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.


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