Author Topic: Richmond Belt Line  (Read 4388 times)

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Coxy

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Richmond Belt Line
« on: February 19, 2013, 08:35:09 PM »
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I'm going to do a crazy thing. I'm going to describe a layout I'd like to build while knowing there is a finite chance I will have to move in the summer. I'll know for sure in a few months. Just posting this thread is probably enough to jinx the whole project and ensure we'll be moving! On the other hand, I enjoy reading the other posts in this section so I'm throwing caution to the wind and offering up my thoughts on a layout I hope will get built. I hope you find it useful. Here goes...

My  basement space is approx 20' x 30', of which a 10'-wide L-shaped space is dedicated to the layout. The basement doubles as a TV space which will serve as the crew lounge during operations.

This is an overview of the plan.



The heavy blue line is the basement space. The red and orange rectangles are the TV area. The grid is one foot. The layout is an island design with 36" aisles except for the staging area which is narrower, in the 24" range. A backdrop runs down the center of the benchwork and forms a blob shape in the top lobe of the plan. The backdrop creates long linear modeling spaces about a foot wide on average.

This is a single deck plan enabling switching operations of the Richmond Belt Line (RBL), a fictitious shortline loosely based on the Richmond Pacific which is  located in Richmond California at the northern tip of San Francisco Bay. Like the Richmond Pacific, the RBL will interchange with class I's BNSF and UP. Both Class I's will operate on a UP's double-track continuous running main line, with BNSF and Amtrak as trackage rights tenants.

On one of the small peninsulas, there is also a small interchange with another local to-be-named shortline which will mimic ops of the Western Rail Switching Inc (WRSI) which switched Chevron's Richmond refinery until recently.

The basic operating idea is that the RBL has been assigned switching duties for the Class I's between Richmond and San Pablo. Both Class I's will set out and pick up cars for the RBL on a daily basis. The RBL works industries on either side of the UP double track main (simulating UP's Cal-P main from Oakland to Sacramento). The double track main will see UP, BNSF and Amtrak trains.

The layout will support individual operations - switch a few cars, let a few run mainline trains on the DT main. Or, it can support multiple operators up to about a half dozen including 2-3 switch crews, 2 mainline crews, dispatcher.

I'll follow up with a few detailed descriptions of the track plan.

Feedback and comments welcome.

Cheers,
Steven

MichaelWinicki

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Re: Richmond Belt Line
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2013, 09:26:58 PM »
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Wow!

Lot's of stuff going on there!

It doesn't look like a lot of room for scenery.  The walkway between the layout and the wall is pretty narrow.

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Richmond Belt Line
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2013, 09:58:05 PM »
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Steven,

Cool concept!  I like the area this represents (my brother lives a few miles from there), it has a lot of character.  But I agree with Michael that there is a ton going on here and I dare say this plan could keep a crew of 10 busy for a full day, at least.  I predict that you could be just as happy (or happier) with half as much track in the same footprint.  Lance Mindheim has a nice column in a recent MRH about sizing a layout for ops.  It's a good read.

-Gary

P.S. Weren't you involved with a similar style layout plan that was featured in a recent magazine?  (The MR contest?)   I apologize that I'm drawing a blank now, but I'd like to go back and look it, if you could remind me.

LKOrailroad

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Re: Richmond Belt Line
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2013, 10:56:43 PM »
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Looks ambitious. There does seem to be great deal of switching opportunity there. However, I agree there is too little room for scenery.

Coxy

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Re: Richmond Belt Line
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2013, 11:04:39 PM »
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Yes, it's busy but hold judgement till I post some 3D images.

Coxy

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Richmond Belt Line - 3D renderings of main tracks
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2013, 12:36:09 AM »
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Here's a trip following a westbound from Sacramento/Roseville Staging (East end) to Emeryville Staging (West end).

Westbound in Sacramento/Roseville Staging


Exiting staging onto the westbound main. To the right of the train is the eastbound main. To the left of the train are a the switching lead, a ready track for power and the staging power tracks.


Leaving Sac Staging, the westbound appears on the modeled portion at CP San Pablo (located a few rail miles east of Richmond on the UP). There is a double crossover and crossovers to the switching lead. The two UP SD's are on the switching lead. To the right of the train is Hensley Industrial District, location of several large industries, some of which are served by present day Richmond Pacific.


Here's another view of Hensley Industrial from the head end of our train.


The westbound rounds a righthand curve and passes through CP North Richmond. This crossover is used by the RBL to reach Hensley after a brief run along UP tracks. RBL carries more insurance than the prototype Richmond Pacific which does not run on UP main tracks. It's good to be king!


The WB rounds another sweeping righthander. These are some of the tightest mainline curves at 18.5" and 20". To the left of the main tracks are the RBL switching lead (Waterside Drill track) and some industrial spurs, including one of two spurs that serve the Port of Richmond. To the right of the train are a couple of RBL spurs reached by an RBL lead on the north side of the main.


