Trackside Details: planning

Hi Everyone,
I am hoping that you can share some insights on your approach to these detailing questions ...
1) I was wondering when do you plan for, and add, buildings, streets,
parking lots, automobiles, people, and etc. in the track design process? 2) How do you determine the size of the space for these various details assuming you have not yet purchased [or settled on] the specific item(s)?
Many Thanks! Matt
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Matt & Kathleen Brennan wrote:

When I designed the 28'X3' city for the Gratiot Valley club, I sort of did everything at once. Remember that the city was probably there before the trains, so they had to fit around the building and in the alley ways. The streets too had to be modified to accomodate the trains.
Some history: (fiction) The city use to be a freight yard for the power plant in New Haven, MI. It didn't work well and the proponent had long since dissappeared. I took it over and proposed lowering it and making it a city. I drew a very rough sketch and presented it to the club. They bought it!
I started with the fixed items, such as the Main line through the city. I elevated it above the city. The Junction between the main and the branch, and the flow of the river. Then, I figured out where the main street should be and drew it in. (I did all of this in full size because I don't do scale drawings very well.) After a street and the 'main track' through the city were drawn, the rest almost seemed to draw itself.
The week after an operating session, I took the mainline apart and demolished the yard. I lowered it over 6 inches and re decked it and put the full size plan down. The next week, I put the mainline roadbed back as an elevated structure (think NYC elevated or Chicago) and the next week the track was back for the operating session the following week.
It took another 6 weeks to finish the trackwork in the city. A year later I got around to putting in the switch motors. (I spent that year installing toroise motors all over the rest of the layout.)
There was only one major change to the plan. I had planned to use a runaround in one area and someone made it a dockside crane so I had to add a runaround within the city.
The best way to do it, is to just doodle on any piece of paper that is handy. The plan will come.
Please change my Email address to snipped-for-privacy@charter.net I will not have any other Email account.
The Gratiot Valley Railroad Club bi-annual train show and sale March 7, 2005, at the Macomb Community College Sports and Expo Center. Macomb County Michigan. Please visit our Web Site
Click here: http://www.gvrr.org /
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Mattwrote: I am hoping that you can share some insights on your approach to these detailing questions ... 1) I was wondering when do you plan for, and add, buildings, streets, parking lots, automobiles, people, and etc. in the track design process? 2) How do you determine the size of the space for these various details assuming you have not yet purchased [or settled on] the specific item(s)? -------------------------------------------------
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Matt, Here's what I did with my TMRR layout as far as the whole design process went. I made a schematic of the entire prototype I am modeling. Its a short line of about 125 miles so this was not too difficult. If one is modeling a larger railroad then just a portion would be fine. I drew in the track arrangements that I was able to find using Sanborn maps. I noted the industries, station's, whistle stops and so forth. For where there were river crossings or geographical features that might have some interest I used USGS maps that I have and maps from TopoZone for the areas I did not. I also use these maps to follow the old grade. I was able to find the historical background on most of the communities along the right of way, even the ones that don't exist anymore right on the internet. So I was able to determine what industries the railroad served at those places or at least make a good guess at what they were and of what general size they would have been based on other locations that I had better info on. Since I could not model the whole line from Ennis Texas all the way to Paris Texas I started looking over the various sections of the route that I might be able to model. I wanted my layout to operate point to point with staging and as you know with a not too obvious continuous circuit if possible. I also wanted a yard. I was able to narrow things down to the route from Ennis to Terrell that is about 60 miles. This was also the original route of the Texas Midland with a terminal at Terrell. This automatically gave me a list of industries and their foot prints from the sanborn maps, measuring structures that still existed and educated guesswork Ennis is the staging area as it was a large SP/TO&NO yard and engine shops at the time and would be way to massive to even model a small portion of it. The first layout feature is the Trinity River crossing and then Rosser that is just east of the river. Here there were gravel and lumber/railroad tie industries and probably a cotton gin. I am also going to have a pecan polisher at Rosser that never existed because pecan trees grow around there and I have pictures of a polisher on the A&NW down near Austin I thought would make a neat industry. I am also putting in a fictitious pickle facility here because I like pickle cars and the funky looks of an old pickle shipping facility in an old MR. Next is Kaufman. It was an interchange with another T&NO route and had a huge cotton compress and several other facilities. The compress will be modeled close to scale in length from what I can measure off the Sanborne maps and will actually hide the staging tracks using a hinged roof to get to them. There will be a wye at Kaufman allowing trains to continue on to Terrell or leave staging to cross the Trinity river and come into Rosser. There will also be a T&NO interchange track here that will not need any structures but can create staged traffic and switching, a grain elevator, farm supply, and coal dealer. Terrell will have a yard, roundhouse, and turntable along with a compress, cotton oil company, powerhouse and stock yard. There will be a T&P interchange track here and one track that will represent traffic coming in on the TM from the north. Both tracks will create traffic with out structures. At all these locations I wanted to keep the buildings as close in scale to the those I could find on the Sanborn maps so I started with that and selectively compressed them on the plans as necessary. Some of them will only be flats or half structures placed against the backdrop except at Rosser where there is room for them to all be full structures. There will also be combination station/freight houses at Rosser and Kaufman and a freight house at Terrell. The station at Terrell was just to the North of where my layout must stop and it was a massive brick structure at the crossing of the TMRR and the T&P. Way to much space would be needed though it would make a fantastic model and be a big challenge to build. I also wanted a lime operation and kilns but I just can't fit them in unless I do away with the Trinity River crossing. Since I can't find evidence of lime operations along the TM I will probably keep the river crossing. I drew up my main line plans first with an idea of what I wanted at each location, drew in the sidings and spurs and then tried to draw in structures. Then I adjusted the plans. My original plans had the staging tracks under the layout with a long grade up. After sketching in the full sized compress at Kaufman just on a whim the idea for the wye and the hidden staging tracks inside it hit me. Since this would make staging very easy to get too and eliminate the even modest grades that stress out my tiny locomotives the whole track plan got readjusted and I came out with something radically different than I had ever thought of so far. As I have a lot of the bench work up and some track work done it looks like most every thing with fit in and look ok. There will be a few things that will still need some adjustment especially at Terrell so I my have to eliminate something there. The yard and turntable are critical to the layouts operation but everything else is secondary. I think if you start with a basic operational concept and a list of the locations that you want to model, along with a list of industries and their general size at each spot your layout will start designing itself for you. You may end up with something a lot different than original vision. I don't know if this really answers your question but hope it gives you some ideas. Bruce

