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I have reluctantly decided to abandon my existing DC layout and rebuild. So here we go....

 

I had quite a good layout concept with good operability but access to some parts is poor and I have been doing too much crawling underneath as I mounted a lot of board across the loft space. So I have decided to rebuild with access a priority. Either I will build on a U-shaped board plan, or a circular format with a single lift-out section. I have developed one possibility of each, based on a track plan from ‘Free track plans’ that utilises a 3 station set-up with 2 termini and an intermediate station, for either end to end or continuous loop running. This was the plan entitled Branch Line Border (I don’t know why) 12’ x 9’. Just for the principle, not for the track layout itself.

 

I’m interested in any comments on the operability of the layouts, less on how prototypical they are or aren’t. But any suggestions to improve are welcome.

 

I have severe constraints in the loft caused by the presence of 4 roof support beams every 60cm up the space. The actual space is quite large but it’s only possible to stand upright between the central supports. All supports are shown in the correct positions and the grid is on 60cm squares which suits the loft support spacing.

 

The U-shape design I haven’t tidied up but you can see the intention of the plan. There are common elements between both of course, with the terminus at the left being elevated.

 

I have 18 trusses worth of room along the loft but don’t want to use all of them. The ‘dumb-bell sections do require going outside the best installing space to get the loops, but I will have access from the ends to the loops to build them. I know one or two elements are not in the best places. Personally I favour the simpler layout which is the circular type. As I use steam era stock I will need to do a lot of loco turning and don’t have a turntable and don’t intend to buy one. I have one reversing loop but it’s not in the best place. Any thoughts on that, or even a second reversing loop, most welcome. I am strongly contemplating going to DCC as I rebuild.

 

I couldnt find a way to display the Anyrail files except as pictures, dont know how that will work out.

12x9_Branch_Line_Border_track_plan.jpg

Anyrail_file_v2.jpg

Anyrail_file_v4.jpg

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A few general points.

1. it would be helpful if your plans gave some indication of board size within the room space, as although you quote access from outside the board area, some parts (eg bottom right corner) still look a long reach across the diagonal.

2. given your questions about DCC elsewhere, and the complexity of the proposed layout, there is an awful lot to consider as you build and wire up. Maybe you should consider a simpler (even if temporary) layout to get the hang of the various DCC facilities and computer control, before embarking on this?

3. are any of the sidings areas Intended to be fiddle yard space? If so, are they accessible to fiddle? If not, and you don’t wish to fiddle, why not consider a storage yard with through loops, even if instead of one through station. Otherwise, all your stock will be in view all the time, and can’t be seen to have gone anywhere.

4. Just a thought, on my (smaller) layout, I too wished to include a reverse loop, and I sited it across the centre operating well, as a removable girder bridge. That means when working on the layout, I have unfettered access, but obviosuly when running, it’s in place.  It links to the inner circuit on one side, under the high level terminus.

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The roof trusses are really constraining. Are the inner ones upright? What is the distance between the inner posts? (Looks like about 5 feet?)

 

Do you want your railway to be scenic?

 

Are you using Setrack parts for a particular reason?

 

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3 hours ago, ITG said:

A few general points.

1. it would be helpful if your plans gave some indication of board size within the room space, as although you quote access from outside the board area, some parts (eg bottom right corner) still look a long reach across the diagonal.

2. given your questions about DCC elsewhere, and the complexity of the proposed layout, there is an awful lot to consider as you build and wire up. Maybe you should consider a simpler (even if temporary) layout to get the hang of the various DCC facilities and computer control, before embarking on this?

3. are any of the sidings areas Intended to be fiddle yard space? If so, are they accessible to fiddle? If not, and you don’t wish to fiddle, why not consider a storage yard with through loops, even if instead of one through station. Otherwise, all your stock will be in view all the time, and can’t be seen to have gone anywhere.

4. Just a thought, on my (smaller) layout, I too wished to include a reverse loop, and I sited it across the centre operating well, as a removable girder bridge. That means when working on the layout, I have unfettered access, but obviosuly when running, it’s in place.  It links to the inner circuit on one side, under the high level terminus.

