Author Topic: Best Of Tehachapi Layout research help wanted  (Read 29531 times)

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GaryHinshaw

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Re: Tehachapi Layout research help wanted
« Reply #30 on: January 31, 2009, 09:49:23 AM »
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Great comments Randgust - thanks for the input.  I know of a few other experienced mountain operators who swear by pizza cutters (tehachapifan and Grant Eastman) because of reliability issues.  I sent Grant a bunch of my spare pizza cutters and in the back of my mind I'm thinking I may regret it.  I also sent him 4 axles of FVM wheels to test and he reported back that they were better than MT lo-pros, but still not as good as pizza cutters reliability-wise (no surprise).  I'm planning to go with FVM wheels, but I'm still a theorists when it comes to ops like this.

One thing you didn't comment on is truck-mount vs. body-mount.  Where do you stand?

In my case I'm planning to build in stages, starting with a portable table for the "Mofield" yard area, then building the stretch from Ilmon to Tunnel 2 (the first out and back).  I was then going to build the 4-turn helix on temporary legs and use it to get back down to staging at an intermediate point and start running the heck out of things.  This way if I have problems, I'm only out ~100' of track, some quasi-modular benchwork, and plenty of safety netting.  But I'm a bit paranoid about the kind of problems you refer to and I *don't* want to find them 3 years out! 

Tim, you should try the same.  ;)

Best,
Gary

P.S. Doug - anyway you could scan and post a sample of the track chart?  Sounds neat.

randgust

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Re: Tehachapi Layout research help wanted
« Reply #31 on: January 31, 2009, 10:13:40 AM »
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I'm a truck mount guy for what is NOT an obvious reason.

The consistency of coupler height was one of my big headaches.  I've got vertical curves coming into and out of grades all over.  Not bad, but again, with 3 units dragging 35 cars, if you 'tip' a car with a body-mount, it 'may' be enough to stess the coupler down.  I also have a lot of 89' cars - piggybacks, auto racks, etc, and the vertical curve 'tip' was enough to cause coupler separation if there was a slack run-out and run-in.  My Super C is a full-length train of 89' piggybacks, with Alan Curtis cars in there, so it is HEAVY.

The truck-mounts keep that coupler height - and the pin height- more consistent.  The other thing I have is WORKING MT's, with WORKING magnets, so yeah, that's important.  And I also have a few places where coupling and uncoupling on mild curves happens.

I just haven't had the issues with backing trains with truck mounts.  I can back that 35-car train slowly through my yard throat, and over #6 crossovers, and not have a problem.  I normally switch 15-20 car cuts, too.  The only cars that consistently give me fits are the 50-ton MT hoppers (the little guys) and I had to add weight to them.   My track standards are pretty high, all points are inset, ground, and gauged properly.

Another thing I'm doing which is not 'typical practice' is a pretty heavy program of lowering MT cars.  I've finished all my flatcars and gondolas.  I'm cutting out the entire bolsters and making new ones.  The appearance is stunning, and the lower the car is, the less noticeable the flanges are, and they track better.

« Last Edit: January 31, 2009, 10:20:30 AM by randgust »

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Tehachapi Layout research help wanted
« Reply #32 on: January 31, 2009, 10:54:07 PM »
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Quote
I'm a truck mount guy for what is NOT an obvious reason.

Well that's good to hear because I'm going the same route for many of the same reasons.  I have adopted a standard of MT Barber trucks with couplers and FVM wheels for all cars.  (I really like the tooling on the MT trucks - just wish they made a 100T version as well.)  The only variant is 33" or 36" wheels.  I spent a bit of time in HO with body mounts and had just enough issues with coupler height to get annoyed.  I also don't like the prospect of body mounting a fleet of covered hoppers and tankers.

Of course no solution is perfect - yet.

kiwi_bnsf

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Re: Tehachapi Layout research help wanted
« Reply #33 on: February 01, 2009, 05:47:15 AM »
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Hi Mark4!

I live in Lower Hutt and work in Wellington - the Capital city of New Zealand for those of you not familiar with far flung New Zealand...

Mark are you based out near Waiuku and the Glenbrook vintage railway? Do you have an N scale layout?

