Operations on a small layout.

rickb326 Jan 26, 2009

  1. rickb326

    rickb326 TrainBoard Member

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    I have built an L shaped layout, that is 30" deep and 18 feet long before it turns and goes 4 more feet. The ends are both 48" to accomidate a 22" radius turnaround.

    I have been operating on other layouts for about 4 months now. My problem however is how to make my own layout into a operational layout. I have thought of making somewhat of a double decker for part of the 18 feet to try and increase the mainling run time. Is that a good idea? Also I'm not sure how to incorporate things like interchanges. I'm alos wondering if I have a coal mine to pick up cars, what sort of area do I drop the cars at?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. lmackattack

    lmackattack TrainBoard Member

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    I have a small layout and what I like to do is set a slow freight (25-30 MPH) out on the main. Then I work around it with a switcher. I bring cars from the yard down to the industrys. I have about 2 mins to let the switcher out to the main before it has to hide back into a siding or spur. I can make 2 moves if things go as planned.

    Coal can be brought to a powerplant or to a port where barges haul it away
    I forget the figures but I recall that about 80% of coal is used to make electrical power. trains also haul more coal than anyother form of transportation. If you run steam coal can be brought to coaling towers to feed steam engines.
     
  3. Wolfgang Dudler

    Wolfgang Dudler Passed away August 25, 2012 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    Even with a small layout you can do a lot of switching.

    A trains sets out cars. The switcher has these cars to deliver to the appropriate industries. An interchange track serves like an industry, only you can use any car. :angel:

    The switcher picks up outbound cars and collect them for the next train.

    If you run slowly this takes a lot of time. You see it at my video about switching.

    Wolfgang
     
  4. rkcarguy

    rkcarguy TrainBoard Member

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    I'm confused if your layout is done or you are asking for some track plan idea's. Sounds like you have dog bone shape sort of. I played with a similar plan for awhile and was looking at having the returning loops sink down to a lower level with a hidden staging yard, leaving the entire top center portion of the layout wide open to become yard, industries, switching, whatever you wanted.
     
  5. rickb326

    rickb326 TrainBoard Member

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    The only part of my own layout that is "done" is the main part of the benchwork. I have a section of track that is temporary. I have just been using it to try and figure out where to put switches and things of that nature. My goal is to eventually use car cards, but that is in the future.
     
  6. Mike Sheridan

    Mike Sheridan TrainBoard Member

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    If you particularly want a long run then making the short leg of your L into a helix to a second level would certainly achieve that, though much of the run would be hidden in the helix. However, with some cunning multiple trackage you can also use the helix as an additional staging yard, though not one to actually try and change train makeup in :)

    Coal from a mine will go to where it is to be used, like a power station, coke ovens, distributor, etc. Depends a bit on how much coal you want to shift / size of the mine. Having a double deck will allow you to space the mine and user more realistically - dragging a cut of hoppers out of a mine siding only to shove it down the users siding a scale 200 yards down the line is not really very convincing :embarassed:
     
  7. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson TrainBoard Member

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    Or very satisfying. Back in December, I tore up the layout I was building because short trains (3-4 cars) would come out of the yard and be in one of two towns before the tail of the train was clear of the yard throat. Kinda spoiled the fun of operations.
     
  8. rkcarguy

    rkcarguy TrainBoard Member

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    Mike kinda summed up what I suggested, running a helix down to get the additonal trackage you want. 270 degree's(3/4 of a loop) of a 22" radius will yield 3.11" of drop at a 3% grade. Just enough to clear a train under the benchwork if you are creative.
    Remember this 3.11 " drop doesn't include the thickness of your benchwork, if you have 1/2" plywood you will lose 1/2" of clearance. One place on my layout I actually cut the wood out from under the track I was looping under, and supported it with a small piece of thin sheet metal so my double stack well cars would just squeeze thru +1/8" of clearance:)
     
  9. Mike Sheridan

    Mike Sheridan TrainBoard Member

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    That's not quite what I had in mind. I was thinking of a multi-turn helix connecting two scenic levels, so the mine could be on the lower level and the coal user on the top.

    Of course, you could always continue the helix down to a 3rd deck with staging yards as described above.
     
  10. rkcarguy

    rkcarguy TrainBoard Member

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    Helix with turnouts mid span=train elevator for multi levels:)
    Certainly that could be done as well. I have a really bad back so I don't think in multiple levels...
     