I recognise that its an ambitious layout. The existing layout is the same size, if you go by point population. Everything is on display currently, which is how I like it. I have a few sidings with isolated sections so I could put more than one loco on a siding, but its much easier to store locos that way in DCC working. When I built the DC layout I put down too much track without fully testing, this time I plan to test everything as I install it with a variety of stock, so I will have to rig up to run DC somehow in order to check some of the more tricky locos (assuming I go DCC which is not a given). The tender drives run over everything but some of the Bachmanns are very temperamental. Or it could be my track laying. You are right about the diagonal reach, I can crawl around the back in an emergency. I installed track that way on the DC layout, I dont mind doing a bit of crawling for one-off installation tasks but not to do track cleaning for example. 

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3 hours ago, Harlequin said:

The roof trusses are really constraining. Are the inner ones upright? What is the distance between the inner posts? (Looks like about 5 feet?)

 

Do you want your railway to be scenic?

 

Are you using Setrack parts for a particular reason?

 

its 111 cm between inner trusses, which lean in. Then 55cm between truss sets. The outer ones lean out. Has implications for how close the track could be to the trusses. I needed every last mm in places and will again. There will be scenery. Setrack is what I had, in some cases going back to the kids layout that we built on the loft floor. I have more long (express) points than I have shown and they are preferable, (I assume you are thinking about Streamline) but its a lot of points to throw away.....

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3 hours ago, Harlequin said:

The roof trusses are really constraining. Are the inner ones upright? What is the distance between the inner posts? (Looks like about 5 feet?)

 

Do you want your railway to be scenic?

 

Are you using Setrack parts for a particular reason?

 

Also note how the 22.5 degree points allow you to get 2 tracks parallel between adjacent trusses

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Thanks for the answers.

 

To be brutally honest I don't think that space is usable for a scenic model railway. You will be looking through the trusses all the time so the scenic illusion just won't hold up. And if you look into the model diagonally the view will be blocked even more by the trusses.

 

I would have suggested a scenic area in the central aisle but, since the aisle is under 4ft wide and the inner posts slope into the aisle, I don't think that will work either.

 

I can't offer any more thoughts, except to get the builders in and open up some of the trusses (with building regs approval of course). Sorry.

 

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9 minutes ago, Harlequin said:

Thanks for the answers.

 

To be brutally honest I don't think that space is usable for a scenic model railway. You will be looking through the trusses all the time so the scenic illusion just won't hold up. And if you look into the model diagonally the view will be blocked even more by the trusses.

 

I would have suggested a scenic area in the central aisle but, since the aisle is under 4ft wide and the inner posts slope into the aisle, I don't think that will work either.

 

I can't offer any more thoughts, except to get the builders in and open up some of the trusses (with building regs approval of course). Sorry.

 

I think it would be a very good idea to first have a chat with the Building Inspector or a good surveyor about what you are or aren't allowed to do in that design of roof because it's all too easy to end up with the 'wrong kind of builder' and find yourself in trouble if he starts taking out part of the roof trussing just to create space.   It sounds like a fairly modern house build and that means the roof has been designed to modern standards with the correct amount of trussing to support the weight of the roof and keep it in the right place plus something across the bottom of the trusses to support the weight of the ceilings in the rooms below (and not much more).

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19 hours ago, The Stationmaster said:

I think it would be a very good idea to first have a chat with the Building Inspector or a good surveyor about what you are or aren't allowed to do in that design of roof because it's all too easy to end up with the 'wrong kind of builder' and find yourself in trouble if he starts taking out part of the roof trussing just to create space.   It sounds like a fairly modern house build and that means the roof has been designed to modern standards with the correct amount of trussing to support the weight of the roof and keep it in the right place plus something across the bottom of the trusses to support the weight of the ceilings in the rooms below (and not much more).

Yes you are right. Typical modern house. I find the presence of the trusses a challenge, but you get used to them.

