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I did layout what I was doing in software, it helps a bunch when you're trying to figure out the total plan.  I will also mention that once you get to laying track, you'll find that sometimes the software solutions don't exactly work, and you need some fine tuning.  In that case, I try to go back to the software and fix it too, I want it to reflect reasonably closely what I end up with on the layout.  My grades ended up being 2.4% and 2.5% for the long ramps, I can live with that.  Ideally, I would have kept it closer to 2%, but that wasn't happening with the space I have.

John, I took a look at your file. Even though I imagine the consensus would be not to put the double crossover on a grade, I moved the inner loop closer to the outer loop and added the crossover. I tried keeping the crossover and 4 lead tracks flat, but that made the grade going up to 8" too steep. I was going to try some other things, but noticed some things that needs to be fixed before you go any further.

One is clearance issues. I like to keep things 3" from the walls and sides, but you can use whatever distance you're comfortable with. To illustrate, I added some 3" wide rectangles along the left side, tops and bottom to show how close you are to the walls. It doesn't pay to to play with the grades until the clearances are closer to where they need to be.

Along that same line, I overlaid the double crossover at the bottom again to show that those mainlines are too close to the wall, but still far enough from each other.

The curved switch was added incorrectly and that's why you had to use flex track to make the connections. The problem is the Ross switch doesn't directly replace the GG O-72 curve. It needed to be connected to the straight track and then an O-72 curve cut to fill the gap.

I think you might be able to accomplish what you're after by moving the crossover back to the bottom by the curved switch, moving the left side of the inner mainline over to the left more, lowering your elevation over the yard to 6" to get the grade closer to 3%.

Anyway, that's what I'll be working on doing.

John 2020-10-14 daz

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  • John 2020-10-14 daz

I only saw it once, but several people with a lot of experience with Gargraves sectional track told me it's common for them not to be exact and not to trust what a layout program tells you.  The Ross O72 curves I'm using here could have come out of a clone machine, they are EXACTLY the same from unit to unit.  Since I'm using Ross switches and just Gargraves flex track, it's all custom cut anyway, no problem here.

I swear I've used Ross curves with a Ross switch in place of GG curves to compete an arc, but in this case with the O54/O72 switch it doesn't seem to work. As you can see, the bottom arc doesn't end on a straight plane. John connected the switch to the curve and got the same result, so he used flex track to even things out. In the top arc, I connected the switch to the straight track, then cut a filler from a GG O72 curve to complete the connection.

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John, here's another version. I reduced the clearance to 6" hoping you'd use 1/2" plywood for the upper level. The major change is that the inner mainline doesn't dip down on the left side. There 2 sets of flex tracks along the bottom to eliminate the "S" curves that were there. I only replaced some of the 12.4" straights with 37" straights, but it's easy enough to replace the rest.

John 2020-10-14 daz

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Hi Dave,

The 3" clearance is definitely a big deal and thanks for giving me another needed parameter to include in any layout design. Great job getting things to actually look like a railroad!

A question that may need to be answered, are these parameters too big for this space? Is it realistic to use 072 curves in this given area?  Are two main lines one too many? Just thought I would ask this question, not knowing the realistic parameters that I should work with.

Well, like I said, I use 3”, but if you want it closer to the walls, you need to test the overhang on your engines.

As for O72 curves, it all depends on whether or not any of your equipment requires O72 curves, or just runs better on them. A lot of folks don’t like the look of the extra overhang you get with tighter curves, but I can honestly say that’s not something I’ve ever noticed. You do notice it if you look for it though, but all I care about is that the equipment goes around the layout without derailing. I’ll redo my latest version with O54 curves so you can see the difference.

I think you’d be crazy not to have 2 mainlines on a layout this size, but it does increase the cost substantially. They also reduce the space that’s available for scenery and spurs, but they let you run trains in both directions without having to use passing sidings and control your trains manually as well as providing over/under options. If you’re into switching and servicing businesses on spurs, then a single main might be more to your liking.

