Author Topic: Hidden Trackage and Multiple Shelves  (Read 2954 times)

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3DTrains

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Hidden Trackage and Multiple Shelves
« on: December 09, 2011, 08:56:45 PM »
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Hi folks,

I'm still in the drawing/tinkering phase of layout design and wanted to pose a couple of questions (I'll try hard to explain things clearly).

In designing my N-Scale dream layout (21' x 24'), I'm using one 36" x 24' shelf for a "nolix" depicting a modest canyon and rolling hills scene on the lowest level (40" or so). Since I'm also considering a steam/transition era, I want to keep grades to a reasonable level, so the total rise will only be 3~4" (at the point of return, at which point the tracks duck into a tunnel and helix and rise 3-turns to the upper deck 12" above the entrance to the helix).

However, I've run into a slight design stumbling block. My original plan was to hide the tracks exiting the top-portion of the helix, run it along the backside of the upper shelf, and then pop-out of a tunnel and continue again along the upper shelf - basically, a reverse of the lower level nolix (but narrower at 30"). I then thought that instead of physically hiding the track, it could run along the front edge, enter the tunnel, and then pop-out as before before continuing on. This keeps more track accessible for maintenance and cleaning, but might look silly having two scenes (upper and lower) with tracks going to a fro.

My question(s): If the track following the upper front edge are slightly blocked by a rise in the scenery (such as from a 3" berm, so that the closer trackage isn't immediately viewable unless you stand right up to the shelf), would this be an acceptable compromise so that the rest of the plan falls into place? Does anyone else here have semi-hidden trackage on their own layouts that can share their experiences on its visual/operational impact? I don't particularly like having any helices, but they do ease grades and help separate scenes.

The following image should help illustrate what I'm after:



Lastly, my original design has the upper shelf climb to 63", and the lower shelf is at 40". If I raise the upper end of the layout by 2", and adjust the lower level 2" downward, I would then have enough space for an additional middle shelf just at 53". Thus the three shelves would be at 38", 53" and 65" heights, and the aisle width in this location would be slightly greater than 48". This last shelf, while not required by my original design, will nevertheless add a ton of operating potential as a final destination yard. While I don't foresee any visual oddities by adding the third shelf, it will, however, make construction of the behind-the scenes areas (aka staging and helices) a bit tricky to pull off.

In all instances above, nothing is added or subtracted from the all-important aisleways (overall at least 36" with one 30" pinch point), and that grades are not over 2.25%. Train lengths will be around 10'. FWIW, I'm 6'-4", so an upper shelf area at chin height is OK, and there's plenty of headroom for a small step if needed.

Cheers!
Marc

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Re: Hidden Trackage and Multiple Shelves
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2011, 02:18:22 PM »
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My feeling is that the 3" berm "hiding" the front track is going to be more of a scenic liability than any other options. The fact that there's a massive trench along the front of the layout will be fairly obvious, even if it's deep enough that you can't see the trains at the bottom of it from normal viewing angles.

Personally I'd go with the hidden track but make sure you design the benchwork that you have good maintenence access to it. (You could even keep it at the front, mounted behind the fascia in such a way that you can reach under & behind the fascia for cleaning or emergency maintenance.)

Or go with the visible turnback loop, or hide some of the _back_ track in tunnels, so you have a visible section coming out of the helix before going into tunnels again.

MichaelWinicki

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Re: Hidden Trackage and Multiple Shelves
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2011, 03:35:21 PM »
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Good suggestions Chris.

I know one thing... The more you hide the trackage the more problems you are apt to have with it.  :scared:

nscalemike

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Re: Hidden Trackage and Multiple Shelves
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2011, 03:52:56 PM »
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Personally I'd go with the hidden track but make sure you design the benchwork that you have good maintenence access to it. (You could even keep it at the front, mounted behind the fascia in such a way that you can reach under & behind the fascia for cleaning or emergency maintenance.)

