Author Topic: CN Yellowhead Division  (Read 31210 times)

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Scottl

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CN Yellowhead Division
« on: January 14, 2017, 01:31:33 PM »
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I am about to embark on something new and exciting.  I've been thinking a lot about possible directions for my next layout and it is becoming clear that I will have a new garage to dedicate to my next layout effort.   This offers me opportunities of space and design freedom that I have not previously had to work with and I'm looking forward to planning and building a layout in this new space.

I'm planning to stay with n scale and modern CN operations, in part because I think I can accomplish what I want with n scale but also because I have a lot invested in this modelling too.  I will admit to contemplating a switch to HO, which offers many advantages, but I will stick with 1:160.

My prototype will be the busy modern CN mainline in western Canada.  My Yellowhead Division will comprise the mainline from Edson, Alberta, through the division point at Jasper, Alberta, and over Yellowhead Pass to the west slope of the Rockies.  I'll likely end the line just west of Red Pass where the line divides into the northern route to Prince George and the southern route to Kamloops.  This covers about 200 km of actual rail line.



Along the way, there is a lot of mainline traffic, online industries, and two major branches.  The Grande Cache Sub. connects coal fields and northern forestry and agriculture to the mainline, and was built as the Alberta Resources Railroad before being taken over by CN.  The Foothills Sub. is a steep mountain line to several coal mines, a limestone mine, and several gas plants (sulphur).  Edson and Hinton are on-line communities with wood and paper production, and there are coal operations at Obed as well.

Jasper is a probably the most spectacular division point in North America (Field BC on the CPR could match it).  Set in the heart of Jasper National Park, the small town has a major yard running through the middle, with sweeping views to the mountains in all directions.  The mainline east of Jasper runs along the Athabasca River and has a number of iconic scenes, including Henry House, Devona, Park Gate, and Brule.

To the west of Jasper, the line crosses the Continental Divide over Yellowhead Pass with little effort and soon splits further west at Red Pass.  Two lines descend along the Fraser River and are used for directional traffic (due to grade differences) and pass by Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. 

I expect the layout will offer running trains through long scenic areas, with meets at numerous locations.  Local switching at Hinton, Edson and Jasper will offer some operational variability, and the steep Foothills Sub. usually requires doubling the hill for trains.  The main yards at Jasper and Edson will offer staging for trains, and smaller yards along the way will also be located at Hinton and Swan Landing. 

I'm expecting a 14' X 22' garage space, unencumbered by any major barriers to layout construction.  To get the run I would like for this layout, I am thinking that a double deck will work and should yield at least 100' of run, perhaps much more.   I am contemplating an around the room helix approach to have a gradual climb to the second level, but I expect to have a helix of some sort to close the loop for continuous running. 

So to start the planning process, some givens:

1.  A c. 14 X 22' space, entry door to be located for convenience, likely the corner.
2.  Garage door can be blocked and does not affect planning
3.  n scale, modern operations (mainline), mostly single track, c. 10' trains
4.  Branch lines for the Foothills Sub. and Grand Cache Sub.
5.  Sufficient staging for operations by multiple operators
6.  Large radius (18") minimum curves
7.  DCC operation

Some druthers:

8.  Minimal hidden track
9.  Centralized traffic control via DCC and JMRI or the like
10.  Key scenes at Mt. Robson, Red Pass, Devona, Park Gate, Mercoal
11.  Modular construction, lightweight

Once the space details are clear, the design process can begin.  I hope to be building the layout by autumn.

Some photos for inspiration:

Park entrance:
http://railpictures.net/photo/592360/

Jasper:
http://railpictures.net/photo/584529/

Mountain Park Sub. coal mine:
http://www.railpictures.net/photo/589755/

Hinton:
http://www.railpictures.net/photo/597534/

Devona:
http://www.railpictures.net/photo/524308/

Red Pass:
http://www.railpictures.net/photo/478366/

tefsom85

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Re: CN Yellowhead Division
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2017, 06:47:08 PM »
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I had to do some google mapping on this but it appears that this does not include the Cisco Bridges?

mark dance

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Re: CN Yellowhead Division
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2017, 07:08:44 PM »
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Hi Scott...cool opportunity.

With operations in mind, I would strongly recommend that your layout allow for crews to originate and terminate their jobs visibly and ideally prototypicaly.  This would generally mean most crews picking up and terminating their jobs at crew change points like division points.  Division points in the middle of the mainline will likely mean few crews originate and terminate prototypicaly and/or very short runs.  Ideal is to run across a whole division.  Visible staging yards can represent division points with automation, recirculating staging between east and west end points, or home road crews bringing trains into position at the end division points from larger or hidden staging yards if needed.

