New expanded NorthWest Minnesota RR: Video and 3D! From the Chippewa Central 6' x 16' Fastrack Layout Plan from MR

This project interprets a plan that had great appeal to me from the Model Railroader December 1996 issue:  the HO scale Chippewa Central RR.  The track plan concept is a loop at the lower level with a reverse loop; a long route climbing to an elevated town;  with a passing siding on the grade to support two-train operation.   You can see the original MR illustration in the attachments below.

I added a few additional features not present in the original, to better accommodate O-gauge planning ideas:  additional spurs within each "balloon" loop;  interchange with a connecting railroad using the passing siding;  and a more complex and intriguing "Minnesota Junction"  that allows for more operating variety on the lower loop track:  a loop; a figure-8; and reverse loops in both directions.   I also elected to reveal the large outer curve on the left, originally hidden in a tunnel:  I prefer to be able to see more of the trains as they run, and there is already one tunnel toward the center of the layout (and long hidden tracks can be a pain to build and maintain).   I included Lionel's new 30" Extended Truss Bridge right of center.

The minimum diameter is O-48, accommodating O-42 equipment and smaller.   The turnouts are all O-60.

The plan from the magazine uses line drawings for the track, simplifying the ties and roadbed.   This results in a more open and scenic illustration, that conceals the small width between parallel tracks.   My illustration shows the ties and width of the Fastrack roadbed, to more accurately show the distance between parallel tracks and the space for elevation changes between the lower and upper levels.   So that one can have a better sense for building the terrain between tracks.

 

M716-01-Chippewa-Central-V1d

Of course your comments, suggestions and ideas are most welcome, I am happy to update to include improvements.  -Ken

O Gauge: the IMAX of Model Railroading, and a multi-sensory experience.

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Original Post

I thought to play with the original's idea of a tunnel on the left loop, and extended Clara City spurs.   Extending Clara City's spurs justify the construction of a tunnel, which can be made open to the outside for construction and maintenance.

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Is this an improvement?  Opinions?

O Gauge: the IMAX of Model Railroading, and a multi-sensory experience.

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I have been pondering access for this layout and others of this general form/shape.   The back side is difficult to reach, even with an "operating well" or indent like this layout has to improve reach and access, and even with access along the sides.  One solution is to build a rolling table on castors.   

Here is another idea:  the layout is supported by two sturdy bookcases constructed from 1x12s.   Then appliance rollers (which can support up to 1200 pounds) roll on top of the bookcases, to allow the entire layout to roll out about two feet, so a person can crawl or roll beneath the layout to get to the back when rolled-out (about two feet of roll, giving a space of about 2' at the back).   The layout rolls-out like a big drawer.   For strength and rigidity while also light, the framework can be constructed from a lattice-work of metal studs (longest stud is 12').   The layout surface itself rests on top of the latticework constructed of lightweight 2" foam sheets.

Seems like it would work:  what do you think?

whites-richelieu-hardware-casters-f27652-64_100025-gauge-track-clarkdietrich-drywall-steel-studs-framing-360081135-64_100020gauge-clarkdietrich-drywall-steel-studs-framing-120159-64_1000Front-viewTop-view

O Gauge: the IMAX of Model Railroading, and a multi-sensory experience.

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I thought about extending the connecting RR at the top of the plan, around for an oval of O-72, and going across Lionel's Lift-Out Extended Truss Bridges (with a staging track or passing track).   So here is an unfinished look:  6'6" x 17':

So this will support 4 trains, with three running trading places with one on the siding over the truss bridge at the front.   The middle semi-circle of track on the right is on a fill, rising from about 3" to 6" at the bridge over Granite Falls.

M716-01-Chippewa-Central-V1f

O Gauge: the IMAX of Model Railroading, and a multi-sensory experience.

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Hi Ken, can you post the Anyrail file please? I can't get my head wrapped around how you got the center on the right to start at 3". Is the whole left side on a downhill slope? Where is the zero point? See I can't even stop typing questions! Thanks!

Mike Lewis

Grew up in Ironton, OH

(that's the I in the DT&I RR)

Mike, this zoom-in of the plan with grade and elevation labels may be helpful.   I left the grade displayed on each track section.

For this experiment, I raised the elevated section to 8" by continuing the grade across the bridge over Granite Falls up to the turnout marked as 8".   So the entire Clara City loop is level at 8".   Raising the elevation to 8" did not increase the grades elsewhere, so this seems doable.   I double-checked, and it is common prototype practice to continue grades across bridges and trestles.

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Because the grade changes over the turnout at the very top-right, I left the two turnouts level at 3" in height, and the grades either climb or drop from those turnouts.   The top-right turnout is 13 1/8' long, and if including the 1-3/8 fitters, results in a level across that turnout of about 14.5".

O Gauge: the IMAX of Model Railroading, and a multi-sensory experience.

