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Question for the Subway/Transit folks.

 

Because I will ramble on, here is the question at hand:

 

A two level layout.  I’m not woodworking (or wiring) expert, but how difficult will it be to build two levels at one time, with a switching layout on top and a subway underneath, or even building the switching layout first and then raising it later to add the lower level?  What are the inherent problems with building a multi-level layout that I'm not aware of?  I know that a major problem with adding a second level will that it will add to the construction time (and cost) and further delay just getting the trains on the track and running them. 

 

Now on to the back story:

 

I decided recently that I will build my layout as a 36 x 144 switching layout against a back wall with lots of operating accessories (https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/t...51#42398304625929251), but have been having nagging thoughts in recent weeks about not having a line for continuous running trains.  My original thought was to have the table for the switching layout, and then just lay a temporary tubular empire around the floors of the house to high ball the trains to get my continuous running fix.

 

On to the subway angle.  I’ve always liked subways, and considered making a mini HO scale New York HO a few years back, but didn’t go through with it, mostly because the subway sets (both O and HO) are very expensive.  Model subway trains weren’t available when I was a kid in the 70’s– would run a set of hand powered box cars together as my imaginary subway – so now as I’m finally building a layout, if I’m ever going to have a subway train, now is the time.   The single line train would only be visible for 15 of the 30 feet on the edge of the layout, but I’m fine with that.  I visited a couple of layouts earlier this year during a tour in Palm Beach County and the subway trains were not seen that often except when appearing at the stations, etc. and it felt alright for me.

 

I want to have the trains run underground for two reasons.  First, if I run them elevated it will obstruct the view of the operating accessories plus there’s no available track space unless the layout is widened to 4 feet.  Don’t get me wrong, I love elevated trains, but I want my accessories too, so underground it goes.  Ground level running subway trains just don’t look natural to me.  The station and entry stairs would be oriented to the side of the layout with the urban buildings. 

 

Secondly, I have a certain vision that I want/must have for the subway and that is to have an express track through the station.  The subway would be a tightly wound Inverted figure 8 O-31 tubular with the station platform on the outside edge of the layout.  That way the view of the train coming into the station (and the doors opening) would be the same as if waiting on the platform.  The train would then run a lap as an express train before coming back to the station.  This operation would provide a recreation of my favorite image recollection of the subway both as a youth in New York and now as an adult, and that is of looking across the local platform and watching an express train roar by, with the image of the moving train flickering behind all of the columns.  I can watch YouTube videos of this for long periods of time and never get bored.

 

Long story over.

 

 

Last edited by Amfleet25124
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Clearance and upper level supports come to mind first and an issue with multi-level layouts.

 

Murphy's Law implies you will have to reach to the furthest area on the low level for some unexpected reason. I am thinking that at least 12" between the two levels.

 

Supporting the upper level(switching layout) artfully is a challenge. You don't want to block to primary viewing area. Supports that are visible will need to look like concrete or steel.

 

The layout height. If you set the switching at 44"-ish, then the lower level will be best viewed when seated at 32".

 

The 36" width of the top level will restrict the track plan options. A twice around with only a crossover would be reliable (Murphy's Law) but would need more width.

 

Initial ramblings complete.

Along with supports what about the wiring of the second level? How will you hide the wires?  You could use some small pipe to put the wires in and paint the pipe to the color you want.

Another problem with supports is; will the train on the other level hit my support?

I have a T-1 4-8-4 steam engine and the tender hit the supports because the steps on the tender stick out about a quarter inch more then I had counted on. 

Also with two or more tracks running parallel is do the engines have enough clearance so as not to hit when passing on curve sections?

 

Lee Fritz

"Initial ramblings complete"  LOL

 

Thanks for the responses.  What I’ve learned so far is:

 

1-Both levels have to be constructed at the same time.  Constructing a second level afterwards is not recommended.

 

2-Height between levels.  I was thinking just enough to be an inch higher than the top of the subway car, but that will be too low.

 

3-As much as I would like to have a lower level, I might have to widen the layout to 4 feet and move it from the wall (not ideal) to include an elevated run far enough from the front accessories so as not to hide them, or

 

4-Just skip the idea altogether and stick with the continuous running idea on the floor.  Maybe I could build a 1x5 foot diorama of a subway station with buildings and a road above it and just place it on the floor.

 

Things to think about.

 

BTW Lee, I would only be running a subway on a single track, so the clearance issues with another train on the curve won’t be an issue.

Originally Posted by Amfleet25124:

"Initial ramblings complete"  LOL

 

Thanks for the responses.  What I’ve learned so far is:

 

1-Both levels have to be constructed at the same time.  Constructing a second level afterwards is not recommended.

Second level can be constructed later provided that you have planned for the support locations.

 

2-Height between levels.  I was thinking just enough to be an inch higher than the top of the subway car, but that will be too low.

You could go that close. Don't use a switches on the rear and/or put the layout on sliders or casters.

 

3-As much as I would like to have a lower level, I might have to widen the layout to 4 feet and move it from the wall (not ideal) to include an elevated run far enough from the front accessories so as not to hide them, or

Just offset the two levels. Subway station exposed in the front lower, top level rear overhangs a 6". Then you only need 42" wide total.

 

4-Just skip the idea altogether and stick with the continuous running idea on the floor.  Maybe I could build a 1x5 foot diorama of a subway station with buildings and a road above it and just place it on the floor.