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Matt & Kathleen Brennan wrote:

I model _railways_ so the railway design is paramount, including railway buildings in direct contact with the trackwork. Everything beyond that is (3D) backdrop, added to support and enhance the layout. Just once in a while I'll reduce the railway a fraction to make way for a little more scenery - to enhance the appearance of the railway.

How much do you want to model xyz? If it's important then you add more space.
If I want, for example to model a town (to justify the station) I use compression, reduced depth buildings, gradients/hills, angled and curved streets so that they can't be viewed fully, and any other 'trick' I can work in. Hopefully the trains will distract the viewers before they figure how little of the town in front of them actually exists :-)
Regards, Greg.P.
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Fabulous insights - my sincere thanks to all of you for sharing your design approach, your suggestions, and the included links. I really appreciate the help.
Matt
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From the very beginning.
Some elements are obvious - yards, industries to justify the railroad. A town for a station. A coal mine up in the hills. These are the key elements you hang your railroad on. They're the reason the railroad exits.
When I was designing my present layout, I didn't know precisely what buildings I would use, but I knew what I was going to do in specific areas. For example, I wanted a moderate size town with a main street in one area, a rural station in another, and a "city" in another. The city would be suggested by using backdrops or flats, but the two towns would be more detailed.
The moderate town would be a central scene, including working crossbucks, traffic lights, etc, so I had to do more detailed planning to make sure I'd have enough room. Typically, it takes more room than you think. <g>
I had a handful of buildings to play around with, and found the footprint dimensions for others. With this info, I could lay out a rough town - enough to locate the track.
I think it's critical to have room along the edge of a layout for scenery and buildings. To my eye, nothing is more unrealistic than a track running along the "edge of the earth." Tracks run through scenery, not next to it. Even a few inches of scenery on the outer edge makes a difference.
In the town, I have a road running along the edge, with low buildings backed against the track, then the track, main street, and another road of buildings. The train will run through the town, not next to it, which is my desired effect.
I'm about to get started on actually doing the town and have been (endlessly) arranging and re-arranging buildings. The important thing is to give yourself enough room at the start.

As mentioned, many of the dimensions are available. Walthers kits, in particular, provide good dimensions. Others, you can assume a certain maximum/typical size.
Mike Tennent "IronPenguin" MRR Electronics Special Effects Lighting http://www.ironpeng.com/ipe
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