N Scale PRR Track Plan

eric220 Nov 18, 2010

  1. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    For those of you who don't check in on the N Scale forum, I've got an unfinished basement that is in the process of being finished. The primary purpose of this new room is to house my vision for the transcontinental Pennsylvania Railroad. The details are posted under this thread.

    PRR Track Plan

    Here's the overview:

    Lower Level
    [​IMG]

    Upper Level
    [​IMG]

    The grid is 24". The only major change from the tour in the other thread is the addition of a scene that I completely forgot that I wanted to include: track pans. They are slated to go in near Walnut Hill on the second level.
     
  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Seeing photos of your traffic flowing around Horseshoe Curve will be a wow type of view!

    Boxcab E50
     
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  3. Harron

    Harron TrainBoard Supporter

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    I see in your other thread you had concerns about Paradise Yard. I have some as well. I assume based on the size of this layout you are looking at multiple operators and arriving/departing trains in both directions on all 4 mainlines. So here are some comments on the yard as it sits based solely on how it will work in your layout.

    I am going to number your mainlines around horseshoe as 1 (aisle) thru 4 (backdrop).

    A/D tracks.
    -Inbound trains on mainline 1 will loop around the roundhouse and pull in to the A/D yard, cut power away, clear the classification ladder then head straight to the house.
    -Outbound trains for mainline 2-4 will reverse this process.
    -Inbound trains on mainline 2-4 will pull into the A/D yard, cut power away, then either have to run down a clear A/D track to come up the ladder or loop around the house on the main to get to the house.
    -Outbound trains for mainline 1 will reverse this process.

    Would it be possible to run a track off ladder from the A/D yard and connect it with the house lead that comes off the classification ladder? Sort of an engine escape/return track.

    Class Yard
    Where is your switching lead? Is it the house lead or #2 main??
    -If you couple on to the right side of a train in the A/D yard, then haul it to the right far enough to clear your rightmost ladder and start classifying then you are halfway to horseshoe on #2 main.
    -If you switch with the house lead, you either need to pull the train to the right then run around it in the class yard, or run the power around the house/through an empty A/D track and shove it toward the class yard. Either way you are blocking the house while you switch.

    So some things to think about.

    What if you swapped the A/D and Class yards? Think about your operation then. Would that make more sense? If that were the case you may want to move a few crossovers around.
     
  4. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    Mostly, I'm probably going to be operating by myself, possibly with some computer control. I would like to be set up for multiple operators, but it's not the focus right now. The layout is really not quad-track; it's a double track main, even around The Curve. Using your numbering, at the Curve, track 1 is the westbound main (I know that's backwards), track 2 is the yard lead, track 3 is the eastbound main, and track 4 is a branch line for coal to move between the small coal yard at Paradise and the mine at Panther Creek.

    All mainline trains will enter the yard from the eastbound main (track 3). Any trains that are running wrong-way will cross over at Panther Creek. Once power is cut off, it will leave the yard to the east and run around the roundhouse. Outbound power can either reverse the process or run up the east class ladder. Trains departing from the west end of the yard will depart on track 2, crossing onto the westbound main (track 1) at Panther Creek. Trains departing from the east end of the yard will depart onto the mainline at the turnaround around the roundhouse, ending up on the westbound main (track 1).

    Certainly possible. I'll think about it, but I'm not sure that it's going to add enough to be worth the trouble of shoe-horning it in at this point. Though I do have to say, the more I think about it, the more I like it.

    I think I've more or less already answered these, but to restate, track 2 is the primary yard lead. If you follow it around, immediately after the crossovers at Panther Creek, it disappears (as in terminates) inside a tunnel. Horseshoe Curve is a two track main with a yard lead between and a branch line on the outside, all grouped together to give the appearance of a four-track main.

    Interesting idea... I see three potential problems:
    1. The curved yard is longer than the straight yard, and the A/D tracks are going to double as visible staging.
    2. If I use the curved yard as the class yard, it becomes single-ended. Switching on the east end would not be possible without going onto the main. There's not enough room to add a meaningful lead.
    3. Switching on the west end of the curved yard could easily wind up blocking the west ladder on the straight yard

    Overall some interesting thoughts. Thanks!
     
  5. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    That's the goal! :tb-biggrin:
     
  6. Harron

    Harron TrainBoard Supporter

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    You certainly could keep a dozen people or more busy with this kind of layout. At least 2 working the yard and a dispatcher plus all the jobs over the road.

    Your plan is very solid operationally, but I would certainly not be so restrictive. While the #4 mainline is primarily the coal line, there is certainly no reason you couldn't come in on track 4 while simultaneously going out on track 3 and switching off track 2. My real job is dispatching trains. You give me 4 tracks and a universal crossover on one end of them - they'll all get used. And that will happen if/when you move to multiple operators.