Here's another view of the same location, this time from the head end. To the left of the power is the North Side Lead, the train is on the WB main, then to the right of the train is the EB main, the Waterside Drill, and a local runaround. The spurs in the foreground are engine service for the RBL. Much like the RPRC prototype, they are very spartan and mixed in with port spurs. Note the two port spurs to the right which intersect at a ~90 deg crossing.


Continuing around the left hand curve, our WB train reaches CP Stege which is a decent approximation of Stege Jct on the UP. On the prototype, UP exchanges rail cars with the RPRC and the BNSF gains access to the UP having traveled over the RPRC from the Richmond Terminal on the way to the BNSF Oakland Terminal and points south on the UP. The RBL uses the crossovers at CP stege to reach the North Side Lead. To the left of the main trackage is a partially modeled oil terminal.


Here the train is passing through CP Stege. Parallel tracks from left to right are: Cal Oils track, North Side Lead, WB main, EB main, Waterside Drill, RBL switching lead, RBL switching runaround. Tracks to the right are a busy to be named switching area which includes a wye, multiple diamonds, a shortline interchange, team tracks and the oil terminal.


Now past CP Stege, the head end leans into the broad left hand curves near RBL's compact Albany yard. The four tracks are RBL's main sorting area for making up the RBL local jobs to serve the port, north side, Hensley and the un-named industrial area. These areas borrow heavily from various switching locations in Richmond and Point Richmond.


The WB eases through the Albany S-curves, an exageration of some very mild curves at Albany CA. To the left of the train are a couple of industrial spurs that are reached via the North Side Lead. To the right is Albany Yard. A yard has one long "get out of trouble" track for the yard crew. They can also leave some cars on the Waterside Drill until they can be sorted. The train is getting close to staging at this point.


The WB rounds a long rh curve to reach the layout exit point. Various options can be used to diminish visibility of the exit point. Operators will be able to follow their train into staging which is just behind the backdrop. The two tracks on the 'camera' side of the mains are the Waterside Drill and the long A yard track.


At the end of the mainline run, the mains connect in with West Staging representing Emeryville, Oakland and points south. Continuous running is enabled by both EB and WB mains continuing along the outside edge of the staging area. On operation sessions, these could also be used as storage tracks.


That's the basic dime tour of the main. It's about 52' or about 1.5 scale miles along the scenicked portion of the layout. Trains will need several minutes to do a complete circuit at 20-30 scale mph. The main line trains mainly serve as suppliers and consumers of interchange cars to the switching line. Main line trains also provide some context to the switching operators and lastly break up the sessions and provide interest when needing to cross over the main or to use the main to reach Hensley. The dispatcher would be kept moderately busy during sessions to keep traffic flowing.

BTW, I'm very used to looking at these low res images. Let me know if you'd like clarification on the route.
- Coxy

Coxy

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Re: Richmond Belt Line
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2013, 12:57:03 AM »
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Thanks Gary, Michael and LK&O,

I should have mentioned up front that this is not a scenery heavy layout. It is urban and the main scenery is ballast, dirt roads, other roads, vacant lots and small trackside hills and burms. Near Hensley there is more room for landscaping but it is not a feature of this layout.

The plan does look busy but I've been actually been operating the layout on the computer, something I've been doing with various plans for many years, and I'm finding it's not too busy. There's a realistic amount of track for switching and the travel times at 10 mph are also realistic. The larger industries tend to receive cuts of cars rather than onesies and twosies. And there are a few places, such as the oil terminal, where there are just a lot of cars on hand locally.

For reference, the North Side lead has seven industries, the RBL lead has seven including the WRSI interchange and team tracks, and Hensley has four, although one is large with several spurs to be switched. So there's enough to keep three switch crews busy in different parts of the layout and in the background one or two mainline operators can run the mains.

Regarding the other plan, Clif Linton and I picked up second prize in MR's track planning comp. The plan was Chicago Belt Lines and it is an extended version of the N scale layout that Clif is building in Alameda CA. The article was published in the Oct or Nov 2012 MR. I built the double diamonds for Clif's BRC crossing here in Toronto and they are now serving well in Alameda on the layout.

Cheers,
Coxy

MichaelWinicki

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Re: Richmond Belt Line
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2013, 10:07:18 AM »
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Steven, that aisleway depth in the staging area gives me pause.

24" is pretty narrow.  And then if you have anything at all on the fascia, it's going to constrict the space even more.  If you have control panels back there then it's even more difficult because one has to back up to be able to read the control panel/fascia.

C855B

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Re: Richmond Belt Line
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2013, 11:35:48 AM »
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Steven, that aisleway depth in the staging area gives me pause.

Yeah, me too. Two feet is fine as a lesser-used thru aisle, but if you have to bend down to work on anything, you'll find it literally a pain-in-the-butt and/or neck. Also, you have a column intruding there reducing it to 18". It would be a squeeze for certain old-fart Midwesterners who lost the battle with middle-age spread.  :D

Something else I noticed is the sweeping curve in the upper middle, the one with five parallel tracks. It looks to me like that area is going to be really hard to reach - well beyond 24". Access is blocked from the left by the backdrop.

