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Posts posted by Harlequin

  1. Hi Clive,


    I was reading the Peco Track Plans Compendium last night and I had a small brainwave about your design. It took me all day, on and off, to get it into a working state. It was a bit tricky!


    If you're committed to your existing design or I've failed to take something crucial into account, or you just don't like the idea, please ignore this message. No problem.


    The idea is to use a deliberate reversing loop to get "up" trains to run "down" whenever you want without having to bring them into the station immediately. Trains can leave the station and run on the "up"/inner/anti-clockwise circuit continuously for as long as you want until you're ready to reverse them. Then you run them round the reversing loop and after that they can continue running on the "down"/outer/clockwise circuit until you're ready to call them into the station on either the L&YR or GNR tracks. And this is all on one level.


    Here's a sketch. The fat grey lines indicate two parallel up and down tracks and as many storage sidings as you need, or will fit. The thinner brown line is the single track reversing loop.



    The station is slightly diagonal to make best use of the space and to ease the connection out to the main running circuits.


    The line feeding the north storage sidings is also used to feed the reversing loop, so does double-duty, and the sidings fit inside the loop. The loop line might be hidden where it runs alongside the station. It would crossover from up/inner to down/outer where it rejoins the main circuit on the west side. The reversing loop is long enough to hold a full-length train. If you were using DCC (which I understand you're not a fan of...) trains could run non-stop through the loop using an auto-reverser. The single-track reversing loop runs over a lifting section to allow you to get access to the north storage sidings (the blue area shows roughly where the operator can comfortably get to).

  2. Phil,


    Have you any information regarding the capabilities of Xara for exporting SVG files for Cricut / Silhouette cutting machines? Have you heard of anyone successfully getting this to work?


    Getting a Cricut cutting machine is on my 'list of things to buy', so getting it to work with Xara would be a great help.



    Hi Ian,


    I think it's just a matter of using the right named colours for the outlines but I'll try to find out tomorrow and get back to you.


    (Possibly also creating a simple silhouette path by using Combine Shapes => Add shapes and setting a flat fill colour.)

  3. Here's how to start a track plan in a drawing program:


    (All of the steps below can be changed later - everything is editable in a drawing program so you're not committing yourself at any stage.)

    1. Create a blank page of the size you want - usually the size of paper your printer can handle.
    2. Work out how big your design will be in the real world and set a scale factor in the drawing so that your design will fit onto the page*. For instance, to fit a design for a 2.5m long layout onto an A4 page you might set a scale factor of 1 : 10. (* I don't think Affinity Designer supports drawing scale factors yet.)
    3. Create a layer for the baseboards.
    4. Draw the baseboards to scale. Usually this means simply drawing some rectangles, setting their sizes and giving them a light neutral fill colour.
    5. Create a layer for a grid on top of the baseboard layer. A grid of a known size helps you and your readers understand how big elements of the design are.
    6. Draw a grid of equally spaced lines, or snapped together squares, of accurate size - most typically 1ft or 300mm.
    7. Create a layer for the track layout on top of the grid.
    8. Start drawing some simple lines to give a rough idea of where the tracks might be laid. Drop in some points templates (see above) to join the lines together.

    Now you're up and running!


    You can add more layers later to hold things like ground surfaces, trees, shrubs and buildings. Layers are a great way to keep the drawing organised.

  4. In the process of formatting a sequence of 4550 shunting in the yard at Little Muddle I took this picture.

    Will post them when I have finished editing them as it takes quite a time but in the mean time I took a picture more by chance to see what it came out like and far I could push my camera, editing suite and model.


    This is taken as if the photographer was standing close to the loco as it trundled by.




    Whilst editing it I realised this could look good in B&W, so using Affinity I changed it to do that that but applied a cold setting and this is the result.....




    Now to me, this one is by far the more realistic one as this would have been the normal type of film used in the mid 30's.


    I have a feeling there will be more pictures like this......


    This will the last pictures of this loco before it goes 'under the knife' to have the bulk timber added to the rear buffer beam that this loco carried for the frame and coal bunker extension.