Cheers

Tim
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Tim

Modelling Tehachapi East Slope in N scale circa 1999

kiwi_bnsf

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Re: Tehachapi Layout research help wanted
« Reply #34 on: February 01, 2009, 05:48:37 AM »
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Hi Rangust !

Thanks for sharing your experience with operations on grades and sharper curves. One great thing to come from this thread is that I am changing some of my priorites - I am going to start the layout by building a test two turn helix with 18" curves and a 2.5% gradient. This way I can run lots of nasty test trains (empty well cars, autoracks, etc) with different combinations of locos and helpers and different types of wheel profiles to see what is going to work for me.

I think the time invested in a small "Plywood Pacific" will give me peace of mind that everything else I am planning is going to work out.

Also thanks for the advice on the RDA couplers - this is something I had never heard of, and some of my older cars will definitely suffer from this issue.

Cheers

Tim
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Tim

Modelling Tehachapi East Slope in N scale circa 1999

kiwi_bnsf

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Re: Tehachapi Layout research help wanted
« Reply #35 on: February 01, 2009, 06:01:05 AM »
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Hi Guys!

Sorry not to post for a while, but things have been pretty hectic at home. I am the proud Dad to a one month old daughter, and she has certainly been keeping myself and my wife very busy :)

First up I though I should post some pics of my layout room (or rather corridor) and the progress I have made so far.

The room was not finished when we bought the house and lacked a ceiling, power sockets, decent lighting, insulation and wall coverings. In some ways this has made life easier as I have a clean slate.

I have moved the air conditioning ducts and replaced old components that had failed. These are all to be hidden in a drop ceiling that I have made with 2"x1" hangers. The drop ceiling will be edged with hardboard valences to hide the lighting (50W daylight flourescents). This has required some complex curves and measuring.

We have installed power sockets, insulated the outside walls, closed these in with wallboard. We are now in the process of adding the wiring for the lighting and test fitting the hardboard.

This photo shows the view from entering the room. The double decks will be on the left (see tape marking the tentative levels on the wall). The transition deck will be on the right.




This photo shows the reverse view looking back to the door. Ultimately this door will have to move and be replaced with a sliding door to make way for the helix to staging. However this is a job I will need a builder for, and expenses mean this will have to wait. In the interim I can still operate the layout with temporary turn loops.

You can see the complex ceiling hangers required to create the curves in the hardboard valances (not installed yet). Also I have left access hatches to allow maintenance of the air conditioning (it's already broken down once and I don't want to bust through a new ceiling).





A wider view looking back to the door. It is a narrow space and aisles will be limited to 30", but for two man operation it should be fine. I mocked up all the shelves in cardboard and there was still plenty of room - that cardboard on the floor is part of the Mojave yard):





A wider view of the whole space taken from the future location of Monolith:




Future location of Tehachapi loop (6' x 5' area). I am allowing an aisle on the far side of the loop section for maintenance access and photography - it will be a significant duckunder to get to though:




I might not look like much, but this already represents six months of work (1-2 nights/afternoons a week)!

Cheers

Tim

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Tim

Modelling Tehachapi East Slope in N scale circa 1999

kiwi_bnsf

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Re: Tehachapi Layout research help wanted
« Reply #36 on: February 01, 2009, 06:05:26 AM »
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Hi Guys!

Okay so now to post a better plan that hopefully makes more sense than the signaling schematics I posted earlier. Unfortunately I'm not a CAD expert and so this plan is still only a schematic - but it should be a lot clearer.

I am much happier with my revised Bakersfield BNSF Yard and more authentic industry trackage on the lower deck. I am also going to model the drainage canal that runs under the west end yard throat as this will look cool - especially as the yard lead passes over it.

Jastrow is not correctly located relative to the Kern river bridge, but it is a compromise I can live with in order to include both a refinery and a another bridge (which is the first thing you will see when you enter the room.




Apologies for the size of the image - but this is the most I could compress it with the plan still being readable. Right click and "Save target as" to download for more detailed analysis!

I am keenly aware that the whole layout is very compressed but this is something I am happy to compromise with in order to have more operational interest.

