Author Topic: Cisco Bridges: a new layout concept  (Read 99510 times)

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Scottl

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Cisco Bridges: a new layout concept
« on: November 11, 2012, 09:04:35 AM »
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OK, here goes.  This is a long post, please bear with me!  There are some pictures below.

I have to admit, I've been wallowing in a bit of a layout funk the past six months.  Most of my efforts have been at the workbench, kitbashing and finishing locomotives in CN attire, while an operational layout sits unused behind me. I am pretty certain that I have come to some kind of end with this current layout, and have started to think about a new layout that could better serve my interests.  I'm fortunate to have a good sized space in the basement furnace room that is finished nicely, and where competing uses for the space are minimal.

Here is what I have learned about myself from the current layout, that was started Oct 2010:

1.  I like building layouts, probably more than running them.  I'm a lone wolf here.
2.  My track work has not been good enough to ensure reliable operation.  There are many operational issues with my current layout that really take the fun out of running it for me.  I've tried to deal with them, but I'm pretty much of the mind it has chronic issues.
3.  In particular, I have too much hidden track with tight access clearance that makes for problems when something goes wrong.
4.  I have almost no interest in switching or other yard work.  I like some kind of place to line up the trains to admire, but I don't find fussing with couplers this size to be my cup of tea.
5.  My strengths and interests lie more in scenery rather than buildings.

So, what kind of theme for a layout interests me?

1.  My first choice remains solidly CN.  There are moments when it would be fun to run some other equipment, but I always come back to CN.  It has become viable to model this in n-scale, even though almost every locomotive needs to be built up from resin kits, kitbashed and finished. 
2.  I want to return to a scenic, spectacular setting.  I started this way with a Rio Grande diorama in 2005 and I really enjoy setting up these kinds of scenes.
3.  I want a modern, or near to modern setting.  Say 2005 to the present but flexible as new equipment appears.
4.  My preference would be a main line concept, with the potential for all types of traffic, but particularly intermodal and some unit trains (coal, grain, potash).
5.  Operationally, I want to minimize hidden track and complexity on the mainline to make it as robust as possible. 
6.  I am especially interested in stepping up the quality of my trackwork, including trying hand laid turnouts.
7.  I want to minimize the visual compromises of the layout that I have suffered with to date.  I want broader curves, higher turnout numbers and  plausible "exits" and "entrances" between scenes.
8.  Related to 7., I want to develop scenes with as much scenery to track ratio as possible:  I want to really go for one or more signature scenes that are not compressed (much) and have a large spatial feel to them, both foreground and background.  Space limitations play a role, of course, but I am willing to give up track for scenery.  I have been inspired by Gary's Tehachapi Loop and Mike Dannemann's Big Ten Curves scenes.  These are where n scale really shines for me and I want to capture some of that big space feel, even on a relatively small layout.
8.  Finally, as I am away for months at a time for work, I want a convenient way to cover up my rolling stock in storage to protect from dust and other hazards.

So, where do these criteria lead me?  One concept I have returned to is a favourite railfanning scene in British Columbia's Fraser River Canyon.  It is a location called Cisco where CN and CP cross over the tight canyon and each other on a pair of spectacular bridges.  CP's original line pops out of a tunnel directly onto a long bridge, while the subsequent CN line had to cross on an epic cantilever-arch bridge combination.  The prototype scene is all relatively compact but an amazing place to watch trains.  I can't link photos but I suggest searching "Cisco" or "Lytton" on Railpictures.net.

The CN bridge has suffered quite a bit since construction in 1911.  There have been some major derailments, fires and other events that have resulted in reconstruction.  A large derailment in 1977 closed it long enough that they built a cutoff to the CP line below to facilitate exchange between the lines. 

What really grabs me about the scene, other than the incredible visual effect, is the potential to run traffic on not one but two main line routes.  It also gives me a possibility to model a bit of CP traffic, something that has some appeal to me.  In recent years, CN and CP have agreed to directional running in the canyon, with westbounds on the CN line and vice versa.  This means I can operate either in this scene prototypically.

Another scene that is in the area and of interest is the White Canyon of the Thompson River, about 50 km upstream (both locations are around Lytton, BC, if you want to look).  Here the CN line has been carved out of the cliff side along the river and there are a variety of interesting structures to protect from rock slides.  There is also a location where a stream has even been routed to flow over the line.


