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Multi Level Layouts


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  • RMweb Gold

Having just come across an interesting prototype small through station track layout my thoughts are turning towards planning for 'the room'. One option is to go for a multi level layout with a simple though station, with limited shunting, on the upper level and a more complex piece of railway, with equally more complex operation on the lower level. What I would be interested to learn about is anyone's experience with the sort of vertical separation which is needed between the two levels particularly bearing in mind the need to get at and operate the lower level.

The nature of the room (external door midway along on one the longer - 16 ft - sides) means that the two main scenic areas mentioned above would be on the same of the room although both ends (approx 10ft wide) will probably be 'scenic' in some way. In other words the basis is a sort of looped figure 8 but not with one of the loops just being a high level at the back of the other if I can avoid it. Any ideas or experience please?

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Would these 2 levels be considered to be different models not to be looked at at the same time Mike? If so I would say (never having done anything like this) that 18 inches would be a reasonable separation.

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  • RMweb Gold

Would these 2 levels be considered to be different models not to be looked at at the same time Mike? If so I would say (never having done anything like this) that 18 inches would be a reasonable separation.

 

 

 

That is what I have in mind Kris - in fact the ideal would be that the upper 'watch the trains go by' level would be rural scenery while the lower would be urban/industrial.

 

 

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Mike,

 

Can't help you with separation although from working with my live steamers in a 'lidded' fiddle yard, the 12 inches clearance at the ends is far too small.

 

A pity this couldn't go for the Welsh valley split level layout.

 

Quakers Yard and Hengoed, to name but two, spring to mind.

 

 

Regards

 

Richard

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  • RMweb Gold

Mike,

 

Can't help you with separation although from working with my live steamers in a 'lidded' fiddle yard, the 12 inches clearance at the ends is far too small.

 

A pity this couldn't go for the Welsh valley split level layout.

 

Quakers Yard and Hengoed, to name but two, spring to mind.

Regards

Richard

 

You're getting awfully warm to my area of modelling interest - the track layout which has recently grabbed my interest is Pontypool Crane St (but just the track layout so farsmile.gif); the vertical height difference between the two levels on the 'scenic' side of the room could be maintained or slightly varied round the end of the room to give a location where both lines are in the same scene with one crossing the other on a much higher level (which is where my multi-level idea sprang from), say a vertical separation of around 19 inches which is about 120feet in 4mm scale which figure might ring a bell for anyone with an interest in the Welsh Valleys although whether I could ever manage to realise that particular dream is very debatable even if those nice helpful men in Stockton-on-the-Forest can make the parts once they've seen more than the description I gave them.

And I've yet to give more thought to the 'more complex' 'urban' lower level but even that might not all be at the same levelwink.gif Anybody know a really good carpenter? (oh and I am supposed to 'finish' the garden before starting on the great adventuresad.gif)

 

 

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Hello Mike,

 

Here is a photograph I took of Dewsbury Goods which shows the relationship between the new high level station and the entrance to the original low level goods yard.

 

Dewsbury is the S7 layout that previously resided at Bob Essery's house and was split when he moved with main station portion going to the Warley MRC as an exhibition layout and the goods yard going to the HMRS study centre at Butterley as a permanent fixture.

 

As part of the works to make the goods yard a permanent fixture a new self contained high level stationIn was built order to give to give the goods yard a more interesting back drop.

 

F

post-6371-0-74776800-1294525544_thumb.jpg

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You're getting awfully warm to my area of modelling interest - the track layout which has recently grabbed my interest is Pontypool Crane St (but just the track layout so farsmile.gif); the vertical height difference between the two levels on the 'scenic' side of the room could be maintained or slightly varied round the end of the room to give a location where both lines are in the same scene with one crossing the other on a much higher level (which is where my multi-level idea sprang from), say a vertical separation of around 19 inches which is about 120feet in 4mm scale which figure might ring a bell for anyone with an interest in the Welsh Valleys although whether I could ever manage to realise that particular dream is very debatable even if those nice helpful men in Stockton-on-the-Forest can make the parts once they've seen more than the description I gave them.

And I've yet to give more thought to the 'more complex' 'urban' lower level but even that might not all be at the same levelwink.gif Anybody know a really good carpenter? (oh and I am supposed to 'finish' the garden before starting on the great adventuresad.gif)

 

Mike,

 

If it's not Hengoed, then at 120 feet might it be Walnut Tree at Taffs Well!!

 

This is of nostalgic interest to me as the line ran through the tunnel to the west and then through farmland that belonged to my Grandmothers family.

 

Regards

 

Richard

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Hi Mike,

In my (limited) experience, I would say that you need your clearance to be a minimum of 120% separation vs width of board.

In other words, if you have a 10" wide (top) board, you will need it to be 12" above the lower level - IF the top board was of zero thickness! Clearly, this would not be the case so assuming a typical board thickness of 3" - would give you a total of 15" from railhead to railhead.

This would evidently start to create problems if the upper deck exceeds say, 25" - which would require clearance of typically 33"! Phew!

