Author Topic: Small Layout Operations  (Read 5113 times)

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wm3798

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Small Layout Operations
« on: February 01, 2006, 08:57:08 AM »
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Technically, mine is still a small layout, the completed portion measuring only 3 x 8 with a couple of scabbed on return loops.
I find that the single most essential element to enjoying a layout is to have a small fiddle yard or a staging track somewhere for trains to come and go from.
The second most essential element is a passing siding/run-around track to facilitate two trains on the layout at any given moment, plus the ability to do facing and trailing point moves.

And though I fought it for years, the third most essential element is DCC.  Just the ability to break a consist and operate one engine while the other one waits is worth the price of admission.  It's the main thing that DCC can do that cab control can't, IMHO.

What are the essential elements that make operations on your layout enjoyable?

Lee
Rockin' It Old School

Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

Iain

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Re: Small Layout Operations
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2006, 10:45:34 AM »
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Extreamly complex switching :D :P.  See my post in the "Who has operated" thread.
Thanks much,
Mairi Dulaney, RHCE
Member, Free Software Foundation and Norfolk Southern Historical Society

http://jdulaney.com

randgust

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Re: Small Layout Operations
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2006, 10:28:17 AM »
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Second the montion, Lee - Hidden staging.  Even on the tiny HVRR, you can hide a log train on the lower level and make it 'dissapear', and make the interchange boxcar train dissapear out of sight.

On the HV expansion I've designed in two additional hidden staging areas - a hi-level one for log trains and a low-level, 3-track holding yard for load/empty swaps.

On the ATSF, the single most important feature is the reversing loop on the main line so that a train exiting the hidden staging yard can be turned and run either east or west before it goes 'visual'.  It instantly doubles the operating complexity of the layout.

On both layouts, as much as it hurts sometimes, MT couplers are standard, and they work with delay uncoupling.  I use almost entirely truck-mounts, which I find work just fine 99.9% of the time despite backing 30-car trains around in a couple places.

I've managed to evade DCC though. 


asciibaron

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Re: Small Layout Operations
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2006, 08:57:43 PM »
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the key to any operating session is the ability to stage trains.  even if you plan to drill a yard and build trains, the road crew will be sitting bored.  i designed my 5x8 layout around operations and put in 3 staging tracks and a very long siding.  i had included a reverse loop, and might put that back in the plan - but staging is key.

staging does not need to be hidden.  in my neck of the woods, when the Jessup yard fills with autoracks, a long siding is used to store the overflow.  you could also have a  2 track interchange yard.  some railroads have thru freights drop setouts on a siding and then send the local to spot them at the correct location later. 

i used to have a complex operating session on a 4x8 HO layout complete with waybills and thru freights.  let your imagine run wild and you can pack a ton of operating into a small space.  now that i'm switching to N, i can do even more :)

-Steve Hanlon
« Last Edit: February 06, 2006, 09:15:45 PM by asciibaron »
Quote from: Chris333
How long will it be before they show us how to add DCC to a tree?

wm3798

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Re: Small Layout Operations
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2006, 11:05:12 PM »
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Just in the past week, having fooled around with running some scheduled trains on my layout, I've decided that I can't wait to build my surface yard at Hagerstown and get the tracks connected to the staging yard below decks.  I've been pouring over my layout plan, listing future industries by location, and beginning the process of breaking down inbound and outbound shipments, and a logical flow for my coal traffic.  Staging will indeed be the key.

I've also decided that as easy as "flow thru" staging is, I'm going to need to incorporate a reverse loop below decks to accomodate the coal drags that disappear to Baltimore then return as empties.  I'd thought about using two separate trains, but that would tie up an awful lot of rolling stock and staging space.  If I add a 2-3 track return loop, I can actually separate the east bound trains and stage the Lurgan and Dutch line traffic in the thru yard, and the Baltimore trains in the loop.

It will also increase my staging ability to 8 -10 trains of 25 cars each...  Enough to have almost my entire fleet under ground at any given moment!! 

Vive le staging!!

Lee
Rockin' It Old School

Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

Agatheron

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Re: Small Layout Operations
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2006, 03:04:10 PM »
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I'm getting ever closer to being able to build my first layout in N-scale... but I am doing it with a mind for operations.

I am still negotiating for space, but at absolute maximum, I will be looking at an L or U shaped layout which will be up against a wall which will be no wider than 13.5 feet. The "wings" will be anywhere from 5 to 7 feet extending out from the wall, each being about 3.5 feet wide... but with scenic dividers making any given portion of the layout only 20" deep... including the shelf along the back wall.

My hope is to try to have some below-level staging, but I worry a bit about having grades that are too steep to get the track "under" the layout in the wing portions of it.

However, this is a small layout operations thread. As best as I am able to determine, not including my ideas for staging, I can have five distinct "areas" of the layou in which I can build industries. At the base of the "U" I would like to have a Yard, with industries being serviced on the "Wings."

Is this too ambitious for something this size, or am I better to limit my "scenes" to 2-3 rather than 5 or more. Yes, operations are important to my designing process, but I don't want to end up with a Spaghetti bowl either...

wm3798

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Re: Small Layout Operations
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2006, 04:15:58 PM »
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I'm using under-table staging, and so far, I haven't had much trouble.  Of course, the staging yard isn't connected to the rest of the layout yet, but I have conducted a lot of tests with different motive power and train lengths.

