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@Mallard4468 posted:

Re scenery on L-girder benchwork...  Mine is L-girder (quick, strong, uses less wood), but I haven't yet done any scenery on it.  However, I laid plywood over it, so there are no holes to fill unless I create them.  If you don't go the plywood route, it seems like gaps can be filled with thin plywood or rigid foam panels.

My plan has been to build raised areas using foam, and cut openings where depressions are needed.  Sadly, due to inertia I can't report on how well that is working out.  

I do like the idea of elevation changes that L-Girder allows and it is good to hear your experience has been positive, especially the quick and strong part. Am leaning towards foam for mountains and hills with maybe using it as a base covering so it can be "dugout" for small streams etc.

Thanks

John

John, My current layout is 43" high with the highest track level at 50".  I am 5' 11", and it works out well for me.  My last layout, which was a long time ago, used L-girder.  Places that didn't have roadbed and track were covered by extruded styrofoam which was the base for all my scenery.  It worked out well.  I didn't have any heavy buildings, but if I did, I would have built plywood bases to support their weight.

I used the method of setting up a temporary table with cardboard boxes to represent different heights before building that last layout which was a little higher.  This time, I just winged it from memory not wanting it quite so high.  Our girls were little then, and I had to hold them up to see the layout. (Shows how long ago it was-the youngest is now 27).  Since we don't have any grandchildren, I decided to build this layout to suit me, and will do whatever when the time comes that we have grandchildren.  I know my wife will give me space for age appropriate trains if the time comes.

Mallard is right on for determining decking height. The number of inches is not important because all of us are different heights. A shorter person might go as low as 36” while a taller person might go as high as 48” or even more. Some like to view from chest high while others like to view while sitting down. Children and grandchildren can be accommodated with something like a step stool. Those who add a 2nd level or elevated track have to consider that too.

As we age, we also have to think about access from below. If you plan traditional L-girder, note that it adds to the depth of the benchwork. With tabletop style benchwork you have your 1x4 frame topped with plywood/Homasote, so you end up closer to 5” (3.5+.75+.5). However, L-girder adds another 1x4 layer. It has the L-shaped rails for another 4.25”, then the girders, then the plywood/Homasote, around 9” total. That doesn’t sound like much until you’re on your knees crawling underneath to deal with wiring.

I’m not sure what you mean by “holes to fill”, but I’ll assume it’s open style decking. L-girder is just the framing. Like Mallard did, you can still lay plywood on top of it for a full deck. The other option is open cookie-cutter where you just put decking under the tracks and then fill in the open spaces with landscaping. That can be done with plywood/rigid foam panels or other materials to form mountains, etc. Like the track, it’s all supported by the joists or with risers. Here’s a crude example. Note that it has supports for the legs that I didn’t count in the 9” depth, the L-girder rails, the joists and then the full panel decking. In this case it looks like an 8’ section with only 1 center joist vs multiples on 16” centers. If you look at the 2nd photo you’ll see all the parts of benchwork using L-girder as the framing. It shows all the various types of risers, cleats, etc., used to support both open style roadbed and full sheet roadbed. Open style is mostly used where there are a lot of elevation changes throughout the layout. Where that isn’t the case, like yards, full panel is used. When you do open style, you simply cut the section for track out and raise it with risers. You then raise/lower the rest to get the look you want. You can leave it on the joists and fill in with rigid foam and other materials to create rolling hills, etc.

B3445B53-2803-4414-A754-9F94C61E3B22
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@Aegis21 posted:

...Reach is hopefully a secondary consideration as I am looking at an overhead creeper....

If possible, I'd suggest trying a topside creeper if you know someone who has one.  Also, there are other threads on here regarding them - suggest searching for them and reading.  I own one - there are many pluses and minuses, and a lot of it depends on one's agility and the ability to move it around the layout (the base has long and angled legs).  Although it's an indispensable tool, it can be awkward and uncomfortable to use - it's definitely a "last resort" method, at least for me.  It's also hard to store - you can't easily break it down or fold it up.

It looks like a lot of your plan is around the walls, so you might be able to get by without one.   

@Mark Boyce posted:

John, My current layout is 43" high with the highest track level at 50".  I am 5' 11", and it works out well for me.  My last layout, which was a long time ago, used L-girder.  Places that didn't have roadbed and track were covered by extruded styrofoam which was the base for all my scenery.  It worked out well.  I didn't have any heavy buildings, but if I did, I would have built plywood bases to support their weight.

I used the method of setting up a temporary table with cardboard boxes to represent different heights before building that last layout which was a little higher.  This time, I just winged it from memory not wanting it quite so high.  Our girls were little then, and I had to hold them up to see the layout. (Shows how long ago it was-the youngest is now 27).  Since we don't have any grandchildren, I decided to build this layout to suit me, and will do whatever when the time comes that we have grandchildren.  I know my wife will give me space for age appropriate trains if the time comes.

I will follow up on the different height tables, there is an old work bench I could use for a temp height test. Thanks for a good starting point.

