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Keith Addenbrooke

GW Adventure - a track planning tale

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In a city not far from here, I’m told there once stood a magnificent building, the biggest structure ever built by starting at the top with the roof, then working down through the different floors and hallways to get to ground level, before construction finished by digging the foundations.

Well, perhaps not (although I’m sure it is technically possible).  But I start with this to explain the idea of this thread, else it’ll look like I’m working from an end point.

I’ve been working on a layout design for a single track Great Western branch line and, having come up with something that ticked all the boxes for me, I thought it’d be good to work out how to signal it.  Knowing very little about signalling and suspecting I may have come up with ‘a complex nightmare’ out of keeping with the atmosphere I was after, I shared a schematic in the Permanent Way, Signalling and Infrastructure Forum - and was quickly proved right.

I learnt some useful things through the conversation, but various contributors to the thread, including myself, suggested it might be good to have a look at the plan here in the Layout & Track Design Forum.

Having already worked through a detailed design process, I’ve separated my thinking into different areas, which I hope it’s OK to post separately, leading up to the plan itself and some alternatives:

1.        The principles I’ve adopted - what I want to achieve (and why).  These underpin what American track planning guru John Armstrong used to call his “Givens” - those constraints that can be stated as non-negotiable for this project.  Mine are quite personal to me in many ways, so I’ll explain why.

2.        Next, what Armstrong called his “Druthers” - basically an American term I see as ‘my preferences.’  It can be tempting to treat everything as a given: “I want it all (and I want it now),” but all layout planning involves compromise - reading threads on this Forum will show how seeing some things as tradeable can free up new solutions.

3.        I’ll post the plan I came up with when I put it all together (of course it was something like my 20th iteration, but you’ll see how I got there).  I’ll also post some alternative designs and variations.  All design drawings have been prepared to scale using Anyrail.

I hope this is OK.  Keith.

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Givens

For me, the design process starts with inspiration: what sets the pulse racing, what makes the time and effort worth it.  We’ll all have a personal answer.  This is mine:

In 1976, the American magazine, Model Railroader, reprinted a condensed version of a classic series of articles first penned in 1944 by Frank Ellison: “the Art of Model Railroading.”  Ellison had a background in theatre, and it shows in his writing:

 

What has become of the Mid-Nightmare Flyer and all the other dream trains of the Parlor & Dining Room RR. that used to wheel over Mt. Reverie?  What has become of the dream itself - that magical vision which stirred and took shape on the day we brought home the first toy train for the kid’s Christmas?  It was a wonderful dream of tracks, trains and a procession of towns and rolling hills; of picturesque little way freights at dozens of sleepy country towns; of switching that drag to the siding to clear the main for the ballast-scorching Armchair Limited whistling around Phantasy Curve to pass in a swirl of whimsical dust.  It was a dream of action too - of trains of every class to be found on a dispatcher’s train sheet, wheeling over a busy arterial highway of steel, weaving in and out of way-station sidings to overtake or to meet and pass.  It was, in truth, the dream of a transportation system at work.”

 

1409906324_2-1Artofmodelrailroading.jpg.cd44145f1d49785cc39da703fa9f124c.jpg

 

I was eight years old in 1976 - and I was captivated.  I wanted that dream.  I still do. 

Publisher Al Kalmbach, also writing in 1944, using the pseudonym “Boomer Pete,” wrote his book, ‘Operating Manual for Model Railroaders’ from a similar perspective.  It had a big impact on me when I read my Dad’s copy as a kid.

But what does all this mean for layout planning?  This was Kalmbach’s view:

 

A real railroad is built to carry traffic from one place to another.  A model railroad should be so planned that it will give an illusion of doing the same thing even if it doesn’t.  The simplest layout is a circle or an oval with a siding, station, or yards at one point on it.  That one yard or station can be imagined as both ends of the line and definite orders can be made up and carried out for moving traffic from the one terminal around the main line and back to the same point.” (p41)

 

399098249_2-2Kalmbach.jpg.b80123d43c8703a39dd4e514493512a3.jpg

 

Feel free to disagree, for much has changed since then, and much of it for the better.  But that’s my dream still.  For me, if for no-one else, if I’m to build and ‘finish’ a layout: a continuous run is a must.  I lose interest in other ideas too easily.

Over the years I’ve drawn up literally hundreds of plans, from branch line terminii to city stations, and I have other projects (some are on RMweb).  If I had 20’ or more maybe I’d plan a spacious terminus to create my illusion, and watch trains disappear in the distance.  But even then I’d sometimes roll back the carpet, fasten together some leftover Setrack into a circuit and watch a train run, and run, and run.

 

My Given No. 1: a continuous run.

 

What is ‘my train,’ my Given No. 2: for me, it’s a Great Western branch line train.