I don't think you'll have any major problems since the size of your layout will limit your train length.  If the rest of the visible part of the layout is relatively flat, then the only place you'd have a significant grade would be to the "down under."

One trick I used to drop my staging another 3" was to employ a one-lix (one turn helix).  If you put such a beastie in the corner, the train can gently glide down about 8' of track to drop down to the desired staging level.

Another question would be do you want run thru or stub end staging.  Run through would require two such turnings, unless your scenic section drops enough to catch one end on the straight.

Lee
Rockin' It Old School

Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

Agatheron

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Re: Small Layout Operations
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2006, 04:48:35 PM »
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I've been considering a "onelix" setup as you describe as I am anticipating the lower-level staging to be about 5" below the main level... is that too much of a drop in the space that I have? I'm concerned for having below-deck staging, and yet trying to keep a reasonable access to the underside of the layout for both wiring AND staging...


John

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Re: Small Layout Operations
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2006, 05:02:27 PM »
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I am thinking that you need enough of a helix to give you at least 5-6 inches of separation, so that you can get a hand in there .. the helix then is entirely dependent on the radius of the track .. the bigger the radius, the less the grade .. It looks to me you would need at least a 2 turn helix ..

wm3798

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Re: Small Layout Operations
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2006, 10:42:55 PM »
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Here's my staging yard (more or less) as built.  The main differences are that the yard is now 8 tracks, and the helix got flattened out a bit on one side to make better use of the plywood I had.


If you look at it juxtaposed to the trackplan, you can see how it fits in with the overall layout.

It enters the helix across the bridge there next to the guy with the black sweater, and comes out by Mr. Magenta.

Here's a photo of the area showing the different levels shortly after installation.


and later with the fascia on it.


You can see I didn't have the problem of tying the helix directly into the level above it, which left me considerable wiggle room.  But as far as accessing the nether world beneath the layout, I kept my staging yard as the first 14" in from the aisle, and have only scenery above the main body of it.  The mountain on the right side gives me a full 6" clearance for the 0-5-0, and I have since added some lights under there so I can see movements in the yard if I choose to dim the room lights.

You might try a similar trick to gain the necessary elevation over a longer distance by putting in a longish ramp somewhere along the back edge.

If you want, post a scale drawing with dimensions of your area and the basic benchwork shape, and our team of lab-coated track planning experts will assist you with designing your track plan.

Lee
Rockin' It Old School

Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

Agatheron

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Re: Small Layout Operations
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2006, 11:45:16 AM »
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I am thinking that I will be building the layout from Ikea's "GORM" shelving system... it's much sturdier than the more famous "IVAR" system, in that it's bolted together rather than relying on gravity. I began to think of it when I built 2 units for storage shelving for our house, and then became more convinced when I saw another hobbyist use it for his layout. Of course, never being one to leave well enough alone, I'd still be modifying things, including custom-cutting some of the plywood lengths to give the right height. Typical of ikea, the measurements are all in Metric, but they do run a rough equivalent in imperial measurements. The basic "deep" shelf is 77cm wide by 51cm deep (roughly 30"x20" Even the corner shelves run 77cm at their longest point, which makes it actually quite easy to measure out. Additionally, the plywood supports are pre-drilled at 5" vertical intervals for the shelves... It means extra holes are available to start bolting units together back-to-back to create deeper shelves...

Here's a link to Ikea Canada's site to give you a better idea of it as possible benchwork.  http://www.ikea.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?catalogId=10103&storeId=3&langId=-15&categoryId=15931&cattype=sub&parentCats=16198*16201*15893*15931

Ew... this is really more a benchwork question than it is operational... but since I'm starting with operations in mind, even the benchwork needs to be factored in. I'll have to cobble together a quick diagram to show what I mean, but I won't get a chance to do that today...

Iain

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Re: Small Layout Operations
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2006, 06:31:34 AM »
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Not much operating potential, but oh well.

What I usually do is I will switch out industries every time I make a pass with the train.  I also swap cars on the siding (with my hands, not the train) for other cars, switching these "loads", empties, whatever, into the train and dropping off the empties.  Then I run the train halfway around the layout and repeat the whole procedure.  It can take a while to switch three or four industries.

Of course, at trainshows I perform circular operations  :P ;).
Thanks much,
Mairi Dulaney, RHCE
Member, Free Software Foundation and Norfolk Southern Historical Society

http://jdulaney.com

Mark5

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Re: Small Layout Operations
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2007, 04:10:55 PM »
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This layout is massive to me! I like it!

I have an actual small layout (7' X 7' "L" at this point), but still larger than my 1st N scale layout (30" X 4') back in 1970!

I'm grappling with the staging thing but all the solutions I've come up with so far bring on the spaghetti syndrone. As stated you need at least 8' to move 2" vertically (I'm against grades above 2%). Also complicating the requirements is that I'm trying to represent the Pokey, two track main and all.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2007, 04:19:02 PM by NandW »

amato1969

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Re: Small Layout Operations
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2007, 11:00:23 PM »
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NandW, have you considered "surround" staging?  Don't know if your layout is situated against a wall, but here's how my staging works:



My backdrop is only 12" high, so I can reach the yard with a small stepladder.  The loops at each end provide a small pop-up for me to access the switches in the ladder.

  Frank

Mark5

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Re: Small Layout Operations
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2007, 09:58:31 PM »
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good idea but my layout is too small for that. I'd have to sacrifice the "real" yard.