Author Topic: Arizona & California RR  (Read 4812 times)

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dmidkiff

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Arizona & California RR
« on: July 19, 2014, 03:31:30 PM »
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I'll be starting a new N scale layout this fall/winter in a space we just finished in the basement.  The room is going to be for trains only and I'd like to keep everything in the room, no staging yard in adjacent spaces.  I've been playing with a benchwork outline that gives me an aisle pinch point of 32" and 36"+ everywhere else.  Most of the benchwork right now is sketched at 12" deep, with the section along the 12' wall at 15" deep.  Right now I'm hoping to get some feedback on the best use of the space with some givens:
  • continuous run, with a separate branchline
  • min 18" radius curves
  • decent sized classification yard
  • long run between towns/sidings
  • track only running through a scene once (I'm ok with having helices at each end of the mainline)

The hope is to have a layout that has the feel of the open desert without a lot of track packed in; this won't be a prototype inspired layout, just take on the locale and paint scheme of the ARZC.  The branchline would afford me a bit of a mini layout to operate alone, and would keep someone busy for an entire ops session.

There was another thread started here https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=31942.msg357780#msg357780 about which space in the basement to finish.  Below are a couple of shots of the space as well as what I have sketched up so far.






I think the best minds are here at this forum and I'm hoping I can pick some brains a little.  I really liked what Ian was doing with his Amoskeag Northern - Conrail Portland (PRO&C) Line and what DKS had put together in that space.

I appreciate any comments.

Doug

MichaelWinicki

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Re: Arizona & California RR
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2014, 04:05:02 PM »
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Very nice Doug!

And a decent sized area too!

Any idea how many trains would be run during a typical "day" on the railroad?

The only thing I don't care for is that little two-track jog-out.  I think to interrupt the flow of the room for that little jog-out is not a good thing... at least from my perspective.

Baronjutter

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Re: Arizona & California RR
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2014, 04:26:22 PM »
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Fantastic layout space, really nice room.  For me, that would be the absolutely perfect size!  Nice and tidy too, nice flooring, already blue walls, lighting looks good.  You're really in for a time!

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Arizona & California RR
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2014, 01:11:18 AM »
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Very nice space(!) and it's plenty big enough for a substantial-but-not-overwhelming railroad.  That said, I'm having a hard time following the flow of the railroad from the sketch you provided.  Could you maybe break it out into its constituent levels, and say a bit more about the various features you have incorporated?

I look forward to following your progress.

dmidkiff

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Re: Arizona & California RR
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2014, 09:42:24 AM »
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A bit more information.  I never know how much to put out there in the start, but I'm looking forward to the discussion.

First thing is that I plan on having staging on a deck below the sketch provided, using helices in the corners of the room, red lines, to get from staging up onto the main deck.  Everything on the sketch is on the upper deck, I realize now that the text there may be confusing.  The ops thinking is to have a local built in the big yard that will then go out and switch the industrial area drawn with blue lines, this is my branchline.  This local would also switch the two track peninsula on its way back to the yard.  Mainline trains would include Amtrak, an intermodal with no stops, a sulfur train with no stops, and various mixed freights to help keep cars moving between areas of the layout.  I'm also building a Copper Basin Railway ore train that I would like to include as a run with trackage rights, hence the green linework.  I had kicked around the idea of having an ore mine on the lower level, separate from the staging yard, to originate the CBRY train, but that may be too much in the room.  I enjoy switching, both yards and locals, so that would be the main focus on the railroad, with the option to kick back and watch a train run around a long loop.

I sketched the peninsula in to have an industry out in the middle of the dessert.  I thought it would be a neat feature to have something with a lead off the mainline.  With a single track mainline and no passing siding there, crews and a dispatcher would have to coordinate well for the switching.  The person running the local would also have to block their cars upon leaving the branchline to make this last switch job easier.

Keep the questions coming as this is my first model railroad designed with operating sessions in mind.  I'd like to have a good plan in the works before I start blinding building benchwork and laying track.  I hope to be diligent in updating this thread, so pester me if I slack.

Doug

DKS

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Re: Arizona & California RR
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2014, 10:32:47 AM »
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The only thing I don't care for is that little two-track jog-out.  I think to interrupt the flow of the room for that little jog-out is not a good thing... at least from my perspective.

I sketched the peninsula in to have an industry out in the middle of the dessert.  I thought it would be a neat feature to have something with a lead off the mainline.  With a single track mainline and no passing siding there, crews and a dispatcher would have to coordinate well for the switching.  The person running the local would also have to block their cars upon leaving the branchline to make this last switch job easier.