I can’t remember when I first saw branch line engines in Great Western green, GWR emblazoned on the sides, with coaches resplendent in chocolate and cream.  I’d have read about GW branch lines in Railway Modeller in the 1970s, but photos were black and white, so was it at an exhibition or on holiday in Devon?  I don’t know, but I guess my parents did: my first train was an N Gauge GWR Pannier Tank and two chocolate and cream coaches with white roofs.  I model in OO gauge now, but the Pannier Tank is still my locomotive and the GW Branch Line my motif.

I wouldn’t have known it then, but I think that loco livery was only introduced in 1942, by which time coach roofs would have been in wartime dark grey or black.  I’ll play a “Rule 1” card here: I’m going to be flexible with my time period (approx 1915 to 1945), and I’m afraid my coaches will keep their white roofs. 

How long is my train?  That’s easy:  American layout designer Bernard Kempinski uses the term ‘design train length’ to ensure it all fits: three 57’ coaches and a small tender engine measure 40” in OO Gauge.

 

My Given No. 2: a GWR Branch line with a maximum train length of 40”.

 

Given No. 3: the space I have.  I don’t have a permanent space for a layout, so am looking at something portable, for home use only.  There’s space for me to set up a layout on high days and holidays in the middle of a room, and this gives a maximum layout space of 8’ x 4’.  Access is needed round the edges for others to reach the rest of the room, and I have four 4’ x 2’ baseboards I built years ago ready to use.

A word of warning.  Although an 8’ x 4’ table can get train sets off the carpet - it isn’t easy to come up with plausible layouts.  The tight curves, the difficulty reaching across a table and the absence of prototypes, all make it easy to see why many shudder at the thought of an 8’ x 4’ plan.  On one board, it’s just about immovable.

A good number of American Track Plan books do include designs for 8’ x 4’ layouts, and there are some well designed and sophisticated examples around, but they’re not for everybody.  For me however, it is a positive choice, it has the support of other members of my household - and is a Given.

32 sq. ft. seems massive to me: I wouldn’t want to tackle anything bigger.  Over the past 15 years I’ve designed a number of micro-layouts, working with a maximum design space of 4 sq. ft.  And yes, it is possible to design an operating double track continuous run layout in HO scale in such a space - working with Carl Arendt, the much missed doyen of the micro-layout world, we did it a long time ago (though we had to use 15” curves).  You can still find that plan on carendt.com

 

My Given No. 3: an 8’ x 4’ layout on four portable 4’ x 2’ boards.

 

My last Given is track.  I have some good condition Code 100 OO Gauge Streamline and some long / medium points (the look of long points got me to graduate from Setrack).  I’d like a minimum curve of 19” (UK 3rd radius) and I have Setrack curves if needed.  I need to get something up and running quickly and easily (so I don’t lose interest), so I’ll use what I’ve got.  I can use a Setrack Y-point as their radius is generous. 

 

Given No. 4: 3rd rad. curves and medium / long points. Control is DC.

 

A very long post (sorry), but my Givens won’t be for everyone, so I set them out carefully:

 

No. 1: A continuous run.

No. 2: A GWR branch line with 3 coach trains (40”).

No. 3: An 8’ x 4’ layout using four 4’ x 2’ portable baseboards.

No. 4: Code 100 OO Gauge with large / medium points, 3rd radius curves.  DC.

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Druthers

My preferences, or ‘Druthers’:

 

Relating to construction:

 

1.        A minimum number of tracks crossing baseboard joints (no points on joints).

2.        No planned gradients (I don’t anticipate this being a problem).

 

Relating to overall design:

 

3.  With “Kalmbach” operation, I’m happy not to have hidden track or a fiddle yard.

4.  Single track running line (probably necessary, to keep to min. 3rd radius curves).

 

Relating to more specific operating possibilities:

 

5.  Ideally, a loop long enough for trains to pass, not just to run round a train.

6.  Preferably, two goods sidings (for shunting), an engine shed and carriage siding.

7.  A passenger station with a platform long enough for a whole 40” train.

 

Is it possible to deliver all this in 8’ x 4’ or less?  That’s the challenge.  Depending on the priorities set and the compromises made, plausible designs do exist.  In the Signalling thread that preceded this one, reference was made to a branch line pattern developed by Maurice Deane years ago - I think it formed the basis for Revd W. Awdry’s Ffarquahar Layout (from the late 1950s?).  A different design, from the early 1980’s was Bredon, which was in Railway Modeller in 1981, and was adapted for Peco Setrack Plan books.  It focused on operating a station more than watching trains run, but showed what could be done.

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There are many different ways to arrive at a Layout Design.  My own process here involved an enjoyable day working through some Plan Books I have for favourites I might modify to fit my Givens and Druthers.  I settled on an Iain Rice design for an American country station, which I kind of ‘reverse engineered’ to fit my requirements.  After a number of iterations over about a week, the final design looked like this:

 

565770094_4-2LineDrawing.jpg.8148417320664859fdf9e7d7c5abba6e.jpg

 

222389912_4-1Original.jpg.9b9e0bc40da58b55863b3496f1b4858c.jpg

 

This layout ticks all my boxes – I especially like how it minimises the tracks across baseboard joints while including everything I wanted.  As a bonus, I have all the track pieces I need. 