@DoubleDAZ posted:

Mallard is right on for determining decking height. The number of inches is not important because all of us are different heights. A shorter person might go as low as 36” while a taller person might go as high as 48” or even more. Some like to view from chest high while others like to view while sitting down. Children and grandchildren can be accommodated with something like a step stool. Those who add a 2nd level or elevated track have to consider that too.

As we age, we also have to think about access from below. If you plan traditional L-girder, note that it adds to the depth of the benchwork. With tabletop style benchwork you have your 1x4 frame topped with plywood/Homasote, so you end up closer to 5” (3.5+.75+.5). However, L-girder adds another 1x4 layer. It has the L-shaped rails for another 4.25”, then the girders, then the plywood/Homasote, around 9” total. That doesn’t sound like much until you’re on your knees crawling underneath to deal with wiring.

I’m not sure what you mean by “holes to fill”, but I’ll assume it’s open style decking. L-girder is just the framing. Like Mallard did, you can still lay plywood on top of it for a full deck. The other option is open cookie-cutter where you just put decking under the tracks and then fill in the open spaces with landscaping. That can be done with plywood/rigid foam panels or other materials to form mountains, etc. Like the track, it’s all supported by the joists or with risers. Here’s a crude example. Note that it has supports for the legs that I didn’t count in the 9” depth, the L-girder rails, the joists and then the full panel decking. In this case it looks like an 8’ section with only 1 center joist vs multiples on 16” centers. If you look at the 2nd photo you’ll see all the parts of benchwork using L-girder as the framing. It shows all the various types of risers, cleats, etc., used to support both open style roadbed and full sheet roadbed. Open style is mostly used where there are a lot of elevation changes throughout the layout. Where that isn’t the case, like yards, full panel is used. When you do open style, you simply cut the section for track out and raise it with risers. You then raise/lower the rest to get the look you want. You can leave it on the joists and fill in with rigid foam and other materials to create rolling hills, etc.

B3445B53-2803-4414-A754-9F94C61E3B22
952FBBA3-66D1-40C3-AD43-C339E4C80862

Ah! Great explanation of combining different benchwork. So for the yard/roundhouse area flat benchmark and for areas with lots of vertical scenery L-girder can be used. Love the diagrams along with your insight. 

I think that the turntable roundhouse area is too small for a 34" turntable. At the moment I do not own large locomotives however it could be a regret later on. Any toughts?

@Mallard4468 posted:

If possible, I'd suggest trying a topside creeper if you know someone who has one.  Also, there are other threads on here regarding them - suggest searching for them and reading.  I own one - there are many pluses and minuses, and a lot of it depends on one's agility and the ability to move it around the layout (the base has long and angled legs).  Although it's an indispensable tool, it can be awkward and uncomfortable to use - it's definitely a "last resort" method, at least for me.  It's also hard to store - you can't easily break it down or fold it up.

It looks like a lot of your plan is around the walls, so you might be able to get by without one.   

I have read a fair amount on this forum about topside creepers. And I can see they could be difficult at best, especially for long periods of time. The decision will be made after the benchwork has been started

Thanks for your insight

Last edited by Aegis21

John,

Don’t confuse benchwork with the type of roadbed used. For the purposes of this discussion, there are 2 types of framing, one is L-girder and I’ll called the other “Standard”. There are also 2 types of roadbed, one is cookie-cutter and I’ll call the other “Tabletop”. You’ve seen photos of L-girder framing with cookie-cutter roadbed, so here’s one of Standard framing with cookie-cutter roadbed on risers. Note that the only difference is the type of framing to support the risers and roadbed.

C22644A3-ED43-4915-A451-F81F63BA59F8

Here’s a simple example of L-girder with both cookie-cutter and tabletop roadbed.

07FF34BC-1A52-4389-BAF5-59313D0A9082

Here’s an example of Tabletop where they cut out sections they wanted to raise and supported them with risers. What’s underneath could be L-girder or Standard framing, it doesn’t matter.

350CB6AD-01EA-4E8A-A879-A6DEB78D5B5B

There is no right or wrong way to do things, just as there is no right or wrong in what materials you decide to use, it’s whatever works for you.

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@DoubleDAZ posted:

John,

Don’t confuse benchwork with the type of roadbed used. For the purposes of this discussion, there are 2 types of framing, one is L-girder and I’ll called the other “Standard”. There are also 2 types of roadbed, one is cookie-cutter and I’ll call the other “Tabletop”. You’ve seen photos of L-girder framing with cookie-cutter roadbed, so here’s one of Standard framing with cookie-cutter roadbed on risers. Note that the only difference is the type of framing to support the risers and roadbed.

C22644A3-ED43-4915-A451-F81F63BA59F8

Here’s a simple example of L-girder with both cookie-cutter and tabletop roadbed.

07FF34BC-1A52-4389-BAF5-59313D0A9082

Here’s an example of Tabletop where they cut out sections they wanted to raise and supported them with risers. What’s underneath could be L-girder or Standard framing, it doesn’t matter.

