Monday, December 28, 2009

Full Basement Plan

So in my last post, about 3 weeks ago and before the holiday blitz, I had posted I had been looking at full basement layout options and struggled with a benchwork flow until I came up with a zen moment that gave me a flow that looked doable. Since then, I've gone back and forth on various design aspects of that flow and have come up with the following plan:
From Conrail Harrisburg Line - N Scale
Edit: Uploaded new picture after some modifications

So, let's walk around starting at the water heater and moving counter-clockwise-ish around the layout. First, when you are in an aisle, you'll be looking either west or south and almost all industries are placed in their proper positions. On our journey, the first stop is Harrisburg yard.

Harrisburg yard has 2 main-line tracks, 2 Arrival/Departure, 2 locomotive fuel pad tracks and one ready track, 3 double-ended classification tracks (can also be used for A/D in a pinch), 3 stub-ended classification tracks, and 2 intermodal yard tracks. The locomotive track area has some semblance to the prototype, however, the rest of the yard is purely what would fit and what others have done. Next, is the Harrisburg Amtrak Station area.

The Amtrak Station has only 3 tracks and will probably only have one built train-shed. Again, it's representative, not an exact model of the prototype. Also, it's right in front of the crawl space entrance so some sort of movable benchwork will have to be built. The Royalton branch along with Amtrak go off into a helix that will be located under the stairs, along with the Lurgan branch. This helix will go down about 8" to staging yards. I haven't finalized the staging yard design yet, but it will either go back into the old bilco door area at the bottom left of the plan or circle around under Harrisburg yard. I removed the Y-connection for a westbound connection between Harrisburg yard and Lurgan. On the prototype, this has had some derailments over the years as it's a tight curve on a grade. Also, only 1 named train (that I could find) did any sort of movement over this piece of track so I decided to not include it in the plan as it will not add operational value equal to the headaches of trying to get switches and curves with easements adequate in the space provided to model it.

After the Amtrak Station and the condensed CP Capitol, we enter an industrial area. This area is purely modeler license as it is supposed to represent the Hill Industrial Track, the Oberlin Industrial Track and the warehouses along Rutherford Yard. The latter two items were pretty much gone or greatly diminished by 1996/1997 and the Hill I.T. technically would go into the aisle but I felt that a small local out of Harrisburg would add a nice element to an operational scheme for both a local job and switching in Harrisburg itself.

Up and around the first blob we go and as the line comes out of it, it enters CP Tara. After the double crossovers, the line will enter Hummlestown with the M&H interchange going off towards the backdrop. The line then curves at the bottom and enters Brownstowne/Swatara. At this location will be the Hershey West and Reese's plants. In between Hummlestown and the plants will be either a duck under to enter the layout or some kind of removable area. Conrail switched the Reese's plant during this time using a switchback. Norfolk Southern has since put a leading switch into the plant and removed the switch back. The Hershey West plant has 5 tracks in the prototype, and on the modeled portion will have 4 tracks. The two closest to the main line will act as inbound/outbound tracks and the other two will serve the plant itself.

As we continue along the right-side wall, the line enters Hershey and "Derry". The main plant is to the right of the main line with the silos on the aisle side. The North yard and the runaround tracks take the line to the end of the right-side wall, just prior to the gas meter. Again, this area will have to be built in a somewhat modular manner so that if access to the meter is needed, it can be gained without destroying the area. All of the Hershey plants are switched with one job but this job has to get clearance from both the dispatcher and Hershey foreman at various times during its work so it won't be a quick switching job.

As we enter the second peninsula, the line passes Palmyra, which has the Pacma elevator represented and will be pretty much modeled around the curve and the small straight at the end of the aisle. Down the rest of the peninsula is the Wimpey Minerals quarry. There is one interchange track and 3 yard tracks. The yard tracks lead into a line-side loader. This facility was built sometime after 1993 but before 1996, so it will be modeled. The modeled version will be different than the current one as it is definitely different based on the videos I've seen and pictures of the current loader. Another small line goes off towards the aisle and this was the entrance back to the main part of the quarry. I think I will use this for coal hopper loading/unloading as can be seen on the video"A Farewll to Conrail's Harrisburg Division".

Once around the second blob, the line enters Lebanon. The first item is the small yard located here. There is a siding, one through track, 2 stub-ended tracks, and a small engine facility on the other side of the road (16th St.), and CP Wall after the yard. On the left side of CP Wall is the Cargill elevator used for animal feed, I believe. Documentation lists this facility as being present in 1995 and 1996, however, other documentation states that it was built in 1997. Regardless, it's a decent sized industry so I have decided to represent it. There's also a scrap/recycler on the same siding. Around the curve is where the former Reading Lebanon Station will be placed so it will be focal point as one looks down this aisle. Coming around and heading down the center of the basement, is CP Avon and the industry spurs to Lebanon Chemical. After going through the S-curves to get to the other peninsula, the line enters Myerstown with its siding to Bayer and a lumber company/team track are represented. Finally, around the 3rd blob, the line enters a 13-track visible staging yard. The tracks range from 118" to 140", which should give pretty good sized trains for the line. The use of visible staging will also enhance reusing runthrough or even TV/coal trains for an operating session.

As for operations, the yard in Lebanon is where YPLE13, WPLE32 and WPLE33 originated from, depending on the schedule one finds. For my purposes, I will probably designate YPLE13 to work the interchange cards and WPLE33 as the primary local job. This job will serve industries from Palmyra through Myerstown. Wimpey Minerals leased 2 U23B's from Conrail during this time frame so that will be it's own job. A number of trains dropped cars here and in Lebanon, so those may be more active than the other two switching jobs. Overall, there are 4 switching jobs to take place on the layout not to mention the number of manifests that drop blocks in Lebanon and at Wimpey Minerals. Also, Harrisburg is an intermediate TV yard and will be used to not only deliver/pick-up trailers from it's intermodal facility, but also switch out blocks of cars from one TV train to another based on destinations.

Again, comments and feedback are always welcome. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Ahah Moment

Not too long after I published the last post, I had a "thinking moment" in my typical place of study. To verify, I went downstairs and looked at two thins. First, home much room did I really have around the water heater and two, where were the posts that held up the stairs located. The answer to the first was I had as much room as I'd need to run one or two tracks around the water heater. with it's radius at 20", I knew I'd be ok building benchwork around it as if we need to replace it, we could also get a short one, whose height is 48-52". The second find was that there are two posts that hold up the stairs, one at the end of the box, the other right next to the support post that is next to the stairs. With this information, I could run the line between these two posts and not worry about pinching a blob too much or altering the benchwork run as well.

