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Let the planning begin!

The  basement is unfinished - but clean and dry.  I've water sealed all the seams and I've removed all the bat insulation and replaced it with spray foam in all the rim joists. Temperature holds a very steady - it's well sealed.  There are three hopper windows on the far end of the space (I'll be replacing these with new windows).  We've built a small pantry area between the stairs and electrical box and have a fridge and freezer next to the furnace.   The ceiling joists at highest are 7' with mechanicals as low as 6'. The stair doesn't meet local code either.  There is evidence the county made a previous occupant tear out finishings - so I'm gonna take a less substantial approach to building this out.

Preparation Plans:
I'm in the process of installing walls around furnace / pantry area as shown in diagram.  I will then spray the ceilings black.  I'll be removing current ceiling electrical which is patched in from older circuits - and I'll run a new circuit for all but the basement stairs.   I'll install LED lighting across the space.  I know I want a hang-out area at the base of the stairs - maybe a small bar and tv.

Layout:
Open to ideas on design.  I plan to use Code 138 rail but Scale Wheels - minimum 36" radius.
I've got 25' along the windowed wall.  The windows base at about 62".   I was thinking 50" deck height.
There's 18' from the exterior wall to the wall I'm building behind the Furnace / WH.
The water main comes in at 13' from the windowed wall - so I'll need to stay away from that.
There's a round post holding the beam at 10' from the windowed wall.

Floor_Plan

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Last edited by Jacobpaul81
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If at all possible, try to avoid duck unders or lift outs.  The lift out I had on my former railroad was a good idea 35 years ago, not so much later in life.

I look forward to following your progress.

Rusty

Hear, Hear. I tried the lift out before. Big mistake.  I'm thinking 50" deck height - but I'm also considering using 4" of foam on top of a traditional plywood glacier framework (minus the plywood).  I did L-Girder before and it was a mess - doesn't allow for good underneath storage - which is a requirement. Gotta hide the Christmas Trees somewhere!

Last edited by Jacobpaul81

Nice space. My layout would literally drop right into your space. In fact it could be extended 2' to add more length to the freight and passenger yards. My initial criteria was 36" minimum radius but I could not get the track plan I wanted. The final as built is 30" minimum radius with minimum #6 mainline turnouts and #5 freight yard turnouts. The layout is MTH flex, .138 rail. Entry is via a swing gate. It works so easily its like it is not even there.

With 7' ceilings and 50" layout height lighting will be tricky. With only only 30" from the bulb to the scenery even wide angle floods will work like spotlights. You may want to consider LED tubes for area lighting with led accent heads wired separately for layout scenes.

You have plenty of space to build something special in S gauge.

Why don't you go 42" high, you will need to be on a step stool or ladder at 50" to reach your arms length across the layout. Plus that only gives you 34" from the bottom of the layout to the ceiling. Once you add buildings and scenery that 34" will drop down to 22" of room to work between. If you figure 12" for buildings and scenery, but down to 42" with now give you 30" of room to work. Remember, your not getting younger and the older we get the less flexible we become. And like Tom said, you don't want spot lights where you need flood lights. I will be following your progress very closely, as I am starting in S scale too.

One thought I've had is the Norm-style circle with a side platform.  He uses the platform for a roundhouse and turntable.  Lawrence didn't have a turntable - they used turnouts to back the locomotives into their small roundhouse facility - which by 1918, appears to be only one stall.  You can see the Turnouts at work in 1918 below: 

coal platform
roundhouse lawrence

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@DL&W Pete posted:

Why don't you go 42" high, you will need to be on a step stool or ladder at 50" to reach your arms length across the layout. Plus that only gives you 34" from the bottom of the layout to the ceiling. Once you add buildings and scenery that 34" will drop down to 22" of room to work between. If you figure 12" for buildings and scenery, but down to 42" with now give you 30" of room to work. Remember, your not getting younger and the older we get the less flexible we become. And like Tom said, you don't want spot lights where you need flood lights. I will be following your progress very closely, as I am starting in S scale too.

My previous O scale layout was at 42" and it was too low.   I started converting it to HO at 48" before we sold the house. 48" was pretty good.  I'm 5'9" and that got it close to eye-level.  50" may be too high for S - but I'll evaluate.  The plan would call for 46" to the top of the substructure then I'd use 4" of Foam to allow for elevation differentiation to avoid the plywood glacier look Rusty has coined.   

As for lighting - I've used LED strip lights successfully in the past for dramatic closet lighting.  I'm thinking they will work very well as overhead fill lighting eliminating the "spotlight" problem. 

