Author Topic: A Beginner Starting to Brainstorm  (Read 2436 times)

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lordscarlet

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A Beginner Starting to Brainstorm
« on: January 13, 2014, 11:50:31 PM »
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I am a beginner looking to model N scale based on Washington, DC in the modern era. Because I am a beginner, I'm a bit scatter brained about what to do and my thoughts are evolving. I tried my hand a few times at a layout, but I think before I get there I need a more clear picture. Instead what I have done, if anyone is bored and would like to help, is throw together some vague information about my thoughts.

The space I have available allows for an L shape that is 9.5' on the long side and about 62" on the short side. I could probably get away with 30-36" depth on each leg of the "L", but I don't want to do that just because I can. If a narrow shelf layout works, I would certainly look at doing that. The scrap wood on the floor marks out a 3' depth. The area is adjacent to where we watch TV in the basement, and on the other side of the wall with the mirror is my utility room and workbench.



My thoughts are currently focused in the stretch of DC north of Union Station that continues to the rail yard and into Maryland. I am primarily interested in passenger rail, but would definitely be interested in adding interest with some CSX traffic. I would love to include the soon to operate (fingers crossed) streetcar that will run along H St NE and hopefully throughout the city over the coming decades.

I have put together some very basic information on the routes, and marked some landmarks I am interested in on a google map: https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zFBmXsEMJ5H4.kxHKMiaFiiac

A quick summary:

Union Station: I would love to model Union Station, but a more practical approach is probably to have it at the edge of my model and only model the back end with the passenger platforms.



NoMa Summer Screen: A field across from the train tracks that shows outdoor movies in the summer



Uline Arena (aka Washington Coliseum): An interestingly shaped building that was the host of the first Beatles concert in the United States, as well as a host of other concerts and an ice rink that was used for professional hockey. It is now just a shell that is used for parking, but is part of a redevelopment plan.



Union Market: A market that has run in some form since the 1930's. It is currently a gentrified version that is home to artisan foods and the like. It could probably be modified (leaving strict prototype world) to be an "industry" for the layout.



Gallaudet Universtiy: I don't have a strong interest in modeling it, but it does have some great architecture near the tracks



DC Streetcar: As I mentioned, streetcars are poised to return to DC. I pass the test car every day on my way home from work as it sits waiting for overhead power.



I of course would love to be able to include some DC row houses and other characteristic pieces where I can, I just included some of the bigger landmarks that are of interest.

I marked a few other items that are either large or near tracks, but not necessarily near the line that runs out of Union Station. If I took some major liberties with the prototype I could perhaps include some of them.

If I had more space I would love to somehow figure out how to do some of the south of Union Station traffic that includes Amtrak and VRE coming in from Virginia. It would require some major compression because of the monuments, the Capitol, Union Station and the long stretch of rail that goes under the Capitol.

So, anyway, I don't know if this is the appropriate use of the Layout group or not, but I thought I would brainstorm out loud in case anyone wanted to contribute that has a better idea of how to layout a model than I do. :)

note: While putting the map together, I found a resource I hadn't seen before that gives some details about the DC lines (it is probably not news around here): http://www.railfanguides.us/dc/map2/index.htm

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: A Beginner Starting to Brainstorm
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2014, 09:59:59 AM »
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A good question to ask yourself is what is your interest in trains.

Is it in operation (ie, modeling the transportation system) or is it in railfanning (modeling the aesthetics)? Are you willing to focus on one to the exclusion of the other?

Based on your description thus far, I'd put my money on the later.

If that's the case, it allows you more freedom because you don't have to worry as much about things like having the right track plan, enough and balanced industries, balancing staging, having enough cars, etc... 

You can, essentially, just have a track surrounded by the scenery you find interesting.

I've gone that route myself, and it's quite rewarding because you don't have to compromise aesthetics as much in exchange for operational considerations (in your case, this means that all the tracks in Union Station don't have to work).

