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Here is an original track plan concept that I am working on for a 15' by 23' space.

  • The BROWN track is at 0".  Double-track with the yard at the right.
  • The LIGHT BLUE/GRAY track is at 12".
  • The BLUE track in the peninsula is 6", with grades to meet the helix, at 0.7% and 3.6%.
  • The YELLOW track is the helix at 3.3%, going from 0" to 12", with a turnout at 4" to meet the BLUE loop, O71 and O81.

Ver1d

  • Two Loops at 0": The BROWN track is double-track with two independent loops and cross-overs, O72 and O81.
  • One Loop at 6": BLUE is one loop, connecting with the helix, with grades to make 6" over the BROWN track at the left, O72 min.
  • One Loop at 12": with passing track, O72 and O81.
  • TOTAL of FOUR independent loops for train watching without operator intervention;.
  • There are TWO WYEs, at the left connecting with the peninsula, one at 0" and the other at 12".  So trains can reverse either direction. 
  • Allows a "Grand Tour" out-and-back route: from the yard, running the entire layout, and back to the yard.
  • Excellent reach and access.
  • Good people space with 3' aisles, wider in places.  If there is space to stretch the layout in either or both dimensions, the people-space becomes more comfortable for multiple operators.  With the capability of running four or more trains concurrently, an operating session with four or more operators could use more people space: 16x24 or more would be better.  Industries have not been added, some will need to be in the aisle space, suggesting an expansion.
  • Yard and cross-over turnouts are Atlas-O #5.  Mainline turnouts are O72.
  • The elevated 12" will run on a narrower shelf (not shown), not quite as wide as the layout base that is show for better viewing of the 0" tracks and scenery.

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  • Ver1d
Last edited by Ken-Oscale
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Sketching-in a mountain branch line, max grade 2%, WHITE, apex height is 24" above the main base layout.  O54.

Ver1e

Entrance to the room is an interesting challenge.  A number of places and ways to do it.  Perhaps three lift-out bridges span a doorway, a double-track bridge for the 0" BROWN line, and then bridges for the LIGHT BLUE at 12", and WHITE at 24" lines.

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  • Ver1e
Last edited by Ken-Oscale

Past experience reported on the forum with the Atlas-O double-slip switch is not good, some OK.  Just to see what it can do:

ATW_Penn_Helix_V2c

Perhaps 4 yard tracks and two mainlines on the right is the "right" number:

ATW_Penn_Helix_V2d

Maybe two double-slips on one side to create a yard lead, so switching doesn't foul the inside main.  Increases troubles if the slip switches still have problems.

ATW_Penn_Helix_V2e

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Images (3)
  • ATW_Penn_Helix_V2c
  • ATW_Penn_Helix_V2d
  • ATW_Penn_Helix_V2e
Last edited by Ken-Oscale

Very nice!  I know that I've seen other write-ups that place the helix on a peninsula.  It might have been in this DVD, which I heartily recommend, BTW.

Personally the idea of having switches on the helix makes me uncomfortable.  I guess I would omit the third loop around the peninsula in the interest of reliability.  Also, I would try to lengthen the run-up to keep the grade below 3% in both directions. 

Of course doing this with wide radius (O72 or greater) takes a large room.  But the general configuration and benchwork make excellent use of the space.  More rectangular plans should probably be designed with a peninsula extending from the short wall.

Ken, your anyrail skills are top notch.  I really like the multi level approach, this is very inspiring.  I am not sure I like the idea of a multi level track walk through. Seems heavy and complex.  The overall idea is very inspiring.   If there was room I would consider starting the helix out at a larger diameter and shrinking/spiraling to 072 at the top.  That way you have the trains running up and down cliffs instead of a cylindrical structure.   

@jhz563 posted:

Ken, your anyrail skills are top notch.  I really like the multi level approach, this is very inspiring.  I am not sure I like the idea of a multi level track walk through. Seems heavy and complex.  The overall idea is very inspiring.   If there was room I would consider starting the helix out at a larger diameter and shrinking/spiraling to 072 at the top.  That way you have the trains running up and down cliffs instead of a cylindrical structure.   

Thanks!  I agree on the spiral, the outside of the Helix is O81, and the inside circle is O72, as you suggest.

@Ted S posted:

Very nice!  I know that I've seen other write-ups that place the helix on a peninsula.  It might have been in this DVD, which I heartily recommend, BTW.

Personally the idea of having switches on the helix makes me uncomfortable.  I guess I would omit the third loop around the peninsula in the interest of reliability.  Also, I would try to lengthen the run-up to keep the grade below 3% in both directions. 

Of course doing this with wide radius (O72 or greater) takes a large room.  But the general configuration and benchwork make excellent use of the space.  More rectangular plans should probably be designed with a peninsula extending from the short wall.

Ted, you may be right, there will be a lot of drag force pulling a train up the helix, which will threaten to string-line the cars across the O72 turnout in the middle of the helix.  Unfortunately, there is nothing in Atlas-O between and O72 and #5 turnout.  I could look for a Ross that might fit.

I suppose the prudent thing to do would be to delete the middle level, turnout on the helix, and reduce the upper route to 8", reducing the grade up the helix.  That would make for a more reliable layout.  But... then the middle level shelf would only be 8" above the layout base, making it hard to see and appreciate the layout under the middle shelf.  Tradeoff.  Maybe 10" would be about 3%.