Actually, I like that peninsula feature. Perhaps to help with the "flow" of the space, make it just a tad shorter, and round off all of the corners.

Otherwise, I like the plan very much--not much else I could contribute. And I'm honored to have had a small influence on it.
"Life's a piece of sh!t when you look at it."
                                       —Monty Python

LIRR

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Re: Arizona & California RR
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2014, 01:42:25 PM »
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I agree with Dave, I dont like the "Republic Waste" peninsula. it's a distraction/interupption if I'm walking along with my train. I like the presence of the industry tho. i would shift the switch, maybe reverse it, and run the siding along the end of the benchwork, out the industry "in-the-aisle"

if you like to sit and watch them run at times, add a spur to the right end of the transload and connect it to the team track in the main yard with a drop-leaf. 

conrail98

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Re: Arizona & California RR
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2014, 03:06:59 PM »
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Actually, I like that peninsula feature. Perhaps to help with the "flow" of the space, make it just a tad shorter, and round off all of the corners.

I agree as it's very prototypical in the western part of the country to have these types of industries off at right angles. If you can, make it removable so if your just running trains around in a circle or something, it's not jutting out in the way,

Phil
- Phil

dmidkiff

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Re: Arizona & California RR
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2014, 10:07:49 AM »
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Perhaps to help with the "flow" of the space, make it just a tad shorter, and round off all of the corners.

I think this will be the way to go, along with making it removable if needed as Phil states.  I'll have to measure some cars, but I'm thinking up to four spots using Atlas trash flats as the longest cars, otherwise a mix of woodchip cars and gondolas would be spotted there.  I want to leave enough room past the ends of the tracks so that I can model a ramp of some sort to get an excavator up on top of the gondolas.

Otherwise, I like the plan very much--not much else I could contribute. And I'm honored to have had a small influence on it.

And I'm honored to have you chime in saying you like the plan!  I've played around with the tracks a lot to try and get a good flow through switches and to have all the industries and switch throws near the front of the layout.

Doug

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Arizona & California RR
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2014, 12:26:59 PM »
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I like your desert concept a lot.  I especially like the branch line you have set up and I think that will keep an operator engaged for a full session quite nicely.  The copper mine run is also good, if you choose to go that route.  However, I think you are potentially short-changing the mainline run a bit, given the space you have available and the potential crew size you might be able to host.  (I thought I read that you were thinking of a crew of 4-6 people for a session, but I might have made that up.  I think your space would accommodate that many people quite nicely, and having a crew that size is a lot of fun!)

If you really want to design for ops, I would encourage you to think in terms of jobs: what jobs need to be done in a session?  How long does each take?  For example, if you want to have a 3-hour session with 6 crew members, do you have 15-18 man-hours of (interesting) work available for them?  As it stands now, I see the branch line run taking 1 person 2-3 hours.  A yardmaster could also be continually engaged for 2-3 hours, but only if there are other trains to be made up and broken down during the session.  If all your other traffic is run-through, the yard will be pretty quiet.  If you want a full-time dispatcher, there should be enough traffic to warrant it.  This probably means more mainline traffic to actually manage.

With your current mainline, a train leaving staging below will spend ~10 minutes running the helix, ~5 minutes on the sceniced upper deck, TBD minutes doing some work in the yard, then another ~10 minutes running down the other helix.  In truth, not a very interesting job for a crew member.  Further, having two long (single track?) helices and one siding effectively means that only 2 trains can be out on the line during their ~half-hour runs, so not very challenging to dispatch.

If you want a crew of 6 or so, I would encourage you to think of a way to lengthen the visible mainline, add some more sidings, and do away with one of the helices.  If you could come up with a 2-level plan where the mainline went around the room twice (once per level, or a nolix), you could have a ~4-mile mainline run with 3-4 sidings that would keep mainline crews much more engaged in the session, and give the yardmaster and dispatcher more work to do.  If you only want a crew of 2-3 people, I think your plan is fine.  You could even semi-automate the mainline trains to keep things busy.

Here are a few more random comments:

* I would be tempted to move the Colorado River bridge to span the window (and make it bigger).  Seems like a natural geographic barrier.
* What kind of setting do you envision for the peninsula?  Is this supposed to be a lonely desert outpost, or the industrial section of a sizeable desert town?  The juxtaposition of a concrete plant and a furniture outlet seems a bit odd to me for the former.
* I don't really get how the CBRY is supposed to work yet, but I think it's a good thing to have.