If it's the other way, well, that's going to be a much bigger challenge, because what you're modeling is a small vignette of a much larger system, and doesn't have much of the infrastructure that that system needs to support itself (for example, Union station won't operate very well without the coach yards and engine facility, which you'd need to account for).

I'm also working on a layout following this approach, and it involves much more engineering work ahead of construction.

lordscarlet

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Re: A Beginner Starting to Brainstorm
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2014, 01:06:31 PM »
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You would win money on your bet. Obviously, I am new to the hobby, so I don't know what my preference will be with 100% certainty, but my expectation is that it leans toward the modeling/scenery/etc.

Having said that, I am also a software developer by trade and I am intrigued at the thought of automating the tracks with computer control, so at least some interest in the track plan would be nice. But, really, just making a point-to-point layout that is "continuous running", that is, reverses at the end of the track without human intervention, would be a nice step toward that.

Certainly having a few sidings here and there would be nice, or even a small yard, but, yes, I believe that my interest is going to lean toward the modeling side of things.

Kevin C

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Re: A Beginner Starting to Brainstorm
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2014, 01:56:11 PM »
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Some advise that I can give that worked for me is :- don't be in a rush, and more importantly, research as much as you can. Try to find old and new copies of the Model Railroading magazines. Search for websites and follow the forums.
There is a wealth of information out there with regards to the real railroads and modeling possibilities. In all my research, I have found a few articles which I am adapting to fit my layout. There are so many articles on locations that can be modeled as well as towns and industries that can be adapted to fit your layout.
Chances are, is that you will see something that just grabs your interest and sets your direction. Over the years, Model Railroader magazine has run several project layouts with detailed coverage from start to finish.


lordscarlet

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Re: A Beginner Starting to Brainstorm
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2014, 03:59:45 PM »
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I'm trying not to rush too much. It is a balance, of course.. If I get wrapped up in research for too long I will possibly lose my enthusiasm or just never get to starting because of researching to death. :)

packers#1

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Re: A Beginner Starting to Brainstorm
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2014, 04:32:16 PM »
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Do you actually want to do any switching? What I could see doing is compressing the yards above Union Station, with the Market and University and arena being some of the key scene-setting buildings in the background, modeling Union Station on the curve of the benchwork, with maybe only one or two lines actually active and the rest there for effect or for some ops where you would make up trains in the yard and then run them to the station, and then model the junction with CSX and the bridge over the Potomac (I remember that from the trip I was on in DC in March) on the other spot of the shelf, as a point-to-point line. If passenger ops are push-pull, you could probably rig up some automation so that a train can just go back and forth, and then you could have other passenger consists and CSX freights for photos, because I don't see much room for turnback loops or staging. This way you get the modeling of the passenger ops.

If you really want some switching industries, you could probably fit a small modern industrial park under this layout; however, you sounds more interested in the passenger line, so I would go with that.
Sawyer Berry
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lordscarlet

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Re: A Beginner Starting to Brainstorm
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2014, 06:00:39 PM »
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Do you actually want to do any switching?

The short answer: I'm not sure. Hopefully while I'm still planning things I can get some time to do operations on other layouts, because I just haven't had experience with it so I don't know if it is something I will want or not. I figure if I put a minimal amount in, though, I can try it out, and if I don't end up doing much with it, hopefully it's a small enough amount that I didn't spend a lot of time (or take up a large portion of the layout) with it.

I think the (quality) recommendation I am getting is basically: don't overdo it.

At this point I think I will focus on the passenger line, do minimal (if any) switching and focus on the modeling, which I expect I will definitely be interested in. The bulk of my switching may be having a number of passenger platforms merge as they leave the station.

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: A Beginner Starting to Brainstorm
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2014, 08:11:13 PM »
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Ok, then get out and see some layouts.

Can you make the timonium show here in Baltimore next month?

lordscarlet

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Re: A Beginner Starting to Brainstorm
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2014, 10:49:05 PM »
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Ok, then get out and see some layouts.

Can you make the timonium show here in Baltimore next month?