@DoubleDAZ posted:

Well, like I said, I use 3”, but if you want it closer to the walls, you need to test the overhang on your engines.

As for O72 curves, it all depends on whether or not any of your equipment requires O72 curves, or just runs better on them. A lot of folks don’t like the look of the extra overhang you get with tighter curves, but I can honestly say that’s not something I’ve ever noticed. You do notice it if you look for it though, but all I care about is that the equipment goes around the layout without derailing. I’ll redo my latest version with O54 curves so you can see the difference.

I think you’d be crazy not to have 2 mainlines on a layout this size, but it does increase the cost substantially. They also reduce the space that’s available for scenery and spurs, but they let you run trains in both directions without having to use passing sidings and control your trains manually as well as providing over/under options. If you’re into switching and servicing businesses on spurs, then a single main might be more to your liking.

With your recommendation I would like to keep the two main lines. I think having 054 curves in tunnels would hide the over hang issue. I’ll check out the differences with 054 curves. I do not have the experience with any curves larger than 031 LOL

Ok, here's what it looks like using mostly O54 switches and curves. I played with the upper spur to lower the grade for the inner mainline. I stayed with the 6" elevation, the flat left side of the inner mainline and added a passing siding back in. All the changes are on separate layers, so you can turn the old ones on to compare. Mare can be done with the upper bench work after the bridge to smooth the curves, etc. There's also a transparent polygon around the bench work so you can see the elevated track in 3D view. When you compare each layer to its counterpart, you'll see there's not much difference. I didn't think to put the grade labels on separate layers, so you'll have to refer to the other jpg photo.

John 2020-10-15 daz

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@DoubleDAZ posted:

Ok, here's what it looks like using mostly O54 switches and curves. I played with the upper spur to lower the grade for the inner mainline. I stayed with the 6" elevation, the flat left side of the inner mainline and added a passing siding back in. All the changes are on separate layers, so you can turn the old ones on to compare. Mare can be done with the upper bench work after the bridge to smooth the curves, etc. There's also a transparent polygon around the bench work so you can see the elevated track in 3D view. When you compare each layer to its counterpart, you'll see there's not much difference. I didn't think to put the grade labels on separate layers, so you'll have to refer to the other jpg photo.

John 2020-10-15 daz

Hi Dave,  Great job as always!  Yes you are right as it doesn't seem to make much difference if the curves are tighter, except when trains run, they will overhang more. So that would mean the 072 min. curve on mains should apply. I trust your preference of 3" wall clearance to be the best way for me to go, especially with the 4 foot reaches to the walls. Having track closer makes sense. Keeping grades to less than 3% is good, however keeping them < 2.5% would be better. I am trying to imagine running trains in and out of yard, and turntable. Seems like backing in from entrance is the preferred access. Hopefully I'll have some uninterrupted time to study what we have and start integrating buildings, roads, industries etc.   Again HUGE THANKS for all your help and everyone else who have taken their time to help me on this project.

That said, I’m going to delete my 2020-10-15 file, but I’ll see if I can integrate some of the changes in the current mainlines to get the grades down. Don’t forget, the grades are because I lowered the elevation to 6”, so if you still want 6 1/2” let me know.

There are ways to allow you to pull “into” the yard. One is to add a 2nd single track bridge to the topmost yard track and connect to the far orange curve on the other side. The other is to add 1 or more switches to the ends on the yard tracks, enough so an engine can pull in, disconnect, switch tracks and back out. You’d have to dedicate 2 yard tracks to that. I’ll work up an example of both if you want me too.

FWIW, I started with a 6" elevation, but I had to increase it to 7" to accommodate the tallest cars.  Right now, the tallest car I have access to is the MTH autorack, it stands 5 1/8" above the rail-head.  With allowance for the main level track, roadbed, and also the elevated section plywood and supports, I needed 7" from the main table level to the top of the elevated level surface.  My calculations are 1" for the elevated plywood and supports, and 7/16" for the main level roadbed and track.  This allows 5 1/2" of clearance, which should be sufficient for anything I'll be running.