350CB6AD-01EA-4E8A-A879-A6DEB78D5B5B

There is no right or wrong way to do things, just as there is no right or wrong in what materials you decide to use, it’s whatever works for you.

Beautiful bench work and great clarity on uses/flexibility! Looks like I will have to experiment and see what works best for my limited knowledge. Looks like a compromise between overhead access and underneath access. Since I do not have any experience with these situations, it will be my task to mock up a model bench work and evaluate the pros and cons of above and below clearances for my aching bones. LOL

Here is what I am leaning towards, for a track layout. Huge question is it realistic to have that turntable and yard as I have it now. Would like to have a roundhouse with three to five stalls. I am hoping with the use of flex track I can keep the distance between the round house and turntable to a minimum. I also changed the heights a bit to make the grades lower while maintaining vertical clearances. Any words of wisdom would be very much appreciated.

Thanks in Advance

JohnFinal_Rm_Dim_2020_09_29_34_36TT_Lower

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John, here is a Millhouse Rivers 34" turntable with an extended 4-stall Altoona roundhouse overlay. As you can see, there appears to be room. However, you asked if the setup was realistic and the short answer is I don't believe it is.
AFAIK, there's nothing realistic about curved whisker tracks.
There's also nothing realistic about the long red track or the extreme curve of the long purple track. I can't figure out how you intend to use either one.
You have a 34" turntable feeding whisker tracks that are over 43" long. If you try to place whiskers that close to each other, you may need those 43" because engines need to be far enough back so the front ends clear each other as they move in and out. How many engines do you need to have on the layout at any given time?
The yard is basically limited to backing consists in since there is no way for engines to move around the yard and there are no lead tracks to work a consist without fouling the orange mainline. To really do that, you'll need to approach the bridge from the bottom, then back into the yard, drop the load, come back out, back onto the turntable, etc. If you want a switcher to do the work, you need to park the consist on the mainline and the switcher will have a really interesting job trying to break the consist apart and store the cars. The whole thing seems convoluted to me, but then I'm no expert on yard design.

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@DoubleDAZ posted:

John, here is a Millhouse Rivers 34" turntable with an extended 4-stall Altoona roundhouse overlay. As you can see, there appears to be room. However, you asked if the setup was realistic and the short answer is I don't believe it is.
AFAIK, there's nothing realistic about curved whisker tracks.
There's also nothing realistic about the long red track or the extreme curve of the long purple track. I can't figure out how you intend to use either one.
You have a 34" turntable feeding whisker tracks that are over 43" long. If you try to place whiskers that close to each other, you may need those 43" because engines need to be far enough back so the front ends clear each other as they move in and out. How many engines do you need to have on the layout at any given time?
The yard is basically limited to backing consists in since there is no way for engines to move around the yard and there are no lead tracks to work a consist without fouling the orange mainline. To really do that, you'll need to approach the bridge from the bottom, then back into the yard, drop the load, come back out, back onto the turntable, etc. If you want a switcher to do the work, you need to park the consist on the mainline and the switcher will have a really interesting job trying to break the consist apart and store the cars. The whole thing seems convoluted to me, but then I'm no expert on yard design.

test

 

Well Said Dave! I am throwing darts at a moving board blindfolded, for sure. The idea behind this drawing (and any others I have messed up) was simply, how much track can that area hold. I am learning as I go and you have been a great teacher, as you are direct and blunt which works for me. Just to give you an idea of any planning I may have put into this layout, The elevations were a high 7" to 1" to give a 6" clearing for overhead/under crossings. Just put that as the worst case and grades <4  shouldn't be an issue since I have a little wiggle room. The large 34" turntable is also along those lines of put in the biggest and if that has a chance then smaller would fit with less problems. To expound on my ignorance of train operations, I wasn't clear on the size turn table as it relates to engine size. Yes I understand the loco needs to fit on table without significant or any overhang. However does the tender also need to fit? Does an A/B diesel unit need to fit?  When I say any and all help is welcome, I guess I really mean all help is required.

With that said, a turntable and roundhouse if at all possible would be fantastic, if it lends itself to overall operations. And an operating yard with a method to have a run around track, or other means of a switcher doing its job would also be appreciated. I do have a ross #170 four way yard switch, if that can be incorporated great, if not then that can be e-bay'd. Please feel free to give your opinion on any or all of these "wants" Also any one else please chime in as I am willing to learn and won't be offended by any remarks. This forum is a wealth of knowledge and I welcome any and all critiques.

John, You would want to turn both the locomotive and tender coupled together.  It would could be a real pain to unhook some tenders from their locomotives, and I have never heard of it done before on the prototype or models.  I think the same would hold for any AB units for similar reasons.  I don't have an AB set out to see how long they are.  Less tracks off the turntable would be good to eliminate the curved ones.  The 4-way switch for the yard saves space, but then you would need a runaround track on each side of the yard.  I have 4% grades on my layout, and they are working alright on my short trains.  I'm sure you would like to run longer trains than I can.  I setup a temporary track and tried it at different grades with each of my engines pulling cars to see what would work.  Remember that it takes a little more pulling power on grades than straightaways.

