Operations on a small layout.

rickb326 Jan 26, 2009

  1. Harron

    Harron TrainBoard Supporter

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    First off, if you haven't taken a look at our Layout Design forum I suggest you do so and read through several of the threads. Planning isn't scale-specific as far as concepts are concerned. Secondly, I wouldn't consider your layout "small" but it certainly isn't a large layout. An 18' run is a lot of space.

    Now, you indicate you want coal and potentially milk. This points toward a steam or transition-era layout, which generally means shorter freight cars and locomotives. Now the next question is how big of an operation are you modeling? Are you modeling a small part of a larger railroad, or a smaller railroad that interchanges with a larger one? What is the geographical area of your railroad? This will have a bearing on what motive power you run and how your interchanges could be handled.

    Next, think about your operation. You have stated you want mainline run and a coal mine. What else do you want to do? Do you want to switch a yard, run locals that service industries, or just keep it simple with a coal mine? What about your milk operation? I have experience with milk operations on my club layout and can offer some suggestions if you'd like.

    Your coal operation could revolve around a single mine. The easiest way to have someplace for it to go is to run it "off-line" to a staging location. This could be as simple as 2-3 tracks that are about as long as your longest train (15-20 cars or whatever you decide). Loads out of the mine, run around the layout, then off to staging - empties would be the reverse. When you are done operating you can reverse the process or do it manually. Alternately you could include a yard on-line that would serve as an intermediate staging location between these two that would be a crew/power change location.

    Your mainline will probably be a simple dogbone or folded dogbone style one. You can run it as "single track" but bring the straightaway together for the appearance of a double-track railroad.

    These are some suggestions and questions to get you going. Keep asking yourself what you want in your layout - when you can answer those questions you can proceed to actual track planning. As you come up with issues when you plan you keep asking the questions over and over, and finally you'll have a finished product.
     
  2. rickb326

    rickb326 TrainBoard Member

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    I guess that my main problem in the design stages is that I'm not really sure that I want a loop to loop track plan. But the problem that I have with the "out and back" run is that being in the steam era what should I do to turn trains around. Plus ebven though I want to make operations as real as possible, I'm not sure that I want to be stuck turning trains all of the time. Eventually I would like to have a turntable, but right now I have other things to buy. Any suggestions?
     
  3. Jon Grant

    Jon Grant TrainBoard Member

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    Hello Rick.

    Good thread, looks like you've got some good answers already.

    I finally got a track plan drawn of the layout. Although it is nothing snazzy - pencil and paper works for me - it may give you a couple of ideas to work on.

    [​IMG]


    the layout can be operated as either 2 small yards (2 operators) or one larger yard (when there's just me). The west yard is the upper track plan and the East yard is the lower one. Each siding/spur has one or more industries on it where freight is delivered and also collected. I also have at least one run-round loop in each yard, so the loco can get to the other end of the train - most useful.

    What goes where is determined by having a car card for each freight car, into which a waybill is inserted to tell the operator where to deliver the freight car to. I colour code mine to make it easier to identify the type of car - blue=tank car, green=hopper, red=flat car/gondola, etc

    [​IMG]


    I have three 'fiddle yards' on the layout to represent 'everywhere else'. One is west of the west yard, another is East of the East yard and the third is behind the layout, accessed via the west yard. This is the one I use at home as the other 2 fiddle yards won't fit when the layout is up and running.

    The fiddle yards are used to sort out trains off-layout, turn engines around by hand, replace freight cars to vary the stock, and generally do everything that you don't want to see done on the scenic part of the layout.

    In its simplest form a fiddle yard can be a single siding, usually beyond or behind the scenic area - there are exceptions - or more usually a fan of sidings, where you can prepare several trains ready to come onto the layout. Other types of fiddle yard can be a traverser - works like a drawer and uses drawer runners for smooth operation - cassettes, like what I use now-

    [​IMG]

    or possibly a turntable which can turn whole trains through 180 degrees without touching the engines or freight cars - I am busy building a couple of these now and will provide some progress photos soon.