 

Things to note:

 

1.  A challenge using American ideas for UK layouts is fitting a station platform without it dominating.  Some US Stations have high platforms, but not the layouts I looked at.  This one had a depot between the tracks, and while there aren’t many examples of GW island platforms, it gave me a neat solution.

2.  I haven’t included a fiddle yard / hidden sidings.  I looked at adding a staging loop, but this would have needed a tighter radius curved point at one end of the layout to fit.  I explored this in a thread here on RMweb, but decided against it – it would have broken Given No. 4.

I considered a single ended refuge siding, and asked the question in the UK Prototype Questions Forum to see if examples existed of refuge sidings on single track GW lines.  The consensus was that they didn’t.

Instead, the layout can be wired so that trains can simply be held at the subsidiary station until needed.

3.  I like the generous length of the goods sidings (note that the measurements are for track cutting – deduct a couple of inches to get the effective capacity).  A good tip visually is to avoid stuffing them full of goods wagons, to retain the illusion of space.  The outer siding could serve a goods shed or industry, but a reason will be needed for the second siding, for which access is trickier.  Perhaps it holds wagons waiting to go up the line to a nearby (off-stage) station / industry with no shunting loop or trailing point access?

The original plan doesn’t include an engine shed siding, which I’ve added.

4.  The original plan included points (switches) in both directions off the main running line, and I kept them, to make use of the corners.  A carriage siding wasn’t required, but a 36” siding can take 3 coaches.

5.  These points are the problem: a UK railway would not have these facing points from running lines.  Add operating ideas that require both loops to be bi-directional, and the design becomes less plausible.

 

It was ultimately this point that led to the suggestion I post my ideas for discussion in this Forum.

 

The other thing I’d done when working through my initial planning process was to test the basic design to see if it might offer the kind of operating patterns I’d want, over and above just running trains.

 

For this, I return first to Frank Ellison:

 

For Model Railroading is definitely a play.  It is the presentation of the drama of railroading in which the tracks are the stage, the buildings and scenery are the setting, the trains are the actors, and the operating schedule is the plot.”

 

Again, there are plenty of ways to interpret and apply these words, or to disagree with them.  Ellison’s own view was that, for a model railroad: “a scale run of not less than two miles seems essential” (and he modelled in O Scale).  He also advocated bringing hidden sidings or staging yards into the open, despite his theatre background, where the ‘off-stage’ can be as vital as the ‘on-stage’ to a good production.

 

But can I put on a show with the layout design I have?  Kalmbach’s Operating Manual contains a lot of detailed and informative information, covering mechanical reliability, track and couplings, and includes comprehensive operating rules for model railroads derived from the prototype practice of the day, plus rules for setting up and running a model railroad club.  He also shares ideas on layout planning and how to reach beyond the limitations of a model layout.  Modellers of a prototype location may have access to relevant information to help here, but where I’m designing freelanced layouts, an integral part of the design process is that of setting the scene:

 

To do this, the basic Schematic for the layout, which is like this:

 

430358842_4-3SchematicA.jpg.443250ad807ad480304e4972c0138948.jpg

 

is imagineered to become this:

 

815017998_4-4SchematicB.jpg.de6885f619bdd68030a7fb3e6c10fff3.jpg

 

The Feeder Branches aren’t modelled, but provide a rationale for connecting Services at the Main Station, which effectively becomes a junction, justifying a small engine shed and carriage siding. 

The Brixham Branch to Churston off the Kingswear Branch is an example of this kind of arrangement.

 

With this expanded Schematic, what can of operating patterns might be possible?  I looked at three Scenarios, which I’ll set out below.  I should note that the ideas I’ve quoted from Ellison and Kalmbach appear in other writings too – it just happens that they are my inspiration.

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Operating Scenarios

 

Three things to note:

 

1.  The intensity of Services will greatly exceed that which a station like this might really have seen.

2.  When operating, the Carriage Siding (bottom right) may sometimes double as a “fiddle track,” with rolling stock appearing or disappearing as needed - it’s in easy reach of the operator.  The Brewery buildings could also be used to hide an entrance / exit for swapping goods wagons on / off the layout.

3.  In this kind of operation, stations have multiple identities, representing every place on the journey.

 

Three indicative scenarios:

 

Scenario 1.  Morning

 

1542116210_4a-1MorningScenario.jpg.eeb6d9489845ec42b7ec17aaa8d75318.jpg

 

It is early morning.  Engine A is preparing the first Up passenger train of the day.  Coaches B are coupled up and additional “strengthening coach” C is added to the train. 

