Layout Reverse Engineering

Donstaff Oct 23, 2020

  1. Donstaff

    Donstaff TrainBoard Member

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    I bought my layout in a pretty much "finished" state. All of the trackwork with the exception of the Pigeon Mountain loop, which I added, was already in when I when I moved it into my garage. By the time I got it, it had been built and left behind by a man who has since moved on to an eternal pike. Oh how I wish that I could have asked him what he had dreamed of his original track plan. Which brings me to the purpose of this thread: What do you think the designer might have had in mind for operations on this layout?
     

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  2. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    I don't know about everyone else, but yellow on lime green does not show well on my laptop, and the resolution is not sufficient to read many of the industries, etc.

    What era is it? Would the local move cars directly between local industries on its route, or would everything be to/from the yard? Off-layout suppliers or consumers would definitely go through the yard to (dis)assemble the trains to/from elsewhere (e.g. staging).

    It's best to make a list of each rail-served industry, what they might have shipped in or out by rail, and where it might be to or from. Then go from there, with the answers to the above questions in mind.
     
  3. Donstaff

    Donstaff TrainBoard Member

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    Logging Loop 10_23_2020.png Thanks BigJake,
    Can't do anything with the seaolution, but I will upload a drawing with white lettering.
    I don't know what the designer had in mind for eta, but with the turntable and intermodal areas, I'd guess, maybe in a stretch, late, late 50s.
    Don
     

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  4. Mr. Trainiac

    Mr. Trainiac TrainBoard Member

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    I think the transition era is a safe guess. Does it come with structures or scenery? That may be another indicator of timeframe. The curves look kind of tight, which would lend themselves to smaller early- to mid-century cars. The density of track also lends itself to older layouts. Modern-era layouts tend to have more minimalist and pared-down track plans. While I would not call this a spaghetti-bowl, it is still a more 'classic' design. The original owner probably intended for it to be 1940's to 50's. Layout design seems to have gone more towards 'against the wall' and away from 'board' style. It dates the layout, but also makes you think about what models the first owner would have wanted to use.

    In terms of operation, I am not sure. The yard seems a little on the small side, and the number of switchbacks it takes for a locomotive to get to the roundhouse basically mean the track after Y18 has to stay clear. To put cars in Y14 or Y17 (what are those for anyways?) pretty much means the switcher is operating from the bottom of the yard. The yard also lacks a lead, which means you are fouling the branch to Pidgeon Mountain to switch the yard.

    I imagine the yard assembles trains that get sent to the Hanover district. You could also have 'locals' move cars between Hanover and New Oxford. You may also be able to have transfer runs between the intermodal facility and the yard. If you add a circus-style ramp or team track to Pidgeon Mountain or Hanover, you could have a place to send trailers to. Right now, the intermodal yard has no destination. If the layout is 1940's or 50's, overhead cranes have not been invented yet. Trailers are loaded by driving the tractor onto the flatcar (circus loading). You may want to redesign the intermodal yard for that. Right now, it looks like it is for side-loading.

    What is Pidgeon Mountain for? It could be set up as a logging district, where cars loaded and then sent to be staged in the yard and sent to an industry on the left side of the layout. I cannot read a lot of the labels still, but that lake could be a perfect log pond, and the big building there could be a mill. Planks or logs could go to another industry on the layout in open log cars or boxcars for cut planks. Maybe the buildings in New Oxford are a paper plant to receive them.

    With a freelance layout, all you have to do is have some creativity. You could make modifications to add new industries or modify the car spots. A lot of them look like small one-track industries (another transition-era sign). You could expand New Oxford or Hanover into a major facility by consolidating the multiple small industries into one large one with multiple types of cars coming in and going out.

    Some of the tracks seem kind of redundant, like how West Hanover has a circle of track going around it for no reason. If you turned that whole peninsula into a major metropolis (think concrete jungle here, not midwest pastoral town), you could keep that loop and use if for streetcars. As-is, it doesn't do anything. I think there are too many loops. It looks like Hanover was the original layout that was expanded. You have a large loop that goes around Hanover and Berlin Junction, which is good for just letting trains run, but if you got rid of the left leg of the wye there, it would require a backing movement to send cars from Hanover to New Oxford. That could make operations more interesting, but keeping the right leg of the wye allows the trains to still get to the other side of the layout without having to back up. It spares the mainline trains passing through, while it makes local operations there more challenging by preventing the local crew from just going clockwise around the left side of the layout to get to New Oxford.