All of the track shown really does fit very elegantly - I've planned at real size with cardboard and photocopied turnout templates (I bought a 50 yard roll of cardboad). I would really recommend this method as it completely eliminates the issue of drawing plans that won't fit in reality.

In my opinion it also leads to more natural track arrangements based on the exact space available - making it easier to smooth complex trackage and avoid S bends.

It also allowed me to mock up the double deck sections to check view blocks and reach distances. I will have to try and dig up some of the pictures I took of the decks suspended from string!

Anyway enough from me - I would very much appreciate your feedback and thoughts on the plan.

Cheers

Tim

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Tim

Modelling Tehachapi East Slope in N scale circa 1999

Mark4

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Re: Tehachapi Layout research help wanted
« Reply #37 on: February 01, 2009, 11:49:06 AM »
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Hi Mark4!

I live in Lower Hutt and work in Wellington - the Capital city of New Zealand for those of you not familiar with far flung New Zealand...

Mark are you based out near Waiuku and the Glenbrook vintage railway? Do you have an N scale layout?

Cheers

Tim

Tim,

I am in Glenbrook Beach and the GVR is about 9 km away (big steam festival next weekend). My last layout was dismantled and shipped from Virginia about 3 years ago and has not been unpacked yet. All going well there will be a 11 m x 10.5 m steel-framed barn going up on the property later this year mainly for layouts (HO and N). Maybe this recession will give me some time to indulge in the hobby again (although oldest daughter has just come back from a weekend away and has decide that we need to get a boat!)

I visited Tehachapi in 2002 but my interest is more on Eastern roads and Appalachian scenery. All the best foe your layout build!

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Tehachapi Layout research help wanted
« Reply #38 on: February 01, 2009, 12:21:50 PM »
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Tim - Wow!  Lots of food for thought in that plan, and it gives us a much better idea of what you're working towards.  I'd like to study it some more [and copy some of your ideas ;)], but one initial reaction I have is that you have way more ops potential than you have room for people to execute it.   I would guess that, in any given session, you would only be able to operate a fraction of the full manifest; not that there's anything wrong with that.

If I recall correctly, the two legs of the room are each about 5 feet wide?  I would seriously consider omitting the transition deck along the inside walls to make more space, especially since that turnback curve at tunnels 7/8 is probably going to be quite tight (~13" radius?).    But it does add a lot of scenic interest to the mainline run....  The alternative would be a helix under Walong that emerges at the Creek crossing.  You can get much broader curves under there, but it would be mostly hidden. :(

I like the prep work you're doing, that will definitely pay off.  And congrats on being a new Dad!  Busy indeed.  :)

Cheers,
Gary

kiwi_bnsf

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Re: Tehachapi Layout research help wanted
« Reply #39 on: February 01, 2009, 03:27:32 PM »
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Hi Gary,

Thanks for your thoughts :)

Quote
...one initial reaction I have is that you have way more ops potential than you have room for people to execute it.   I would guess that, in any given session, you would only be able to operate a fraction of the full manifest; not that there's anything wrong with that.

You are absolutely right! It is a big layout for me to operate by myself, but I'm going to approach it with a sequential timetable so I can take several weeks to work through a 12 hour timetable. In a 12 hour shift I would anticipate running a BNSF local on the Bakersfield deck, a UP local on the Mojave deck, and two dozen or so trains over the hill with some stopping in Bakersfield to re-block or add/cut-off helper. One UP train will originate or terminate in Mojave (coal or potash or cement). Amtrak has only ~4 trains a day.

With the semi-automatic staging I should be able to leave a through train running continuously while I operate another.

Quote
If I recall correctly, the two legs of the room are each about 5 feet wide?  I would seriously consider omitting the transition deck along the inside walls to make more space, especially since that turnback curve at tunnels 7/8 is probably going to be quite tight (~13" radius?).    But it does add a lot of scenic interest to the mainline run....  The alternative would be a helix under Walong that emerges at the Creek crossing.  You can get much broader curves under there, but it would be mostly hidden.