In his book on Model Railway Operation (PSL, 1993), Cyril Freezer suggested that one way to distinguish between trains is to add “strengthening coaches” to a standard rake of coaches.  An early morning train such as this one might have a Siphon G, while a through coach from London may appear later in the day?

When this train is ready and waiting in Platform 1, single coach train D – ostensibly having originated at a feeder branch terminal, is brought in from Station 3 into Platform 2 for early morning passengers to transfer.  Perhaps a deal was done when land was sold to the railway that required a connecting service?

Passengers having crossed to the train on Platform 1, it is given the all clear to depart.  After a good run (several laps) it is brought to a convenient stop at Station 3.  The focus moves back to the station.

The branch train D then moves to the carriage siding, and engine E comes out of the Engine Shed to prepare a Down Goods with wagons F.  It will wait in Platform road 2 until the next Up passenger train arrives in Platform 1 (where it will then wait), before setting off on its journey.

With passenger trains in Both Platform 1 and the Carriage Siding, any wagons for breweries imagined to be at the breweries at stations further down the line must be shunted into the Goods sidings to await a clear line, and so the shuffling continues throughout the morning…

 

2.  Arrival

 

513560030_4a-2ArrivalScenario.jpg.ab660ecceb203e93cb444ec8e26bb8b0.jpg

 

This second scenario shows the arrival of Down passenger train behind Engine A (which has been taken off and turned at some point in the day – literally).  Coaches B and a different strengthening Coach G make up the train.  It is unlikely that a branch such as this would have a Buffet Car or Restaurant Service, so a Through Coach is perhaps more likely?

Branch Line Train D waits for connecting passengers to disembark and transfer, while Goods Engine E has returned to the shed, having completed its run and having placed wagons at destinations along the way.

After the Branch train has left, Engine A will run round and shunt the coaches into the Carriage Siding.

 

3.  “Shunting Puzzle”

 

This particular scenario is inspired by a Shunting Puzzle first published in 1972 in Model Railroader Magazine with a freelanced plan for the “Sagatukett River RR”  (It was reprinted in 1981 in “58 Track Planning Idea” - a version of the same plan in “101 More Track Plans” omits the shunting puzzle).

 

2085888937_4a-3ShuntingPuzzle.jpg.3c897224d6dbb0fe5c3b00b4cf1879dd.jpg

 

Engine E has just arrived with a terminating Up local Goods Train – 3 wagons plus Guards Van G.

These are the rules: Engine A and Coaches B cannot be moved, and the Main Running Line through the Station must be kept clear at the end of each shunting move for Branch Train D to come and go as required.  Engine E can run round the train when needed, and use the main line to get to the Brewery.

Wagons are to be distributed as follows:

Wagons 4, 7 and 9 will form the departing train, which is to be a “Down” train.  Guards Van G must be at the rear and Engine E at the front.

Incoming Wagons are to be shunted as follows – appropriate destinations are needed to justify these otherwise random movements (eg: Goods Shed / Loading Dock, etc.).  Wagons 1 and 2 will replace Wagons 6 and 7, and Wagon 3 replaces Wagon 9 (in the original puzzle this was much more difficult – having other wagons in the way could complicate things here by making wagon rakes longer).

Wagon 6 is to move to the Brewery siding, and Wagon 8 is to be shunted to the Goods Yard siding currently occupied by wagons 4 and 5.  Wagon 5 needs to go to the place where Wagon 6 is currently.

The compact nature of the station layout, with sidings running directly off both loops, becomes part of ‘the game’ here.  Shunting puzzles are not for everyone; they are popular with some advocates of micro-layouts, and planning appropriate destinations for wagon movements can help.

 

All this looks good to me, if it wasn’t for the implausible facing points running off the platform lines.  How come I didn’t spot this earlier myself?  Looking back at other plans I’ve drawn up in recent years, I’ve avoided facing points on double track main lines – while I know my design isn’t typical of Great Western Branch Line stations, it didn’t register with me that I had such a potentially big problem with plausibility (note: the result of studying American Model Railroad plans more closely than UK prototype track layouts).  Are there alternatives, or I could accept facing points for this small layout?

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Are alternative Layout Designs possible?  Here are two – I’ve kept the same basic elements (and points) and just shuffled them around to remove the facing points.  In each case, alternative compromises are involved – as you’d expect:

 

877804754_5-1Kickback.jpg.34e1146c9b79c280a272ac8eed5c1f0c.jpg

 

Although Iain Rice’s original US design did have two opposing points or switches on the main (lower) running line, to make good use of the outside corners, this doesn’t translate easily into UK practice.  These modifications could be made:

 

11.  The industry can be moved across the layout to replace the second station.  This removes the facing point from the lower loop line.  Scenery in the top half isn’t badly impacted.  It doesn’t have to be a Brewery, which is perhaps less likely ‘out-of-town’.  Local goods trains would shunt this siding when heading anti-clockwise (“Down”), with wagons from clockwise trains (“Up”) switched out at the station to wait for the next Down goods.