    I hope you realise that in the near future, when people search on Google for images of "Small Prairie Tanks", these images will pop up and most of them won't know these aren't photos of the prototypes!


    Maybe those who know something about buffer beams will spot the "deliberate" mistake, though...



  5. Phil,


    The XAR file imports fine, bus does report a few 'errors' due to me 'only' using Designer Pro X10. I guess you are using a '365' version? I'm assuming these are trivial issues that I can ignore.


    One question; how did you create curves of a specific radius? Have you drawn a circle and then 'cropped' it to the desired angle of turn?


    I've been using 3rdPlanIt to draw a layout, but as I'm a dare sight more experienced with Xara, I'm tempted to give it a go - although I can't see how I'll be able to get Xara to create curves with transition curves!




    Yes, I'm afraid that Xara Designer's tools for creating arcs are not very good so I drew circles, then drew lines at fixed angles from the centres and sliced the circle to get constant radius curves.


    For some "flexi" track runs I just use bezier curves, make sure that they are smooth with tangential joins at the ends by eye and then check the min radii by dragging a fixed radius template over the top.


    Similarly with parallel tracks I draw a 51mm circle and drag it along the tracks to gauge the distance between them, making the spacing wider where long vehicles might overhang.


    I hope you give it a try, I'll do my best to answer any questions and I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

  6. Phil,


    I've used Xara since the mid '90s. I went to get Xara Studio, only to find Xara had been bought out by Corel so my first program was CorelXara. I had CorelXara 2 and then X, X1,  Xtreme, and now Designer Pro - although I'm still on version 10 (a little out of date).


    So, I've absolutely no objection to you 'pushing' Xara  ...


    If you want to avoid the 'limit lines' on turnouts, then I suggest using a different colour for the turnouts (as most layout software seems to do). Personally, I like to see the 'junctions' as those are parts for which the geometry is fixed. Straight and curved track can be adjusted, but not ladders of turnouts / diamonds.




    Nice to meet another loyal Xara user!


    Yes, I agree about seeing the fixed geometry sections during the design stage and I have been using colour to do that. E.g.:


    Then, when the design was finalised you might reset them all to black again for a cleaner look.

    • Like 1
  7. Suggested method to transfer a point or crossing symbol into a scaled track plan drawing:

    1. Select the item you want in the points and crossings drawing
    2. Note the actual size width or height that your drawing program reports for the selected item
    3. Copy
    4. Paste into your scaled track plan
    5. Set width or height of the pasted item to the value you noted earlier (making sure that aspect ratio will be kept so that the item is not distorted).

    Now you've got the point or crossing accurately to size in your track plan you can make as many copies as you need by copy/paste, duplicate or clone and they can be rotated and flipped as needed.

  8. Phil,


    Thankfully, I normally have 'scale line widths' off anyway. In such circumstances, adding a 90-degree line to the end of a line (not at end symbol) is a useful visual tool to define limits.


    And thanks for the 'G' trick, hadn't known that one. There is a 'A' (for angle trick) as well (now I've checked the Help file), but I can't fathom that one.


    Bye the way, it's nice to find someone else actually using Xara!




    Hi Ian,


    Full disclosure: I actually work for Xara and more than that I've worked on Xara Designer since day 1 (and before that on ArtWorks!).


    I'm not trying to push it forward here. The competing tools are equally capable, in fact better in many ways, and developing faster than Designer (sadly) - but obviously it's the tool I know best so that's why I'm using it.


    The RMWeb Admins have now allowed XAR files to be uploaded and so you'll find the original XAR file for the points and crossings in Post #2 now. The points and crossings are all stored as symbols ("LiveCopies") so that changing one will change all the copies.


    I understand what you're saying about making the ends more visible but those end marks would then be visible in final drawings too and you don't normally see such marks in track plans in books and magazines. However we could perhaps put marks in that only appear in outline mode (view quality 0). (I've already included some invisible lines to make sure that angle snapping has definite angled lines to work with rather than relying on calculating tangents at the curve ends.)