The real ahah moment came while I was reading the LDJ I received when I first joined the Layout Design Sig (don't think there's been one since). I had mentioned before, but I really liked Mark Lestico's plan, which was detailed in this LDJ. In it, Mark has a dispatchers office with a window in it that allows the dispatcher to view trains entering and leaving the two yards. The other item, which is where the moment in question came from, was the entrance to the layout came from this dispatchers area. I had been trying to get the entrance of the layout into the end or side of a peninsula as opposed to opposite a blob area. Realizing I couldn't take the benchwork much past the the little alcove on the right of my basement, that this would be a perfect place for a small dispatchers area and it would allow a larger, i.e., 36" entrance to the layout room. I could also have drawers, desk, other storage in this small area. The refrigerator wouldn't be blocked as it would just sit closer to the water meter. By looping the connection between the visible staging yard and the main yard area around the water heater, I'd gain the lenght of run I want plus the length of train, or closer to it. All of this resulted in a base plan that looks like:
From Conrail Harrisburg Line - N Scale

In this plan, I'd put the yard on the left wall and select small industrial areas to model. I'm also leaning towards doing more of a freelance road now, but if I can create named places along the Harrisburg line that gets me some industries, then I will do that. Right now, I can only see 3 really good switching areas on the plan, maybe a fourth if I can squeeze it in, but there's going to be some nice running through scenery as well.

The benchwork layout is 15" shelf, 30-34" aisle, 15" shelf. I haven't decided how the outside, agains tthe wall shelfs will be constructed. I'm tempted not to frame out the basement walls due to the fact we also have a french drain around the perimeter which would make any framing not be snug against the block wall. I've also though of 2x2s directly into the block wall, but we'll see. So I'm going to work with this base from here on out and see what I can do from a track flow, town locatio perspective.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Reaching Frustration

So I've finally reached a frustration level with my planning. I've been concentrating on a multi-level design so I could use the other half of the basement for storage and the like. I realized a few weeks ago that if my benchwork was 48" high, then I would have plenty of storage under the layout, particularly with 30/32" wide peninsulas and 15" wide wall shelfs. As a result, I started working on a single-level design for the entire basement. One thing I needed to keep in mind was that we have a refrigerator in our basement so I would need unfettered access to it. In other words, it couldn't be located somewhere where one needed to go under the layout and the idea of two removable/swing gates was not something i was looking forward to. Here is a pic of the basement itself:
From Conrail Harrisburg Line - N Scale

So the stairs come down to the bottom right. Located in this corner is my water meter. I've placed the refrigerator there for the time being, although it can be moved around. Over on the bottom left, the long blue box is a secondary water meter for my outside line. This is located here because it feeds the outside faucet we use to fill our pool so we get a rebate/refund from our sewage company for any water usage that comes out of it. To the right of this meter is the entrance to the crawlspace It can be blocked with a removable backdrop and I'd get one of those folding ladders if access is needed. In the top right is a gas meter. Its shutoff is outside and the only other gas shutoff I can find is next to the furnace and water heater. Any benchwork or shelf built in front of this would be need to be removable for whenever the gas company comes out to replace the meter. The upper left is obviously where all utilities are. There's about 8 inches of space between the water heater and wall at the top and over a foot to the wall on the left. The furnace is really on the top part of the furnace block, the block just represents the concrete foundation it sits on and where the duct work comes in.

On to my level of frustration. I think some of it is the result of looking at various plans and wanting to come up with a walkaround design and trying to find good fits for things like a yard and staging. Some of it comes from trying to model the Harrisburg line itself with the 90 degree swing it makes in Harrisburg and the live interchange you really need with the Lurgan Subdivision and Amtrak as well as the flow. I've been looking at two plans in similar square footage as me, Mark Lestico's Cascade Subdivision and Austin White's Cajon Subdivision as well as two from Model Railroader. I'm really 22' x 27' minus the area for the utilities (6x11) and the steps (9x3.5) to give just under 500 square feet. That's a lot of room for a layout, one many people would love to have. Mark's at 29x17, just under 500 square feet as well, and Austin's is at 14x24 with a storage section. If I slimmed my available space down, I'd be closer to his measurements. One reason I really like these plans are the fact they take complex, main-line prototypes and have pretty simple, flowing plans. As a result, one plan I had come up with is based on these is shown below.
From Conrail Harrisburg Line - N Scale
The problem with this plan was access to the crawl space would be directly in the middle of the backdrop. I'm thinking of adjust this plan slightly by decreasing the size of the yard and staging as well so the backdrop would enter the wall right at the edge of the crawl space entrance. No other portion of the layout would be here (I could see this being where the dispatcher is located) so I could guarantee decent access into the scrawlspace. The main entrance to the layout would be a removable piece or swing gate at the bottom right. Some other thoughts I had on various formations were:
From Conrail Harrisburg Line - N Scale

From Conrail Harrisburg Line - N Scale

From Conrail Harrisburg Line - N Scale

The middle one is out because, well, that has no decent access to the crawlspace. The bottom one is what I had based the plan at the top on. The majority of these track arrangements leaves about a 170' to 185' mainline run, plenty for operational purposes. I have been using 12' trains as my desired train length, but I'd be willing to go all the way down to 10' because a set of 5 articulated 48' (53' didn't come out until after my time period) is about 22". Putting together four or five of these plus another 3/4 engines would give 10' to 11' trains. The 12' trains came from 4 engines plus 20 single 53' well cars which was approximately 141" so I used 12' for close enough measurements. The conclusion I've come to is that staging is really going to dictate the flow and layout of any plan I can come up with. The more I've read about visible staging the more I have come to like it including use of double ended visible staging. It makes running trains easier as well as setup for any kind of operation session.

I think at this point I need to redefine my givens/druthers to see if I really want to stick with modeling the Harrisburg line or go to a proto-freelance based on Conrail's many eastern lines. I have quite a bit of Amtrak rolling stock so that was what had made the Harrisburg Line interesting to me in addition to the main centers of industry. I'm not sure other lines have as much with the main-line action as well. So I guess it's back to the drawing board again and see what else I can come up with.

