotspot, being a Frito-Lay warehouse, where trucks come in and out several per hour. Because there are so many trucks, and everyone has to park on the street, and it being a narrow street when there are trucks parked on either side you have to drive down the center double yellow lines. If someone is coming the other way, one of you is backup out of the way... The building has 9 docks, but they only use 2-3 of them for pickups and deliveries. The others either have dropped trailers or the docks are blocked with pallet storage/other junk. To add to the challenge, if you are un-lucky enough to get door 0-0 or 0-1, which is the furthest docks in the tiny yard, there is 0% chance you can pull head in the yard and make it into those docks. You must back into the yard from the street to get into those. If you are lucky, they assign you dock 8 or 9 which is closest to the street and allows you to blind-side back into if you do choose to pull head in the yard. Regardless of the dock # I get, I always pull past their driveway into the cul-de-sac and back into the yard, its just easier and less frustrating. The other fun part is leaving, when you go to leave, there is almost always a truck parked on the opposite side of the street from the driveway, and you cannot make the turn to get out of the yard without them moving. Best part is, its a red curb, but that never stops anyone LOL. The amount of trucks that honk pulling out of the yard is great.

    While this is only one such situation with incredibly tight docks, there are many buildings out there like this, where it takes truckers working together for things to flow. Ive also been to places where they instruct you to drop your trailer and they utilize a yard dog to dock the trailer for you because its just that tight and they dont want truckers hitting things. I realize that my particular setup may be even more tight when scaled out, but maybe I will have a couple yard dogs here to help get those trailers into the tight docks. Those yard dog operators are good and can turn a 53' trailer around or into a tight spot with ease.

    To your question about cutting off the right warehouse, it wouldnnt be a bad idea but I honestly dont feel like taking apart that building and changing its geometry again. Those Walthers kits for the new Steel Warehouse kits are not very kitbash friendly like the concrete style kits. An alternative to changing the footprint would be to maybe just not use the first couple docks on that side of the right building. Maybe utilize that for some pallet storage or a dumpster, something that would leave it mostly open for a truck to pull straight in and back down the alley between the two buildings.

    Thank you!! I will look into your suggestion about the fueling and maintenance facility. Easy to make changes to that now as I have not started those modules yet LOL

    Thank you! Its part of the reason I decided to start in N scale. While I love HO scale and thats what I have modeled and collected over the past 15 years, I just dont have the room at the time for the large buildings I want to create. Plus, who doesnt want to model in two different scales???? LOL

    Thank you! I really enjoy kitbashing and scratch building into larger buildings. The Walthers kits do make great starting points, I only wish they would offer more of them then whats currently available. Its frustrating they dont offer the same kits that they do in HO scale, but they do seem to be making an effort to provide more in the last couple years.
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  18. Denali_Subdivision

    Denali_Subdivision TrainBoard Member

    Thank you for the kind words! I must admit thought, I did not build the modules. They are made by a company called Kam Konnect. Great company and great modules, however they are a little pricey if you are only buying 1 or two at a time because of shipping. I bought 6 of them at once to help justify the shipping.

    My uncle is a carpenter and general contractor and was over one day and saw the modules. He was very impressed and thought I built them as well. When I told him I bought them he said "dude, I could make those easy for you" lol. So, I will be having him make me some in the near future and investing in the same Cam Locks to mate up with my current modules.

    And yes, I will only be setting up a few modules at a time to operate them. I do plan to keep building them as I finish a couple at a time and just store them though. Im trying to make all the buildings removable so I can take them off and safely store them without risking crushing or damaging them. That in itself is going to be a project considering their size and level of details I plan to incorporate.
    MetraMan01, in2tech and BNSF FAN like this.
  19. Denali_Subdivision

    Denali_Subdivision TrainBoard Member

    Update for the last couple days. Ive started work on Module #5. This module contains the tracks leading into the Bakery/Milling facility, the start of the east end classification yard, as well as the start of the intermodal yard.

    Screen Shot 2022-12-30 at 12.13.27 PM.png

    I started to lay the track on this module 2 nights ago and realized I needed to make a change to the diamond and 3 sets of double slip switches. If you look close at the above picture where the left of the diamond is, you will see a yellow circle which indicates the track is not connected. Before the revision there were several of these circles and I had planned to just modify the turnouts to fit when installing them on the module. It also had a 22.5 degree diamond and I ended up needing a 11.5 degree diamond instead. This changed the projections of the tracks and I needed to stop and go back to the trackplan to update the changes I had just had to make on the module to ensure the rest of the yard tracks would still work. The photo above is the revision with new alignments and 11.5 degree diamond. It pushed the double crossover to the west as well. For the most part, this change did not effect much in the way of body track alignment in the yard.

    One other thing I will say, having to use Peco Code 55 double slips and double crossovers, they do stand out and not necessarily in a good way in my opinion. They are totally different tie spacing, and the ties themselves are thicker which makes them taller then the Atlas track. I understand that this is because they are based off of European tracks and standards. Its also a bummer that they chose to double code the turnout and sink the rail into the ties to make it look like Code 55, when in reality its code 80 rail being used. The double web'ed rail is awkward and a pain in the ass to deal with when connecting them to Atlas track.

    I tried to snip off the rail at the first web to slide a code 55 joiner on, and while it worked, it required quite a bit of work and filing to achieve. On the upside, it puts the rails nearly flush with each other. I also tried slipping Atlas code 80 rail joiners (I do not have any Peco C55/80 joiners at the moment) on the peco rail ends, they are not easy to get on despite having read several places that they can be used. I found I had to file the rail webs on the sides for them to fit on, then mash the remaining part of the rail joiner so that I can solder the atlas code 55 rail ontop to make it flush. Either way, its alot of work, and I wish that they would just make a rail joiner for this specific situation. I cant be the only one using Atlas and Peco code 55 together after all lol. On the upside, the peco turnout quality is excellent and I love the solid feeling of the snap switch points.

    Here are a couple photos of the progress so far on Module #5. Nothing is glued down yet on this module as I am still plotting track and pinning/marking it in place. Once it is all laid out, then I will start gluing and dropping feeders down. Im about 65% done thus far as far as laying the track out.

    IMG_1726.JPG IMG_1727.JPG
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  20. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

    Forget the tracks, love the Birch aircraft plywood! :love:
    Kurt Moose and DeaconKC like this.

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