YMMV.
...mike

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DKS

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Re: Richmond Belt Line
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2013, 12:03:01 PM »
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Assuming the TV space is not walled in, I should think the entire layout could be shifted away from the bottom wall about a foot, and maybe to the right a half-foot or so to open up the aisle near the door just a tad (the aisle at the right end could survive being narrower versus the aisle at the left).

« Last Edit: February 20, 2013, 12:10:15 PM by David K. Smith »
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Coxy

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Re: Richmond Belt Line
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2013, 12:47:19 PM »
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Steven, that aisleway depth in the staging area gives me pause.

24" is pretty narrow.  And then if you have anything at all on the fascia, it's going to constrict the space even more.  If you have control panels back there then it's even more difficult because one has to back up to be able to read the control panel/fascia.

Thanks for the suggestion Michael. The aisle by staging is a low traffic area. The layout is sectional/portable and can be moved if access is needed beyond what the aisle provides. Route controls will likely be above the yard throats and supported by the fascia. Any fascia controls that are needed would be recessed. Throttles are wireless.

jagged ben

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Re: Richmond Belt Line
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2013, 12:47:57 PM »
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I think the whole thing is pretty cool.  Potentially lends itself to automatic control of trains on the main while you do switching, something I have always considered a worthy goal of a home layout.

The aisleway issue really depends on how...er... fit you are.  For me it would not be a problem (but at the club we try to stick to 1.5 Chucks.)

One main comment for now...

At the ends of staging, I don't see how the turnout arrangements work for you to get Eastbounds onto the main.  It seems to me that your crossovers on the main need to be 'outside' the entrances to the staging yards.

Not sure I understand all the switching track arrangements but that is much more particular, would need to understand what all those spurs are for and which industries they are to offer comments.

Coxy

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Re: Richmond Belt Line
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2013, 12:51:59 PM »
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Yeah, me too. Two feet is fine as a lesser-used thru aisle, but if you have to bend down to work on anything, you'll find it literally a pain-in-the-butt and/or neck. Also, you have a column intruding there reducing it to 18". It would be a squeeze for certain old-fart Midwesterners who lost the battle with middle-age spread.  :D

Something else I noticed is the sweeping curve in the upper middle, the one with five parallel tracks. It looks to me like that area is going to be really hard to reach - well beyond 24". Access is blocked from the left by the backdrop.

YMMV.

C855B I hear you on the middle age spread factor! This is a low traffic aisle and the modules are movable if additional space is needed. I've done plenty of trackwork and wiring in similar situations. Much of it can actually be constructed with the layout further away from the wall if needed. Thanks for the suggestions. Keep em coming.

Coxy

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Re: Richmond Belt Line
« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2013, 12:55:28 PM »
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Assuming the TV space is not walled in, I should think the entire layout could be shifted away from the bottom wall about a foot, and maybe to the right a half-foot or so to open up the aisle near the door just a tad (the aisle at the right end could survive being narrower versus the aisle at the left).



David I can see where you are coming from, although I think it invokes conservation of difficulty by moving the shallow aisle to the main operating side. As you noted, this is a trade off with the design and my sense is to devote more real estate to the operating/switching aisle at the expense of the staging area. Back there it will be acceptable I think.

Appreciate the feedback, looking forward to more. ;-)

Coxy

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Re: Richmond Belt Line
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2013, 01:13:12 PM »
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I think the whole thing is pretty cool. 

Thanks!


Potentially lends itself to automatic control of trains on the main while you do switching, something I have always considered a worthy goal of a home layout.

Agreed. Computer control is already on the horizon and the simple DT main arrangement would be a good platform to have some fun with. Even without computer control, just having a couple of trains circulating on the main would be a good operational augmentation while doing solo switching.



The aisle-way issue really depends on how...er... fit you are.  For me it would not be a problem (but at the club we try to stick to 1.5 Chucks.)
Is that imperial or metric Chucks?!!



One main comment for now...
At the ends of staging, I don't see how the turnout arrangements work for you to get Eastbounds onto the main.  It seems to me that your crossovers on the main need to be 'outside' the entrances to the staging yards.

Good catch. You are correct, the west end staging has no direct access to the EB main at the throat. This is both a deliberate design and necessitated by my preference of not using curved turnouts to put crossovers on curves (basically not used in the modeled region).

The design forces some dispatching interest by ensuring some limited "wrong main" movements. Access to the main for EB's leaving west end staging would be to use the WB main to CP Stege and crossover to the EB main there. The crossover at the west end staging facilitates through train movement onto the layout when the WB main is occupied by trains entering or leaving west end staging.

I should mention that the plan is to use JMRI and CTC signaling at each control point. I dont think there is enough distance between CP's for any automatic signals.


Not sure I understand all the switching track arrangements but that is much more particular, would need to understand what all those spurs are for and which industries they are to offer comments.

I'll capture the switching ops subsequently. I'll throw in a few building mockups to help visualize the industries at each location.

Thanks for the comments!