    What is against the wall? The reach to the yard and to West Hanover seems like a huge one. Unless New Oxford and West Hanover have access (aisle on the very left side), I can see operations there as a huge inconvenience (another reason the 'board' style layout is going out of style).

    This was a lot of text, but it may be a start. This may not be what the original owner intended, but you can make they layout work however you want.
     
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  5. S t e f a n

    S t e f a n TrainBoard Member

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    I'd guess the original owner planned for some 'around the loop(s)' operation, and left ample space within the loops for scenery/landscaping/structures.
    I'm also pretty sure he'd be happy with anything you decide to do with his layout, as long as you do something.

    Don't forget to build the wall to the left of East Berlin, and the minefield just to the right of Abbitstown. That will keep your operators on their toes...
     
    HemiAdda2d likes this.
  6. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

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    I agree. Seeing the white lettering on green is very difficult. Even on my larger desk top screen. Thanks for trying.
     
  7. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    [​IMG]

    Not sure if the above helps or not but a little darker green. Not too many options with the white track.

    I like all the industries and such to work. Lots of options to keep one real busy,

    Sumner
     
  8. Donstaff

    Donstaff TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the very helpfull comments. I upgraded the drawing with a darker background. Also includes a shot of the original designer's locomotives and rolling stock that I got with the purchase. Maybe this will be another clue to his original intent.

    Don
     

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    Shortround likes this.
  9. Mr. Trainiac

    Mr. Trainiac TrainBoard Member

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    The original collector sure was precise. All of those railroads are what make up the Chessie System. The layout might be set right before the merger happened. You can securely say the layout is East Coast at least. You don't have to follow a date exactly, but the Western Maryland hood unit is a GP38-2. Those were introduced in the early 70's, but you could probably go back to late 60's and not many people would say anything. There are also a few cars with Hydra Cushion logos (SP double door) and the yellow B&O boxcar on the top row also has a cushion underframe logo. Those are started to be introduced in the mid 50's. The WM with the DF logo might be another 50's car. The DF is a loading device. A lot of the boxcars are AAR or PS-1, I don't know when those started to get phased out, but 60's is probably a safe time frame for the layout. Chessie System formed in 1973, so you definitely want to be before then.
     
  10. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the upgrade of the image. It is much easy to read.
    You got an excellent deal. Much like I would like to build. My N gauge was mostly '60s and HO is later. Both DC diesel and DCC stream so looking at a simple layout for those.
     
  11. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    I'd be interested in how the following reversing sections are wired or how someone would wire them....

    [​IMG]

    Above there seems to be three places where a train could be reversed. The lower right black one is inside the larger purple one. The purple one looks fairly easys to take care of with the long straight stretch at the top where the polarity could be reversed.

    [​IMG]
    The lower one seems a little more difficult as there isn't much in the way of longer track sections where a train would fit in them during the polarity reversing. Maybe the section by EB Logging Company?

    [​IMG]

    Finally the section above also presents kind of the same problem. Would one make the reversing section the track above and to the right of Midway Intermodal?? I don't see a section that could handle a very long train but maybe I'm missing something. I'm assuming the squares are a foot?

    Don have you gotten to the wiring yet and know how the previous owner wired those sections? I might have something similar going on so I'm curious as to how the reversing sections were handled?

    Sumner
     
  12. Donstaff

    Donstaff TrainBoard Member

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    Whow!! Thanks so much to everyone commenting on this thread. I still haven't absorbed all of the comments yet, but I'd like to submit yet another drawing. This drawing shows all of my layout including the white walkways. This is important in that it shows that the back (north) edge of the layout is flush with the wall and that there as walkway access on both sides of the yard.