12.  The original Iain Rice plan had a single switch to access the upper goods sidings here.  I removed it in my first plan to keep tracks crossing baseboard joints to a minimum.  If I relax that constraint I can put it back and take out a facing point.

13.  Signalling each platform line for one-way left-running operation now looks possible.

14.  The longer left-hand siding becomes a headshunt for the two right hand sidings, each of good length.  These can be laid out as a Goods Yard, with space between the sidings.  When operating, shunting is separate from the platform lines.

 

1696664496_5-2Headshunt.jpg.9fb7194c50a71d49dd849ceb492447aa.jpg

 

21.  The headshunt access has been moved to the other side of the baseboard joint.

22.  The Engine Shed looks to me less plausible now, requiring a double kickback, but I’ve retained it for comparison.

23.  There is one less track across the baseboard joint, they are straighter and less scenic space is lost.  A left-hand point would give more space in the right-hand goods yard – I’ve just moved around the points I have so I can compare the plans.

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If I had unlimited space, I’d look to include a model of Fairford.  Here are two designs inspired by the layout there that meet my Givens, again drawn by moving around parts of my original design.  In reality, Fairford was a Terminus.

 

78058102_6-1Fairford1.jpg.7507d093a2692ceeaa649577437ccd51.jpg

 

1.  As Fairford was intended to be a through station, I think continuous run can be imagined.

2.  There was a road bridge at the station entrance – the Level Crossing is in the right place so I left it.

3.  The station moves to the end of the layout.  Passenger trains can now no longer meet.  The tight curve means allowance will have to be made for the overhang as coaches pass the platform.  As the curve is viewed from outside this will be partly hidden, but it would be worth making a mock-up before committing to the plan to see if it looks acceptable.

4.  I’ve taken out the turntable and moved the Engine Shed to the other end, where there’s more space.

5.  A carriage siding was added at Fairford, so can be included, but would it have been needed had the station been a through station?  (The same may be said for the Engine Shed and lower Run-round loop).

6.  This Siding is a combination of a short siding at the end of the double-ended siding and a later siding shown in a drawing by Stanley C. Jenkins – I’m not sure, but I wonder if it may have been a 2nd World War addition?

7 / 8.  There were two right-hand crossovers entering the upper siding, either side of the Goods Shed, so the Shed can be at 7 or 8 (on the Loading Dock siding).  Either introduces shunting interest: the loop was a siding, not for running round.

9.  But, if the run-round loop is used as a passing loop for trains to meet, there is again the problem of facing points.

 

485798851_6-2Fairford2.jpg.83aea9d5e7262f082e1ed643ca995c0b.jpg

 

If the Engine Shed returns to the far end of the station, the loop can be designated for one way running.

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And, finally, what is perhaps a more conventional layout design that still fits the Givens:

1717499932_7-1StagingLoop.jpg.bf5cc70f86b817616dd3f425b33ed36f.jpg

 

Here the loop siding has been moved to the top of the layout where it serves as sceniced staging:

 

1.  With Streamline Curved points, a passing siding long enough for two 40” trains is possible.  It could be signalled for one-way working.  Platforms could be modelled, but might start to dominate the layout, although a scenic divide could be used to separate this side from the lower station to mitigate this. 

Using Streamline geometry, track centres (the distance between parallel tracks) measure 2” – Note that, if redrawing these plans with Setrack, the gap between lines widens and there is less width to play with.

2.  I’m not sure it’s really possible to fit a second long passing loop with Streamline Curved points at the bottom, so this station is no longer a passing station.  There is just one platform, and room for a 30” run-round loop to access the Goods sidings.  It is just about long enough for and engine to run round a train.

3.  For comparison I’ve used the same layout for the Goods sidings as in my first design.  Operation would focus on shunting the Local Goods.  To justify the long sidings, the Brewery might become a large depot?

4.  The Engine Shed is now unlikely – this is an intermediate station, albeit with quite a large Goods Yard.

There is of course plenty of scope to develop this idea further, but I hope I’ve given a flavour of an idea.

_______________________

 

I began my OP explaining why I’m posting a thread that starts at the end of my design process.  If anyone has read this far and is still awake then do get in touch for a Certificate of Persistence, you’ve done well.

 

Of course, a number of suggestions for major changes might arise from all this.  These could include:

 

1.  Switch to US outline HO modelling (Yay!  My track gauge has fixed itself).

2.  Put my baseboards in a line for a Branch Line Terminus and Fiddle Yard (please note: I don’t have 16’).

3.  Switch to N Gauge and perhaps model four different cameo scenes, one per board.

4.  Change my track for Code 75 Bullhead rail when supplies recover, for at least one bit of realism.

 

These (and others) may be great ideas, but would need a new budget for a different layout.  It would be a different project, not what I’m aiming for.  With a final apology for posting far too much - I'm sorry I've rather got carried away, I’ll finish.