It's on my schedule to go. The only thing up in the air is weather I was going to take rail to get there. Then the realization came that my wife will be 3 weeks from her due date, and being able to get home as quickly as possible seemed like a good idea -- so I will be driving up (I assume Saturday but haven't committed to a day).

lordscarlet

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Re: A Beginner Starting to Brainstorm
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2014, 10:23:54 AM »
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So, I took to paper and did some very rough sketching. I used CAD for a little bit to get a vague feel for scale, but I still think my scale is way off, but I mainly wanted to illustrate my vague thoughts since I'm still learning everything, but I want some satisfaction of making progress. :) So, here is my sketch that I did mostly on the bus to and from work, that should illustrate where my head is right now.

EDIT: oops, scale should be about 4"x4" per square. The table size is pretty accurate, but who knows about the rest.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 10:51:51 AM by lordscarlet »

Philip H

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Re: A Beginner Starting to Brainstorm
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2014, 11:16:55 AM »
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Good and interesting start.  If you decide to actually operate Union Station, you have a location on the lower right that can serve as Ivy City by the use of cassettes.  My initial recommendation is you have two ro three too many tracks heading into Union Station for the space.  Cut down the number of tracks and they can be longer.
Philip H.
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"Yes there are somethings that are "off;" but hey, so what." ~ Wyatt

"I'm trying to have less cranial rectal inversion with this." - Ed K.

"There's more to MRR life than the Wheezy & Nowheresville." C855B

lordscarlet

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Re: A Beginner Starting to Brainstorm
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2014, 12:12:48 PM »
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Good and interesting start.  If you decide to actually operate Union Station, you have a location on the lower right that can serve as Ivy City by the use of cassettes.  My initial recommendation is you have two ro three too many tracks heading into Union Station for the space.  Cut down the number of tracks and they can be longer.

Interesting. My thought was the "yard" in the upper right would represent Ivy City (albeit not geographically correct, even compressed, it should be well beyond Uline), but I could switch it up. I posted this elsewhere as well and the immediate response was "great place for a cassette". So maybe that is a good option. Either make a cassette, or, ambitiously, a module piece that I could pull in for operations that represents Ivy City (or a mix of the two -- cassette short term, Ivy City long term). In that scenario I think the question is whether I leave the "yard" or use that space for something else either rail/switching related, or scenery related.

As far as the tracks into Union Station for this stage of planning it was basically "draw a bunch of lines going into Union Station, don't worry about the number right now." :) I think my hope is to at least have 4 tracks (2 platforms) at Union Station. That would allow for inbound, outbound, and 2 trains that are loading/unloading in theory.

packers#1

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Re: A Beginner Starting to Brainstorm
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2014, 12:16:00 PM »
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You could use the rail yard area as a spot to service the locomotives between runs and to also repair equipment, and that would be your switching ops in the plan.
Sawyer Berry
Clemson University graduate, c/o 2018

Philip H

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Re: A Beginner Starting to Brainstorm
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2014, 12:30:26 PM »
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You could use the rail yard area as a spot to service the locomotives between runs and to also repair equipment, and that would be your switching ops in the plan.

I like this a lot better.  The union station loco service buildings and wash rack are easily seen and photoed from Metro, so you could get a really nive representation going.
Philip H.
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Baton Rouge Southern RR - Mount Rainier Division.

"Yes there are somethings that are "off;" but hey, so what." ~ Wyatt

"I'm trying to have less cranial rectal inversion with this." - Ed K.

"There's more to MRR life than the Wheezy & Nowheresville." C855B

lordscarlet

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Re: A Beginner Starting to Brainstorm
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2014, 12:50:35 PM »
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I like this a lot better.  The union station loco service buildings and wash rack are easily seen and photoed from Metro, so you could get a really nive representation going.

I'm hoping that if they are easily seen from metro that the Metropolitan Branch Trail gives you a good sightline as well.. Hopefully I can check it out in the next couple of weeks.