The room is 70" wide so the decks are typically 18" wide with a 34" aisle. The Tunnel 7/8 turnback is actually 34" wide as the opposite side narrows to 16" (at the West yard throat) and the aisle narrows to 20" for a short length (~2 feet). So the hidden portions of turnback curve have a radius of 16" (widening to 18" in the short visible section between tunnels 7 and 8 ). The tunnels are to hide the tight turns and to keep the trackage close to the benchwork edge safely behind a fascia.

I have mocked it all up in cardboard at the actual heights, and it is pretty comfortable. It will mostly be my Dad and another visitor if we decide to do a heavier operating session - probably with one person managing Bakersfield, and two running through freights and locals. 3 people will be able to move around relatively easily.

One of my personal concerns is the fact that Mojave and Bakersfield yards are stacked on top of each other and that this could lead to operator conflict. However both yards are double-ended and can be worked from either end, and I will stagger the local control panels.

Just to be safe I'm going to build the transition deck benchwork first to get the grades tested and then move onto Bakersfield. If it is all getting too complex then I still have the option to simplify.

Rather than omit the transition deck I would probably opt to ditch Bakersfield BNSF yard and replace it with a more extensive Edison/Magunden industries, and model Kern Junction at the entrance to staging. The big downside to this is that there would be little classification, no engine facilities (and I already have too many locos!), and no BNSF switching operations (only UP).

I hate compromise, but then I figure if I had a bigger basement I would never stand a chance of finishing it!

Quote
I like the prep work you're doing, that will definitely pay off.  And congrats on being a new Dad!  Busy indeed. 

Thanks :)
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Tim

Modelling Tehachapi East Slope in N scale circa 1999

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Tehachapi Layout research help wanted
« Reply #40 on: February 01, 2009, 03:43:14 PM »
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Ok - you're in trouble now Tim.  Just went out for my run (it's warm in DC today!) and spent most of the time thinking about your plan and thought of a few mods you might want to consider.  

Besides the tight turnback at Tunnel 7, another aspect that might be a bit troublesome is the fact that all 3 yards are stacked over each other (at a narrow spot in the aisle) making it a bit of a human traffic choke point.  I have an idea for a modification that relieves both of those features without sacrificing any ops.  The price is a single track duckunder at the entrance, but you wouldn't need to go under it during normal ops, just to enter/leave the room.

I'll try to sketch it up in 3rd PlanIt so you can see if it has any potential for you.

Cheers,
Gary

P.S. I just saw your post as I posted this.... We had the same stacked yard concern....

womblenz

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Re: Tehachapi Layout research help wanted
« Reply #41 on: February 02, 2009, 02:09:41 AM »
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Hello from another Kiwi

I'm 100 miles north of you in Woodville Hope to be down your way around june.
 Once the cows are dried off for the season.


Cheers Warren

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Tehachapi Layout research help wanted
« Reply #42 on: February 02, 2009, 12:10:38 PM »
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Tim, here's a bit of a modification you might want to consider that I sketched up in 3rd PlanIt.  The basic changes are two-fold: 1) move the Bakersfield yard to the right wall so it's not stacked between Mojave and the staging, and 2) rework the transition deck to run around the room rather than turning back at the doorway.  The latter change requires accepting a 1-track duckunder at the entrance, but it would not be necessary to duck under during normal ops, so it could easily be made a swing-away or similar.  (The elevation of the track at the duckunder is 44".)

So here is an overall view of the plan:



In this version, I have not attempted to reproduce your detailed terminal arrangements, I have only blocked in 8 parallel tracks to indicate te extent of the terminal space in the plan.  To make better sense of this, here is each layer in turn.  Lower:



Here, Bakersfield is on the right at 40" above the floor and staging is on the top at 36".  They are joined by a long quasi-hidden stretch along the top wall (see the renders below for a better idea).  You could easily incorporate Jastrow in this plan either along this stretch, or on the staging deck itself.