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On 18/09/2020 at 19:48, RobinofLoxley said:

 

I couldnt find a way to display the Anyrail files except as pictures, dont know how that will work out.

 

 

 


As an aside, to get pictures out of Anyrail, there should be an option in the drop-down File menu in Anyrail allowing you not only to “Save as...” but to “Export as...”.   I save the design first in the usual way, so I can reopen it for further changes, but then I also export it as well as a .jpeg file, which can then be uploaded to RMweb directly (but can’t be amended as it is a picture).


Hope that helps, Keith.

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
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Hi Robin, good you found what you needed on Anyrail.  If I might share a few observations on the plan you’re looking at:
 

I note you’ve got used to the loft and the roof trusses in it, having already had a layout in the loft, and that isn’t the reason for the rebuild - if you were starting from scratch I’d agree with @Harlequin that this space doesn’t look at all promising, and I’d agree with @The Stationmaster in any case to make sure any modifications in the space comply with building regulations: they’re there to make sure we stay safe and don’t build in problems.

 

I also note you’re interested in feedback on operability more than how prototypical the plan is.  For a lot of modellers the two are the same of course - “prototypical operation” is the goal.  My thoughts may not help (in which case, please ignore them), but just in case this helps - a few points on this plan, which I think it the one you’ve chosen:

 

On 18/09/2020 at 19:48, RobinofLoxley said:

Anyrail_file_v2.jpg

 


1.  Is the operating well wide enough?  I wonder if on one side (the lower side?) it might be an idea to increase the width up to the roof trusses just to give you a bit more room to move around.  I know when I reach over one way, there’s always a risk I knock something behind me without realising.

2.  On the other side (the upper side), a long straight run in front of the trusses could be one way to get the most out of the space you have, so I’d keep that.

3.  I wonder if you might bring the curved crossover in the very top right corner round to the front where it’s easier to access - I don’t think it would change the operation of the layout.
4.  In the original plan you’re taking as your inspiration, there are run-round crossovers in the platforms at each terminus.  If you’ve chosen not to have them, and plan to use a Station Pilot instead to release incoming engines by pulling out the coaches then that will work, but I’d encourage you to think through where the coaches will go next - the sidings in each return curve could be used for storing coaches, but aren’t that close to the stations.  It partly depends how much rolling stock you have (and with DC, how you wire your layout, which you mentioned earlier).

5.  Finally, the left hand terminus looks quite difficult to access - especially the platform ends.  One way round this - which I admit would change the plan a lot - would be to have a Terminus on one side, then a through station on the other side, and a reversing loop so trains can then turn round and go back to the original Terminus as an out-and-back Scheme (the second Terminus can then become a smaller, Branch Line Terminus as an alternative destination, or disappear altogether).

 

Quite a lot there, sorry.  It all depends what kind of operation you want and how many changes you want to make, and how happy you’ve been with your current layout - it sounds like you’ve enjoyed operating it, but it’s been the maintenance that put you off?
 

Keith.

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Thanks Keith. Quite right about that cross-over, it would have found its way to the front at build time. I wasn't 100% sure which way I needed to go with that, but I have existing RH crossovers I can use.

Generally about the well, fortunately I am quite slim!! I have some room to increase it at the lower end, but that is an area reserved for building a station frontage. I have updated the design there to be similar to my existing layout where the track runs are similar to Wolverhampton High Level, c 1960, my ploy to justify having BR Midland and GWR stock on the same layout (took my cue from Pete Waterman and Leamington spa). In the upper left of the well there is space to increase the cut-out area there, and the station is raised, which will make it easier to access. Its not ideal, but moving it lower down forces a very unnatural look to the station approach.

Yes, I havn't got run-arounds. They only work for the paired central tracks anyway. As I will be going to DCC my plan is to disconnect the arriving loco, pull the train out with another one. I usually have 5 coach trains and in that left hand terminus that will be tight.

 

On the existing layout, my main station is the Wolverhampton type, but lying transverse across the loft with the approach tracks outside the trusses, in effect on a big bridge. Too much to crawl under, long term. I did it to have seven coach trains. Big goods and loco storage behind it.