    Hope this helps

    Jon
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 25, 2009
  4. Mr. SP

    Mr. SP Passed away August 5, 2016 In Memoriam

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    Operations

    Operations on the home layout are as would be on a branchline or shortline.
    There is a yard where the trains are made up. The yard holds about 30 cars. Two locals are operated out of the yard. One local goes to an industrial park. The other goes to a small town area of three car spots. Two industries and the house track behind the depot.
    The industrial park has a lumber yard that recieves lumber. There is a oil distributer that recieves tank cars. A fruit packing warehouse that ships out fruit in reefers. The last is a team track with a loading ramp.
    The small town has two industries. Purina Feed that recieves feed by boxcar or covered hopper. Englehard Chemical and Minerals that ship and recieve chemicals by boxcar or tank car or covered hopper. The house track behind the depot recieves various cars.
    The trains start from the yard wit cars for the industries, the industries are switched and the train returns to the yard.
    There is provision for continious operation too as the layout goes around all four walls of the room.
     
  5. rickb326

    rickb326 TrainBoard Member

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    Jonn about how deep is your track plan? I have 30 inches of depth to work with. I also have 48 inches at either end to work with. Reason that I ask is because I was thinking of having some sort of hidden staging within that 30 inches. I have enough room on either end to loop the trains around, but I was trying to come up with a way of hidding all of that. Although the more that I think about it, I've been thinking of building removable fiddle yards that I could mount to either end of the layout.
     
  6. Jon Grant

    Jon Grant TrainBoard Member

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    The scenic portion of the layout is 18 inches deep with an additional 6 inches for the width of the add on cassette storage yard.

    Remember, for a fiddle yard behind the backscene, you need to be able to access the layout from behind - it sort of defeats the purpose of having a fiddle yard, if you cant access it to 'fiddle' with the trains.

    Jon
     
  7. rickb326

    rickb326 TrainBoard Member

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    I'm really looking forward to seeing that turntable that you are building. I would like to build my own, but I haven't had any experience with that sort of thing yet.

    I've gotten a lot of mixed feelings about this next question from a lot of different folks. In 20 feet is it possible to model more than one town. Basically can it be done and still operate and look believable? Reason that I ask is because I feel as though I should have destinations that exist on the layout for the trains to arrive and depart from. Is that possible in the amount of space that I have to work with?

    Also I keep thinking of building a second level. Not really a double decker, but instead of having one section that is 30" deep, I thought that maybe I could use the back 12 inches as a second layer that will be about 6 inches higher thatn the foreground. Any thoughts?

    I'll try to post some photos of where I am at now. I tried earlier but they wouldn't work.
     
  8. Jon Grant

    Jon Grant TrainBoard Member

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    More than a few modellers have put their fiddle yard in the middle of the layout and modelled a town either side of it - ie.

    Town -------------fiddle yard ---------------- town

    this creates 2 seperate modelled scenes and the illusion of distance between the 2 towns is creates by having the fiddle yard in the middle, where you can store trains for as long as you like.

    Jon
     
  9. rickb326

    rickb326 TrainBoard Member

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    So what about designing the mainline? With this type of a layout do you suggest using a single track mainline, or multiple?

    Also I've been building a coal mine that serves three tracks, but I'm thinking of kitbashing it into a mine that only serves two, just to save space. I hought of having a steel mill, but I'm not sure that with such a large space requirement that it really makes sense.
     
  10. rickb326

    rickb326 TrainBoard Member

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    I have also been thinking of making the ends of my railroad into sort of a modular set up. The room that my layout is in is our game room and well the layout would get in the way if it were any larger. So I was thinking of making it into the layout that I have pictured in my mind, one that serves two towns. Then forming modules to place on the end only during sessions for turn-around and modeled steam service area on the one end and some other facilities on the opposit end. This way I could also have the option of a complete loop if ever needed.

    Thoughts?
     
  11. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    I think you could build Balloons for the ends so as to get a continuous run in there.

    Since you want to have a loop of some kind, you could just hide the back part of the loop behind a barrier of some kind and maybe double track it for a two track double ended staging yard that could be 12' long.
     

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