I've been playing with these two scenes as elements in a new layout and have come up with something that I think meets my criteria and would be a challenge to build and finish.  It is a simple design with scenery positioned first, but one that I think will give me considerable enjoyment to run as well.

First, here is the room space with my concept in it.  The room is well finished, but has a number of doors for access to a storage closet and the furnace space.  These don't get opened very often, but obviously need to be on occasion.  There are two elements to the layout I have envisioned:  a core area that is sceniced and fixed to the wall, and separate detachable storage yard element that could be moved into the opposite corner for storage or to get it out of the way.  The storage yard would be easily covered with dust protection during absences.




The main layout is a glorified oval with a large open area devoted to Cisco and the bridges, and a narrower scene dedicated to the CN portion of the White Canyon.  This configuration allows continuous running on the CN line, with movements to storage via the Cisco cutoff and CP line.  As I have envisioned the CP line, it is really just for staging shots on the bridges for pictures and fun.  Most elements of the scene are prototypical, and I can fit a 75% sized full Cisco bridge for both lines.  The siding that connects the two scenes is not prototypical for White Canyon, but I am willing to make it work for the flexibility of being able to have some passing activity on the layout.  The track configuration is mostly prototypical for Cisco.

 I would envision tall backdrops (24" or so) and a lot of vertical relief in the Cisco scene, with the river about 12" below the CN bridge level.  There are no grades on the CN line, but a steep grade (3.5%) on the Cisco cutoff to make the connection to the lower CP line.  Hidden track is limited to one area.  I have built in a large access area for construction and emergencies, but my hope is that through a serious track quality program, I will avoid derailments for the most part in the back.  All visible curves are 16-20" radius, and the CP line disappearing to storage is a 14" radius, although I might be able to improve that a bit.  I envision the visible turnouts will be #8, but might try for #9 or #10.  All will be hand laid with Proto87 points and frogs, detailed to a high level (since there are only 4).  Track will be M-E concrete ties code 55, with Atlas code 55 for the storage yard.  I might re-use my Atlas code 55 flex track and turnouts for the storage yard, and I will probably install a short backdrop and finish the track with ballast and some trees for photos.  I see using tortoise switch machines on the layout, both DCC controlled and powering frogs, with manual controls in the storage yard.



I'm pretty happy with this concept both in terms of the kinds of activities I enjoy and the kind of operations possible.  The signature elements are clearly the Cisco bridges, especially the CN arch.  I have been working through the bridge plans from Doug Hole published in Mainline Modeller and I think it will be an interesting challenge.  I may do it with my own etched brass, or use ME, Central Valley and GMM components.  The CP bridges could be done with BLMA and Central Valley kits, modified for the scene.

So, I suspect this is the beginning of something new, but I'm not in a rush to tear down my existing layout.  I have a chance to visit Cisco and White Canyon in early December and will probably decide what to do over the holiday when I have some time.  In the meantime, I would appreciate feedback on the concept, layout plan, and any other things that come to mind.  Thanks for reading this long post!

Scott
 

JSL

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Re: Cisco Bridges: a new layout concept
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2012, 09:46:18 AM »
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That will be awesome. I take each square on the plan is 12 inches? Too bad you don't have the room to scale the bridge to actual size which should be just about a little over 5 feet. My friend here in Winnipeg is working to get all the dimensions off the Overland HO bridge, as we he make a module of this.  To bad Overland didn't make this bridge in N Scale.

Scottl

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Re: Cisco Bridges: a new layout concept
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2012, 10:54:17 AM »
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Sorry, forgot to mention that.  You are correct, the grid is 1', so I have about 10' X 7' overall to work with including access.

I've seen pictures of the Overland HO bridge- it is incredible, as is Doug Hole's version.  I think it was $5000 retail ( :scared:).  I hope it will still be pretty impressive scaled to about 75%.  I have scanned the Mainline Modeller plans and will do a scaled mock up to see what it looks like if I go this route.

If you or your friend could share close up photos of the Overland bridge, that would be fantastic.  I have had difficulties seeing some details from available photos, and I suspect getting close to it will be challenging.  I might get lucky and a maintenance crew will be at Cisco station when I visit to get permission to get up close, but the public land access is quite limited.

unittrain

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Re: Cisco Bridges: a new layout concept
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2012, 11:07:49 AM »
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That will be awesome. I take each square on the plan is 12 inches? Too bad you don't have the room to scale the bridge to actual size which should be just about a little over 5 feet. My friend here in Winnipeg is working to get all the dimensions off the Overland HO bridge, as we he make a module of this.  To bad Overland didn't make this bridge in N Scale.