I’m not on RMweb every day to respond to any replies if there are any comments, but will check when I can.  Thanks, Keith.

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That last plan is by far the best.

 

I don't suppose that you have considered a preservation line running GW stock?? Preservation lines take more liberties with track layouts: e.g. Harmans Cross on the Swanage Railway.

 

Assuming that you have a backscene splitting the 8x4 into two scenes (as many US designs do). I still think that you could do better with modelling just one end of a station so that you don't get to see how short the loop is. 

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Maybe I've missed it (there's a lot to read...), is this a bucolic country branch line, or is it more urban? Does it matter to you? Obviously you'll find different things in each setting.

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Posted (edited)

For what it's worth, the plan before you introduce Fairford would be my choice, though the island platform is a bit improbable on the GWR, such things weren't unheard of even in rural areas; Havenstreet on the IOW being one example. Some kind of plausible story could probably be created to justify it, such as it having been a non GWR route when constructed.

 

You could also invoke the 1896 light railways act, and you'd be able to get away with things that would never have been permitted on a normal railway. That doesn't mean it couldn't be GWR; the LSWR built the first route authorised by the light railways act (the Basingstoke and Alton), and the Southern Railway finally closed it. No idea if the GWR ever did anything similar, but that example shows that it could have done.

Edited by Zomboid
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Posted (edited)

Sorry Keith, TLDR.

 

You could cut the 8ft by 4ft board in a different way to give you longer runs, easier curves, an operating well and better access.

 

E.g.:

image.png.5f3490a282b4c22346cbc9431c86574c.png

 

becomes:

image.png.a10b08f55b310a206a816df10488a214.png

 

5ft by 9ft overall with a 2ft6in wide operating well. Admittedly the 8ft long top and bottom boards might be unwieldy but that's just one example. Many other cutting patterns are possible.

 

Edited by Harlequin
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2 hours ago, Joseph_Pestell said:

That last plan is by far the best.

 

I don't suppose that you have considered a preservation line running GW stock?? Preservation lines take more liberties with track layouts: e.g. Harmans Cross on the Swanage Railway.

 

Assuming that you have a backscene splitting the 8x4 into two scenes (as many US designs do). I still think that you could do better with modelling just one end of a station so that you don't get to see how short the loop is. 

 

2 hours ago, Zomboid said:

Maybe I've missed it (there's a lot to read...), is this a bucolic country branch line, or is it more urban? Does it matter to you? Obviously you'll find different things in each setting.


Thank you (both for wading through my notes and the responses).  For this project I’m thinking rural rather than urban (I hadn’t said, it’s only implied by my rough sketch) and while I’m happy to be very flexible with my time period, I am thinking historically rather than a heritage line in this case, to fit with my ambition that this is part of a bigger transportation network.

 

The last plan would probably operate quite differently to the others, most likely with individual trains “taking turns” to appear - the assumption being that the next station in each direction has passing facilities: even as a plan though it does suggest ‘bucolic country branch.  I have to admit, that plan is growing on me...

Although I guess a short Goods train could be locked into the Goods loop at the station while a passenger train passed, or a short passenger train could wait at the platform while a Goods train by-passed it (via the loop) would I then be back to signalling both lines for bi-directional running and there’d be facing points in the loop if it became a running line? Best not.

 

The backscene idea is well worth looking at - I almost included one in my sketch, and Joseph is quite right, it is one way American Model Railroad plans have aimed to move people on from train table thinking over the years. 
 

I haven’t looked at ideas for “one end of a station” for this project - there are many fantastic models that use this approach, including some of my favourites, but I’ve never settled on one I wanted to build.

 

Thanks again, Keith.

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Posted (edited)
34 minutes ago, Harlequin said:

Sorry Keith, TLDR.

 

You could cut the 8ft by 4ft board in a different way to give you longer runs, an operating well and better access.

 

E.g.:

image.png.5f3490a282b4c22346cbc9431c86574c.png

 

becomes:

image.png.a10b08f55b310a206a816df10488a214.png

 

5ft by 9ft overall with a 2ft6in wide operating well. Admittedly the 8ft long top and bottom boards might be unwieldy but that's just one example. Many other cutting patterns are possible.

 


Thank you - I really like the way you’ve shown this: there’s no rule that says boards have to be uniform in size (or rectangles) and this split could help keep the number of tracks crossing baseboard joints to a minimum.  I looked at a similar but smaller arrangement in a previous house with a different layout space.  As has been so often proved, it can give a much longer run and more generous sidings in the same overall space as a solid board plus outside aisles.  It’s also impossible to see the whole layout in one go, which helps the illusion.
 