If you don't want it visible this would be a good option and then go a step further and make the front fascia remove easy, either with a hook and loop type fastener or put it on a piano hinge.  Then when you need access you can just drop it out of the way and its right there.  I've seen lots of good ideas of such on the web and maybe even on here as well.

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Hidden Trackage and Multiple Shelves
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2011, 03:54:47 PM »
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There's also the option of not scenicing it, and just admitting "this is weird".

Visually separate it from the rest of the layout by putting it on an unsceniced shelf in front of the "scene". Paint the shelf and the fascia behind it black, or whatever fascia color you're using, and just let it be.

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Hidden Trackage and Multiple Shelves
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2011, 09:03:37 PM »
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Hi Marc,

I'm not sure I get the advantage of having the hidden track in the front instead of in the back of this shelf.  If it were along the back as you originally described, ordinary scenery would hide the view and look completely natural, but I think you'd still be able to access it without too much trouble.

RE 3 decks: I was just trying some similar mock-ups this weekend and I would strongly advise you to try that yourself first.  I was worried that ~22" between two decks was too little, but I'm ok with it now (I really prefer single deck plans). But when I tried 3 decks, I didn't like it at all.  Remember that you need ~3+ inches of depth per deck, especially if you have any kind of topography, and you're quickly down to 9 or fewer inches of clear space above the lower decks.  That makes me claustrophobic; but you should try it.

Cheers,
Gary



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Re: Hidden Trackage and Multiple Shelves
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2011, 09:52:34 PM »
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Hi Marc,

I have put my return track along the front and several inches below the level of the visible trackage.  I'll cover the hidden track with the upper level of 1" foam board and install magnetic latched openings in the fascia to gain access as needed.  You can see how it looks unhidden:



The trick will be hiding the trackage where the grade brings it closer to the level of the upper deck.  I'm not fully happy with this but hope to be able to hide it still while maintaining fascia access:



It is a lot of trouble to hide the track, but it allows me to visually clean up the scenes and gives me a good way to have the trains disappear from the back of the scene, hidden by a paper mill.  This was my priority, but I am still struggling with the implementation.

Cheers,
Scott

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Re: Hidden Trackage and Multiple Shelves
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2011, 10:09:53 PM »
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I've got a staging yard tucked below the scenic part of the layout.  It's accessed via a drop leaf bridge that ties into the tunnel there on the fascia, then goes down a one-turn helix and into a long 4 track return loop.

I've left windows open in the fascia to keep an eye on things down there...

Lee
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Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

DKS

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Re: Hidden Trackage and Multiple Shelves
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2011, 05:09:16 PM »
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If it was me, I'd flip it so the hidden track runs along the back; I see more disadvantages than advantages running it along the front. For access, I'd make removable scenery in sections from foam. FWIW
"Life's a piece of sh!t when you look at it."
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3DTrains

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Re: Hidden Trackage and Multiple Shelves
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2011, 12:07:55 AM »
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Thanks guys for the feedback. I've come to the decision of not including the return track and will sacrifice one siding. I'm also scrapping the idea of the extra shelf (3rd deck) - it'll likely just add more work with little return value.

Gee, if I only had an extra 1200 sq-ft handy...

Looking at Lee's pictures and Gary's comment on triple decks, the 2-deck design I have thus far has the tracks dive into a helix to staging below the top and bottom shelves. The lower level will be at 42", while the upper level at 60". I had planned on 5" deck clearance for staging for both ends, but wondered if the lower-level staging were set at say desk height (at 32"...10" below the lower deck - upper deck would remain at 5" below upper), that I could possibly use this as both staging and an active yard with some basic ground scenery and detail. I might be able to squeeze 36"~42" aisles in this location, but not sure whether wheeled office chairs would become bothersome. I just hate seeing space going to waste, especially when it already has track. This will obviously add a few more helix turns and time to stage trains. Other thoughts?

BTW, Gary, I'm glad to see you posting again on Tehachapi BC...I was getting a bit worried. :o

Cheers!
Marc