Friday, November 20, 2009

1st Level Plan Done, I hope

Based on feedback from folks on theRailWire I have redone some of the plan. Here it is:

From Conrail Harrisburg Line - N Scale

I'm moving on to the second level plan right now. One thing I am struggling with is placement of the second level industries to try and minimize dual people working at the same location. I do know that some of it will have to be done by train scheduling.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Getting closer to a final plan

I feel I am much closer to a final plan now, at least for the first level. I've been studying, viewing, and learning from Mark Lestico's UP/SP Cascade Subdivision layout as he described in the LDSIG Journal, Volume 39 (Fall 2008). If you go to the page I linked to for Mark, he's got more pages to pictures of his progress, but if you really want to see great N-scale action, make sure to check out his videos. Anyways, what I really liked about his design in particular was the simplicity of for 175' of mainline. Mark did a great job of locating his LDEs on tangents, something I had been struggling with. He also used a simple yard configuration. I feel part of the problem I've been having in my design is the monstrosity that Harrisburg is on the prototype, so much so, that I was really thinking of ending the layout before getting to Harrisburg just so I could save some real estate on the layout. In fact, I had come up with a plan of pretty much Rutherford through Harrisburg for a first level design. Here it is:
From Conrail Harrisburg Line - N Scale
This exercise really made me adjust and rethink Harrisburg. Just look at it, with the two classification yards, the relay/receiving, locomotive terminal, TV terminal, and the station, it took up almost 2/3 of the real estate for one level. So I went back to looking at how others have tackled their chosen prototype, and I kept coming back to Mark's design as well as another design he helped influence, Austin White's Cajon Subdivision. A first glance, they look very similar in style, the yards are almost identical, the visible staging and classification yard next to each other to limit how crowded that aisle gets (only the staging and yard masters are allowed down it), and the use of an enclosed "E" shape. Each plan/layout really takes a busy, somewhat complex piece of prototype main line and turns it into a simple plan that appears to be easy to construct and maintain.

I took the concepts I gleamed from these plans, Craig Bisgeier's Ten Commandments of Yard Design, needling from Ed, the inspiration of Ken McCorry's Buffalo Line, and have come up with a plan for the 1st level as follows:
From Conrail Harrisburg Line - N Scale
As you can see, I've really simplified things. The yard is no longer monstrous, it contains:
  • 2 dedicated Arrival/Departure tracks
  • 1 A/D or runaround track
  • 3 through and 2 stub ended classification tracks
  • 3 96" long TV terminal tracks
  • A separate yard lead for both the classification and TV yards
  • 4 fueling pads and 1 locomotive storage track (2 are on the main)
Amtrak's Harrisburg station has also been drastically reduced. Instead of the 5 or 6 tracks it has, I've reduced it to 3 thru tracks. Since most of the Amtrak ops is going to be on/off, this will work out fine. Again, I went for representation instead of strict prototype guidance. It's also angled such that there aren't hard curves into it and the switches are not crossing my "dividing" lines. These "dividing" lines are where I plan to have removable pieces of track so the layout itself can be removed in case of maintenance to the gas meter (the shutoff is outside).

CP Capital is also downgraded, only having a connection between the Lurgan Branch and the Harrisburg Line in the eastbound direction. Try to get a westbound leg of this wye was proving too costly from a space perspective. That doesn't mean once I've built it, there won't be one, but for right now, I've left it off. Only 1, maybe 2 trains out of the 60+ that traversed the Harrisburg Line actually used it (a few locals from Enola may also have, but I'm not modeling them).

The rest of the tangent going into CP Capitol only has one industry spur, which is representing the Hill Industrial track and will most likely only have one industry, a food distribution center. I had though of adding another set of industries towards the blob end, but I think that might be a little much, instead this part of the layout will set up the urban to suburban to spacious transition, taking care of the first leg. Also, if you look at the plan, that's I-83 paralleling the tracks down this tangent.

Within the first blob, slightly, is my RoadRailer terminal. On the prototype, this was located on a small portion of the former Rutherford yard, sandwiched between the main lines. While I tried to get that same feel in other plans, I deemed the expanding and rejoining of the main lines to cause way too much wasted space. Instead, a single siding with two loading spurs into the blob will suffice as only 6/8 RoadRailers served this terminal. I'll be lucky if I have more than 2, 1 each way, maybe 4 as one pair went onto/came from the Lurgan branch. Since these are mostly sold in 10-unit sets, that'll probably be a train length so I can't imagine too many being spotted here.

At the end of what I'll call tangent 3 is Hummlestown and the interchange with the Middlestown and Hummlestown railroad. In between the two is CP Tara which will be located over the Swatara Creek. Hummlestown will be more of a scenic LDE as there was no real industrial base. That was left to ...

Swatara, Brownstone and Hershey. On my plan, I have two of the 3 Hershey plants represented, the Reese's Plant and Main plant with its Silos. The Reese's plant is switched in a switchback, something Conrail seemed to enjoy doing on this line. It is served by the Hershey local, which orginates in the yard at the end of tangent 4, just before the main line enters the Helix. Believe it or not, one train in Conrail's operations served this industry in 1996, ALHB, so essentially, this manifest will drop-off and pickup a block of cars and the local will switch them to respective spots between the various plants. The one plant not done is the Hershey West plant, which is located very nearly across the tracks from the Reese's plant, if not a little bit towards the west. This would have put it in the center of the turnback and close to Hummlestown, which is not something I really wanted. Finally, there was a warehouse at the end of the siding that served the Main Plant, again, reached through a switchback, that I included because switching this complex without disrupting the main too much wasn't enough of a challenge.

I placed the helix a little back so there is another blob turnback into it, this way both the 1st and second levels are able to use as much of the tangent as possible. I'm subscribing to the upgrade on the outside theory of helix design and if I had the helix at the end, there would be less tangent railroad to work the Hershey design with.

I've said it before about other plans, but I do like this one. It's simple, very little complex trackwork, and the LDEs don't feel like they are placed on top of each other like the other plans seemed.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

To Yard or Not to Yard

So after the weekend of the Conrail Historical Society's convention, I got back to looking at planning the layout. I decided it would be best to break out the LDEs and design each one on their own, sing 4', 6', and 8' increments (and possibly going up 2' at a time to fit in the trackwork). I started with Hershey and managed to get a decent 8' LDE designed. Then I thought more about the layout, it's purpose, the prototype, and reflected on what I saw at Ken McCory's Buffalo Line layout. What struck me about the Buffalo Line was that I did not see a major, visible yard and when viewing the maps of the modeled area, it was really the areas between major yards, Enola and the major yards at Buffalo. EDIT: Apparently I missed these because in looking at the plan published from the 2004 Model Railroader, Harrisburg/Enola was represented on the lower level with at least 3 other pretty good sized yards. The one I remember seeing was Williamsport, however, I didn't think it was as big as the published plan. DONE EDIT However, it got me thinking (and some others) that is a major yard a necessity on the layout?