Last edited by Ken-Oscale
@Ken-Oscale posted:

Thanks!  I agree on the spiral, the outside of the Helix is O81, and the inside circle is O72, as you suggest.

O - now I see it.  I was only looking at this on my phone at the kitchen table this morning.  More coffee and a bigger screen makes a big difference.  Is this something you are planning on building or is this an exercise simply for the enjoyment of design?

@jhz563 posted:

  Is this something you are planning on building or is this an exercise simply for the enjoyment of design?

This started as a design exercise inspired by another thread that includes a helix.  But, maybe.... too soon to tell.  I have the OK from my wife&partner to build a studio for train layouts and computer and other stuff.  We recently changed the location to a "dead" spot not usable for anything else, behind our pool at the back of the side yard in which the pool resides.  Coincidently, looking at a 16x26 structure.   Glad we did not start construction earlier (year and a half ago), as this is a better location.  I am looking at structure building plans, whenever I am ready to find a contractor, I have the OK, assuming the cost can come in at a reasonable budget.   

I did an earlier design for a Montana Rail Link layout, which is still good, nothing wrong with it.  But this could replace that idea.

Meanwhile, I am playing with a S gauge layout.  And wondering if instead of a grand layout, I might do 3-4 smaller layouts in that space.  Retirement is coming soon, could happen next calendar year (but I have been saying that for two years now, so who knows?).

Last edited by Ken-Oscale
@Tom Q Fan posted:

Ken, amazing how you are able to tweak your designs so quickly. Think it is really neat that you will build a studio for train layouts and your computers. I hope you update us on that project. Sounds like you have a lot of land around your house.

tom

Tom, I will keep updating my threads as things progress.  My next work this weekend should be back on my S gauge layout.

Not a lot of land, just a nice city lot configured nicely that works out.  The house is two stories above a drive-in garage, that has my "man-cave" and a bathroom/changing room on that level.  So with essentially THREE levels, leaves a good bit of the lot free. The pool is one one side, and behind that a space for my studio.  The back yard itself has a deck and room for the kids to run around, we had swingsets and a big trampoline, and trees.  Driveway on the other side of the house.  Nice front yard.  It all works, and is being utilized.

I use AnyRail for that reason, the user interface is easy and efficient to pick up track and sections and move them around, so things go fast.  Lots of experience with AnyRail now.   My gripe about AnyRail is the 3D - it works and is getting better.  But I don't see why it won't pick up the different levels or planes that I define.  Sure, that would be more calculation, but not bad it would seem.  

--Ken

Last edited by Ken-Oscale
@jhz563 posted:

Ken, do you feel strongly about having certain industries or passenger services? Just asking since you are looking at scenery gradients and buildings.   

Not really, I have a suite of building templates that I use, but can make more for other buildings.  With this layout and the elevated branch line on the fourth level [1)base level, 2) loop at 6" in the peninsula, 3) elevated line at 12", 4) and branchline at 20"], I think I should use industries that make sense.   So I guess a set of mines distributed around the top level.  Maybe a lumber mill?  Suggestions welcome.

If mines, then is it coal mines or some kind of ore?  I have a coal power plant from menards, and I have a free-lanced image of a smelter.  Or I suppose I could do both, since there can be multiple mines at the top level.

Not sure what to do with the third level at all, suggestions welcome.

Thinking about trying to work in a turntable at the lower level, will likely try that.  maybe bump the elevator up to the third level to pull out the tracks there to squeeze in a turntable in the corner?


I appreciate your interest - please feel free to make suggestions!  -Ken

Last edited by Ken-Oscale

Just thinking about the whole thing:  the helix is interesting, and useful when I pull off two routes: 6" and 12".  But on the other hand, this large space is big enough for long inclines around the outside (as I am doing with the branchline) that could serve instead of the helix, and save that helix space.  That is interesting to think about as alternatives.


I suppose I could also look at running the helix up to a third level to reach the branchline.  Hmm...  That would be rad, just to try it.  Either the helix would get wider, with O72, O81, and O90 curves.  Or that top level would be O63:  O63, O72, O81 in the same space.

Last edited by Ken-Oscale

Ken I like the idea of the passing/stage tracks on the upper level, but I do question how you would access equipment behind the divider.

Also, in thinking about you yard on the main level, If you intend to do a lot of switching I would consider a crossover near the dead end of the yard.  That way you could pull in and have an escape track to bring the loco back out to the yard inlet.

just my humble opinion

@jhz563 posted:

Ken I like the idea of the passing/stage tracks on the upper level, but I do question how you would access equipment behind the divider.

Also, in thinking about you yard on the main level, If you intend to do a lot of switching I would consider a crossover near the dead end of the yard.  That way you could pull in and have an escape track to bring the loco back out to the yard inlet.

just my humble opinion

Thanks JHZ

  1. Access behind the viewblock/backdrop hiding the staging/connecting track:  this track is on a shelf with a shelf above it 12" or less supporting the mountain branchline at the very top level, so I am thinking the divider can be something light, like foam core board, just Velcro-ed to a strip at the top, and hanging down, with some margin at the top for movement access.  Just pull it out toward you in sections, with minimal scenery, just groundcover.
  2. The yard has a double-ended arrival/departure track (the inmost or third track from the outside).  A loco can escape from a consist at either end, and run around to the turntable or engine house, whichever.

Make sense?

-Ken

Last edited by Ken-Oscale

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