 

No-one has commented yet about the overall scheme being a bit modern image looking for 1960. Its partly forced on me by the loft itself.

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Talking 1960 I can see considerable problems in operating it,   

 

1.  The terminus on the end will obviously have accessibility problems and would be heavily reliant on automatic uncoupling for train turn round.  But to add to that the two platforms furthest from the operating well can only accept arrivals and there is no way they can despatch a train as they have no connection to the opposite line.  Trains can arrive at the other pair of platforms and leave from them.  But in both cases attaching turnover engines involves moves out on the through continuous run  interfering with anything going round it - in either direction.

 

2.  The other terminus has similar problems.  The longer pair of platforms can receive arriving trains but can't be used for departures.  The two shorter platforms can both receive and despatch trains but  are shorter than the platforms at the other terminus and will therefore set the maximum length of train which you can run.

3.  Similarly the sidings to the right of that terminus are missing some pointwork if they are going to be capable of any sort of use at all in a prototypical manner.

 

3. If you are looking at prototypical operation the facing crossover on the upper dumbell loop serves NO practical purpose at all.

Edited by The Stationmaster
Correction, thanks Keith
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3 hours ago, The Stationmaster said:

 If you are looking at prototypical operation the facing crossover on the upper dumbell loop serves practical purpose at all.


If I may be so bold, I suspect there’s a typo in this sentence re: prototype operation: “the facing crossover on the upper dumbbell loop serves no practical purpose at all.” ?  I’d suggested moving the crossover, but not asked about it’s purpose, which is my error.
 

@The Stationmaster’s advice is always good - and it gives me an idea that might help:

 

If you go back to your version of the original plan, which you’ve helpfully provided for us:

 

On 18/09/2020 at 19:48, RobinofLoxley said:

12x9_Branch_Line_Border_track_plan.jpg


Have a look at how trains ‘flow’ around the layout - what happens when they arrive at a Terminus, how locos run round without blocking the main lines, how each Terminus is arranged with a single line entry so trains can come in or go out of every platform (subject to running round, as mentioned earlier), how trailing crossovers are used on the main lines to reduce the number of facing points while giving access to the sidings and stations, how two trains can be left running on the mainline while the engine shed / turntable is in use, why each track is where it is, etc.  
 

I’m not an expert, but this plan looks to me like it can basically be operated pretty well.  There are a few ‘pinch points’ - the bay platform at the upper Terminus, and the Goods Sidings along the top of the plan aren’t ideal perhaps, but I think you have chosen a good plan to start with and I can see the attraction.

 

What I’d probably do next if I was designing this plan for myself would be to copy the different bits of the plan into my space, rearrange the mainline - it’s shape but not the schematic it follows, and then see how it looked.  Starting from there, I think it could give a good base to decide where / what to add or leave out.  It’s just a thought, but it might help you get the best out of the plan for your space.  Keith.

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Thanks for the support there. I was already a bit further on than the last posted trackplan, having fixed one terminus. I have now fixed the other one as well., and removed the redundant facing crossover too. I will have to work out something useful to do with the points.

 

I take your point about the operability of the 'template Keith. However I will have a lot of options as I don't have the pinch points at the access to the terminus stations.

 

The only thing that is still bothering me are the reversing loops. The current plan has two, but neither of them are particularly close to the stations so the locos going to and from the loops will 'block' other operations. But as Im going DCC probably running with Itrain I see this just as  a challenge.

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1 hour ago, RobinofLoxley said:

Thanks for the support there. I was already a bit further on than the last posted trackplan, having fixed one terminus. I have now fixed the other one as well., and removed the redundant facing crossover too. I will have to work out something useful to do with the points.

 

I take your point about the operability of the 'template Keith. However I will have a lot of options as I don't have the pinch points at the access to the terminus stations.

 

The only thing that is still bothering me are the reversing loops. The current plan has two, but neither of them are particularly close to the stations so the locos going to and from the loops will 'block' other operations. But as Im going DCC probably running with Itrain I see this just as  a challenge.