    The reason I brought up that escape track is twofold. First you have a small tail at the east end of the A/D yard that looks like an engine pocket but will see very minimal use since it isn't a class yard. Second, you have passenger operations. These will certainly be bypassing the yard and ducking out on the main to get from the A/D to the house will be a complication.

    Utilizing track 2 as your lead is your best bet operationally, but personally I wouldn't want to switch over horseshoe for aesthetic reasons. Guess that's one of the concessions that have to be made in modeling. As I said before with dispatching, if you had several operators you would quickly see the tracks being utilized as a 3 or 4 track main.
     
  7. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    The rules that I cited are mainly for myself or one other operator (such as my wife, or a friend who isn't necessarily into model railroading). Also, I plan to take a crack at a computer-controlled train at some point, and I'll need fairly strict rules for the computer to follow. Of course, if more humans become involved, some additional flexibly will be required.

    A dispatcher, eh? Well, while I'm up, here's my JMRI panel. It's still a work in progress, and this is just the background. I have yet to add indicators and controls for signals, turnouts, or occupancy. Thoughts?

    [​IMG]


    I choose to look at running around the roundhouse on the main as a challenge to be overcome by operators. If I ever get to the point that it becomes a problem, I think that I will have found many other problems, such as keeping the beer fridge stocked. :tb-biggrin:
     
  8. Harron

    Harron TrainBoard Supporter

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    First thought on the JMRI panel is try not to be repetative. The long mainline section at the top has too much of Paradise/Altoona. Leave all that detail to those screens. All you need is 4 lines to show that a train is coming on the block, then the dispatcher would have control of the interlocking (4 short lines) then you'd have the curve. In reality, "Paradise Tower" would talk to the mainline dispatcher before any moves were made over the curve, and the dispatcher would talk to Paradise before sending anything toward (or around) the yard.

    Newark and River City have the same thing. In these cases, I would give mainline control to the dispatcher and let the "Tower" handle the yard/industrial trackage.

    Remember you are dealing with an interlocking and space in between an interlocking. So for example, from Panther Creek (universal crossover interlocking) you go right into Newark. There would be a stretch of track between Panther Creek and Newark, then at Newark you have an interlocking for the crossover and probably the industry access at the crossover (the access closer to Panther Creek would probably be hand-throw). Then you'd have a stretch between Newark and Morrow, etc.

    Morrow would actually be 3 blocks on your screen. Morrow East for one set of switches (interlocking), Morrow itself for the 3 tracks, and Morrow West for the other set of switches (interlocking).

    You also show control/occupancy of a lot of secondary tracks that would probably be left off the screen and on hand-throw in reality (Newark's industrial trackage for example). Those conductors and trainmen need something to do! However you're more than welcome to keep them if you'd like.

    If your signal locations on the layout plan are accurate you should tighten some up to the interlockings - they are too far away from the switches they control. Keystone and Walnut Hill are good examples.
     
  9. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    That's the way it will work if I have an ops session. I plan on recreating the five sub-panels on the facia around the layout. For purposes of flying solo and providing a central point of computer control, I think this format will serve my needs.

    I thought about what you said there, and I tried to reorganize things a little. Here's my next shot at it:

    [​IMG]

    I thought about how I could make Morrow three blocks, but I just don't think it's going to be feasible given the way I'm planning to do occupancy detection. Each leg of the two sets of switches will be protected by signals prior to the turnouts, so hopefully it will give the proper appearance.

    Thank you for the feedback! In reworking the panel, I realized that I had crushed things together so much that a rework would have been inevitable anyway. I'll get this right sooner or later.
     
  10. Harron

    Harron TrainBoard Supporter

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    I'm not saying you can't have a central screen with all the sub-screens - it's a good idea. But the computer (or single person running everything) still doesn't need to see the mainline through Paradise/Altoona (Newark, River City) twice.


    I attached a picture of how I would signal Morrow (including signals/signal controls). Remember with CTC if you clear a route it clears all the way to the next interlocking. So if you cleared a "rightward" route at the "left" end of Morrow on your screen you would clear yourself all the way to Idaho Springs. The way you have it is one long interlocking. You can leave it that way if you want, but it severely reduces the flexibility in the track plan at this location.

    Not sure what your are planning for operation at Morrow, but unless you set things up like I have at least occupancy-wise (and include divisions between the tracks at the crossovers) you'll find yourself frustrated with locked switches when trying to do anything other that run straight-rail on the main.

    Overall though it looks much better after you spread it out.
     

    Attached Files:

  11. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    The signaling that you've show is just about identical to what I have planned.

    [​IMG]

    Edit: I just realized that there's an extra signal head on the line from staging. That should just be a single head mast.