I think you'll be able to have a lot of fun with this!

dmidkiff

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Re: Arizona & California RR
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2014, 10:17:29 AM »
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Gary - Thanks for the comments!

You are right about the 4-6 operators, I believe I mentioned that in another thread; I'm in a round robin group of 5, but there are quite a few model railroaders, and N scalers to boot, in the Denver area.  By the way, if anyone is in the Denver area, my house and a couple of others that I know are pretty much an open invitation to meet more people.

Jobs that I was thinking about...
  • Local engineer for the branchline
  • Yardmaster and switch crew, so 2 people total in the classification yard
  • Two, or more, road engineers
  • Dispatcher
  • CBRY engineer

When I first starting thinking about the layout, I wanted to emulate an operation that John Parker has on his layout.  He has a couple of engineers that run coal trains the entire day, over the full length of the layout.  They load coal at one end and run to a power plant at the other, usually getting 2-3 round trips in a session, depending on how well the dispatcher is managing traffic.  I was thinking of modeling the CBRY this way, but purposely making the loading and unloading sidings a little more challenging so that the engineer had to break his train up to turn it.

To help make the mainline ops a little more interesting, I was going to implement a system I saw on Dave Kampsnider's layout.  He used "chico cards", or something similar sounding to that, that the engineer had to draw from in each town.  I guess you could call them a poor mans defect detector because some of the cards would have things like "hot box on car 5th from end, remove at next yard for repair".  Helices are going to be single track.

I'm hesitant about going to two sceniced decks, I've never really enjoyed the visual aspect of those layouts.  It would lengthen the mainline, but then I've also got to think about where to locate towns/sidings on the separate levels.  Stacking them would create places where crews are working in the same linear space, but at different heights.  The only place I could see an additional town/siding on a separate level would be below the river scene.

As to your random comments, the river crossing can be moved and made bigger without much issue.  The only drawback I see there is getting it to close to the drill track for the yard, and having the track end very close to the bank of the river.  The peninsula would be a lone industry in the middle of the desert, who wants a landfill right in the middle of town, or even on the edge?  The concrete plant is a precast plant, not a cement kiln, so having one in or near an idustrial park with wharehouses is somewhat common.  Hopefully I explained the CBRY a little bit better.

Doug

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Arizona & California RR
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2014, 02:04:03 PM »
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Doug,

Good response, and good to know I wasn't making up the crew size. :) 

Now that you have identified duties, will those jobs each have enough interesting work to do with this plan?  I think for sure the local engineer and the CBRY engineer will.  (By the way, I found this drawing of your lower deck on PB.  I think I understand the CBRY concept more clearly now.)    To assess the other jobs, I think you should make up a train sheet and try to script out a sample session.  Try to imagine what each person is doing during each half hour in a session and see if it all hangs together.  (It's fine for a person to have some down time during a session too.)

What trains have business in the class yard and what work does the yard crew have to do to support that?  Obviously they have to make up the local at the beginning of the session (while the local engineer waits) or at the end of the previous session.  Then they have to break it down when it returns (or break down yesterday's train).  What happens to those cars that come back to the yard and what exactly does the crew need to do with them?  Next, what other trains originate or terminate there?  Does the CBRY job ever touch the yard?  Do a large fraction of the mainline trains touch the yard?

Out on the mainline, I think the idea of "chico cards" is a good one, but I'm having trouble seeing what those cards might say because outside of the class yard (and the helices/staging area)  there is very little happening on the mainline.  I'm assuming that the branch line and the CBRY line are already taken care of, which leaves one siding, Republic Waste and 25' of visible run as places for anything to happen.   Run-through traffic is good to have, but it's frankly not a very interesting job for the crews because of the short visible run and the long helices.   If 4-6 person crews are really the goal, I think you would benefit tremendously from making the mainline run longer and more interesting, so it can support more traffic with meets, and trains that have business in the class yard.  (A string diagram can be very helpful for assessing mainline capacity.)  Even if you want to stick to a single sceniced deck, I could imagine you might find a way to run all the way around the room (with a lift gate or duck-under), abandon the left helix, and have a wye off the top of the right helix.  This way, trains to/from staging could come or go from either direction on the main.  Scenically, you would have to find a way to separate it from the branch, but it would basically double your visible mainline run.