  11. KaiserWilhelm

    KaiserWilhelm TrainBoard Member

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    This is a picture of an HO layout-on-a-door I've been working on for the past several days. This is the 'end of the line' of my fictional Mt. Washington & Mattingly Bay RR and one of the namesakes of the line, the mid-sized Maine town of Mattingly Bay.
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Wolfgang Dudler

    Wolfgang Dudler Passed away August 25, 2012 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    Looks like a busy switching area.

    Wolfgang
     
  13. rickb326

    rickb326 TrainBoard Member

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    Does it make sense on a small shelf layout to be using switchers at yards. Should I have swithchers at interchanges? I'm not sure really how to set up a interchange. Do I need an interchange with another line or is it not necessary?
     
  14. Mike Sheridan

    Mike Sheridan TrainBoard Member

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    A model RR isn't neccessary (and to many people makes no sense at all :) ), so you can do whatever you like.

    Seriously, if you have the space to operate them as well as the road engines, then using switchers in yards is sensible. If it is a small yard, and hence not a lot of switching to do, then even the prototype might use visiting road engines to do the work. They just add an hour or two to the schedule of the train to allow for it.

    You don't need an interchange. On a small shelf layout a working interchange is hard to achieve realistically anyway (because the tracks have to run parallel), so many people build a 'dummy' where the foreign road track just goes from backscene to fall off the front edge with the diamond and interchange tracks modelled. The interchange is then used by your own road to fetch and drop cars but the dropped cars are either just left on the i/c until fetched back or the hand of god is employed to be the foreign road. In the prototype most interchanges aren't that busy and are switched by the road engine of whichever road is there at the time.
     
  15. rickb326

    rickb326 TrainBoard Member

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    How do you recommend making my trains disappear off of the "set" to make them seem like they are going somewhere? I have thought of making a staging area under the layout and/or making a yard over top f a loop in case I would want to run a continous loop sometimes.
     
  16. Wolfgang Dudler

    Wolfgang Dudler Passed away August 25, 2012 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

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    I would do this with a attachable staging yard board. :angel:

    BTW, I would omit the spur to this one industry which needs the 90° crossing. If you want this industry, I think start the spur from your long siding with a curv. You have already a switchback. And one with a short tail.


    What about planning this layout at that door with paper copies from the turnouts?

    Wolfgang
     
  17. rickb326

    rickb326 TrainBoard Member

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    So I guess that my question now is how do I start designing a laout for operations? I have read some books and so forth but nothing really tells me how to get started. Up until this point I have just had very simple layouts, i.e. figure eights, loops, and so forth.
     
  18. lmackattack

    lmackattack TrainBoard Member

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    If you have a flat surface at home plan the diffrent sections out on a pice of ply wood. place track down in the route that you think will work. then take your engines and cars to see if the space will work when your trains operate. you need to do these little tests because what looks good on paper may not look so good in reality. after you get a good idea what things will work and what wont you can start tracing where the track starts at one end. I always start from one end and work to the other. after your track plan is traced out you can start to lay the track. I always place the next few sections out to see if the space I resurved is still there. Many times as I lay track I have to make a few adjustments. these adjustments can save or take up more space than I had thought. Wile tracing out the track think about any bridges or water that you want to use. this is when you need to really think if they will fit in with your plan. take it slow and it will come out all good

    Trent
     
  19. Mike Sheridan

    Mike Sheridan TrainBoard Member

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    Like it says in the Sound of Music - start at the very beginning, it's a very good place to start.
    If you are looking for operations, we must assume you want to try and emulate prototype operations. So decide what era(s) and what industries/yards you want to model. A little research will then indicate the sort of track layouts and other equipment you will need at each location. Sketch these out on paper and then connect those 'blocks' with your main line and spurs to get an idea of the finished layout.

    The process will be iterative because you will be overambitious about the number of industries/yards/operations you can fit (we all do it :) ), so what Trent says about trying things out loose-laid is a good plan at this stage. When you find it won't all fit, take out the least wanted part (maybe a complete industry pair) or shrink something (including your expectations) and try it again.

    When you have a 'final' plan, sit in front of it and operate it in your mind for a while to see if it has the right feel.

    Even when building it don't be afraid to alter things as you go if something turns out wrong. Real railways are rarely planned and built in one go - they get changed over time as circumstances vary, so if a big industry on your model 'relocates' another may take the space and reuse it.
     
  20. rickb326

    rickb326 TrainBoard Member

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    Ok so how do I start planning this out? I want to run some coal and maybe milk as well. I thought about steel, but I just don't think that I have the room. So what should be my next steps?
     

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