N Scale PRR Track Plan

eric220 Nov 18, 2010

  1. Backshop

    Backshop TrainBoard Member

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    Maybe you explained all this somewhere in this thread, one of the other 4 or 5 forums you're running in, or your website, but I'm blurry on the transcontinental routing and the choice of scenes. The layout starts in Altoona, runs through Newark (N.J.?), hits a tunnel past the N&W interchange and comes out in Denver(using a helix going upward, which makes sense since Denver's a mile high) ... then crosses over to San Francisco (Sacramento? Hard to read the tiny print in those huge plan images), and then down to LA? And a Penn Station that was in LA?
    So I was wondering if you had a business history for this RR to go along with the transcon route. Did it buy out the Q(or Rock Island) to get to Denver, then control the WP/DRGW to get to California? Or build new lines through all these areas? No criticism of any explanation of how this Pennsy got to LA, I'm just curious if the story weaves in real railroads for buyout, merger, trackage/pool rights, etc.
    As for choice of scenes, having both coasts modeled for a transcon certainly works, but having a little bit of Midwestern prairie would have been interesting. If for nothing else than to find out if "this" PRR picked Chicago or St. Louis as starting point to push on westward.
     
  2. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    There are four sections on the layout: PA, OH, CO, and CA. "Newark" is a generic town, and the overall scene is eastern Ohio. The helix will have mini scenes of the central US (lots of corn) and the next to top layer of the helix will be Denver (the top of the helix being Golden). The PA and CO sections are mainly comprised of representations of varying accuracy of real places. The OH an CA sections are representative and generally not intended to be specific places. The final destination on the CA end of the layout is "River City". It's a large city at the west end of the railroad that's most closely San Francisco. As for the route, the short answer is St. Louis. The long answer is peruse the website:

    System map:
    http://pennsylvania-railroad.com/system/

    History:
    http://pennsylvania-railroad.com/history/

    And on a side note, dang, I need to update the website...
     
  3. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    Now that I'm home again and Photobucket is cooperating, an update on progress is in order. Two weeks ago I managed to get the rest of the track down in the C&H refinery.


    [​IMG]


    Unfortunately Photobucket wouldn't let me upload the photo before I left for a little railfanning on the east coast.


    [​IMG]


    From there I flew out to meet my parents, and we drove to Ely, NV and the Nevada Northern to check an item off the bucket list.


    [​IMG]


    Oh yeah. The 15-MPH thrill ride of a lifetime.


    My parents then drove me home to California, where my dad and I got to work on the railroad. We finished off powering all of the mainline frogs on the upper level, and oh boy what a difference they make. We also got cork down for the beginning of the passenger terminal throat.


    [​IMG]


    I'm a little hesitant to lay track, because just doing the crossovers where the throat joins the mains will consume 3 of my 4 righthand #10's. I don't really have any other plans for them right now, and there's a lot of track to build (like the whole helix) before I come to another mainline crossover, so I'll probably bite the bullet and lay the track, because it will give me room to park two more trains.


    This afternoon I dove in and wired up all of the feeders for the C&H refinery. Here's a BS10 making the inaugural run.


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    With that done, I indulged in a little switching.


    [​IMG]


    Except for a few tortoises in the industrial areas, I'm just about ready to give the upper level local a test run and see how it works out.
     
  4. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    I'm hoping to get back to construction updates in the next few weeks. In the mean time, I had a brainstorm about how to represent position light signals on the facia. Well, it started with a germ of an idea and a conversation with a friend who owns an ABS plastic 3D printer. Next came this thing, which is designed to hold five 5mm LED's in alignment through the facia, with a cap in front. The cap was designed to replicate the look of the cab signals in GG-1 4935.

    [​IMG]

    A little 3D printing, a trip to Radio Shack, and a little rattle can black later,

    [​IMG]

    A little assembly and testing later,

    [​IMG]
    (this shot is the most realistic as far as the lit aspect is concerned; the rest of the photos are much more washed out than in person)

    Finally, mount on a test platform that can be clamped to the layout to test visibility, and it's ready.

    [​IMG]

    I'm using a selector knob to generate the different aspects.

