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).


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