John, I meant no offense. I’ve been assuming you’ve just been filling the space with track, but at some point you have to come back down to earth and work with something more realistic and, more importantly, something that will fit. 🤪 You now know a 4-stall Altoona roundhouse with 34” turntable will fit, so it’s time to build on that to see if a useful yard can be designed around it. Personally, I suspect you don’t need anything larger than the smaller turntables that are in the SCARM libraries. So many want to use the biggest turntable and biggest curves that they miss out on design possibilities smaller curves would allow.

Anyway, when it comes to fit, yes, the tender has to be included, though technically I suppose an engine alone could be pushed/pulled by another engine. Think about it though. If you push an engine onto the turntable, how will you get it into the roundhouse or onto a whisker track? A-B units would be the same, but don’t know if A-B units are even turned on a turntable. Many, if not most, yards have engine houses, not turntables and roundhouses. Also, there’s nothing wrong with having a turntable just to turn engines, it doesn’t have to include a roundhouse.

The yard is another story. You can have a storage yard, like what you have, to store multiple trains ready to be run or you can try to fit in a working yard where a switcher moves cars around to configure different trains. Obviously, a working yard requires more than just storage tracks and I don’t know that you have the space for both a turntable/roundhouse and a working yard, at least not where they are now.

@Mark Boyce posted:

John, You would want to turn both the locomotive and tender coupled together.  It would could be a real pain to unhook some tenders from their locomotives, and I have never heard of it done before on the prototype or models.  I think the same would hold for any AB units for similar reasons.  I don't have an AB set out to see how long they are.  Less tracks off the turntable would be good to eliminate the curved ones.  The 4-way switch for the yard saves space, but then you would need a runaround track on each side of the yard.  I have 4% grades on my layout, and they are working alright on my short trains.  I'm sure you would like to run longer trains than I can.  I setup a temporary track and tried it at different grades with each of my engines pulling cars to see what would work.  Remember that it takes a little more pulling power on grades than straightaways.

Hi Mark,

Loco & tender for post war Berkshire 736 is about 21" so no worries there for now. Illinois Central Diesel AB unit is about 28" And I can imagine the NYC K-Line would be slightly longer, about 33" for A/B units. And I now see that the 4-way switch is an issue with runaround tracks. Glad to hear your 4% grades are ok I was shooting for 3.5% max grade and will do the experiment you did with actual trains pulling a consist up that grade and around curves. Great Advise Mark, Thanks!

@DoubleDAZ posted:

John, I meant no offense. I’ve been assuming you’ve just been filling the space with track, but at some point you have to come back down to earth and work with something more realistic and, more importantly, something that will fit. 🤪 You now know a 4-stall Altoona roundhouse with 34” turntable will fit, so it’s time to build on that to see if a useful yard can be designed around it. Personally, I suspect you don’t need anything larger than the smaller turntables that are in the SCARM libraries. So many want to use the biggest turntable and biggest curves that they miss out on design possibilities smaller curves would allow.

Anyway, when it comes to fit, yes, the tender has to be included, though technically I suppose an engine alone could be pushed/pulled by another engine. Think about it though. If you push an engine onto the turntable, how will you get it into the roundhouse or onto a whisker track? A-B units would be the same, but don’t know if A-B units are even turned on a turntable. Many, if not most, yards have engine houses, not turntables and roundhouses. Also, there’s nothing wrong with having a turntable just to turn engines, it doesn’t have to include a roundhouse.

The yard is another story. You can have a storage yard, like what you have, to store multiple trains ready to be run or you can try to fit in a working yard where a switcher moves cars around to configure different trains. Obviously, a working yard requires more than just storage tracks and I don’t know that you have the space for both a turntable/roundhouse and a working yard, at least not where they are now.

Hi Dave, no offense taken, actually the honest assessment is greatly appreciated. A working yard, rather than a storage yard is preferred. And if it would work a smaller turntable someplace. Looking at some of the layouts, it is becoming more apparent less track with more purposeful/useful track is much better for a working railroad. I was thinking maybe only one main line might lend itself to an overall better design.

please add your thoughts

Many thanks 

john

John, I’m a big fan of dual mainlines, mostly because you can run trains in opposite directions and simulate having turned engines without actually doing so. I’m also a big fan of over/under sections, elevation chamfers, etc. I have no affiliation with railroading, so I have no idea how things are done in real life. I just know what I like to see as we travel around the country and that’s trains going every which way. We see a lot of trains along I-10 through New Mexico and we especially enjoy seeing them pass each other out in the wide open spaces. I was hoping by now we’d have some additional eyes offering ideas, so I’m going to have to give this some more thought as I get time.

@DoubleDAZ posted:

John, I’m a big fan of dual mainlines, mostly because you can run trains in opposite directions and simulate having turned engines without actually doing so. I’m also a big fan of over/under sections, elevation chamfers, etc. I have no affiliation with railroading, so I have no idea how things are done in real life. I just know what I like to see as we travel around the country and that’s trains going every which way. We see a lot of trains along I-10 through New Mexico and we especially enjoy seeing them pass each other out in the wide open spaces. I was hoping by now we’d have some additional eyes offering ideas, so I’m going to have to give this some more thought as I get time.