For someone designing a transportable layout for exhibition use, it could become a bit awkward if too many different sizes were used, and weight / manoeuvrability come into play, and boards are commonly paired up to protect scenic detail, but this isn’t a consideration in this project.

 

For me, the space has been carefully measured, and I’ll be sticking to the 4’ width as other family members need to be able to walk past to use the rest of the room - I may be happy with a central operating well with duck-unders or lifting sections, but I can’t impose that on others, which is why I a made it a Given (although you’re right that I don’t have to stick to 4 boards of 4’ x 2’, which I hadn’t really thought about).
 

Fully understand TLDR - perfectly fair comment - I appreciate the response.  Thanks, Keith.

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
(typo - autocorrect not programmed for model railway terminology)

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6 minutes ago, Keith Addenbrooke said:

Although I guess a short Goods train could be locked into the Goods loop at the station while a passenger train passed, or a short passenger train could wait at the platform while a Goods train by-passed it (via the loop) would I then be back to signalling both lines for bi-directional running and there’d be facing points in the loop if it became a running line? Best not.

Not necessarily if you use a Light Railway order.

 

I've been reading about the Basingstoke & Alton lately which explains why this is on my mind, but the only passing place there was Herriard, which had a total of two signals (on the approach to the station from either side), and the token for the next section was effectively the permission to proceed, rather than any signals. Shunting would have required the token for the section which you'd be using to shuffle wagons.

There was also a loop at Lasham, which a train could have been locked into to shunt the sidings, but no token equipment was provided. It could have been, though. Don't think that would have needed any signals at all as it wasn't a passing place or block post, so the token would be the authority.

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6 minutes ago, Keith Addenbrooke said:

 

Fully understand TLDR - perfectly fair comment - I appreciate the response.  Thanks, Keith.

Yes, sorry Keith, that was a bit too blunt.

 

What I meant was, you presented possibly too much info to allow people to give useful feedback - and I promptly proved that by suggesting something outside your given #3.

 

You have some very challenging conditions to fulfil. 

 

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4 hours ago, Keith Addenbrooke said:

And, finally, what is perhaps a more conventional layout design that still fits the Givens:

1717499932_7-1StagingLoop.jpg.bf5cc70f86b817616dd3f425b33ed36f.jpg

 

 

This is far and away the best plan and the one with the most operating potential.  You might even be able to fit in a short siding running back to the top left corner at the passing station.  You will have then created what amounts to two layouts on one board with the potential to operate three trains (two passenger and one freight if you can squeeze in what amounts to a low relief station platform along the top edge).   But even with the plan as drawn you could run those three trains by shunting aside one  of the passenger trains into the sidings when using the top station for your operational model of a place where a freight can cross a passenger train but two passenger trains can't cross.  And it's even simpler if one of your trains is a diesel railcar or a push-pull train.

 

So overall there is quite a lot of operational potential before you even think about a freight trip shunting the sidings on the lower part of the plan.

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1 minute ago, Harlequin said:

Yes, sorry Keith, that was a bit too blunt.

 

What I meant was, you presented possibly too much info to allow people to give useful feedback - and I promptly proved that by suggesting something outside your given #3.

 

You have some very challenging conditions to fulfil. 

 


No problem - I read it in the spirit intended.
 
I should perhaps have left out the ‘Fairford’ posting (I don’t think those ideas work as well as I’d hoped).  I left it in for the point about coach overhang on tight curved platforms - the suggestion I think Joseph Pestell is pointing towards only modelling part of a station (so that bit could be hidden) would be a better option to explore on that point, certainly for an urban model, where it has been done very effectively.

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4 minutes ago, The Stationmaster said:

This is far and away the best plan and the one with the most operating potential.  You might even be able to fit in a short siding running back to the top left corner at the passing station.  You will have then created what amounts to two layouts on one board with the potential to operate three trains (two passenger and one freight if you can squeeze in what amounts to a low relief station platform along the top edge).   But even with the plan as drawn you could run those three trains by shunting aside one  of the passenger trains into the sidings when using the top station for your operational model of a place where a freight can cross a passenger train but two passenger trains can't cross.  And it's even simpler if one of your trains is a diesel railcar or a push-pull train.

 

So overall there is quite a lot of operational potential before you even think about a freight trip shunting the sidings on the lower part of the plan.


I think you’ve got something there, thank you.  
 

Streamline track centres may give that vital extra inch of width - as drawn my lines are a bit straight at the moment though.
 

Adding in a central scenic divide as suggested by Joseph Pestell and it can also break up the table top look at the same time, but I’d be wise to look at a walkaround controller of course.

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If the layout is up against the wall (am I right to assume that?) then isn't one of the stations also up against the wall, and hidden by the central backscene?

 

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1 hour ago, Harlequin said:

If the layout is up against the wall (am I right to assume that?) then isn't one of the stations also up against the wall, and hidden by the central backscene?