    Don
     

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  13. Donstaff

    Donstaff TrainBoard Member

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    Following up on some of what Mr. Trainiac said on Friday at 8:32 pm, as for the yard, I can only guess from the loose parts that I got, that
    Y14 access sand & water or coaling tower and cinder conveyor and Y15 & Y17 access coaling tower and cinder convayor., and that Y18 accesses sand, water & diesel fueling pad.
    # There is operator access to the yard from both sides.
    # The stub track alongside the runthrough building that I assume is for RIP, might be a caboose track.
    # Pidgeon Mountain, (still under construction,) will be a logging district, serving a saw mill and lumber yard along the river. Everything to the left of switch #14 will be a reversing loop controlled by a DC Specialist PSX-ARSC snap coil auto reverser circuit. This will enable trains to go through the loop's mainline unattended.
    # On the left or "west" side, there is a Team Track & overhead crane at Hanover.
    # The large building with the two stubbs at the extreme northwest is called Cintinial Mils.
     
  14. Donstaff

    Donstaff TrainBoard Member

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    Following up on Sumner's questions about the 3 reversing loop's: The loop circled in red extends from the right end of the bridge connecting the two sides of the layout westward to include both outlets from switch #2. It is serviced by am MRC520 reversing module. The Pigeon Mountain loop, circled in black is still under construction, and will be serviced by a DC Specialist PSX-ARSC snap coil auto reverser circuit that will enable trains to go through the loop's mainline and back to the yard in the opposite direction, unattended. The yard/mountain area that you circled in violet is a good question. I did not realize, until you mentioned it, that I technically had a loop within a loop. I have no idea what to expect!
     
  15. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    I might be wrong but I'm thinking the same reverser used for the 'red' area will take care of it also. Thanks for the update. Interesting track plan and I like it and think it will be a lot of fun to operate,

    Sumner
     
  16. Dave1905

    Dave1905 TrainBoard Member

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    There are really only two reversing tracks in the whole thing. The right leg of the wye in the red circle and the loop in the black circle. The problematic one is the wye. The black loop is easy, you just insulate all 4 rails from the frog end of the #14 switch and control the polarity of the loop with a switch or a DCC auto reverser.
    The wye is tricky because the place the train reverses is between the #2 and the #8 switch. But that is short, so there is the possibility that the train will have wheels going over both sets of gaps at the same time, which will result in shorts or messing with the reverser. So you will probably have to make the reversing section from the from the #7 (insulate diverging rails), #8 (insulate diverging rails) and #9 (insulate all rails off the frog) switches. That way you get a full train length of track in the reversing section.
     
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  17. Donstaff

    Donstaff TrainBoard Member

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    Actually, I think that since the mountain loop will be isolated from the yard, that the yard will not be a loop at all. The four insulated rail joiners that isolate the mountain loop are on the diverging legs of switch #14.
    One issue that I have not solved, though, is with my Rapido TurboTrain. Even though it is way shorter than the length of the RED reversing section, it cannot negotiate that section without shorting. I think that since it has engines at both ends with all lighted cars, it cannot work on a reversing loop. I can't get Rapido to return my calls.
     
  18. Donstaff

    Donstaff TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks Dave1905. Could you illustrate what you mean by "So you will probably have to make the reversing section from the from the #7 (insulate diverging rails), #8 (insulate diverging rails) and #9 (insulate all rails off the frog) switches?"

    Don
     
  19. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks Dave, that helps a lot. Could you also insulate #3 divergent route and #2 divergent along with the #7 divergent?

    Sumner
     
  20. Donstaff

    Donstaff TrainBoard Member

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    Sumner,

    Following up on the last part of your 10:40 pm thread from yesterday:

    "Finally the section above also presents kind of the same problem. Would one make the reversing section the track above and to the right of Midway Intermodal?? I don't see a section that could handle a very long train but maybe I'm missing something. I'm assuming the squares are a foot?

    Don have you gotten to the wiring yet and know how the previous owner wired those sections? I might have something similar going on so I'm curious as to how the reversing sections were handled?"

    I do have the wye wired with an MRC AD520. The isolated section is within yellow circle in the attached drawing, and it works fine with everything but the Rapido TurboTrain.

    Don
     

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    Sumner likes this.

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