This information is based upon American practice of permanently fixed layouts in basements and with completely different scenes on each of the two decks. More information on this style of layout building here at US Amazon (where you can 'look' into the pages of the book!) http://www.amazon.com/Designing-Building-Multi-Deck-Model-Railroads/dp/0890247412/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1294531681&sr=8-2

Cheers,

John E.

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Mike

Tony Koester has written a book about it for Kalmbach and it's available through SPV, he goes through all the possible pitfalls and I think he settled on something like 18 inches. Bear in mind that you may need to fit some sort of lighting beneath the top deck to avoid shadows on the back of the lower level. One thing quite popular in US modelling with multi decks is to keep the top deck narrow so more light falls onto the lower one from the main lighting. For plain running through countryside it's suprising how effective 8-10 inch deep decks can be with a decent backscene.

 

Designing and Building Multi-Deck Model Railroads

http://www.spv.co.uk/acatalog/Model_Railroading_american_books_home_layout.html

 

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  • RMweb Gold

John & Paul - thanks for that very useful information, apart from the sources you mention i'll try delving back through some of Tony Koester's articles for anything else. I'm certainly not looking to go any wider than, I think, 12 -15 inches for the 'top deck' - it depends on how I can come up with some suitable scenery and I'd like to incorporate a small passing station (which likely means a sidings as well) if I can and going narrower seems very sound advice. In any case the height at which it is going to sit against the wall mitigates against anything too wide if I want to see trains running though 'country'.

And yes Richard, you've got the right viaduct, which fortunately - as you will know - was on a curve (but not as tight a one as would be necessary in my potential site) although the girder sections were all straight (which might look a bit odd reduced to a tighter radius); and very helpfully it had ordinary ballasted track which simplifies some aspects. Getting from a dream to reality will not be easy but all being well I hope to give it a go as from some research I did a while back I at least know a source of drawings.

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I have a grand plan (don't we all? ;) ) which would see an entirely new layout built over the fiddle yards of the present one but linked to the running line so as to give trains a "run" and not be a shunting plank. The concept would be that the new scene would rest on lift-up boards to enable fiddle yard access and with a piano hinge along the top of the backscene to which would be attached a lightweight flipover panel. This would be raised to show sky backing the present scene and obscuring the new one behind or lowered to become the foreground of the new layout whilst covering the existing one.

 

When I started measuring up I calculated that a vertical separation of 9" was the absolute minimum allowing rolling stock to pass beneath point motors and wiring of the board above. To get hands through to the rear-most siding I reckoned 12". That still gave some uncomfortable spots where it would be impossible to retrieve something in the fiddle yard without a long stick. The access gradients from old to new scenes at either end would be impossible to create with those clearances. It also created logistical problems and major weight issues for a demountable upper layout and the hinged panel.

 

So while the grand plan is on indefinite hold I would still suggest that if you intend to double-stack at any point you need at least 9" clear and more if you will need to reach in to something at the back.

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John & Paul - thanks for that very useful information, apart from the sources you mention i'll try delving back through some of Tony Koester's articles for anything else. I'm certainly not looking to go any wider than, I think, 12 -15 inches for the 'top deck' - it depends on how I can come up with some suitable scenery and I'd like to incorporate a small passing station (which likely means a sidings as well) if I can and going narrower seems very sound advice. In any case the height at which it is going to sit against the wall mitigates against anything too wide if I want to see trains running though 'country'.

And yes Richard, you've got the right viaduct, which fortunately - as you will know - was on a curve (but not as tight a one as would be necessary in my potential site) although the girder sections were all straight (which might look a bit odd reduced to a tighter radius); and very helpfully it had ordinary ballasted track which simplifies some aspects. Getting from a dream to reality will not be easy but all being well I hope to give it a go as from some research I did a while back I at least know a source of drawings.

 

 

I found the book by Tony K (yellow cover) most useful. Covers a lot of stuff i doubt i would have though of.

 

I find it surprising that this approach is not more popular over here. Good to see someone else considering it.

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I have a grand plan (don't we all? ;) ) which would see an entirely new layout built over the fiddle yards of the present one

 

Been there, done that, got the scars, never again. It gets very tedious and then eventually you destroy a chunk of the layout over the yard moving it all.

 

This time I put a narrow layout in front of the fiddle yard with fairly low backscene so you can just reach over (and with enough space over the backscene to stick your head through)

 

I do have one spot on the new layout where I need to hide two roads of fiddle yard under something but the design for this is

a) to make it removable so it can be slid out as a unit for anything that needs doing (eg track cleaning)

B) its going to look suspiciously like Moorgate - which seems to be the perfect re-use for the space.

 

and I'm keeping it to two roads to make it easy to access.

 

The other approach of course is that fiddle yards and layouts can look much the same, especially multi-level ones, so you can always build multiple layouts that are each others fiddle yard.

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I have just built a 6" shelf above my existing U shaped layout. The new high level shelf is to allow continuous running. I was concerned about how much shadow the shelf would create and also how much it would get in the way of low level pictures taken on the lower layout. I have been pleasantly surprised. I have also come to realised that at 6" wide it will accommodate a double track.

 

 

SDC18224.jpg

 

SDC18222.jpg

 

SDC18220.jpg

 

 

 

If your in the North west I know a builder/joiner ....ME :)

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