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.


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