Sometimes I think I should get into offering etched brass bridges in N scale as they are my favorite structures to research and draw up on CAD I've got several drawn up. I've kicked the idea around before I would just need to find an affordable etching firm that didn't require doing runs in too large of quantity.

Philip H

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Re: Cisco Bridges: a new layout concept
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2012, 11:13:24 AM »
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Over all I think this plan meets your druthers -  can 't comment on your givens except for what 's on the plan. That said, even with the access hatch in the lower left, there's a LOT of space that would be long reach in on the plan. Are willing to do that to have your bridges?  Will it impact your enthusiasm to run stuff?
Philip H.
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pnolan48

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Re: Cisco Bridges: a new layout concept
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2012, 11:34:46 AM »
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I've built five different long span bridges for my layout, and seriously considered how to offer long-span bridges to the market. I think BLMA and Traincat2 have produced fairly long bridges, at fairly high prices, but have no idea of their market success. I decided the market was just not there, even with affordable PE sources. I also thought the difficulty of bending PE parts for trussed posts and other components would be far beyond the capability of most modelers, leading to potential customer dissatisfaction and frustration when trying to assemble them. Yes, there are fabulous bridges out there, built by very dedicated modelers. I'm afraid the "dedicated modeler" market who would also require a long bridge is too small.

So foolish me decided to try N Scale ships instead. A market which requires modelers with a fairly large water scene. Also not a very large market.

Bremner

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Re: Cisco Bridges: a new layout concept
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2012, 12:09:26 PM »
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I like the idea, I myself have thought of building a Tehatchapi/Caliente oval in about 6x10 in N....the only concern I have is your staging, I think you would be happier with a loop and a second way into it

coosvalley

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Re: Cisco Bridges: a new layout concept
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2012, 12:16:47 PM »
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Judging by what you have said about your current layout, I still think you will have access problems. Just because you can see it, does not mean you can reach it. I also think building scenery with those long reaches will cuase you to invent new swear words .  Sorry, but when I look at the plan I think......spaghetti.....

Sorry to be so negative, but you asked. Of course it's just my opinion, and you can do what you want. I just wish I had a better suggestion......any layout I build from now on will not be deeper than 2 feet because of access problems.....It is much easier to lay track when you can reach and see the area without some sort of ladder....

Just my 2cents.......

Hyperion

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Re: Cisco Bridges: a new layout concept
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2012, 01:35:30 PM »
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If I'm looking at the plan right, it's just an oval (as you said) and I'm not entirely sure how an oval with a single offshoot can be considered 'spaghetti' as the previous poster stated, but the issue I see is that it's only 1 direction.  Trains come out of staging, enter the oval at at the crossover and then can never get off again to run back into staging.  It appears the only way back into staging is by shoving backwards.  Not so sure you want to get into the habit of shoving 100-car trains (I'm guessing by the length of your staging tracks) backwards all the times, particularly through a number of switches.

I'm also wondering if perhaps turning the whole thing 90* would make more sense visually and operationally.  As it is, you've got a substantial portion of the layout shoved back into a corner.  Not only will that be virtually impossible to work on (it looks to be a solid 3ft from the hatch to the corner), but the prime viewing spot I would think of the area between the 2 bridges right about where it says "Fraser river" is inaccessible.  Even if that staging area to the bottom right were gone, it appears there's only about 18" between the layout and the wall at this prime spot -- not really enough to stand in.
-Mark

Scottl

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Re: Cisco Bridges: a new layout concept
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2012, 02:40:23 PM »
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Thanks everyone for your thoughts and comments.  This is very much a work in progress.

The track plan follows the prototype- the scene is actually very constrained and congested in reality, which is why CN had to build such a crazy bridge in the first place.  I do think this is a lot of space for the amount of track there. 

Just to clarify, the staging in the bottom right corner would be a storage position when the layout is not in use.  I envision the staging yard to be on a rolling piece of bench work that can be put there to provide access to the doors to the furnace, particularly when I am away for a month or more.  During operation, this yard would be in the top position, although I would want all of the turnouts visible so some minor tinkering is needed of the staging plan.