How would this effect your concept and selection of prototype location?

And if it were me I would add to the druthers no helix greater than 1 turn on the mainline run traversed by guest operators.

md
Youtube Videos of the N Scale Columbia & Western at: markdance63
Photos and track plan of of the N Scale Columbia & Western at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/27907618@N02/sets/72157624106602402/

Scottl

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Re: CN Yellowhead Division
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2017, 09:13:09 PM »
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Hi Mark,

Thanks for the thoughts.  As far as I can tell, Edson and Jasper have crew changes, but some trains make it from Edmonton to Jasper in one run.  To the west, it looks like the next crew change is in Blue River and then North Kamloops.   I see the logic in what you are saying in terms of operations.  I could extend the line to  Blue River and cover two crew districts, or reduce it to just Jasper to Edson.  The latter makes more sense as there is a lot going on along the line, with trains coming and going to the branches, online traffic by a switching job, and long stretches of single track with passing sidings.  Interestingly, most of the main was double track in the 1990s and early 2000s, but they pulled a lot of the double up as a cost savings.

My preference would be to have no hidden track on the mainline run (aside from a short tunnel or two).   I envision a helix closing the loop between Edson and Jasper for continuous running and re-staging. 



Scottl

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Re: CN Yellowhead Division
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2017, 09:14:20 PM »
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I had to do some google mapping on this but it appears that this does not include the Cisco Bridges?

Yes, this would be a different area.   The Fraser Canyon where Cisco is located is great scenery, but the operational potential is very limited.

coldriver

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Re: CN Yellowhead Division
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2017, 10:48:26 AM »
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I love this idea - it's one of my favorite areas to visit!  Prior to perhaps the mid-90's there was significantly more activity at Jasper as it was a 1000 mile inspection point (or whatever the Canadian equivalent is) and they did a fair amount of switching/block swapping there.  I believe for the most part it's just a crew change and go terminal now and I understand that most (if not all) trains that don't have online work now run through both Edson and Blue River crew changes.   I haven't been up there since 2008 so I don't have the most up to date info. 
I know you want to model current but it pains me to think of how much more operationally interesting the area was in the 90's vs now.  In addition to all the activity at Jasper and intact crew changes at Blue River/Edson, there was an Albreda Sub local that ran west out of Jasper to service a long gone lumber mill at Valemount, cabooses on the Prince George trains, the aging C30-7s used by the Alberta Railnet, etc.  So I'll make a one time plea to consider back dating a bit and then forever keep my mouth shut...

Scottl

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Re: CN Yellowhead Division
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2017, 11:25:36 AM »
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I have a strong tug from the 90s too, as I spent much of the period living in Edmonton and railfanning this line.  I agree, it was much more varied at that time than it is now.  GP40s pulled intermodal trains, and the coal and sulphur were dominated by cowl units and even the SD40s were still common.  There was run through power from almost every major railroad, and I frequently saw Wisconsin Central, Conrail and other power. 

The problem for me with this is twofold:  my model collection is essentially all modern, I can't even backdate much beyond 2008-9 based on the locomotives.  The second one is bigger- the 1990s CN motive power was all very distinctive and needs to be kitbashed in n scale.  Some models exist like the IM SD40-2W but they are not great renditions in my eyes.  I did kitbash a small fleet (and have since sold those units), but I don't have interest in revisiting having to kitbash everything.  Ironically, all of the main locos of that time are available in HO (other than the cowl SD50-60).  A shift back in time would mean either investing a massive amount of time kitbashing or switching scales, and neither is something I want to do (although the notion comes back now and again...)

I've heard mixed accounts regarding the crew changes.  Some people have told me what you have related (and this was my understanding too), that Edson and Blue River have become pass-through.  Having said that, every time I visit Edson, the yard is full of trains so they seem to sit there a lot longer than I would expect if they were rushing from Edmonton or Jasper.  Other people have told me that the line is too busy to reliably allow crews to do the full Edson and Albreda sub in one run and the norm is for crew changes mid-way.  I think for my purposes, I'll assume they remain crew changes.  I have no interest in modelling Kamloops or Edmonton.

I agree, Jasper has become a shadow of what it once was, but it is still active enough to be a good terminus and I can base a few locals out of there.  The Hinton switcher still operates and I can add an Albreda turn as well.

mu26aeh

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Re: CN Yellowhead Division
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2017, 11:30:36 AM »
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As far as the SD40-2W's go, Intermountain is doing them again at some point with the introduction of the SD40-2's.  Maybe these will be better renditions than the previous versions.