In my case, Harrisburg wasn't a major classification yard, it shared Harrisburg classification duties with Enola, with Enola doing slightly more, however, Conrail's operations moved heavy classification to Conway ad Allentown. What Harrisburg became was primarily a small classification area for blocks to be changed between trains and an expanding TV terminal where major block swapping occurred as well as most eastbounds dropping at least one block for delivery at Harrisburg itself. The more I looked at the whole CP Capital through the terminal, I realized that it was taking up almost one-third of the first level of my layout and what was I really gaining? Operationally, the yard really isn't a final destination for trains and isn't a true final destination for motive power with only a minimal fueling pad. So, in an operating scheme, it would be switching blocks of cars, not breaking down those blocks (for the most part), delivering flats and wells to the TV terminal ramps, and ensuring every train stopped to change crews and refuel. To me, that sounds like an entire layout right there, and probably the reason I have had various designs taking up 30'-40' of layout space.

A part of me also wanted to include the Harrisburg area for its Amtrak station. One of my "druthers" was Amtrak operations and while the Harrisburg station area would really just be an off and on type of operation, it would be enough to satisfy this desire. The more I think about, the more I could also "bend" reality. Like Amtrak worked with the state of Pennsylvania and New Jersey to create two new east/west bound trains, one New York to Pittsburgh and a New York to Buffalo that utilized the Lehigh, Reading, and Harrisburg lines to Harrisburg and then the Pittsburgh and Buffalo lines, respectively, let's call them the Valley Queen and Nittany Lion. They'd probably have stops at Reading, Lebanon, and Harrisburg, with a possibility of stopping at Hershey also. Of course, this could also fall into my whole Conrail never died, they got the Cotton Belt but as a result had to shed some assets to allow competition in the NYC area, so they sold off the Southern Tier to Norfolk Southern and the Trenton Line to CSX and a shared assets organization was created in the NJ port areas to ensure equal access. Obviously, more details would have occurred, like selling off some yards, etc., but in my fantasy world, that would be up to the regulators.

The more I think about the layout, my general purpose with it, what really does the Harrisburg area add to operations, and I am starting to come to the conclusion that I don't really need this area to get what I want to get which is a cross between a railfan layout and one that the trains have to deliver goods to larger industries. In that vain, I'm going to begin to lay out LDEs in 4', 6', and 8' lengths, starting with Rutherford RoadRailer and going east, probably to include Hummelstown, Brownstone/Swatara, Hershey, Palmyra, Millard/Annville, Cleona/West Lebanon, Lebanon, Avon and see how much is left over. The "yard" on the layout would be the small one in Lebanon that acted as a base of operations for industries from Palmyra through Sinking Springs.

Centering the layout on Lebanon would allow for more switching (2-3 locals, although at this point there really was every other day service, one day east, one day west), and a higher concentration of main-line running. Hershey has its own operation that served all of its plants as did the RoadRailer terminal. That would give me 3 major bases of operations. I've had these in all plans so far but also with the Harrisburg station, yard, and TV terminal. I think, in this word vomit of a post, I've convinced myself that I do not need the "major yard" and that I can really do without Harrisburg. I know not including it will make CP Capital easier to model. I'm open to any suggestions/thoughts folks have on this line of thinking.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Harrisburg Yard/Terminal LDE

So it has been a while since I posted anything on the layout. I've been doing a bunch of work related things in the last month or so plus preparing for the CRHS convention. I've also been sketching some different benchwork configurations, trying to determine the best way to frame out my basement as I have a french drain around the floor. Anyways, on to the main topic of this post, Harrisburg Yard.

On the prototype, Harrisburg yard was a "run-through" fueling/servicing area and was a crew change point. It did some general merchandise switching, but it wasn't a major classification yard. It was, however, an intermediary intermodal facility within Conrail. Many blocks of TOFC, COFC, and double-stacks were rerouted/reblocked here. As such, I knew my design would need to have a small facility to service engines, and if it could also incorporate the "run-through" facility that has a engine refueling pad in between the mains, then great. Also, since most trains spent less than an hour, 3-4 arrival/departure yard tracks would be enough. In addition to reblocking intermodal cars, Harrisburg also had its own intermodal terminal. A representation of this was also essential to get a feel of the flow/jobs in the Harrisburg terminal. I mentioned what I was doing at the CRHS summer BBQ and they pointed to a large warehouse and said that should be enough room just to do the Harrisburg terminal area, let alone the line was attempting to model. Anyways, without further adieu, here is the Harrisburg LDE in its current planned form:

As one can see, the mainline curves in from the left, which will be the Harrisburg station area, and proceeds along the back of the yard and while it appears to disappear, it actually is wrapped under the TV terminal to a helix to staging.

Arrival/Departure Tracks
I've got 3 A/D tracks. While I wanted 4, I also had a constraint on keeping the yard width to 18". This plus decent spacing (1.25" or 1.5") limited the A/D to 3 tracks. I also put a runaround the engine terminal in that leads from the main-line so an westbound could be getting fueled on the run-through but another westbound could leave the yard. Each track is over 120" (10 feet) long and my goal is 8' of freight plus engines so I they are long enough to accommodate the trains I'm expecting to run.

Classification Tracks
I've got 10 classification tracks, each one a minimum of 60". Some are stub-ended, some have ladders on each end. It should be understood that Harrisburg did not break down full trains, it really only broke down a few TV trains and stored a block to put on a later train. One or two locals may originate, but we're talking a few cars, not a huge manifest train.

TV Terminal
The TV Terminal has 2 tracks, a lead, an "interchange" track and two loading tracks on the right-side of the picture above, separated by 12" for container storage, movement of the loaders, etc. Overall, this is just to get a feel of the intermodal facility and the types of work that the terminal was used for in the prototype.

Engine Terminal
The engine terminal had the two mainline run-through tracks plus another two tracks for the engine facility and one storage track. While the prototype has them as double-sided ladders, I felt having stub-ended would be better. I'm not interested in having the engine terminal be a showcase of locomotives but a part of normal operations of the layout.

Overall, I like this design, I think it will be interesting to operate, keeps the flavor of the prototype without needing a warehouse. I'll probably plan a little bit on XtrkCad to see how the car flow will be, etc.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Base LDE Layout/Areas

So after reexamining the basement, looking at both the layout's needs, my own, and landlord (i.e., wife's) needs for the basement, I've decided to scale back some and go with my original idea of just using one half o the basement for the majority of the layout. I will still bleed into the other half slightly, but it'll be for staging tracks and the dispatcher/work desk. So, here is my revised LDE plan for level one:

As one can see, not much has changed other than the elimination of Swatar/Brownstone. I may try and get some semblance of it in the turnback blob, just not sure. Also, the amount of space that Harrisburg TV occupies is reduced. I originally had almost 8 foot long tracks here, but after examining how many trains terminate AND are moved over to the terminal it was mostly 1 block of 4 or 5 that gets moved, so you're talking only about 2 feet worth of cars to block/load/switch so that area could obviously be smaller. Hopefully this pulls the rest of the yard around enough that more of the Harrisburg station can be done.