  9. I'm liking it a lot!  What program do you use?


    I use Xara "Designer Pro" but Xara "Photo and Graphic Designer" has all the useful drawing functions as far as I remember. You can get a free trial from www.xara.com.


    Full Disclosure: I work for Xara.


    There's a lot more that could be added to the drawing; little details like rowing boats, discarded rusty equipment, walkways, etc., and of course lots Military stuff but should I do that? I'm sure you'd rather take the ideas and add your own character to the design.

    • Like 1
  10. Phil,


    Don't know which software you used, but the PDF imports into Xara Designer Pro without problems.


    In Xara, the 'snapping' only works to the X and Y axes (and object ends / middle / etc.). Snapping objects on an angle only works by manual rotation of the objects to the desired angle first.


    What I've found useful is to 'export' key parts of the track alignment (eg: junctions) from the layout software (in my case this turned out to be a bitmap), and then import it into Xara (and then scale it correctly). Bit of a 'faff' but useful to enable me to use Xara to the 'overall' design, and ensure the track junctions actually fit. However, I think I'll complete the drawing eventually in the layout software, once I'm happy with the overall look in Xara.


    One comment I would add to your Drawing is to ensure you 'mark' the ends of each turnout / diamond / scissors, so that when they are aligned / joined together, each element is still easy to see. That way any short bits of plain track will stand out.


    On your crossovers, why have you used 55.32mm (that's what it scaled in Xara) as the track centres? I thought Peco turnouts gave 52mm track centres natively.




    Hi Ian,


    Yes, Xara Designer won't automatically rotate symbols or groups when they snap together, but if you hold down Ctrl while you rotate them they will constrain to useful angles, including the angles of the lines in the group.


    In Xara Designer, snapping inside Groups is turned off by default (on the basis that there would be too many things snapping together otherwise) but you can turn it on by hitting G while you are dragging a set of points around. Then you will see the snap indicators show true snaps between the ends of the lines and the angles between them.


    To see the size of the pure geometry turn off "Scale Line Widths" in the Selector tool infobar. You will still see that the crossovers are slightly taller than the expected 25.4mm but I think the real Peco parts actually are like that (from the given angles, lengths and by overlaying the Peco templates). I thought about fudging those symbols to make them fit the expected track separation but decided to leave them alone for now.



  11. Here's my first contribution: Templates for all Peco Streamline 00 crossings and turnouts.


    E.g. here's the small radius point:



    The PDF or XAR vector files below can be imported into your drawing program where you can copy the point symbols, rescale them and use them in drawings. Use the angles given and your software's snapping feature to join parts together correctly.


    More detailed explanations and examples will follow later if there's any interest.


    Latest versions:

    Peco OO streamline points and crossings 9.pdf

    Peco geometry 9.xar


    Previous versions:

    Peco OO streamline points and crossings 7.pdf

    Peco geometry 7.xar




    • Like 1
  12. Hi everyone,


    This topic is about drawing track plans in illustration software such as Adobe Illustrator, Xara Designer or Affinity Designer. (There are lots of other drawing programs that could be used.)


    I know that dedicated track planning programs are widely used and are very popular but illustration programs allow you to take a slightly different approach to layout design that is more targeted at creating a visually pleasing end-result, more like the track plans that are published in magazines.


    I hope this proves to be useful.




  13.  Not having any difficulty on full size computer monitor, though a smartphone screen may not be cutting the mustard.  The Glamorgan Canal crane may not have been too dissimilar to those at Kingswear, but photos suggest a larger jib on the Kingswear ones.  The principle of the crane self propelling up and down an isolated section of standard gauge track is the same, though.

    I see it better this morning (!) and I see this:



    Not sure where the platform(s) is/are, though.


    Looking at the 1941 map on oldmaps.co.uk there's an amazing amount of rail infrastructure around this little site! Very interesting.