Scottl

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Re: CN Yellowhead Division
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2017, 11:32:34 AM »
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IM did the -2W in CN several years ago.  I'm just not a fan of them for aesthetic reasons.  The wheels and proportions are off enough to bother me.  I gather they run fine and are well detailed. 

coldriver

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Re: CN Yellowhead Division
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2017, 11:54:59 AM »
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I have a strong tug from the 90s too, as I spent much of the period living in Edmonton and railfanning this line. 

  I think for my purposes, I'll assume they remain crew changes.  I have no interest in modelling Kamloops or Edmonton.

I agree, Jasper has become a shadow of what it once was, but it is still active enough to be a good terminus and I can base a few locals out of there.  The Hinton switcher still operates and I can add an Albreda turn as well.

That sounds great to me - keeping some of the desirable aspects from the past with modern equipment is a nice compromise.  It's a good means of avoiding the ETTS factor...

GaryHinshaw

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Re: CN Yellowhead Division
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2017, 02:18:14 PM »
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Great to see plans crystallizing Scott.  You should certainly have enough real estate to do what you want.  I haven't really thought about an ops concept for this prototype, but since it's your railroad, I would encourage you to be the boss and mix and match eras when it comes to equipment and ops plans: 2010+ equipment running 1990's era ops would be just fine in my book.

I look forward to commenting on track plans as they emerge.  :)  Knowing how busy you are, I would caution you to be realistic about what you think you can achieve on a time scale that matters to you.   BTW, have you officially shelved the Vancouver port concept?

-gfh

Scottl

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Re: CN Yellowhead Division
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2017, 02:40:46 PM »
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I think that mixing era/ops could work.  I must admit that the lure of 1990s railroading on this line is strong.  I really love the 4-axle geeps that plied the line and the cowl units.  I originally did a CN layout in 2009-10 along based on this in my current layout room.  It was a crude large loop with a yard, but it really helped me learn scenery and track work.  I shifted to modern as the equipment was becoming available, but much has changed since that time, especially in HO. 

A quick design around the room with a center peninsula, 25" R curves, 36" aisles and space at the entrance gives me 75' of mainline.  If I do it as an ascending double deck I could get around 150'.  There are several long stretches suitable for yards and I think plenty of room to spread things out. 

I don't expect to get a lot of time for modelling going forward, but based on what I have done in the past five years, I have spent about 20% of my time building the layout (benchwork, track, scenery), 30% at the bench painting and building models, and the rest on the Cisco bridge ( :facepalm:).  I want this new effort to be more layout oriented time with the goal of running trains relatively quickly (no major construction impediments) so that I can do scenery at my leisure.  My eyesight is also becoming noticeably less suited to fine work at the bench.   

I have put the Vancouver ideas aside for now.  Those layouts are much better suited to a time when space is limited.  I don't see that for at least ten years.  A few people have contacted me about the HCD version- perhaps we'll see it emerge in some way!

wm3798

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Re: CN Yellowhead Division
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2017, 02:25:08 PM »
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I remember there was a Dan somebody on the old A-board that based his layout on the Yellow Head Route.  Really solid modeling, lots of cool tips and ideas, can't find anything on line about it anymore, though. 

Lee
Rockin' It Old School

Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

wazzou

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Re: CN Yellowhead Division
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2017, 03:04:47 PM »
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I remember there was a Dan somebody on the old A-board that based his layout on the Yellow Head Route.  Really solid modeling, lots of cool tips and ideas, can't find anything on line about it anymore, though. 

Lee

Edited to add...it was Dan Crowley

I remember him.  He kitbashed a lot of steam using Crayola Markers as boilers and was a prolific user of grout, probably one Ed's mentors.
He moved on to RC Military Tanks last I knew.

http://cprailmmsub.blogspot.com/2012/03/great-canadian-model-railroad-dan.html
« Last Edit: January 17, 2017, 03:09:39 PM by wazzou »
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Scottl

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Re: CN Yellowhead Division
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2017, 03:48:44 PM »
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Interesting, thanks!  He basically doubled the length to include Edmonton.  It is my hometown, but I prefer to focus on the west end of the Edson Sub., as I want to have the Foothills branch and figure out a way to incorporate Grande Cache Sub operations into things as well.

His personal website has galleries and this one really stood out:  it is in the Jasper gallery but is unmistakably Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies:  http://www.telusplanet.net/public/crowley/Jasper/PBYdawn.JPG