Here is the revised plan for the upper level:

Not much has changed other than the quarry at CP Millards and Palmyra LDEs have been shrunk. Depending on how much of the quarry complex I can get into that straight, everything make be shifted towards the helix and Myerstown dropped, but we'll see. I've come to the conclusion that my interchange/industrial yards don't need to be of huge lengths based on the trains I'm running. I think I had in previous plans almost 8' of interchange track lenghts for the quarry. I should be able to get by with half that and still have good operations. I do have to add the coal pit, so that may take back some of the saved real estate, but we'll see. If the quarry ends up having to be moved, the Annville/Cleona LDE will most likely be removed, as opposed to dropping Myerstown just because there's some nice farm scenery east of Lebanon that I think would add to the Layout.

My next steps are to try and design each LDE separately and post for comments/suggestions going forward. I know I will be attempting to clean up the basement either this weekend or next and hopefully get some base framing up in the basement during September.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Thinking of Space and LDEs

Since going out to the CRHS BBQ, I have been reexamining my layout plans. In an earlier post, I had moved the back wall of layout out about 2-3 feet to give access to the gas meter. Talking with my dad on the way out and back to the BBQ, I took his suggestion of creating about a foot or two on either side of the meter, drawing a line, and ensuring no complex track work crossed that line. In effect, this would give me a removable section of the layout when/if needed on an emergency basis (the shutoff is actually outside). Taking this advice, I regained the extra 12 feet, but couldn't use much of my earlier plans as they all had switches and crossovers in that section. Also in this time, I got the ZTS volume and really studied the Harrisburg terminal area. I believe I've come up with a good solution, with a few tweaks here and there could be a very good/great solution. Here's a rough outline of the plan I've come up with:

The part I'm not too crazy with right now is I lose quite a bit of Harrisburg station, it kinda goes off behind the furnace. I know I'm going to have to sacrifice Amtrak ops for this layout, but I still think the station is a good modeling project and one I'd love to do, if space permits. I haven't detailed the upper level yet, but here is a rough idea of what I'm thinking:

The flow of the upper level is much less congested. The piece I am now struggling with is moving the helix down towards the aisle by the stairs, thus removing LDEs of Palmyra on the upper level and Swatara/Brownstone which is where the Reese's Peanut Butter plant is (Hershey/Derry would shift around). My original plans had this and while I think it is better, the "distance" between Rutherford and Hershey is about 5 miles, while the distance between Rutherford and Brownstone is 3 miles on the prototype. So in one turnback loop I could represent 3 or 5 miles. The other thing that will occur is that the primary industries on this layout, Hershey Foods and quarry at Annville/Millards, will not only be above each other, but also across from Harrisburg TV. Mitigating this somewhat is that only one manifest stops at Hershey and it has only one switcher/local that moves the cars in/out of the industry during each session. Annville is much busier with 3 locals and at least 2 manifests dropping/receiving cars there, in addition to switching out empties/loads to the interchange yard.

So at this point, why would I want to move the mid-run Helix? There are two reasons, one, from the Furnace to the stairs is where the HVAC system's main ducts run and thus my 84" ceiling becomes much lower, losing about 6-8 inches. Put an upper deck at around 56", and we're talking about an upper deck clearance/display area of 20 inches or so and that doesn't include lighting valences, etc. That's not really too bad since I'm striving for 16-18" separation between the top and bottom levels, so it fits, although I think it'll be more work to frame. The other reason is that on my other plans, this is where I was going to place the dispatcher/workbench/extra staging. The portion of the basement not used by the layout is going to go towards storage, tool storage, and the workbench (and hopefully a dispatcher too, but they might be relegated somewhere else). I feel doing the design in the pictures above will result in the workbench almost certainly being moved somewhere else. My wife does crafts, so I'm pretty sure we could setup a shared area, but that's going to somewhere else in the house, meaning I'd have to truck supplies to and from the basement to the work area. I'm horrible grabbing everything I need for honey-do projects, I can only imagine me setting something to be glued and realizing I had no was to clamp or hold it without me spending the next 30 minutes or longer sitting there.

Choosing between these two plans really comes down to, utilizing half the basement for the layout and leaving the rest for my "lair" or gaining a longer run, more switching opportunities but with more complex construction and really only having storage in the rest of the basement. I'm leaning towards moving the helix, I'm just not sure I want to lose the Swatara/Brownswtone area (from a switching perspective).

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ZTS in Hand, More Planning Ahead

Yesterday I finally got my Conrail Philadelphia Division, Zone 5 ZTS Book that I bought/won off of eBay. A ZTS, Zone Track Spots, book was, from my understanding, a Conrail phenomenon which laid out every single spur and spot for a car across the system. I haven't seen many offered for other railroads. These maps are much more detailed than standard track charts which usually just showed a siding or spur with one line, maybe two if you were lucky. It would show every industry spur and name the customer. Another feature is it shows the number of "spots", i.e., car loading/unloading positions on a spur which, thus, gives an idea on the number of cars for a particular industry. As a bonus, each and every single track in a yard was also detailed with it's prototype name and number. The ZTS maps in this volume cover a number of "zones" encompassing the following routes (including any branches off):
  • Harrisburg line from Royersford through Harrisburg
  • Reading line from around Alburtis to Reading
  • All the trackage in Reading
  • Buffalo line from Harrisburg to Keating
  • Line to York
  • Enola yard and its approaches
Of interest to me are zones 48 and 49 coverring from Wernersville to Landis and Derry to Dauphin, respectively. The main focus of my layout is Harrisburg through Lebanon. The one area I have struggled to even remotely get a representation of is Harrisburg yard and its various terminal operations, both TrailVan (TV) and switching yards. So what I think I will do is design each of the various areas of interest, i.e., layout design elements (LDE) starting with the Harrisburg TV terminal and work my way east. Hopefully, focusing on one area at a time will get me a good, operational (well, for Conrail) design and one I can start putting lumber towards by September.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Time to Hit Reset

I think in planning there comes a time when one needs to take a breath, step back, and evaluate what it is one wants to get out of a layout. I know I've seen on message boards where an enthusiastic new member of the site joins and starts posting wildly, gets tons of help, but changes so much that they become the boy who cried wolf and the help decreases. I've seen it on railroad forums and on technology related forums, so it's more of an internet-age thing I think. Well, I feel like I was getting into that realm with some of my forum and blog posts so I've spent the last few days doing everything from understanding what I want out of a layout to how to maximize my space in the basement while meeting storage/utility access needs. I believe I've solved the latter and the former, well, if that means getting rid of junk, so be it.

