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.


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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.

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