GRJ, in John’s case, if he wants to use the minimum elevation to reduce the grades, he can limit higher cars to the outer mainline because it doesn’t go under the inner mainline. He’d also have to park them on the uncovered yard tracks. I’m suspect there are prototypical cases where tall cars, like tall trucks, are limited to certain routes.

Also, I don’t recommend it, but he could steal 3’ of the lowest yard track to lower the other 10’ an inch for those cars. The problem with that is either backing through the double crossover to get to the outer main or having a switcher pull the consist out to have the main engine connect and pull it though the double crossover going in the other direction.

FWIW, I started with a 6" elevation, but I had to increase it to 7" to accommodate the tallest cars.  Right now, the tallest car I have access to is the MTH autorack, it stands 5 1/8" above the rail-head.  With allowance for the main level track, roadbed, and also the elevated section plywood and supports, I needed 7" from the main table level to the top of the elevated level surface.  My calculations are 1" for the elevated plywood and supports, and 7/16" for the main level roadbed and track.  This allows 5 1/2" of clearance, which should be sufficient for anything I'll be running.

I think you will find the Premier double stack cars a a little be taller than the autoracks.  We use the double stacks to double check vertical clearances on the Paradise & Pacific.

This is an outstanding thread and thanks to all who have contributed!!!

John,

I gave it one more college try and here's what I came up with. I think I'm out of further things to try.
-- There's still a 2.8% grade on the inner line at the bottom, but that might be a little less steep depending on exactly where to start/end the grade.
-- The grade on the left shows 3.1%, but that falls to 2.5% if you include the switches on the grade.
-- Note that I rearranged both loops in the upper nook. The left grade can be reduced a bit more if you move the tunnel further to the right.
-- I moved the switch coming out of the yard to the other side of the double crossover so you cross as soon as you come out of the yard.
-- I rearranged the yard to add a crossover in the yard. This way you can pull a consist in on the 4th track from the bottom, uncouple the engine, move it past the switch, then crossover to the next track and out.
-- I still need to remove the double crossover from the bridge.
-- Also, note that the turntable/roundhouse configure is only as good as the models and different brands might have a different footprint.

John 2020-10-16 daz

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2.8 is a very reasonable grade, most stuff should be able to handle that.

I think you will find the Premier double stack cars a a little be taller than the autoracks.  We use the double stacks to double check vertical clearances on the Paradise & Pacific.

You might be right, I have some, but they're buried somewhere in a pile of boxes.  Hopefully, they're not more than 5.5".

All those changes make sense, Dave!  Looks very good. 

I know the bascule bridge and other spurs in the l shifted to the right and underneath them.  We see mainline tracks crossing over yards all the time on layouts.  What other thoughts are there for the spurs and the bridge to nowhere?  I have no problem with the bridge to nowhere as long as there is space to support it's piers, but the spurs get a little busy.  How long is the bascule bridge anyway?  Much too short to be used on the lower track at the walk in opening of the layout, I'm almost sure.

Mark, I agree the spurs by the Bascule bridge are too busy, but they were just added to fill the space. And they were all put there before the yard tracks were extended that far. The bridge over a yard makes no sense, nor does it make sense if the water is on the same level, but the water could be a thin sheet of plexiglass glued to the bottom of the 1/2" decking. I really haven't paid attention to all that because of the grades. And, yes, the bridge is too short for the entry opening. Here's my vision for that area.

bascule

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@DoubleDAZ posted:

Mark, I agree the spurs by the Bascule bridge are too busy, but they were just added to fill the space. And they were all put there before the yard tracks were extended that far. The bridge over a yard makes no sense, nor does it make sense if the water is on the same level, but the water could be a thin sheet of plexiglass glued to the bottom of the 1/2" decking. I really haven't paid attention to all that because of the grades. And, yes, the bridge is too short for the entry opening. Here's my vision for that area.

bascule

You have to be a politician to appreciate a bridge to nowhere...Yes this has been a neglected area that needs help. However the big picture needed to be developed. I have been trying to look at where industries could go and towns/buildings. Placing bridges and making some sense for operation, keeping grades and clearances  is definitely a push/pull exercise that is frustrating. Paralysis from analysis is taking a firm hold on me ...