As for the layout, I sat down and evaluated the 7-8 plans I have done for this space to look at what I liked about each and what I didn't like. I also looked at what do I really want out of the layout. My interests in the hobby are formed from my railfanning interests, as well as passed down from my dad. We would railfan mailine action, particularly in Maryland and some West Virginia, along former B&O trackage while on visits to my grandparents. Additionally, we would watch NEC action in and around Philadelphia/New Jersey. What I've come to the conclusion of is that my interests have all derived from being able to stand in one place and just watch the trains roll by, the longer and more motive power, the better. However, in my limited exposure of the hobby, I know that a layout to meet this need would get pretty old quick as it would probably be one town, a mainline, probably a station for passenger service, maybe an industry, plus lots of staging. Others have tried this and their experiences have shown me that it's not the greatest layout vision in the world.

So where to next then? The other thing I remember when growing up was going to various yards or terminals and watching the work that goes on there, like Amtrak's 30th St. Station and Brunswick yard. While they weren't necessarily as busy as they were under previous owners/operators, the moving of the cars around was interesting. I even find myself looking at what work is going in Pavonia on my way to and from work each day. Okay, so then I like mainline running and yard operations. Yard plus mainline should form the basis of my layout as I move forward.

But wait Phil, you've made no mention of locals to serve industries along the mainline! Well, that's right. While it was always nice to see the local along the Pemberton I.T. or moving along the Bordentown Secondary, by the time I counted to 10 cars thoughts of can't this thing move any faster always crept into my mind and I was never really all that interested in the movements needed to server the industries. I don't know why, it just never occured to me but I think it goes back to the motive power. So would local's be an operating focus of my layout, in short no. However, after listening to the Model Railcast podcast for the last year, I've come to realize that the way freight/local is really how one gets operational interests from a layout with respect to how Conrail (and other modern, Class-I railraods) operated. So, I consider them a necessary evil, but the layouts focus won't be on them.

Now on to my selection of a prototype road (yes, I even questioned this). Conrail is the only railraod I knew and I really didn't know how much I loved it until it was gone. I could easily have chosen to model the Chessie System, too, what with the exposure to it during my youth, but I don't think my heart would be in it as much since it wasn't really "my" road like Conrail was (expect a few weathered yellow, orange and blue units to roll through). What about passernger operations though? Amtrak is the only inter-city passenger operation I've known. In fact, when I was younger, I had drawn up plans for a corner room of my parents basement to represent the Morrisville to Trenton area of the NEC, complete with the flying junction from the Morrisville/Trenton cut-off. Once older, I realized that for the motive power on Conrail I wanted to run, this wouldn't be an option as Conrail didn't run trains up the NEC anymore (I think one scheduled run). Essentially I came to the conclusion that Amtrak operations would be nice, but they weren't essential for me.

Next I evaluated prototype to proto-freelanced. I came to the same conclusion I did when I started the planning process, I'm not creative enough to come up with terminals, line-side industry, and operations on my own without doing a ton of research. If I'm going to do that much research, I might as well pick a prototype area and model that.

With that decided, which area do I model? Well, let's see, I wanted yards/terminal operations along with a busy mainline. Gee, I might as well take a system map of Conrail and throw darts at it. This is where I put the geography limitation on what I want to model - the mid-Atlantic region. Now we've got a yard/terminal, mainline operation, and mid-Atlantic region. Ok, it's a smaller map, but still there are about 3 or 4 lines to choose from: Reading, Harrisburg, Lehigh, and Pittsburgh. I ruled out the Pittsburgh line as it's not as mid-Atlantic as the others, i.e., it's more mountainous. That leaves me with the Lehigh, Reading, and Harrisburg lines. I have a copy of the Mail-3 cabride so I rewatched most of it. I felt like the Lehigh line, until it reaches the Allentown area doesn't have a whole lot to offer other than train after train rolling through town. I felt the same with the Reading line, although it had a some more interesting features. That left me with the Harrisburg line, in the same position as before. Between Reading and Philadelphia, there are industrial operations and some terminals, but most would be "off-stage" and after looking at them and figure out how one would operate/scenic that area, I felt it might be too much to do that much hidden traffic. Reading could be a layout unto itself, but I can't figure out how traffic moved through there looking at maps, let alone driving through the town a few times recently trying to figure out the rails going over/under/beside the roadways.

This left me with the Harrisburg line between Reading and Harrisburg. So, let's go back and see what I want out of my layout: yard/terminal operations and mainline running. Harrisburg yard didn't do a whole lot of classification, but it was a crew change point/refueling area. It did, however, have an important part in intermodal service as an intermediary switching point for TV/Mail trains. Mainline running, well, according to a tonnage chart I saw for the Conrail system in 1997, the tonnage moved on the line was 90-95 MGT. I'm not 100% sure what this stat means, but compared to the rest of the system it wasn't the most heavily used line, but it was near the top and it did have more than the other lines I was looking at. Also of note was that about 20% of it's traffic went down the Lurgan branch for interchanges with Norfolk Southern and CSX. I essentially confirmed my layout starting point to be Harrisburg and I would move out eastward as space/compression dictated.

Now that I had put together an origin to the layout and a direction to travel, picking out areas to model would be next. Well, you can't go from Harrisburg east without modeling Hershey and the various plants located there. Operationally speaking, I would consider Hershey a terminal as it really had its own self-contained switching operation that could keep a person busy just switching the various plants. Researching the rest of the line, there is Millards/Wimpy Minerals/Pennsy Supply quarry just west of Annville, Pa. Again, this is more like a terminal with empties coming in, getting switch off to the various loaders, and loads going out. As for other areas of the line, I'm going to hold off until the ZTS map I just purchased arrives and I look at how all 4 areas (Harrisburg yard, Harrisburg TV terminal, Hershey, and Annville) are prototypically configured and build those 4 LDEs, see how much I have to bend them, and how much space that leaves for other things.

One area conspicuously absent from this post so far that was present on my other plans, Harrisburg Station/Transportation Center. While I think the station would be a great modeling effort, operationally, how much would it really add to the layout? Amtrak terminates its Keystone Service here and in the time frame I am focusing on (1996 and 1997), it had 2 thru trains, Pennsylvaninan and Three Rivers. So this would really just leave me with replicating on-off for Keystone Service and on, through the yard area into staging for the thru trains. Is that really enough operation to warrant essentially a 6-8 foot LDE? I don't think so. Now, to model the line accurately, a portion of the station should be modeled, but I don't need to do the extent I had planned, especially considering that the Harrisburg line doesn't get adjacent to the station until about at it's midpoint.

