On 18 Jan 2004 06:52:25 -0800, Brian Orlando wrote:
That stairway is the major problem. It's location makes it a serious safety
hazard. You show part of the layout above it - I would say that's a Bad Idea.
Ducking under a section of layout is bad enough, ducking while neogotiating a
stairway is much worse. Isolate the stairway - a 3ft + kneewall built on
either side with 2x4s and sheetrock would not be too much IMO. A good strong
gate across it would also be a good idea.
The space to the left of the stairway is enough for a 12" wide shelf to carry
the mainline around the room and to the next level. With careful scenicking
and lighting, you can have a good looking diorama here - maybe a long high
bridge. 12" is also plenty wide enough for a passing siding, a team track,
and/or a couple of industrial flats, if you want additional switching points.
The aisle at 2ft would be a tad tight but not impossible for a single
operator at a time. Or stack a couple of staging yards here - you can get 5
tracks onto a 12" shelf with comfortable clearance front and back. With
cjrved truinots at either end you could stage good sized trains here.
That leaves the space to the right of the stairway. Your idea of a long
narrow peninsula down its centre with double sided backdrop to provide the
end points of you run is an excellent solution IMO, and worth developing. The
sketch of the mainline is good, too, except for the bow beside the stairs at
the left - see above paragraph. It also has the advantage that as sketched
it would be easy to build a flat lower level, and then add a line to climb to
the upper level later. Building the benchwork to anticipate this extension
would be a minor carpentry challenge for you IMO.
You have enough room to lift the mainline to another level without a helix,
and I'd advise you to avoid a helix if possible (see below). Eg, a run from
the the exit point of front yard around the room to entry point of back yard
is over 70ft, which at 2% gives you a rise of about 18". At 2.5%, you'd get
over 20", and 3% over 2ft. 35% is not too much, and would give a _real_
excuse to use multiple unit power for your trains. :-)
If you accept a tight entry to the operating aisle between the yards and the
mainlines along the wall, you have room to bring the mainline down that
centre peninsula and loop it around the end, and bring it back up the other
side. That would add some 40 ft to your basic around the room location, and
at 2% you'd have up to 2ft separation between the lower and upper levels,
allowing for levelling off at various places along the climb for passing
sidings. If you narrow down the outer shelf to about 14-16"" opposite the
loop, you'd gain a few precious inches for the aisle next to the loop.
Helixes: these have been tried by many people. From my reading about people's
experiences with them, I would not personally include a hidden helix, even if
there was space. The main reason is that a multiple-turn hidden helix takes
up a lot of trackage, which means a long wait while the train traverses it.
OTOH, a semi-open helix at the end of peninsula may work better. That is,
bring one or more levels of the helix out into the open on side-hill benches
or long curving bridges. Such a helix would take up more space than a minimum
radius hidden helix, but the sceneic effects and the pleasure of seeing your
train a couple of times as it changes levels would make the extra space
requirement a small price to pay.
Staging: IMO essential for the concept that you have in mind.
Minimum radius: If you use easements, you can shave this down to 24" with no
problems. I'd use this as the "design minimum", but dimension benchwork to
allow for a second track outside that minimum. You can bring up to within an
inch of the edge of benchwork, but some sort of fence is advisable, if only
to prevent elbows from intefering with the trains. How do I know? Well.....
Use clear acrylic.
Separation of levels: experience from those that have done indicates that 18"
between track and underside of upper deck is just fine. Much more than that,
and then either the lower level will be too low or the upper level too high
for pleasant, reasonably-close-to-eye-level viewing.
HTH and Have Fun!
If you didn't want to go to Chicago, why did you get on this train?
<just one w and plain ca for correct address>