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A bit more scenery detail, and one more spur serving an oil storage tank (Lionel) and an operating oil derrick (Lionel) in the upper-right corner.  This changed the slope of the far right outside O-72 curve to 3% (which is the maximum layout grade).

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When kicking-back to watch trains run, I would have two trains on the large O-72 outside route (about 42'), following each other at the same speed, and a third train running the return-loops from Granite Falls up to Clara City and then back.   That would be pretty nice and relaxing!

O Gauge: the IMAX of Model Railroading, and a multi-sensory experience.

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Here is an image with trains on the tracks (from TrainPlayer).   These are scale trains, so compressed, traditional, LionChief equipment will look smaller and make the layout appear larger.

M716-01-Chippewa-Central-V1h_image4

O Gauge: the IMAX of Model Railroading, and a multi-sensory experience.

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The Chippewa Central plan needs these turnouts for estimating overall costs:

  • 6-16826, 0 Lionel FasTrack, Left turnout 14 1/4". (O72) Command Control                1
  • 6-16827, 0 Lionel FasTrack, Right turnout 14 1/4". (O72) Command Control          1
  • 6-16828, 0 Lionel FasTrack, Left turnout 13 1/8". (O60) Command Control                7
  • 6-16829, 0 Lionel FasTrack, Right turnout 13 1/8". (O60) Command Control          8
  • The two Lionel Extended Truss Bridges are also a cost item ($300 MSRP each).

 

Naturally, it could be built in phases to spread out the cost and effort:

  1. Outside loop & turnouts, with one bridge
  2. Inside loop and Granite Falls
  3. Clara City elevated loop and grade up
  4. Passing track with 2nd Extended Truss Bridge

 

Even though the minimum curvature is O-48, I like that the turnouts are one width wider at O-60.

O Gauge: the IMAX of Model Railroading, and a multi-sensory experience.

A short video of two trains running.   The steam passenger is at 45mph, and the diesel freight is at 35mph.  Scale equipment.

Unfortunately, TrainPlayer does not pick up the elevations of AnyRail, so we don't see trains duck into the tunnels.  Oh well...

O Gauge: the IMAX of Model Railroading, and a multi-sensory experience.

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A couple more features added to the Chippewa Central:  a "Connecting RR" for interchange, and an optional 3-track stub yard on a rolling table:   What do you think?

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O Gauge: the IMAX of Model Railroading, and a multi-sensory experience.

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Thanks Jim!  I enjoy doing those:  its interesting to see trains running as a way to check the overall plan concept and to look at and imagine how the scenery will look in comparison to the trains.  And to check operating features and train routes.   --Ken

O Gauge: the IMAX of Model Railroading, and a multi-sensory experience.

That is a pretty neat plan.  If I was going to build it I would probably take out one of the crossovers in the middle.  It looks too symmetrical with the x there.  And you probably only need one reverse loop on the inside track.  The one opposite the upper loop.  Are you sure it’s only a 3% grade to get up to 8” in only nine pieces of curved track.  I always figured at least 14’ of run to get up and over at less of a height.  Just my thoughts.  Pretty cool.

William, yup, the third reverse loop (lower level left) is an extra added for additional routes and running options.  Can do without if you can live with fewer route choices.   Check out the pic of the original Chippewa in the lead post to see what a "minimal" track plan looks like.   I also think it looks good with the asymmetric Minnesota Junction.

3% grade from the start of Maynard siding on the left all the way up and around to the turnout on the upper level.   This is a big layout, there is enough run distance, verified by the track planning software.   If you use the estimate of 3" in 8 feet (96 inches), to reach 8" in elevation you need about 21.5' or so.   The layout is 17' long so do your eyeball estimate with that in mind.   An O-60 loop is 15' around, and the plan has more than half of a circle on the right-side climbing up.   Actually, the track planning software calcs the grades to be less than 3%, between 2.5% to 2.9% over various sections.   I just rounded up for the illustration, as I would build using Woodland Scenics 3% foam inclines.

O Gauge: the IMAX of Model Railroading, and a multi-sensory experience.

Ken, I just scanned over the earlier posts but you'l likely need to plan a 'drawer stop" to the wheel channel on the the sliding idea so this little world doesn't come tumbling down someday. 

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





Wheel stop:  of course.

When I posted the sliding drawer idea as an alternative to a frame with legs with castors, I was afraid the idea would seem too radical for most.    But I guess not, no objections.   I guess folks either skipped past through it or the idea seems feasible and not radical at all.  -Ken

O Gauge: the IMAX of Model Railroading, and a multi-sensory experience.

Thinking about how to improve this layout, I thought about increasing the layout length from 17' to 18', wondering to what purpose that extra foot could be put.    I decided to revise all the turnouts to O-72 for smoother running and to extend the reach of O-72 locomotives, and to add easements and broaden curves when possible.   The layout minimum diameter is still 48", no getting around that without increasing the layout width.  There remains only two curved sections of O-48 highlighted in red, the rest of the layout is O-60, O-72, or wider (a section of O-96).   