Dave, Mark, GRJ, and everyone else on this forum, Thank you for all your help so far. I am sure it has saved me from so many errors, they probably cannot be counted. Thanks

John, there are layouts with tracks that go nowhere to simulate another part of the train universe. Usually they go toward a wall with a craftily painted mural of a train coming in or just tracks leading off into the sunset. I've even seen one where they cut the front off a broken engine and attached it to the wall like you would a faux building front (relief). In your case, you don't have a wall on the end, but you could add a removable panel on which to paint such a scene. The panel could be attached like rails on a pickup truck. I would also add a removable panel under the bridge over the entry like in the photo.

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Dave, the last plan looks like a great possibility.

John, the "bridge to nowhere" was a politician's nightmare.  Check out Pittsburgh's infamous Bridge to Nowhere.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Duquesne_Bridge

The Fort Duquesne Bridge is a steel bowstring arch bridge that spans the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was colloquially referred to as "The Bridge to Nowhere". It was constructed from 1958-1963 by PennDOT, and opened for traffic October 17, 1969 with its predecessor Manchester Bridge (located closer to the tip of Point State Park) closing that same day (it was demolished in the autumn of 1970). The bridge was given the name "The Bridge to Nowhere" because the main span was finished in 1963, but due to delays in acquiring right of ways for the northern approach ramps, it did not connect on the north side of the Allegheny River. The total cost was budgeted at $5 million in 1962.[1] The lack of approach ramps meant the bridge ended in midair, rendering it useless. The northwestern ramps were completed in 1969, allowing access to Pennsylvania Route 65. The northeastern ramps were completed in 1986, with the construction of the northern section of Interstate 279 (North Shore Expressway) which runs through Downtown Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle and north towards Interstate 79. The bridge touches down halfway between Heinz Field and PNC Park Baseball Stadium on the City's North Shore.

"Bridge to Nowhere" in 1966

On December 12, 1964, Frederick Williams, a 21-year-old chemistry major at the University of Pittsburgh from Basking Ridge, New Jersey, drove his 1959 Chrysler station wagon through the bridge's wooden barricades, raced off the end of the bridge, and landed upside-down but unhurt on the other side, 190 feet away at the north bank of the Allegheny River.[2][3] His adventure is documented in WQED-TV's double Mid-Atlantic region Emmy Award-winning documentary "Flying off the Bridge to Nowhere and Other Tales of Pittsburgh Bridges", narrated by Rick Sebak.

Within a few weeks of this near tragedy, an iconic Pittsburgh radio personality, Rege Cordic, distributed commemorative bumper stickers which read "Official Entry, Cordic & Company Bridge Leap Contest." With thousands of vehicles bearing these stickers on Pittsburgh's streets, the city responded by blocking off the end of the bridge with concrete barriers.

Yeah, Dave. The sidings were 6’ and 7’, so too short to really be of much value other than parking some cars just for scenery. To be honest, I never actually checked their lengths after John added them, guess I should have, huh? 😱 And thanks for the compliment. I enjoy the challenge of seeing how things can fit and Mixy has given us a great software package to work with.

Yes, with the layout double tracked, John can run a train each way and not need the passing sidings.  My layout design was different because it is single tracked, so we put in the 5-foot long sidings.  That was all there really was room for, but I'll be running short trains in the small layout.  We could have made it double tracked, but that went against the concept for the layout.  With a concept for double track, this seems to work out, unless John is going to run 4 short trains which can be done anyway on a layout of this size.

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