Next is the transition deck:



This runs clockwise, looping around from Bakersfield at the bottom, giving a nice long stretch for the packing houses at Edison on the left side of the bottom ell, then turning the corner into Caliente for the beginning of the climb to the Loop.  The horseshoe at Caliente has a 26" radius and starts a 2% climb.  The scene then enters a tunnel just before the siding with the idea that it will be Tunnel 1 going in and Tunnel 5 emerging at the start of Cliff siding.  My picture for Cliff is that the scenery is falling away from the front which keeps the lower deck unobstructed.  It would be very cool to have a photo backdrop behind Cliff which shows the hills across the Tehachapi Creek canyon.  After the siding, the track enters a 1.3 turn helix for the approach to the Loop, which is shown in the top deck:



Here, in order to keep the Loop spacious (20" radius, 2% grade) I have sacrificed the Creek crossing below the Loop.  After the Loop there is a brief depiction of Marcel, then straight to Summit, Mojave, etc.  I have not tried to flesh out those details, but they would be unchanged from your plan (including the turnaround and/or helix after Mojave).  Overall, this plan has an 18" minimum radius with easements, and a 2% maximum grade, so it should be quite friendly to modern equipment.  Here are a few renders to give you a sense of the vertical spacing.

Looking from the middle of the room towards the door, from above:



From the same vantage point looking towards the Loop: (the figure is a six-foot person standing in the access area)



Same view but from the level of the Mojave yard:



And the view from the doorway looking towards the Caliente horseshoe:



So there you have it.  I know you didn't ask for this, so I won't be offended in the least if you're not interested, but I thought it would be worth tossing it out there in case there were any features you like.

Best,
Gary
« Last Edit: July 26, 2011, 03:18:51 AM by GaryHinshaw »

kiwi_bnsf

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Re: Tehachapi Layout research help wanted
« Reply #43 on: February 02, 2009, 02:36:23 PM »
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Hi Gary,

Wow! Thanks so much for the time and thought you have invested in planning for my layout.

It is interesting that you have considered a true around-the-walls plan, as this is where I started too. I doodled dozens of arrangements of where the helix could go, and where I could fit a transition deck (with a long gradient). I even looked at moving the location of the loop itself - but this so naturally fits in the far end of the room. Several iterations had a duckunder, so I'm not averse to this at all.

The extra main line run is great. Your plan has improved aisle space, the staggered yard locations. You have even fitted in Caliente horseshoe! The duckunder could be modeled with an elongated version of the road bridge! I like the truly linear design - no tracks running through the same scene twice as with my plan. I really wish I had your CAD skills :)

However there is one thing I think I would struggle with - the separation between the decks. With the transition deck now sandwiched between the Bakersfield and Mojave decks and the separation looks to be quite tight above Bakersfield yard (below summit). What is the clearance above the Bakersfield yard (if you don't mind me asking)?

My plan is already pretty restrictive with the lower (Bakersfield) deck at 37" and the upper (Mojave) deck at 57". This gives a railhead-to-railhead separation of only 20", but in reality the thickness of the upper deck will be at least 6" (based on angle wall brackets, ply woodwork, foam subroadbed, room for Tortoise switch machines, room for the lighting of the deck below, and adequate fascia height to accept control panels). So the actual deck separation will only be ~14".

Even then I am considering moving the upper level higher, but in my mockups my Dad (who is shorter than me at 5' 8") had a difficult view/reach of the upper deck. The aisle is a bit cramped to use foot stools or step-ups to alleviate this.

Moving the lower deck below 37" is difficult as I want people to be able to use backless roll-away office chairs to sit on while operating it - so your legs can tuck under the lower deck like an office desk. But of course I have the staging deck at 28" set slightly back from the layout front edge and protected by the front fascia.

Oh the tyranny of compromise!

Thanks again for this! It is healthy for me to reconsider my design choices before I start the benchwork. This forum is a great way to do it!

Cheers

Tim

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Tim

Modelling Tehachapi East Slope in N scale circa 1999

ednadolski

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Re: Tehachapi Layout research help wanted
« Reply #44 on: February 02, 2009, 04:02:36 PM »
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I like the way you did the Caliente walk-in, and stacked the spirals under the Loop.  You can add an extra spiral if you want to make the upper level higher.

The stub siding on your Loop (not shown on the drawings) might come rather close to the wall.  Doesn't seem like a straight turnout would fit, but IIRC Atlas is releasing a curved turnout with 15"/21" radii that might work.

The access area behind the Loop seems like it could be tight.  Will the backdrop there be against the wall, or close to the track?