  • O-72 locomotives can now reach the station at Winnipeg in the middle-right, and can switch the nearby spurs. 
  • O-54 locomotives can do a bit more and can more navigate the O-60 return loop under Glenwood.  And can also run the grade to Glenwood and switch the industries there, but cannot run the return loop.

   A short 10" spur was added at Moorhead.

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I have reset the era and local, from the fictional Minnesota area of the original plan, to locations and real place-names in North-west Minnesota:     The NorthWest Minnesota layout plan features two railroads in one in a transition-period setting.   The plan has the Great Northern RR (BNSF) around the outer mainline loop with sidings and a yard which are entirely O-72 and can accommodate large locomotives and equipment.   The interior Soo Line (CP) mainline connects a level loop and junction hosting two return-loops, with a long grade to an elevated town return-loop with O-48 minimum diameter.   Set in Northwest Minnesota, the plan models that Soo Line from Glenwood Minnesota and connection to Minneapolis, running north through lake country across hills and prairies to meet the Canadian Pacific at Winnipeg, Manitoba.   Along the way, the Soo Line junctions with the Great Northern RR at Erskine Junction running East to West across the northern tier of the country.  Back in the late 1800s through 1912, the area featured navigable rivers by steamboat, moving passengers and freight often towing barges, from Moorhead, Minnesota to Winnipeg during months between the spring ice thaw and winter freeze.   “Empire Builder” James J. Hill even ran a steamboat line on the Red for a few years, until his rail connections provided a faster and less expensive route, but in this layout plan, the steamboat operation is brought forward in time a few decades with the dock at Moorhead and optional steamboat mooring at Winnipeg, offering excursions and dinner-cruises.   You can read more about steamboats on the Red River here.

My Norwegian and Swedish ancestors were "sod-busters" farming in Southeast North Dakota in the late 1800s, and some even living in sod-houses in their first years establishing a homestead.   I grew up in Fargo across the Red River from Moorhead depicted in the plan.   During the winters, as a young guy I used to cross-country ski on the frozen Red during the brutal winters.

O Gauge: the IMAX of Model Railroading, and a multi-sensory experience.

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Novel idea at least. I have plans to go over this better. The stop missing, it just caught my attention right away. (Been away a while, catching up well with everyone's stuff is going to take a bit. Kinda frazzled from the long absence still)

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





Ken,

This looks great. I'm back on radar finally. I abandoned the last plan o36 with o48 due to the size of my engines and rolling stock. I have decided to rebuild and increase from the original 8'x12'.  Would love to see trains running on this plan with Train Player if possible and get  track list. In a previous post you listed only the turnouts. Are those still the same for this?

Thanks,

Randy

I had a request for the track section list for the Chippewa Central 6.5’ x 17’ without optional yard:  (v2e) in the illustrations

  • 6-12042, 0 Lionel FasTrack, Straight 30".                                 11
  • 6-12014, 0 Lionel FasTrack, Straight 10".                                 28
  • 6-12024, 0 Lionel FasTrack, Straight 5".                                   10
  • 6-12025, 0 Lionel FasTrack, Straight 4 1/2".                             11
  • 6-12026, 0 Lionel FasTrack, Straight 1 3/4".                             26
  • 6-12073, 0 Lionel FasTrack, Straight 1 3/8".                             33

 

  • 6-12035, 0 Lionel FasTrack, Buffer/Bumper (Light) 5".                          4
  • 6-12051, 0 Lionel FasTrack, Crossing 10". 45º                                        1

 

  •  6-12041, 0 Lionel FasTrack, Curve 36", angle 22.5º (O72)                    17
  • 6-12056, 0 Lionel FasTrack, Curve 30", angle 22.5º (O60)                     23
  • 6-12043, 0 Lionel FasTrack, Curve 24", angle 30º (O48)                        14
  • 6-16834, 0 Lionel FasTrack, Curve 24", angle 15º (O48)                        3
  • 6-16835, 0 Lionel FasTrack, Curve 24", angle 7.5º (O48)                       5

 

  •  6-16826, 0 Lionel FasTrack, Left turnout 14 1/4". (O72) Command Control           2
  • 6-16827, 0 Lionel FasTrack, Right turnout 14 1/4". (O72) Command Control          2
  • 6-16828, 0 Lionel FasTrack, Left turnout 13 1/8". (O60) Command Control            7
  • 6-16829, 0 Lionel FasTrack, Right turnout 13 1/8". (O60) Command Control          7
    • 1-3/8" less roadbed included with turnouts                                                           25

O Gauge: the IMAX of Model Railroading, and a multi-sensory experience.

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