I agree with the concern about the backing move into staging.  I am designing for 16 car + 2 locomotive trains, but I am worried about the backing a bit.  I am stumped as to how to get double ended staging for this without introducing steep gradients or unwanted visible elements.

The access is a big issue with this plan, but it emerges because I am trying to generate a scene with a lot of depth.  I'm very tall and I have long arms, so 30" reaches are not too bad, especially given the corners will be steep built up topography, but I do take this concern raised by a number of you seriously.  A lot of the time in the back corner will be during construction and scenery work.  I just don't know how difficult that will be, but my recent experience suggests 30" is not too problematic for me.

For me, the classic view of the Cisco scene is from downriver (the right side of the room) looking up past the CP bridge to the CN bridge.  In this configuration, I have almost 8' of depth on this view, while still affording access to the CN bridge from the lower edge.  The downside to this is that the only way to view the bridges from upstream (left) is from the access panel location.

Here are a few links that might help set the stage.  My brain was not working this AM and I tried to link images, rather than provide links  :facepalm:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cisco_Bridges

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=346830&nseq=5

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=346829&nseq=6

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=346633&skip=1

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=337382&nseq=8

Here are a few from White Canyon on the Thompson River, the other side of the layout concept:

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=412010&nseq=2

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=409402&nseq=5

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=407366&nseq=8

Dave Schneider

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Re: Cisco Bridges: a new layout concept
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2012, 02:55:24 PM »
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Now that is a great looking stage! I wasn't familiar with this location and I can definitely see the appeal. I say go for it, especially if your current layout isn't doing it for you.

Best wishes, Dave
If you lend someone $20, and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

unittrain

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Re: Cisco Bridges: a new layout concept
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2012, 03:23:15 PM »
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Here is another manufacturer of Brass bridges I dont know if they have N though. But they are awesome detail but quite pricey! :o
http://trustdeal4you.com/PBA008_childpage.html

unittrain

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Re: Cisco Bridges: a new layout concept
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2012, 03:30:20 PM »
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I've built five different long span bridges for my layout, and seriously considered how to offer long-span bridges to the market. I think BLMA and Traincat2 have produced fairly long bridges, at fairly high prices, but have no idea of their market success. I decided the market was just not there, even with affordable PE sources. I also thought the difficulty of bending PE parts for trussed posts and other components would be far beyond the capability of most modelers, leading to potential customer dissatisfaction and frustration when trying to assemble them. Yes, there are fabulous bridges out there, built by very dedicated modelers. I'm afraid the "dedicated modeler" market who would also require a long bridge is too small.

So foolish me decided to try N Scale ships instead. A market which requires modelers with a fairly large water scene. Also not a very large market.

Agreed that is a big concern for me also the average modeler would find assembly difficult, Especially the inner web members with lacing bars it would be a challenge to bend the the 1/32" legs to attach the lacing to. I had to use 1/32" x 3/32 and 1/8" K&S flat bar for the web member side plates the upper and lower chord have to be etched. The kits would have to have all the flat bar cut to length ect it would take alot of time to make and hence make cost of the kits sky high.

BN1970

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Re: Cisco Bridges: a new layout concept
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2012, 06:14:23 PM »
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Another option is a 3D printed bridge.  There is a local company (Vancouver BC), Diversions Hobbies & Crafts, that has made a number of large N-Scale bridges for modellers in the area.

Its owned by an N-Scale modeller, Kevin Knox.  http://www.kevinknox.com 

I've seen three of his bridges.  The best one that many of you on these web forums would have seen, is the one he made for Tim Horton (BCR 570) crossing the East Pine River.  Kevin even assembled and painted it for Tim.

I also saw one of Kevin's N-Scale bridges of the CPR's Stoney Creek bridge which he was selling for something like $1,000.  Here is the link for the Stoney Creek bridge http://www.kevinknox.com/stoney%20creek.html

Using a 3D printer to make one of these signature bridges, while expensive, is actually a very interesting idea. --Brian

Scottl

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Re: Cisco Bridges: a new layout concept
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2012, 06:52:12 PM »
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Thanks Brian,  the Stony Creek bridge he did is very impressive!   I'm not sure I would go this route, but it is probably a serious option for the high Cisco bridge.