  14. Probably OT but I'm intrigued by the trackage either side of the station. If you swapped...Balls Road and the station site you could bring the Glamorgan Canal wharf and its Trav C. (travelling crane) immediately alongside the station which would make for a very interesting location .  What's the longish line splitting into two short sidings on the extended centre line of Hurmann Street and is it serving the opposite side of the same factory (large grey area) as the kickback from Clarence Road. .

    As to the station itself a double track line leading to a single platform station always seems slightly odd to me though I believe there were others.

    I find it really difficult to see the track plan from that low res map of Cardiff Clarence Road.


    However, the travelling cranes caught my eye because I'm currently working on a layout design based on Kingswear in Devon in another thread. Kingswear is a great example of a terminus with docks alongside (including travelling cranes) because it's so compact in real life.


    See: http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/126422-having-some-serious-design-block-and-need-help/

  15. I have overlaid the low-res plan from post #20 onto the more recent higher-res sketch and unfortunately they don't match up very well.



    Juliet Bridge may need to be even wider than current thinking. Until there's an accurate, dimensioned room plan I don't think it's worth spending too much effort on planning.




  16. Juliet bridge is of course a particularly critical component, and will need careful design, neat finishing, and to be lightweight and easy to handle by all participants in the household;


    Sounds like Juliet Bridge is a bit of a diva!


    And, surely, the name of the layout is going to come from this phrase in some form or another... But I wouldn't presume. That's Ed's choice and Ed's alone.

  17. Just an overview note on cranes.  The Airfix/Dapol/Kitmaster plastic construction kit crane that sees service on many a layout is in fact a bit of an oddity, a dockyard crane actually designed for use in a ship repair yard to be capable of handling items of machinery to be hoisted on board or off for work to be done on them.  It is not really a dockside cargo handling crane for loading or unloading cargoes into or out of the holds of large ships; it is nowhere near even the ball park of being big enough, or of having a long enough reach on the jib.  A proper dockside crane is about 3 times the size of this, and quite a hard thing to fit in on a model railway if you build it to scale!   Ocean going cargo ships, even steam age ones, are huge, and their handling facilities must match!


    The cranes at Kingswear, IIRC, are rail mounted mobile cranes, and I made something vaguely like them many years ago for a canalside setting; basic and crude modelling with the body and jib of an Airfix dockyard construction kit crane mounted on an old tender chassis and sheathed in corrugated iron to hide it's ancestry.  It was surprisingly effective, and was claimed to be an accurate model of the prototype that had 'insprired' it at an exhibition by a bloke who claimed his father driven the original (made a change from Flying Scotsman).  Given the vagueness of the photos I'd worked from, this was encouraging...


    The other model railway standard from the Airfix/Dapol/Kitmaster stable is of course the Smith Rodley 'breakdown' crane.  Again, this isn't really a breakdown crane, or a main line railway crane at all, though similar ones were built for railway use by the Per Way department at their PAD pre-assembled rail depots.  The kit is for an industrial use crane capable of being moved around a works or factory site to where it is required, but not under it's own power.  The PAD cranes were self propelled, but on an 8 wheeled chassis rather than the kit's bogies, and could be hauled dead to a tracklaying site and then move around that under their own power during an occupation.  It is fairly easy to model one of these by making up the kit as per the instructions but not fitting the bogies; instead mount the crane on an 8 wheel chassis from any LNER pacific tender picked up secondhand; it fits almost as if it's designed to!


    Thanks, that explains quite a lot and is very useful info.


    On the 1936 map (post 8) it appears that there's a crossing from one of the dockyard sidings onto the crane tracks.


    On the Cornwall Railway Society website (link above) there are few photos showing cranes at Kingswear but this is probably the best:



    And here's sneak preview of my stylised rendition of it for the track plan:



    BTW: One of my distant relatives really did drive the Flying Scotsman (I believe): Albert Pibworth - "Old Pib"!  :onthequiet:

    • Like 1
  18. Folks,


    I suggest that discussion of Ivor the Engine and dragons is a bit off-topic for this thread, which is supposed to be about Kevin's beautiful and bucolic layout.


    I apologise for starting the Ivor sub-thread. Is there an "Ivor the Engine" topic? Maybe there should be!



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