Well, I think this word vomit is over, but at least if I ever lose focus on what I'm trying to accomplish with this layout, I have this post to come back to to refocus. I have a better understanding of where I'm going with the planning of (and eventually building of) the layout, now it's a matter of determining the LDEs mentioned above. One of the things I will be doing over the next little bit is researching the operations of the line, the trains moved, their makeup, and determining how that should/would be represented. While I obviously won't reproduce every train that ran over the route, I should have enough to represent the types and number of trains to make operating on the layout fun and give it a prototypical feel.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How to execute Staging Appropriately

I'm in a bit of a quandary on how to implement staging for the layout to achieve the kind of operations that would be representative of the Harrisburg Line. By the schedules I have seen, there were approximately 35 east and westbound trains in addition to a number of locals, 3 or 4 of which would be of interest in modeling. I should note, I am only counting trains that run multiple days (usually more than 3). Harrisburg yard handled, i.e., drop-offs or pick-ups, about 10 trains, Harrisburg TV handles about 28 trains, and Rutherford handled 6 RoadRailer trains. I will not be modeling RoadRailers because 1) I don't have the space to model Rutherford and 2) RoadRailers were a semi-maintenance nightmare for the prototype so I can't imagine how fragile they are in N scale. In addition, there are extras, particularly coal off the Lurgan branch, that would add to the number of prototypical trains. I also have a desire to model 2 trains in each direction, PIBA/BAPI and PIES/ESPI, off of the Royalton branch that actually went into Enola from the Port Road branch but a yard transfer job happened to move cars from Harrisburg trains to Enola and vice-versa.

As one can see, that is a lot of trains to represent. I'm not going to be trying to run every train, but a decent sized sampling (50%?) so I will need a significant amount of staging. Complicating manners is a self-constraint of only having the footprint of the layout in which to place staging. In my original designs I had done, staging was under the first level and included the peninsula (I figured I could build it in sections as it was nicely divided into 4 sections) with two different loops to turn trains. While turning trains automatically would be nice, it's not a requirement as is not having double-ended staging tracks. With the new arrangement of the room, I'm a little more limited in how much I can put under the first level as the new orientation of CP Capitol and CP Harris resulted in the staging of Amtrak/Royalton and the Lurgan Sub within under the first level. Secondly, I am somewhat concerned with trains that need to go from staging and run westbound have to constantly climb approximately 30 inches just to reach their entrance to the main part of the layout. I worry about the wear and tear on engines, especially considerring that a helix is already in the middle of a mainline run. I've read through Tony Koester's Multi-Deck Model Railroading book and have taken notes on what not only he has done, but also others he mentions/has pictures of. With that, I see a number of possible solutions:

1. Keep the previous designs' elements on staging on a "level 0" and worry about locomotive maintenance as it arises
2. Adjust CP Capitol and CP Harris and/or their staging alignment to free up more space under the level 1 footprint, essentially number 1 above, but with more room for staging tracks and possible return loops
3. Follow some of the examples, like Ken McCorry's Buffalo Line, that go, at points, staging-scenic-staging-scenic where the staging levels are the width of the level above it's footprint
4. 4 Levels that follow staging-scenic-scenic-staging. Not sure if I can pull this off as I live in a home built in the late 60s and my basement height isn't much about 7ft.

I'm really leaning towards number 3, I just need to do some more research on what the heights/resulting benchwork widths would be to achieve enough access and still make operating comfortable for the both mainline levels. Because the upper level is approximately 12" wide, while the bottom is 18"-24" for approximately half, I have a concern that the amount of trains stored on the upper level staging would be smaller than that on the bottom, thus creating operation inequities. Compounding the issue is that "East staging", which is what would be on upper level staging, must contain both trains heading out the Pittsburg/Buffalo lines as well as the Lurgan branch, so it should be larger than the bottom level. I guess I should also do the old adjustable bookshelf tests to get the right height/spacing requirements and see what looks good. Lastly, the less access I have above the staging yard, the farther apart I need to make the centers of the parallel yard tracks, thus reducing the number of tracks.

I'm open to any and all suggestions and really think nothing is out of the question, as long as my givens/druthers are met. One thing I'm not against is double-up staging, where one track can hold more than one full length train. This would effectively increase my staging capacity while still remaining within the width restrictions and possible center line adjustments.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Level One Design

My goal from a planning perspective was to get the first level of the railroad mapped out and planned using the new 3 foot buffer between the layout wall and the gas meter. Here's the plan as it stands now:

A quick tour of the layout, starting at the bottom right:


This will go down a level to staging. I have decided my base layout height will be 40" for level one and the staging will be at 30". I came to this conclusion by looking at various heights of things common around the house like my desk, the kitchen counter, my miter saw stand, etc. I felt 40-42" is ideal for standing and bending for a lower level that won't kill the back. The staging level is the same height as a standard desk, so one could conceivably sit while preparring/setting up cars for a session and the like.

Harrisburg Locomotive servicing

Harrisburg yard has an interesting servicing station. It has what is referred to as a "fast fuel pad" in that trains do not need to come off the main line in order to be serviced. Now, not all trains entering/leaving Harrisburg yard will utilize this, but those that really have no pick-ups or drop-offs, this will be their only interaction on the line from an operational perspective.

Harrisburg TV

Parallel to the servicing area is Harrisburg TV (HBTV). This is a representation of Harrisburg's intermodal facility. If one looks closely, they'll notice that there is a yard lead for HBTV which is separate from the general yard lead. It also has it's own classification tracks (5) and two loading tracks.

Harrisburg Yard

As we move further along the wall, we see the Harrisburg Yard classification tracks (6) and receiving tracks (5). Both Harrisburg Yard and HBTV will use the receiving tracks.

Harrisburg Transportation Center

Next as we curl around the outside wall is the Harrisburg Transportation Center, i.e., Amtrak's Harrisburg station. Not much else to say here except that block diagram representing the station infrastructure is almost to scale as I used Google Maps to measure out the various parts of the structure.

CP Capitol

At the end of the aisle is CP Capitol. The Lurgan branch goes off towards the left-side of the room, along with Amtrak's Harrisburg line and Conrail's Royalton Branch. The way I envision operating the layout, the Royalton Branch will see a few more trains than normal as Wimpey Mineral's quarry (which will be on level 2) has two customers that would bring/recieve cars using this branch, one being in Baltimore, the other in Harrington, De. Conrail would dropp-off cars in Harrisburg Yard and then shuttle them over to Enola for pick-up on trains heading to either location. I think in operating the layout, to give some more operating interest, I'm going to have this switching done solely in Harrisburg yard. The Lurgan branch will be where CSX and NS trains are sent into and received from staging. All 4 lines curling out will go into a 1/2 pass helix to get to a staging level around 34-36" in height, which should leave about 8" to bottom of the Hershey complex. Conrail had 2 or 3 named manifests for NS along with additional coal trains. CSX was mostly coal run throughs.