    [video=youtube;Tzp7vfhNSFw]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tzp7vfhNSFw[/video]

    The results are pretty encouraging. In practice, these would be driven by the same circuits that power the on-layout PL's, so I just have to buy the LED's, get the 3D printing done, and assemble. The printer used to make this prototype is not quite FUD resolution, to put it politely. On the flip side, for the investment of the ABS thread (something to the tune of $25), I can have as many of these as I want. The savings are significant enough that I think it's worth experimenting to see if I can get better results through reorientation.
     
  5. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    After months of inactivity, there has finally been a work session on the PRR! I hosted the Gandy Dancers last night. Half of the crew worked on wiring up block detectors. I'm planning on building the JMRI panel to drive the signals as one of the next steps on the railroad. The idea will be to install the facia repeaters as we install the facia, thereby giving us a fully signaled railroad without having to build 100+ scale signal heads on scale bridges over the tracks. The scale signals can then follow as time and availability allows.


    The other half of the crew began work on the passenger terminal throat. I installed the switches leading from the mains to the throat several months ago, but now I've got double track almost up to the main throat that DKS was so kind to help me hash out many moons ago.


    [​IMG]


    Now I've just got to hook up the feeders, install a little more cork, and I can lay down the #10's to test run the main passenger terminal throat.
     
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Are the "gandy dancers" your crew nickname, or an actual group?
     
  7. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    Boxcab - It's the name of our group, but it's informal. We're just a round-robbing group helping each other with our railroads.

    I've really been slacking on the empire here. I've been doing some wiring here and there, and the facia repeater project is nearing a live test stage, but there's nothing terribly photogenic or newsworthy. Instead, I thought I'd update the thread with the latest iteration of the full plan.


    The upper level (which is built except for the passenger terminal and facilities):
    [​IMG]


    And the lower level:
    [​IMG]
     
  8. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    Just to show that I haven't been totally slacking on the empire... Nothing above the plywood to show, but I have been busy on some behind the scenes stuff. Over the last year or so (OK, so I have been MOSTLY slacking) the Gandy Dancers have hooked up the block detectors to the RR Cir-kits detector cards from the west end of the layout through to KEY interlocking in Colorado. Last week I buckled down and did epic battle with programming the Tower Controllers until I had all of the block detectors reporting unique numbers. Tonight, I made a quick'n'dirty test panel that simply shows the occupancy on a diagram of the layout.


    [​IMG]


    This shows the Pennsylvania Limited coming down the decline into upper staging. It's rudimentary, but it shows that the sensors are working reliably. The final implementation will look very different.


    The next steps here are to acquire another Tower Controller to which the rest of the block detectors for the upper level will be attached. At the same time, I have enough detection here to proceed with my signaling experiments. More on that later...
     
  9. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    It seems that I have found more time to work on the railroad. This afternoon I finished up the station throat.


    [​IMG]


    Or as seen from the glad handle:


    [​IMG]


    And before anyone makes any jokes about the CSX-worthy track work, everything is just lying in place temporarily at the moment. Final installation may vary.
     
  10. Backshop

    Backshop TrainBoard Member

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    Reading the discussion and wrangling over the design of this yard throat was, well, interesting. Obviously it's all settled now but anybody who faces this same problem may want to look at the south approach yard throat at Chicago's Union Station. That was built to handle the regular passenger train schedules of 4 different railroads in their heyday, and a fleet of commuter trains as well. There they actually had to have the ability to send any trains in and out of any station track onto or off any main and nearly at the same time.
    Modifying that scheme into one with 5 Peco scissors crossovers, 4 medium switches, and connecting track in 36"-40" of straight line space and a double-track main you get a six-track platform area, a throat of complicated trackage, and supreme flexibility. But obviously this could only be used with DCC or wiring the crossovers for DC would be a nightmare.
    The St Louis Union Terminal approach was even more spectacular, as every train had to back in, and interlaced wyes were threaded through the trackage.
     
  11. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    Just looked at the Chicago Union Station trackage. Hubba-hubba, double slips 'till the cows come home! I hastily counted at least 14 of 'em! As much as I like double-slips, I'm glad that DKS was able to help me come up with a plan that replicates the look while still being able to use #10's.
     
  12. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    That is some of the most complex track work I have ever seen done in N scale.
     
