Design comments requested

Please check out my design and give your comments. I have tried numerous versions and the design thing seems to go on and on. Am I on
the right track? I posted it on a web page. http://www.geocities.com/bvo57.geo/trains/version1.htm
Thanks, Brian.
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On 18 Jan 2004 06:52:25 -0800, Brian Orlando wrote:
=>http://www.geocities.com/bvo57.geo/trains/version1.htm
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!
Wolf Kirchmeir ................................. If you didn't want to go to Chicago, why did you get on this train? (Garrison Keillor) <just one w and plain ca for correct address>
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Snip I realize that it is hard to see the basement in RTS. The tracks going across the stairs (that part of the stairs is actually a right hand turn, 3 step, platform) will be on a single, removable, 1x3 board. They will only be in place while operating and will be at heights of 50" and 30". Laundry baskets, supplies, and the occasional washer/dryer/hotwater tank will have to negotiate those steps so I have considered this. A very simple 50"x3" module of sorts.
The area to the left of the stairs is actually behind the stairs as they come down. The only real useful area in that region is under the stairs where the small cities are located. I like your idea of staging in that area but worry about derailments and access. There are also some water pipes, thus the bulge in track work.

This idea is very appealing but confusing. At some point the lower will reach the upper, correct? If that is the case then the seperation between levels decreases to a point that you can no longer see, or scenic, the lower? I guess what I am trying to say is...from 10" and less, between levels, wont I lose the lower level? The two sided backdrop, down the middle, version has definite promise. Maybe I should mushroom one on top of the other (for the upper level)? I could use the around the room constant grade to do that and it would give me more room for each side.
You have me thinking. Thanks, Brian.
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On 18 Jan 2004 22:21:21 -0800, Brian Orlando wrote:
=>This idea is very appealing but confusing. At some point the lower =>will reach the upper, correct? If that is the case then the seperation =>between levels decreases to a point that you can no longer see, or =>scenic, the lower? I guess what I am trying to say is...from 10" and =>less, between levels, wont I lose the lower level?
There will be a section of layout where the upper and lower levels run more or less side by side - the upper level on a sidehill cut, maybe, with a retaining wall, or maybe swinging out to avoid a cliff that the lower level tunnels through, etc. Until the two levels are far enough apart that they can be accommodated on their own shelves. At this point I suggest that the lower level should go into a tunnel, so that one one side you see the tunnel entrance some distance below the upper level track, and then a couple of feet further on, the lower level track exits from a tunnel (or from under an overpass, or from between tall industrial buildings, or from a cut located behind a foreground industry, etc) , and comes out into the open on that lower level. I've seen a couple photos of similar arrangements in Model Railroad Planning - looked good in the pix anyway.
I didn't understand the relationship between stairs and the rest of the space. Your solution of a removable bridging section spanning the staircase is a good one. If you use adjustable, interlocking wedges at each end of the bridge section and the layout faces, it will be self aligning, too. Contacts can be built in, as well, so that the approach tracks will be live only when the bridge is in place.
Overall, I think both mainline arrangements are very good, but I like your second attempt better, because it permits the long slow climb to an upper deck. Great excuse to use helper engines. :-) And the overall concept is very doable, because you can start with a single level, and get a nicely "finished" layout before you expand to the next level. Doability is important. I've known a few too many people who planned layouts that were too big for them and gave up in frustration. (And what's too big for me might be just right for you, but the principle holds regardless of actual size.)
Oh, and don't forget that the space under the layout is just perfect for storage.... which may be a selling point when it comes to getting support from other members of the household. :-)
HTH&HF
Wolf Kirchmeir ................................. If you didn't want to go to Chicago, why did you get on this train? (Garrison Keillor) <just one w and plain ca for correct address>
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Dear Mr. Orlando, You did not give yourself sufficient credit as a designer; your plan is really very good, in my opinion anyway. I do suggest several minor alter- ations, which I have marked on a copy of your drawing on my Internet site.
It is posted here:
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/8719/upper_no_logging.gif
Here is what I did. Most of my changes were to the upper level, which is excellent, and is the part of your plan I like the most:
I wasn't sure whether your helix entered the upper level at A or at B, but B seemed right. Either way, a train entering the upper main from the lower yard can't simulate its return trip without backing up. If you make certain changes at "C-Ville", however, this becomes easy.
I did not see much use for the wye at "D-Town"; it was too short to turn a whole train, and there was nothing that really seemed to need turning there, so I converted it into a dummy junction with another railroad, using one leg of the wye as an interchange track.
At "E", I moved the mine spur down and added a switch lead. This lets you permanently station a switcher to shuffle loaded and empty cars at the mine without fouling the main or the passing track. This could be an interesting operation in its own right.
It would be possible and very fun to run two or more opposing trains on your plan, with lots of interesting complication in timing the meets right.
I think the lower-level main (the blue track) could be dropped entirely without detracting from your railroad. It is practically independent of the upper. The same goes for the lower-level industrial area, which just duplicates the upper one. The yard looks mostly like a storage area, which is good, and the back shop also seems useful for storing extra locomotives. My opinion is you should consider the upper side a sort of stage, and the lower side a sort of scenicked utility area, good to look at in its own right while letting the upper line operate like a much larger line than it is.
Cordially yours, Gerard P.
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snipped-for-privacy@gannon.edu (Gerard Pawlowski) wrote in message

The entrance is B. A is used in a slightly diferent version that allows a very long transition from upper to helix. It enters a tunnel along the upper wall and just starts dropping. There is also a track that goes to a logging version in that area. The logging line goes up and over the reverse loop into the mountains.

The junction is an excellent idea. The wye is practically useless but an attempt to fix the reverse loop you have noticed.

Another excellent idea. Thank you, Brian.
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Gerald, with your alterations at "C-Ville", you have removed the reverse loop that Mr. O. had in place.
--
Will
HO - Credit Valley Railway
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Dear Will, Well, I turned his loop around, that's all. The way it was, a train would have to back around it to reverse and head back down the helix. By the way, I changed the name of the image file...underscores seemed to cause me trouble.
It is now:
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/8719/unl.gif
Cordially yours, Gerard Pawlowski
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Looks good Gerard. Are you going with the semi open Helix as Wolf suggested?
--
Will
HO - Credit Valley Railway
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Dear Will, I thought Wolf wanted a long, slow grade with no helix, or that's how I understood him anyway. I have never built a railroad with multiple decks so I have never needed a helix, but Canadian Pacific's are closed-in and seem to work all right. Of course they can walk into theirs. Mr. Orlando's helix would be about 4 turns, I think, and with a 26" radius it is big enough to duck down and climb inside to rerail cars. The clearance would be tight (3 1/2" railhead to railhead) but not impossible to deal with (of course this depends on how thick the deck is). He could also get the long climb by moving the engine terminal over to where the downstairs industrial area is, and using the round-the-room lower main to climb the 15" instead of the helix. Moving the engine terminal would allow the clearance above the track near the helix's present location to be less. Wolf is probably right that this would be easier to work on, but the helix, on the other hand, would save space and leave more room for building up the lower level. Cordially yours, Gerard P.
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BO>Please check out my design and give your comments. I have tried BO>numerous versions and the design thing seems to go on and on. Am I on BO>the right track? BO>I posted it on a web page. BO> http://www.geocities.com/bvo57.geo/trains/version1.htm BO>Thanks, Brian.
How do you plan to reach the middle of the layout to either work on scenery or handle derailed cars ? I am running into a similar problem and my furthest reach is only about 42".
Jeff
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The furthest reach should be about 40", at the blob. It is open on three sides, so I should be ok. Brian.
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