One of my all-time favorite layouts is Gary Schrader's O Scale 2-rail SP / ATSF layout. The railfan access angles he crafted in his open loop allowed for a very interesting experience.  Here the scenery is HUGE without occupying a large amount of space - it's tight and in your face.   
https://oscalekings.org/WP/gary-shrader/



It's a very simple layout - a donut portion dedicated to 2 rail mainline - with a large yard - and in the middle engine facilities and a car yard.  Gary had a 40x20 space to work with so it feels really expansive.   I really love how Gary used the small 2 ft wide floating modules out in front to create a very dramatic scenic approach for individuals standing outside the layout area - but it's done in a way that one can stand inside and have similar views:

It's a snapshot approach to model railroading.  Actual Scale trees and overly-dramatic sweeping hillsides lend themselves to the HUGE apperance of the scene.  To often, model railroads look flat in order to fit a ton of action in.  By using Gary's railfan technique and snapshot realism, interesting scenes can be created in a very small space - achieving scenic realism.   That's what I'll be hoping to go for.

From Lawrence to Tecumseh, the ATSF is mostly riverside with the Kaw sitting on top of a raised roadbed surrounded by thick wooded area with a low dirt road which is opposite the Kaw, although sometimes the road is high above on a bluff above.  The trackage passes under a river bridge at Lawrence  https://bridgehunter.com/ks/douglas/bh57695/ and Lecompton both of which offer unique scenic elements.  https://bridgehunter.com/ks/douglas/lecompton/

And at Eudora, the ATSF crosses the Wakarusa River giving a railroad river crossing:   https://bridgehunter.com/ks/douglas/bh45505/

The river bridge at Lawrence crosses at the end of an industrial chute - ATSF mainline passed through the center of Bowersock Mill and Power and the Lawrence Paper Company.  Because of access - this industry chute would be the one reason to lower the layout height into the low 40s.  Scaled out - this industry chute is nearly 16 ft of layout space - I'll have to condense it quite a bit to fit the layout.  City side is above the rail height towering over river side.

Last edited by Jacobpaul81

Playing with some formats - one idea is a folded dogbone.  Since I'll be using very narrow (no more than 24") wide decks, it's possible it's achievable without a duck under or lift out - but it's VERY tight between the window wall and water main.  I'd need a wider turn out to in front of the water main than is depicted.  Forgive my clunky image. Using Paint. 



  Floor_Plan dogbone


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Last edited by Jacobpaul81
@Jacobpaul81 posted:

Playing with some formats - one idea is a folded dogbone.  Since I'll be using very narrow (no more than 24") wide decks, it's possible it's achievable without a duck under or lift out - but it's VERY tight between the window wall and water main.  I'd need a wider turn out to in front of the water main than is depicted.  Forgive my clunky image. Using Paint.



  Floor_Plan dogbone


What about a reverse circle coming off the wall by the water main, a small techachapi loop. Instead of the hard right to come back, have a circle head towards the utility room and circle left towards the stairs. Go under or over and then pickup where the hard right would of been. Your first piece of eye candy when you come down the stairs...

@DL&W Pete posted:

What about a reverse circle coming off the wall by the water main, a small techachapi loop. Instead of the hard right to come back, have a circle head towards the utility room and circle left towards the stairs. Go under or over and then pickup where the hard right would of been. Your first piece of eye candy when you come down the stairs...

I want to keep that space in front of the stairs for a lounge area (to keep the wife happy).

I would look at extending the 45deg segment in the upper center of the drawing to just past the corner of the utility room enclosure. It would hold at least 6 yard tracks.

It is hard to tell the dimensions of all the spaces. Make the aisleways as wide as possible. I specified mine for 30" minimum but compromised and have some spots with just 28". After four years of operation I wish the layout could have worked with a 32" minimum. Another consideration is longer term changes. I find myself doing a lot more operation sitting on one of my high back swivel barstools placed in the aisles rather than standing like I used to. The layout has three exposed levels of track, 42", 48" and 54". Sitting on the barstool my eyes are about 4" above the top of the trains on the upper level, just perfect to see across the center peninsula. I am 5'-11". The highest building is 70" and the highest scenery is 72". The backdrop is 84" high. It gives a feeling of immersion into the display when in the train room. If you are only doing one level of track my recommendation would be 48" since you were not satisfied with the appearance of the 42" layout.

I played with a lot of ideas over the last few days.  I keep coming back to wanting to keep things pretty simple.   Roundhouse - Steam Engine Yard for display and minor operations - with a looper type around the space design.  Combine two of my favorite O layouts (Norm Charbonneau / Gary Schraeder) into a smaller scale S layout. 