 


Fortunately not this time - it’s in the centre of the room, but always an important point to clarify: I’m of average height and reach too.  I once had a space under some eaves in an attic which looked great on paper, but headroom on one side tapered to zero - I had N Gauge trains in those days,  but I was still 1:1 scale.  A solution for this kind of layout in that type of space could be to rotate the layout 90 degrees and put a short end to the wall?

 

In this case, it would take too long to tidy up for a photo of the space here, sorry, but suffice to say, general access is needed either side of the space by other room users, it is a general purpose room with heavy usage.  It does however mean the layout can be operated (and viewed) from both sides - just not easily from both at the same time.

 

I have made the mistake before of starting a table type layout that had a run-round or passing loop around one end.  It gave a really good run-round, and was based on a published plan that had been built (to a high standard), but points at either end of the loop were on opposite sides.  A manually operated fiddle siding I added to the original plan was also diagonally opposite the main station.  It all meant I wanted to be on both sides of the layout at the same time.  In the end I just ran trains, rather than operated: I should have known better.

 

What I like about The Stationmaster’s operating idea for this project is the way it is explained how the two Stations can be operated alternately, making it a more pleasant experience for a single operator.


My original designs had all the points on one side, so with good track laying those versions could go against a wall, but care would be needed at the centre rear baseboard joint to avoid derailments (my plan shows a piece of Setrack across each baseboard joint, but better options are available).

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, The Stationmaster said:

This is far and away the best plan and the one with the most operating potential.  You might even be able to fit in a short siding running back to the top left corner at the passing station.  You will have then created what amounts to two layouts on one board with the potential to operate three trains (two passenger and one freight if you can squeeze in what amounts to a low relief station platform along the top edge).   But even with the plan as drawn you could run those three trains by shunting aside one  of the passenger trains into the sidings when using the top station for your operational model of a place where a freight can cross a passenger train but two passenger trains can't cross.  And it's even simpler if one of your trains is a diesel railcar or a push-pull train.

 

So overall there is quite a lot of operational potential before you even think about a freight trip shunting the sidings on the lower part of the plan.

755614448_Layout100.jpg.6f44dd2d6dfdca9ddf9ef17c8bdc236b.jpg

 

I've had a quick look at this version to pick up on The Stationmaster's suggestions:

 

1.  There is room for a decent length 27" siding off a trailing point from the upper loop.  It could be curved a bit further to make it longer, but it's more likely to be useful disappearing behind a building to conceal an on/off wagon swap. 

Total siding length is over 9' (minus a few inches close to the points and buffers), added to which there is a 40" loop line. Plenty of capacity for a small layout, without becoming cramped.

 

For this quick version I just moved the same points around so I can compare siding lengths, so there's one fewer siding at the lower station at the moment.

 

2.  If I use Streamline Medium Radius points instead of my favoured long points at either end of the lower Station loop there should easily be enough room to run round a 30" (3-coach) train.

 

3.  Operationally this is a plan with potential, as The Stationmaster suggests.  I'd like to play around with it a bit more, as the platform lines (at both stations) are now rather horizontal to the baseboard edges - the original designs had more of a flow - but this is worth developing.

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
(Typos)
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Could you re-arrange the room so that the layout is against a wall? That would surely be more efficient than having two have spaces either side and then you could have something along the lines that I suggested above with a central operating well.

 

Sorry to be a pain in the neck but given the difficulties that the 8*4 space forces on you, wouldn't it be worth the effort to grab just 1 or 2 more feet in each dimension? It would be a more efficient use of the space and would make a HUGE difference to the layout possibilities...

 

If you can't supply a photo how about a rough sketch of the room so we can understand what you're dealing with?

 

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4 minutes ago, Harlequin said:

Could you re-arrange the room so that the layout is against a wall? That would surely be more efficient than having two have spaces either side and then you could have something along the lines that I suggested above with a central operating well.

 

Sorry to be a pain in the neck but given the difficulties that the 8*4 space forces on you, wouldn't it be worth the effort to grab just 1 or 2 more feet in each dimension? It would be a more efficient use of the space and would make a HUGE difference to the layout possibilities...

 

If you can't supply a photo how about a rough sketch of the room so we can understand what you're dealing with?

 

 

Hi Phil, I need to log off and go and do some other things now (the room is also needed for something else), but I’ll try and get the tape measure out again later in the week.  One reason, as well as the mess, that I can’t do a photo is it also a shared office, so I’d need to make sure I didn’t accidentally photo something I shouldn’t put online, so a sketch would be better.  I know from changing lightbulbs that the ceiling is 10’ tall, so at least it’s not a problem in that dimension!  Keith.

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You could put a short edge along a wall if that space is not needed for access. At a guess that would mean 1 more 4x2 and a 10 x 4 layout. Wouldn't massively change what you could do, but would give it a bit more breathing room.

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