  13. Backshop

    Backshop TrainBoard Member

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    Interesting story about the Chi Union throat: some guys from my RR club were visiting as guests of one of the towermen one day and he asked if they'd like to line in an incoming commuter. So they asked if they could set up a different route than just straight in, and the tower guy said sure. So they had him set up a route that made the commuter snake back and forth across the whole throat a time or two before reaching it's assigned track. They (and the towerman) thought it was awesome (the train was going slow approach so no problem there) to see this silver Q commuter train weaving and rocking back and forth across the maze of switches. The engineer probably thought the tower was nuts, tho.
    IRCC Steve King was one of the visitors.
     
  14. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    I have not been idle these past few weeks. I've been working on the facia repeaters, and with input from some of the guys over at The RailWire, I got it to here:


    [​IMG]


    They've helped me realize that the PLs will not work the way they're currently wired up. I'm going to have to go back and redo all of them, and that's kind of dampened my enthusiasm for the project for the moment.


    In other layout news, I've been installing the cork sheets that will go under the passenger terminal. I got the last one in this afternoon, and I laid out and drilled all of the needed holes for the turnouts in the throat.


    [​IMG]


    Next, I need to take stock of how many supplies I have for installing the track. Some, such as caulk and tortoises are easy enough to replenish, but others, like C55 rail joiners, may be harder.
     
  15. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    Got a little more work done this morning. The Pennsylvania Station, River City throat is fully installed.


    [​IMG]


    Everything beyond the rerailers is only temporarily installed, so again, no CSX track laying jokes.


    I backed the Pennsylvania Limited consist through all 10 routes with nary a hiccup. (I even accidentally ran through an 11th alignment that won't be used.) Keep in mind, there are no turnout motors installed yet, so the points were floating. The clickity-clack of the metal wheelsets across the frogs and the snaking of the train through the turnouts was pure railroad porn!
     
  16. glakedylan

    glakedylan TrainBoard Member

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    I like what you came up with, Eric.
    Some really fine planning and design by DKS and yourself.
    I am using all Peco track in my planned station area
    and this is what I came up with after playing around with if for a few days.
    The key is in the 3-way turnouts that help keep the throat smaller allowing for longer platform tracks.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Gary
    yard throat 3 way.jpg
     
  17. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    Gary - that's pretty impressive. You might be able to compress it a little more if you substituted double slip switches on the inside legs of the scissors crossings. I'm assuming that the grid you show is 12" squares. You've got 8 available feet, and you're consuming six on them with throat. You've got a six track station with a runaround on each side, and complex throats on both sides. I was getting crap for designing a throat that could handle two simultaneous movements for 10' platform tracks. Yours can do four simultaneous movements (two in each direction) and can handle a maximum of a two four foot trains, two three foot trains, and two two foot trains. I think you're going to be much better served by a simpler throat that allows you to extend the platforms and reduce the throat-platform ratio. It's also hard to evaluate out of context.
     
  18. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

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    There was a request over at NScale.net for a video of the throat. Enjoy:

    [video=youtube_share;lsWgZN6-Ibs]http://youtu.be/lsWgZN6-Ibs[/video]
     
  19. Backshop

    Backshop TrainBoard Member

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    Another version of 8-track yard throat for Gary: (Anyrail) View attachment 8-TrkThroat.bmp
    All Peco track Code 55; the single switches are #5 I think, I just picked some to eyeball in. This duplicates your plan of the outer 2 tracks don't have routes to both mains but all other tracks do. If you do want the outer two to, the extra (unattached) scissors do it. Other end of yard is mirror-image. Grid is 1-ft squares.
     
  20. glakedylan

    glakedylan TrainBoard Member

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    thanks for this Backshop. I appreciate you taking the time to do and share.
    I agree it is a plan that could work. it is, however, out of my price range given the number of double crossovers and their cost.

    a second plan I came up with to reduce space of throat and increase the length of platform tracks is below...but that too is costly in the double slip turnouts.
    I might just limit track access to make it cost effective and provide for something that looks more complicated than it is, simply because of cost and the
    eye candy of a busy looking throat to the passenger station.
    thanks again
    Gary

    ///not sure how trackplan in purple got uploaded, but I cannot seem to get rid of it...argh///
     

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