    The part that's confusing me is what is gained by adding a block between the switches, beyond on-switch detection. Could you help me out there?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2010
  12. joem5127

    joem5127 TrainBoard Member

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    Over all a good looking plan. I’m looking at the yard area and the grid 24”? is the yard about 48” wide? Can you reach across to the back tracks? I know I can’t reach more than about 30” max. My layout is 52” high and no section is wider than 24” and I wouldn’t go that wide if I was starting over.
     
  13. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    The benchwork is a maximum of 36" deep. The main body of the yard is about a foot deep, and the furthest track in coal yard is about five inches behind that. I'm going to angle the front of the benchwork in front of the class yard to further reduce the reach.
     
  14. Harron

    Harron TrainBoard Supporter

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    It has to do with how CTC works. When a train occupies an interlocking, the switches in the interlocking "lock up" so you can't throw them under a moving train. So if you have the occupancy of the interlocking right at the clearance point of a switch or crossover, as soon as the train clears the interlocking the switches can be lined for a new move. With your setup, on the original screen it was 1 big interlocking. As you show it in your more recent post, it is now 2, but with no track in between.

    Take the basic run-around move. Say you are a local working Newark and need to go to Morrow to run around your cars before returning to Paradise. If you pulled down and cut away, they would still occupy the left interlocking of Morrow, even though they may physically clear the switches - and would not allow you to throw the switch for a runaround move. With a middle block, you would drop the cars between the signals, and be able to move the switches on either end of the interlocking.

    The same holds true for your interchange - although I think you are going to run full trains on/off.

    Your crossovers at Idaho Springs and Walnut hill are much closer together, and are more typical of a single interlocking (one block).

    Not sure how your computer signalling will work, but if it has basic CTC components this is certainly one of them.
     
  15. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    OK, I think I understand now. It is certainly possible to program JMRI for CTC as you describe, but that is functionality that I would have to program in. While it would be really cool, I'm using current sensors for occupancy detection. Most of my rolling stock is not equipped with resistance wheelsets, so on a short block (like the length of a switch), the train would not even show up, unless the locomotive or cabin car happened to be in the block.

    Short answer: turnout control is going to be hard-wired, so the scenario that you're describing won't happen because there's no check before the turnout is thrown. Of course, the downside is that it will be possible to throw a turnout under a train. Serious problem in 1:1; annoyance in 1:160.
     
  16. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    Here's a little preview:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Mudkip Orange

    Mudkip Orange TrainBoard Member

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    You gonna be able to fit that whole train in at River City? 10-foot platforms means you can only have 10 85-foot cars.

    As for the second level, I'd say hold off on it until the scenery is substantially complete on the lower level. For one thing it'll be easier to access that way, for another, it'll let you see how fast you complete it to your liking and thus decide whether you want a top deck or not. Ripping out part of a return loop to start a helix is easy stuff.
     
  18. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    I'm not sure I follow the math there. An 85 foot car in N Scale is 6 3/8 inches long. I haven't measured it in awhile, but if memory serves, the entire 13-car Pennsylvania Limited is around 8 or 9 feet long.
     
  19. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    OK, decision time. My parents are coming to visit for a week starting on Friday, and my dad is going to help me start construction, so the time to commit to a plan is upon me. I've continued tweaking the plan, and I'd like to ask one more time for feedback.

    The lower level is mostly unchanged. I did move the track pans to Morrow behind the workbench, and I've changed the helix to a nolix. I gain a few inches in the aisle, and I gain space for another scene on the upper level.

    [​IMG]

    The upper level has undergone some serious revision. Most noticeably, I took a suggestion to angle River City the other way and make it a through terminal. As part of the redesign, I went through several revisions of my coach yard and layover tracks. I also took out the lumber mill near Keystone. I was never really happy with it, and it felt shoe-horned in. There's enough room there to add it back in later if I feel like it. Finally, I added a scene to the top level of the nolix: the Coors brewery in Golden, CO. It will be a simple industrial scene.

    [​IMG]

    Obviously, the area that has seen the most attention is River City. I tried to keep the look of a complex throat on one side, but went for a simple ladder on the other. The left side with the simple ladder will be mostly covered by the city, so it won't be obvious that it's a terminal throat. The mainline will duck under the yard and split, with the westbound main going back under the city and terminal tracks so that the leads wind up between the mains.

    [​IMG]

    I included some hidden layover tracks around the turnaround, so that trains won't obviously disappear and immediately reappear. Working out the yard tracks, lead, terminal leads, and layover tracks proved to be quite a challenge.

    [​IMG]

    Any thoughts before I commit saw blade to lumber?
     
  20. wiking

    wiking TrainBoard Supporter

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    you could have a track to your work bench that could also double as a programming track to. This way you can say that in car or engine required maintenance at a facility known has five fingers.
     

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