Hershey Plant

The Hershey plant takes up 3 areas of the rest of the first level. The first siding represents the Reese's plant in Brownstone. The next siding starts the main Hershey plant complex and represents the extraction plant. Continuing around the curve is the main plant itself. On the top side of the main line is the main plant complex, on the bottom is the Hershey silos. I have drawn the silos pretty much to scale, again, using Google Maps and tracing the Walther's ADM grain elevator in Xtrkcad. Around the corner is Harrisburg yard as well as the storage warehouse. What I have found intersting is that Conrail uses a lot of switchbacks for this plant while Norfolk Southern has redone some switches, particularly the Reese's plant. At the end of the North Yard is the entrance to the helix up to the second level.

Overall, I'm happy with the design. I think I've got the physical plant in Harrisburg and Hershey well represented. Unfortunately, I cannot figure out a way to represent either Hummelstown or Rutherford. Either one of these would be represented with the 12 feet I lost on gaining/giving access to the gas meter. I do like Harrisburg station more in this design as I feel it doesn't look like it was just thrown into a corner or bend in the benchwork, but is part of the layout, not really a background "industry" as I felt it looked like before. I also like the fact that HBTV and the yard are separated as this really was the case at Conrail's Harrisburg facilities. Finally, after looking at this and the lack of "distance" between the Harrisburg and Hershey areas (a distance of 11 miles on the prototype), I'm probably going to employ some type of view block, perhaps a Belina drop, to give the illusion of distance between the points.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Layout Parameters

Below are the listing of parameters I had when I first started planning my layout:

Theme: Mid-atlantic Conrail in the mid to late 1990s focusing on an east-west main line connecting the Northeast with Alleghenies.

  • N scale (1:160)
  • Walkaround
  • Protolance
  • 1 Major Industry
  • "Division" yard w/engine facilities
  • Mainline operations
  • area of basement for workshop (both for railroad and woodworking projects)
  • Good-sized mainline run
  • 3-4 industrial "areas" to support 1/2 locals
  • 2% or less grade
  • Staging
  • Minimal duck-unders, no less than 48" high
  • Amtrak representation
  • Continuous "one-way run"
  • visible sharp curves
  • sharp turnouts
  • no blocking of storage area
  • no way to get to gas meter or water meter or furnace filter
So after trying a few different freelanced plans, I realized I was using quite a bit of design elements from the Reading, Harrisburg and Lehigh Lines of Conrail. The more I looked into Conrail's operations on these lines, the more I grew into the idea of doing a prototyped based layout. I then purchased the Mail-3 cab ride video from Neff Video to view the lines I mentioned above. After viewing the video and looking at my nice-to-haves, I realized that the Harrisburg line starting at Harrisburg was the area for me, so I started out looking for track charts, ZTS maps, locomotive rosters, etc., related to that portion of Conrail. After a while, I came up with attempting to model the line from Harrisburg yard through Lebanon, at the least. This would give me a decent sized yard, moderate engine facility (fueling/sanding rack), Amtrak representation with Harrisburg station, two major industries (Hershey plant(s) and Wimpey mineral's Millard quarry) as well as some other local indsutries, some which may/may not be respresented, depending on space.

My first few iterations of a design had half of a second level used as staging and really didn't leave ample room for the gas meter. Later designs went to 3 levels, one solely dedicated for staging. After realizing that I'm not going to be able to move the gas meter without costing more than I want, I decided to move the back wall out 3 feet. Unfortunately, this had the equivalent of removing 12 feet on each level, over 2/3 a scale mile! What the previous designs had shown me, however, is the makeup of the LDEs on each level. Here is a listing I have come up with:

Level 1
  • Harrisburg yard
  • Harrisburg intermodal/TV
  • Amtrak Harrisburg station
  • Rutherfod RoadRailer complex
  • Swatara/Hummlestown area
  • Hershey Plants
Level 2
  • Palmyra
  • Millard Quarry
  • Annville/Cleona
  • Horntown Yard
  • Lebanon/Lebanon Station
  • Avon
  • Myerstown
It is with this LDE base that I will be basing my new plans off of. Stay tuned ...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Layout Room

The first item of business is the layout room itself. For my layout, I will be utilizing the basement of my house. My basement is only underneath of one side of the house, for an approximate size of 22' x 27'. Here's a drawing from XtrkCad of the basement's walls, stairs and pole locations:

A few quirks about the basement are that there was an old bilco door and stairs down to the basement in the lower left side of the picture above, which is currently marked storage. Also, on the right side, at the bottom of the drawing, the black box is the location of the water meter. The stairs come down from right to left, i.e., the bottom of the stairs are at the water meter. Finally, in the top right there is a gas meter and shut-off. I'm trying to explore options on moving the meter from this location, preferably outside, if the cose isn't prohibitive. Outside of that, whatever plan I come up with, I will need 36" of space from the stairs to the furnace/water heater area for when they need to be replaced/repaired. The walls depicted around that area do not actually exist right now, I was just playing with how much space I should leave around that area for maintenance purposes.

I have come up with a few layout ideas/plans/sketches utilizing only the right side of the space, with some overflow for staging, however, each one of those blocks the gas meter, which I'm still trying to determine if a) my designs would allow for a "removable" section in that corner and b) is what appears to be a shutoff a primary or secondary shutoff. While I would love to have a workbench area, I'm dedicated having one as my wife does crafts and has a "craft" room elsewhere in the house that has cutting boards and desk area that I could use (if she let me) for my work (except painting).

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Welcome to my new site, Conrail Harrisburg LIne, and the obligatory welcome post. The purpose of this site is to document my progress in researching, designing, building, and, someday, operating an N-scale layout based on Conrail's Harrisburg line. As of right now, I'm still in the research/design phase, however, I feel like I have a pretty decent design all ready to start construction on. I have a few items holding me up, one of which could pose a real problem. Over the next few days, I'll post the standard layout stuff like givens and druthers, layout room size, etc., so stay tuned!


Welcome to the my Conrail Model Railroad site. I will document the research, design, construction and operations of my N-scale model railroad based on Conrail's Ft. Wayne Line in Ohio.

Conrail Ft. Wayne Line © Header image from J. Alex Lang Template Nice Blue modified by Indian Monsters. Original created by