Just because it may take some more planning, don't give up on it.

 

Things to think about.

 

BTW Lee, I would only be running a subway on a single track, so the clearance issues with another train on the curve won’t be an issue.

A FasTrack loop using 031 on the bottom would fit nicely on the 36" wide table. Atlas only makes 027 or 036.

 

Secondary ramblings complete

Last edited by Moonman

Two levels allows for (3) things, tunnels, more bridges, and grades.  May be  a large part of a model railroad, IMO.  Once I got into the two level layout, quickly the amount of time, and operational consideration, doubled or tripled.  Grades being the most time consuming feature.  Acceptable grades, at least here on the forum 1% to2%.  Small layout like mine, I managed 3.8% grades.  Difference in layout levels about 7" 

Layout design.

 

Two levels.

Last edited by Mike CT

Thanks Carl.

 

No, I wasn't planning on giving up already.  Its just that I want to get my trains running and not just sitting on the table(s) with no actual layout as its been for a while with ak.  Probably will buy a used copy of the Multi-Deck Layout and start reading and researching (again).

 

On the track choice, I was planning on mating the Atlas O straights with O31 tubular on the curves.  Saw that done on Hollow Core Door Layout by "Dave the O Gauge Guy" in one of the first OGR issues that I purchased when I got back in the hobby a few years back.  In one of those issues back then also Jim Policastro did the same thing in a Coal Mining layout.

 

 

You could build the switching layout and later set it on top of the trolley.

 

Forgot about the Tubular 031 transitioning to Atlas.

 

I don't think that book will help. I have looked at previews(you can see a lot). More about cutting elevated roadbed and such.

 

You just need two decks. Can you do the offset by six inches and fit 42" wide in your space?

 

The huge Lionel New York showroom display had only the station and stop exposed for a passenger train. Others have used the technique of exposing a lower level train in one or two places.

 

Eric's Trains latest video on a complete layout tour had a subway area built under the layout that he never used. You see it while he is showing the wiring.

 

We have a multi-deck layout that we are working on for a restoration. When the scenery is on it, the train is only briefly exposed on two of the three layers.

 

Build the switcher and run some trains!

 

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This is what I have so far.  With the O-31 curves I will have to have a 42-inch minimum width.  That is still better than 48 inches, and as you mentioned above maybe put the layout on casters.  I’m not worried about the tracks not matching at this stage of my sketches, because the beauty of tubular track is that I can easily work on get the exact custom size needed (2.27 inches compared to 2.30 inches, etc.).  I have a 60-inch by 2-inch long platform that should cover the length of any a 4-car train

 

Inglenook Lower Level Subway - Track Plan

Inglenook Lower Level Subway - 3D View

 

Regarding the track radius, I’m hoping that the O-31 radius should be sufficient.  I know that the MTH subway trains will all work on O-31 minimum radius, but for example the Lionel website gives different minimum radii for the same train. The MTA M-7’s (that I have a 2-car pair) are listed as both O-27 (Metro North/Candy Cane) and O-36 (LIRR/Batman), so go figure.

 

Here are a couple of cross sections that I drew up on Excel.  Is this what you meant by off setting the lower level Carl?  I’ve designed it with a 6-inch separation between the levels which provides a 1.5± inch clearance over the roof of my M7’s that I’ve measured at 3.75 inches high (total of 4.5 inches standing on the track) and 2.5 inches wide.

 

 

 

Inglenook Subway Cross Section - Equal

 

 

Inglenook Subway Cross Section - Offset

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Images (4)
  • Inglenook Lower Level Subway - Track Plan
  • Inglenook Lower Level Subway - 3D View
  • Inglenook Subway Cross Section - Equal
  • Inglenook Subway Cross Section - Offset

Kevin,

 

Is the proposed upper level to be completely seperate from the lower level and elevated at the same height above the lower track? Are you going to only run subway( third rail) cars on the lower level or transit cars with pantographs? Elevated track grade for continuous track should be 2 to 3 percent, I kept mine between  2 to 2.5 percent, the clearence height of the elevated track above the lower track and grade percent can create lengthly grade rise and descent lengths when added to the level running track length on the elevated track section this may be a deterrent  in the alloted space for the layout.

 

You are asking correct questions in the conceptual design of your layout, speaking from experience, I had to modify my conceptual design because of space restraints as the layout is being built.

Last edited by John Ochab

John,

 

The two levels are completely separate and there will be no connection between the two.  Upper level is a switching layout with operating accessories. 

 

 

Inglenook Upper Level Accesories - 3D View

 

 

 

The lower level is a 3rd rail subway (for childhood memories) that I've decided I want to add to the layout know that I'm finally going to build one.

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Images (1)
  • Inglenook Upper Level Accesories - 3D View
Last edited by Amfleet25124

Kevin,

That works. (2nd drawing) I was thinking of keeping to 36" inch wide tables, leaving an over hang on the rear (top) and an underhang on the front. Your 42" wide single piece for the bottom allowed you the room for a twice around.

 

I am just a little concerned about making the clearance that exact. You just need to think through accessing the train. 6" doesn't give your arm much maneuvering space.

 

You could cut 1" dowels for pillars\column look to support the top.

 

Your on the path now. I know you'll work out the details. 

 

Anyway, build the switcher and then it can just be put on top of the subway when you can do that one.

Last edited by Moonman

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