Sounds like we are in the same mind set with over/under sections, two close main lines for opposite directions. Having said that it is also important to have some realistic operations and purpose with industries and towns. My only affiliation with railroading, was my Dad worked for the Pullman company out of NYC and I would visit Sunnyside yards in Queens NY. That and getting Lionel trains for xmas. At one point I thought about putting in towns and then industries and building a railroad to meet the needs of the industries and towns. Which is the way it naturally evolved when the country went from wagon trains to steam trains. With the space I have (which I am grateful to have) the layout should have some purpose and lots of fun with a bit of nostalgia thrown in for good measure. My trains have only been put up around the Christmas tree these past couple of years since we adopted our daughter. So that is about the extent of my knowledge and wants with building a model railroad.

And you’ve just hit on my Achilles Heel, adding realistic operations. It’s one thing to design a general flow around the room, but quite different adding spurs, buildings, etc., to serve as destinations. In Mark’s case, he had the basic operation in mind for his point to point, so all I did was help connect the 2 points with tracks that would fit. He started with 2 turntables that became reversing loops and eventually were replaced with an around the room design due to changes to the available space. Throughout all the changes, he kept the basic operation intact, city in the lower right up to an industry in the upper right.

In your case, we’re laying down an around the room flow and trying to come up with a reason for it to exist. You’ve got space before the bridge in the lower right for an industry of some sort. You’ve got room past the bridge for a mall towns but the elevation change going up will have an impact. You have room in the elevated upper left for another industry, like timber or mining. Then, of course, there’s the peninsula area where you’d like a turntable. There are others areas for spurs with businesses to be serviced or the passing sidings you currently have. I’m terrible at coming up with a theme because I just like to run trains, not service spurs.

Hi Dave,

Looks like having some areas designated for towns and industries and then trying to get a flow of main lines and servicing spurs has some merit. The elevation of the two main lines makes some of the design work interesting. I have trouble with having scarm have a turnout on a grade. So then grades start or end at turnouts unless there is enough track to get to the desired elevation.

Thought about moving turntable to lower right by bridge. That will eat up industry area. Looking for a coaling operation to model and using some gantry crane for maybe steel. Then a town or two with roads etc. Using the existing baseboard I'll layout some industries and designate town areas to see what can be done. I also have trouble picturing what is on scarm with how it translates to tabletop. I check the 3D drawing in scarm, but I have a block on putting in other objects once track is down.

Again Thanks for the help and support!

SCARM doesn't allow turnouts on grades, so you have to use a workaround. Obviously, the blue track (base) is on a flat surface at 0" elevation with the intent to raise the right end to 4". To do this, you need to experiment a little. I don't know if this will help, but let me know if you can't follow it and I'll try again.

The first step is to remove the turnout, fill the empty space, then create the grade (sample 2). Note that the grade is 2.9%.

When you compare sample 2 to the base, you can see that the turnout begins the grade at about the 1" point. So, the turnout (green) gets set to 1" on all 3 points (sample 3). Then you create the grades (purple) on both ends of the turnout. Note the grade TO the turnout becomes 2.7% while the grades on the other end are 3.4% and 3.5%. Note too that the first grade ends at 1" and the other 2 grades then begin at 1" and end at 4", but the slope of the grade is more than the original 2.9%.

If you plan to set the turnout on the grade, you can simulate that by deleting the turnout and again filling it in (sample 4). You can see in sample 2, you can see that the turnout would end at the 1.5" point. So you then set the grade of the straight through section from 0' to 4" and then set the grade for the turnout section from 1.5" to 4". Note that the grades for both are 2.9%.

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@DoubleDAZ posted:

SCARM doesn't allow turnouts on grades, so you have to use a workaround. Obviously, the blue track (base) is on a flat surface at 0" elevation with the intent to raise the right end to 4". To do this, you need to experiment a little. I don't know if this will help, but let me know if you can't follow it and I'll try again.

The first step is to remove the turnout, fill the empty space, then create the grade (sample 2). Note that the grade is 2.9%.

When you compare sample 2 to the base, you can see that the turnout begins the grade at about the 1" point. So, the turnout (green) gets set to 1" on all 3 points (sample 3). Then you create the grades (purple) on both ends of the turnout. Note the grade TO the turnout becomes 2.7% while the grades on the other end are 3.4% and 3.5%. Note too that the first grade ends at 1" and the other 2 grades then begin at 1" and end at 4", but the slope of the grade is more than the original 2.9%.

If you plan to set the turnout on the grade, you can simulate that by deleting the turnout and again filling it in (sample 4). You can see in sample 2, you can see that the turnout would end at the 1.5" point. So you then set the grade of the straight through section from 0' to 4" and then set the grade for the turnout section from 1.5" to 4". Note that the grades for both are 2.9%.

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Neat trick Dave! I think I follow and will try on scarm to verify I understand the proceedure.