Please don't take my comments the wrong way.  I really like your concept and you have put tremendous effort into getting a large attractive space prepared. I don't want the ops to fall short of your expectations, because it's such a fun part of the hobby.

Cheers,
Gary

P.S. I had the same concern about moving the bridge, but the one you have drawn looks way too small to cross the Colorado.  ;)  By the same token, a large bridge would probably overwhelm the scene and take away from the lonely desert theme.  By the way, the peninsula I was referring to is the big one with the furniture plant.  Is that area the middle of the desert, or the outskirts of a town?

dmidkiff

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Re: Arizona & California RR
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2014, 10:39:48 AM »
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Gary,

You did find the most up to date lower level plan.  The only portion of that plan that would be lit and fully sceniced would be the copper mine.  The rest of the track down there would only have ambient lighting from the room and basic ground cover and ballast so that it would not be bare wood.  I'm still on the fence about it though because it has the potential to pack 4 people into the area near the door if the CBRY engineer is switching out the mine.  I may just make this the starting point for the CBRY train without any switching, essentially a staging track at a mine.

You bring up great questions about the specific role of each train and its cars when coming through the yard.  I will need to sit down and try to put script out a session like you suggest.

I appreciate your comments and do want this layout to great operational potential.  I love going to ops sessions at others layouts and want to have a layout I can invite people over to outside of my regular group.

Not sure if the scale is getting lost on the drawing, but the river scene is sketched at about 2-ft long right now, bank to bank.  With some approach spans and a couple of main trusses, that makes for a big crossing.  It will still fall short of what the prototype actually crosses, but will still be a big scene.  I guess I just have to get some benchwork up and play with it for real!  The peninsula you were referring to is on the outskirts of a town.  It's supposed to be a large area filled with warehouses and other industries.  I only have so much space to model, so hopefully you could imagine the single line going into the backdrop extending further into the area with more industries, they just would not have pulls and setouts on the particular day the local runs during the ops session.

Doug

dmidkiff

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Re: Arizona & California RR
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2014, 04:47:46 PM »
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I've been sketching lower level options to try and work in an additional siding and mainline run.  I've come up with this which still allows me to have a copper mine to stage the CBRY trains.  The only issue is that the CBRY trains would technically start in California, go through staging to cross into Arizona and then back up on to the main level.  Hopefully a little imagination and the sake of a nice mainline run will make up for that little hiccup.  Dean Ferris (coldriver) did a great job with providing a siding and additional mainline on a lower lever.  This is what I would strive for in the copper mine area.


007a by coldrvr, on Flickr

I've also been trying to stage a sample session using train markers on a string diagram, trying to keep track of locations for every 10 real minutes or so of the session.  Right now I see the need of 4 road engineers, if I pull the CBRY engineer out of the pool, to keep a decent amount of traffic running on the layout.  I could also not run the CBRY trains if I am short on crew.  Is there a good way to setup or show a session for discussion?

Doug

coldriver

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Re: Arizona & California RR
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2014, 08:18:49 PM »
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Hey, that's me!   I appreciate you using my model of making partial use of a double decked layout for those who don't want a double decked layout.   

 Just to be clear, the CBRY trains would load on a mine on the lower deck, run around the layout the wrong way (presumably via trackage rights or some kind of runthrough agreement) to an unload on the upper deck?  I'm seeing the operating potential, but let me offer this as an alternative.  Rather than making the lower deck CBRY as a mine, how about an interchange instead?   What if the CBRY comes out of a single staging track into the new siding with a loaded ore train and needs to work with an AZRC crew to swap out their loaded train for an empty train using the main and siding?  I think that would make for fun interaction and creativity, while simplifying your lower level trackage.  Then on the other end the copper unloader is served by a private switching company (with appropriate ancient scorched desert power) which will need to build an outbound empty train for the AZRC and spot in the inbound loaded train from the AZRC (another interactive interchange!)  The CBRY and private switcher could be the same crew to keep it as a full time position.  You would probably need to change up the trackage arrangement at the unloader to allow for an interchange (maybe extend the siding to incorporate the unloader lead). 

Should also mention - it would be helpful if you were to provide location names on your diagrams, even if they aren't finalized (Town A and Siding B would be enough) to facilitate the discussion. 

I believe Gary mentioned something about a furniture factory being out of place in the desert - I'll second that.   Rock based industries are more appropriate for this area (boron, potash, diatomaceous clay, phosphates, etc).