Plan 1 uses a double track mainline - not really my thing - but both Norm and Gary did this for interest.   I've incorporated Gary's island-style front of layout design - and his interior layout engine facility - the engine yard layout is 100% based off Norm's 3RS layout - but unlike Norm's, you have 360 access to it.  This plan would call for the front of the layout to be 2" higher than the back so photos could be taken across the room.  Aisles at narrowest would be 3' wide.   All the outer walls are set at 2' deep - allowing for tub storage underneath.  Depot is on North wall with Bowersock Mill / Lawrence Paper Company on South wall and one of the Lumber yards and the cigar factory on either side of the engine yard.

Floor_Plan 1

Plan 2 uses the same benchwork - but a single track mainline - more my thing.  Engine facility stays the same. Outer line stays. Along the westwall, a siding is added and the depot moved to this location.  On the north wall, a massive trestle could be built for added scenic interest.  I of course could do a similar thing in Plan 1.

Floor_Plan 2

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Continuing with the double main-line - not prototypical - Lawrence only had one - but it does offer the ability to run a passenger and freight train at same time.  This adds an Ice House and Platform to the peninsula.  The Ice House was next to the Cigar Factory in 1930s-1940s but this gets that feature in.  Shifts the city environment all to the south.  This reverses Bowersock and the Paper Co from prototype.  I like the photograph aspect of the Mill and Ice House behind the peninsula.

Floor_Plan 3

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Some comments based on operating my layout over the last 4 years. One main  line or two is your personal preference. If you end up with one make sure you have two places trains can meet and pass each other. The final plan is a one way railroad, based on clockwise operation. I know I would want the ability to leave the yard in either direction, if you do not, that is fine. I think there needs to be a third track the length of the right hand wall. It would function as a yard lead and a staging track for inbound/outbound trains from the yard and not interfere with trains running on the two loops. I have a long yard staging lead and use it all the time. Actually I have two, one for the North half of the yard and one for the South half, which is similar to the two halves of your freight and engine service area.

@AmFlyer posted:

Some comments based on operating my layout over the last 4 years. One main  line or two is your personal preference. If you end up with one make sure you have two places trains can meet and pass each other. The final plan is a one way railroad, based on clockwise operation. I know I would want the ability to leave the yard in either direction, if you do not, that is fine. I think there needs to be a third track the length of the right hand wall. It would function as a yard lead and a staging track for inbound/outbound trains from the yard and not interfere with trains running on the two loops. I have a long yard staging lead and use it all the time. Actually I have two, one for the North half of the yard and one for the South half, which is similar to the two halves of your freight and engine service area.

Good info Tom.  I appreciate your insight.

I'm leaning towards single track main to keep with prototype.  There was a single main and two sidings through Bowersock Mill / Lawrence Paper - one on either side of the main.

On the long wall, I could move the main to the outside and build a tree off the inner bowersock / paper siding to feed the penninsula ice house and other facilities.   I think a full train turnaround would be tough.  Based off 1918 Sanborn maps, trains were set-up and torn down in a small multi-track yard with no turnaround.   The roundhouse had a turntable at one point - but whether either was in use by 1940 is unknown to me.   So I think I need to design a way to flip a train by moving reefers onto the penninsula, then moving them into a staging track and flipping the direction by flipping the locomotive.  Course, that doesn't solve flipping a passenger train - but that was done somewhere more substantial than a middle of the way stop. 

Last edited by Jacobpaul81

Continuing to play with it.   This may be my favorite plan yet. Nets me about 120' of mainline using an internally folded dogbone and the 25' wall as the primary yard. The view from the lounge would be of impressive scenery  and as you enter the layout and look back you'd see the turntable and engine house.   

I've drawn in some terrain lines to show how I'd block views from mainline to mainline where they come close to one another.  Here I might go with a blended Southwest / Great Plains feel with red rock but tallgrass prairie - a fantasy nondescript ATSF location.



  Floor_Plan 1

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@AmFlyer posted:

That last one is a nice plan. It actually looks a lot like mine. Yours has the advantage of the center peninsula having a connection to the main loop on both ends. Running the main line around the back of the roundhouse is good. Be sure you can easily reach into all the stalls of the roundhouse. Great ideas there.

I agree.  I think this will be the basis for when I proceed.  With spring arriving, I've jumped in full bore removing vinyl siding off the house and replacing the previously covered up rotten pressboard siding with new osb and modern siding materials.  Hopefully will be able to get started on this layouy by mid summer but we'll see.  Could have to wait til it gets cold again. 

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