Thanks John

Dave, we spent so much time on all the versions of my layout plan, you remembered very well. 

John, The lower town Dave mentioned (Parsons-Hendricks, WV) had logging and a tannery.  Today there is a Kingsford charcoal plant.  Thomas WV is at the top of the mountain and was basically a coal marshalling yard.  Today there is Mount Storm Power Station where I worked in the '90s that took coal right from the mine until the correct grade of coal was mined out, now they bring it in from Cumberland the opposite direction from my section.  Today the railroad is a rails to trails up the mountain from Parsons.  It is ironic, that a forum member suggested this very railroad as a prototype the first few days after I started my topic, and I had already planned an HO layout of the same area I was familiar with back in the late '90-'00s.

Of course as Dave mentioned I had to do a lot of compression and trimming to fit it in an 11x11 room, but it is working out.

I like seeing your roundhouse and turntable on the peninsula by the double bridge.  The only trouble is the yard is on the other side of the two mainlines.  I know you are just trying to get the feel of doing some more advanced things with SCARM, but every variation you has the potential of making something click and lead to a great idea.  I'm with Dave, Ilike the two routes and you can have trains going each way.  

When are you hoping to start building benchwork?  It won't be long now that the leaves will be down and we will have them cleaned up as best we can for the winter.  (Dave doesn't get the privilege of raking leaves and shoveling snow any more.)  It's a shame!  

Mark,

I deal with bags of leaves every weekend here. We have 2 large Ficus trees that shed leaves all year long plus 2 adult fruit trees with 3 more young ones growing and a Texas Lilac. Just today I ran 5 bags, 33 gallons each, over to my brother-in-law’s where he mulches them in his rather large flower beds. Two weeks ago it was 4 bags (39 gallons) and 3 bags (33 gallons). It tapers off over the winter where I only bag once a month or so and we’re having the trees pruned on October 20, which will help. Pruning is quite expensive, but it’s a cost I’m willing to bear. Had I known this beforehand though, I probably wouldn’t have planted the trees.

It’s true enough though that I no longer deal with snow and there are only a few days where I deal with a frosted windshield. That I don’t miss. 😝

John,

When it comes to model railroad "operations," there is a lot of existing information out there.  For starters, there is an NMRA Special Interest Group for Layout Design (LDSIG).  I believe they have a Facebook page and operate under a group.io format as well.  I signed up to get their e-mails from group.io (which is a Google operation, I believe) and the information they discuss can be quite useful.  Their focus is on layout design for better operations.

There have also been numerous articles and authors that have discussed this topic, starting with Frank Ellison in the 1950s(?) (a 6 part series in Model Railroader called "The Art of Model Railroading") and continuing today through people like Tony Koester.  There are also quite a few books on the subject, but the one most often recommended is "Planning Your Model Railroad for Realistic Operation" which is a Kalmbach publication, I believe.  "Operating" a model railroad can be tons of fun if you design your plan well, but as I view it, your current plan is really only good for "looping" with the added ability of changing the trains / engines that run the loops.

To operate, you have to get down to the nitty-gritty of what industries you want to model or what locations (whether towns or areas of the country) you want to model.  Some people prefer to model large industries like steel mills, coal mines, refineries, or automobile manufacturers.  Others prefer to model smaller industries built within or near towns (including ports), while some prefer to model unit trains hauling their dedicated cargoes between large yards.  Finally, there are those that like to model passenger operations (either city-to-city or commuters) and those that like to model short-lines that only serve a few customers from an interchange with a Class 1 railroad. 

Whatever you choose, it might also help if you develop a "back story" for why your railroad exists, if it is fictional.  If not fictional, use location names that at least sound like they might have been found along the railroad you model.  E,g., you would probably not find Sonora along the Pennsylvania RR.

As you can see, the "operation" possibilities are quite open, and anyone wanting to help you must know your limitations and choices, something the planners call "givens and druthers."  One thing I've learned from the LDSIG and other readings is the idea of LDE, Layout Design Elements.  You get ideas (including from other people's layouts) from anywhere about what you like to have in your layout (a port, a steel mill, one or more small towns, an interchange, etc.), then you draft a scaled down version that meets your needs and will fit in your layout space without overpowering it.  Then you try and fit as many of these LDEs as you can into your layout, connecting them all in some logical way (or any way that makes you happy, as long as it makes operating sense).

You have to be the one to choose and design your LDEs.  Once those are done, friendly people here will offer suggestions for improvement and might even offer suggestions for how to squeeze them into your space in a logical manner.

Good luck,

Chuck

@Mark Boyce posted:

Dave, we spent so much time on all the versions of my layout plan, you remembered very well. 

John, The lower town Dave mentioned (Parsons-Hendricks, WV) had logging and a tannery.  Today there is a Kingsford charcoal plant.  Thomas WV is at the top of the mountain and was basically a coal marshalling yard.  Today there is Mount Storm Power Station where I worked in the '90s that took coal right from the mine until the correct grade of coal was mined out, now they bring it in from Cumberland the opposite direction from my section.  Today the railroad is a rails to trails up the mountain from Parsons.  It is ironic, that a forum member suggested this very railroad as a prototype the first few days after I started my topic, and I had already planned an HO layout of the same area I was familiar with back in the late '90-'00s.