Thanks Robin.  I wouldn’t be the right person to comment on Reverse loops so I’ll steer clear on that point - glad to hear your plan is making progress.  Keith.

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
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A few thoughts on the first one. Apologies for the quick and dirty edit.

 

1) Flip the goods yard on the left and have it trail off the goods loop. This eliminates a crossover and shunting moves that would block the main line.

 

2) Remove the top goods yard entirely for the same reason.

 

3) Use the space from the top goods yard to move the top terminus to the left. This gives room to run locos around without blocking the main line. Goods facilities can be added there for operational interest.

 

4) Unless your really want one, I don't think a turntable is absolutely necessary and it could be replaced with a larger engine shed or open pits to show off your loco fleet, or just water cranes and imagine the main MPD is somewhere "off stage".

 

So how do you turn tender engines at each terminus at the end of a journey? You don't! Just run them tender first as a light engine movement to the other terminus. :) 

 

1250617575_12x9_Branch_Line_Border_track_planedit.jpg.e981b7e665a32f284ba7481ca1d6d86d.jpg

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You could always move house if the trusses are a problem.

The terminus looks a bit of a stretch and the two levels and return loop a bit clumsy  but there is the kernel of a fun to operate layout with some good if short views there.   I would go for one level, bit of quasi 4 track,  Marshalling sidings at lower as shown maybe bigged up. Loco depot at terminus, 4 track through station, don't like the top station but with the reverse connection gone it could be a nice , I have left it alone in the doodle but would re vamp it if I did a serious redesign, anyway see quick doodle,

Maybe need a couple or three mates to operate it to full extent?  Is the loft floor up to it?   Have fun

Screenshot (3).png

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Some thoughts on the second one. Another quick and dirty edit.

 

1) Eliminate as many facing crossovers as possible and sidings that can only be shunted by crossing main lines. 

 

2) Turn the through station into a more traditional design to simplify the pointwork.

 

3) Eliminate the flat crossing and elevate the left terminus so the main line runs under it. Make sure you have access space to the tracks below.

 

4) Move the left terminus a bit closer to the operating area and take it off a single lead, add a headshunt.

 

5) Reverse the top terminus so trains can shunt/run around without blocking the main line. You could even drop the original Minories into this space, or a cut down version of Birmingham Moor St.

 

6) Turn the dead end sidings off the main lines into goods loops.

 

92296772_Anyrail_file_v2edit.jpg.66e37fe5fd52217343b3e480cf47763f.jpg

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Thank you again for the suggestions. David, it may not have been obvious but the left hand terminus was elevated in the original, and the high level track carries over the lower on a bridge, not cross-overs.  I am not keen to run track under the terminus as it will be completely walled in, makes me a bit nervous, although I did consider it.

 

I like the suggestion for the points at top right, coming off the inside rail, i.e. not crossing, and I have added these to one of my plans as a strong possibility. However it complicates the reversing loop area, which I am keen on. There had been some other changes too from the original which I hadn't posted up.

 

In fact, your suggestion would be a pretty good iteration of the original trackplan.

 

I have posted a new file showing where I am. The vertical bars represent no-go areas for point motors due to baseboard edges. Thats why the sidings at top right are the way they are.

 

Also I am preserving the 5 track arrangement of the through station as it corresponds loosely to my real world reference. And after posting I notice that one or two mods are missing from this version. I am saving variations and if I modify the wrong file I'm in a mess....

2020 layout developmentv2b.jpg

Edited by RobinofLoxley
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Doubtless throwing a spanner into the works, can I suggest this sort of arrangement on the top board would give you lots of operational possibilities .....

 

Loxley.jpg.ac17ac02dd6a0de75c7c5d092a87f63a.jpg

 

Not sure the second terminal road and fourth platform would fit, hence dotted lines and faint shading ...

 

Even if you don't like this, I think double track on the diagonal link which provides the return loop would look and operate better.

 

Best of back-bending luck!

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