Of course as Dave mentioned I had to do a lot of compression and trimming to fit it in an 11x11 room, but it is working out.

I like seeing your roundhouse and turntable on the peninsula by the double bridge.  The only trouble is the yard is on the other side of the two mainlines.  I know you are just trying to get the feel of doing some more advanced things with SCARM, but every variation you has the potential of making something click and lead to a great idea.  I'm with Dave, Ilike the two routes and you can have trains going each way.  

When are you hoping to start building benchwork?  It won't be long now that the leaves will be down and we will have them cleaned up as best we can for the winter.  (Dave doesn't get the privilege of raking leaves and shoveling snow any more.)  It's a shame!  

Hi Mark,

Your layout is fantastic and looks like it will provide endless enjoyment. Great job on adapting and putting in so much in your space.

Turntable was "thrown" there to get out of the way and no rhyme or reason to it, however it is growing on me. And two main lines will say in for the reasons you and Dave stated, looks cool! 

As far as bench work goes, solid or at least semi-solid plans need to be on paper first. One more sticking point is the double track bridge that will be a hinged lift for access to middle. The issue is both main lines are at same elevation and then it is a long grade to go for over/under main line crossings. Doesn't lend it self for breaking out spurs or siding at different elevations. I would love to get bench work started before Dec. 

How are you doing on your layout? Sounds like leaves have taken over! A friend of mine back in conn. Was asked where he wanted to retire to? He said he would put his snowblower in the back of his truck and drive south until some one asked him what the contraption was in his pick up! 

@PRR1950 posted:

John,

When it comes to model railroad "operations," there is a lot of existing information out there.  For starters, there is an NMRA Special Interest Group for Layout Design (LDSIG).  I believe they have a Facebook page and operate under a group.io format as well.  I signed up to get their e-mails from group.io (which is a Google operation, I believe) and the information they discuss can be quite useful.  Their focus is on layout design for better operations.

There have also been numerous articles and authors that have discussed this topic, starting with Frank Ellison in the 1950s(?) (a 6 part series in Model Railroader called "The Art of Model Railroading") and continuing today through people like Tony Koester.  There are also quite a few books on the subject, but the one most often recommended is "Planning Your Model Railroad for Realistic Operation" which is a Kalmbach publication, I believe.  "Operating" a model railroad can be tons of fun if you design your plan well, but as I view it, your current plan is really only good for "looping" with the added ability of changing the trains / engines that run the loops.

To operate, you have to get down to the nitty-gritty of what industries you want to model or what locations (whether towns or areas of the country) you want to model.  Some people prefer to model large industries like steel mills, coal mines, refineries, or automobile manufacturers.  Others prefer to model smaller industries built within or near towns (including ports), while some prefer to model unit trains hauling their dedicated cargoes between large yards.  Finally, there are those that like to model passenger operations (either city-to-city or commuters) and those that like to model short-lines that only serve a few customers from an interchange with a Class 1 railroad. 

Whatever you choose, it might also help if you develop a "back story" for why your railroad exists, if it is fictional.  If not fictional, use location names that at least sound like they might have been found along the railroad you model.  E,g., you would probably not find Sonora along the Pennsylvania RR.

As you can see, the "operation" possibilities are quite open, and anyone wanting to help you must know your limitations and choices, something the planners call "givens and druthers."  One thing I've learned from the LDSIG and other readings is the idea of LDE, Layout Design Elements.  You get ideas (including from other people's layouts) from anywhere about what you like to have in your layout (a port, a steel mill, one or more small towns, an interchange, etc.), then you draft a scaled down version that meets your needs and will fit in your layout space without overpowering it.  Then you try and fit as many of these LDEs as you can into your layout, connecting them all in some logical way (or any way that makes you happy, as long as it makes operating sense).

You have to be the one to choose and design your LDEs.  Once those are done, friendly people here will offer suggestions for improvement and might even offer suggestions for how to squeeze them into your space in a logical manner.

Good luck,

Chuck

Hello Chuck,

Thanks for the referrals on Ldsig, NMRA site has been confusing for me, however I'll try again. As for reading, I'm just starting a operations layout book by Armstrong and have just gotten another by Tony Koester. Hoping to garner railroad knowledge for sure which will help clear the ton of mud I seem to be in. Also great suggestion of a back story for sorting out what the railroad does to earn its keep. That will force me to pen givens and druthers. 

Thanks a ton for all the help

John

John, My layout building is very slow right now.  That is why I haven't posted anything on my own topic or the 'What did you do on your layout' topic.  I did figure out a place to add another rather long spur on the lower level, cut in a switch from the main line, and added a bit of roadbed.  This has all been done in very short spurts over the last few weeks.

Since it cooled down from the unusually hot summer weather, I have been trying to finish up everything outside I didn't get done last summer with my knee surgery looming and this years things.  I have maybe a couple hours more painting to do and an afternoon of work to fix the end of a cracked drainage pipe.  Since we still aren't getting much rain, I have only been mowing about once a month since June, so I should wrap those things up before the leaves are falling in ernest.  Actually, with the dry weather, we have been seeing a few leaves falling all through the summer.  I have never seen that.  Maybe I was was wrong, and we have more like Dave's weather here around Butler.  Looking at the radar, almost every time there was rain coming in from Ohio, it went north of us up your way.  The one storm we got about a month ago broke limbs off one of our trees and the tree trimmers have cleaned that all up.  Maybe I won't have as many to clean up this year!

John. It looks like you understood my explanation about placing the turnout on a grade in SCARM. Just be aware that during construction you don't want to start/end a grade at a turnout. As Mark will tell you, it's not easy to ease into or out of a grade to get a smooth transition and a turnout just complicates things. The main point of the exercise in SCARM though is just to see how things will fit, adjustments are always needed when actually constructing grades to get things to work smoothly.

Anyway, I took the liberty of further color coding the grades. This allows you to select them simply by double-clicking to check or change the grade. Color coding also lets you readily see where grades begin/end. I noticed the grade down to the bridge wasn't set and the yard area was elevated to 7", so I fixed those. Further, I know you're just playing around with things, but I'm curious how you think you'd use the long spur that goes just beneath the yard and the lone spur coming off the yard. I'm hesitant to fiddle with the yard design until I get a better feel for your thoughts.

Final_Rm_Dim_2020_10_06_E daz

 

Attachments

Hi Dave, Again thanks for the free scarm lesson. As for what is on layout now, it is just throwing ideas around and elevations went out the window so to speak. Am reading some good books on layout and operational design. Some of how I was thinking or picturing spurs and sidings we’re totally backwards. I will say two main lines is something to strive to have on layout

Again many Thanks 

John

Last edited by Aegis21

Based on info in previous posts re operations and NMRA resources (all very good info, BTW) and responses, I'm getting the impression that you may be trying to do too much too soon.  This is not meant as a criticism; I suffer from this syndrome myself.

It's incredibly difficult to design and build the "perfect" layout (if such a thing exists), especially if you haven't built one recently.  "Operations" (in NMRA parlance) can be interesting for some folks, and stressful and tedious for others.  Before going all-in on operations, I suggest attending an ops session in your area to see if that's your cup of tea.  You might love it, or you might learn that you'd rather be a loop runner - although some rivet counters might disagree, IMO there's no shame in that.

The Black Diamond Railway series of DVDs might be worth watching - covers the entire process of building a high quality 3-rail layout from start to finish.

Good luck on the journey.

John, Mallard has a good point.  I know after attending an operating session on a large HO layout in Pittsburgh probably 20 years ago that I don't like operations of switching cars in and out going from one industry to another along the mainline.  On the other hand, just rolling trains around endlessly on one or any number of loops is not interesting to me either.  I do not know how much I will like this layout I'm building, but it is kind of in between those two extremes. 

I have the Black Diamond Railway set of DVDs Mallard referred to if you would like to borrow them.

@Mallard4468 posted:

Based on info in previous posts re operations and NMRA resources (all very good info, BTW) and responses, I'm getting the impression that you may be trying to do too much too soon.  This is not meant as a criticism; I suffer from this syndrome myself.

It's incredibly difficult to design and build the "perfect" layout (if such a thing exists), especially if you haven't built one recently.  "Operations" (in NMRA parlance) can be interesting for some folks, and stressful and tedious for others.  Before going all-in on operations, I suggest attending an ops session in your area to see if that's your cup of tea.  You might love it, or you might learn that you'd rather be a loop runner - although some rivet counters might disagree, IMO there's no shame in that.

The Black Diamond Railway series of DVDs might be worth watching - covers the entire process of building a high quality 3-rail layout from start to finish.

Good luck on the journey.

All good info! Although I cannot predict where my interest will take me, the fact I have purchased over the years, two coal loaders, icing station and two gantry cranes show interest in industries. Being able to have those industries integrated properly with a railroad in an intelligent efficient manner is a given. To run operations with time tables and schedules may be too much for my interest now. That may change in the future, but for now those are my general tendencies. 

Doing too much too soon hits the nail on the head! Learning benchwork, backdrop painting, New electronics for trains (New for 1950's) getting back into trains after 50 years is a lot of catching up! 

Thanks for your help, all is appreciated.

John

 

@Mark Boyce posted:

John, Mallard has a good point.  I know after attending an operating session on a large HO layout in Pittsburgh probably 20 years ago that I don't like operations of switching cars in and out going from one industry to another along the mainline.  On the other hand, just rolling trains around endlessly on one or any number of loops is not interesting to me either.  I do not know how much I will like this layout I'm building, but it is kind of in between those two extremes. 

I have the Black Diamond Railway set of DVDs Mallard referred to if you would like to borrow them.

Mark,  sounds like we have same general interest in railroading. Would love to borrow your dvd 's The strict operations for me is too much at this point. Have you figured out your dual height bridges? 

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