Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Steps Towards a "Moving Forward" Plan

For the last 2 weeks I have contemplated where I wanted to go with the planning and designing of the layout. I thought about doing a self-contained room, similar to the CSX Dixie Line design, with a lift-out and duck-under to gain access. I felt a dedicated room would give me the separation from the rest of the basement I was looking for as well as real set of boundaries that would prevent me from expanding into other parts of the basement. The layout would be separate from the rest of the basement, including any woodworking I might be doing. The one thing that has prevented me from using this kind of a design was that I couldn't get a good spot for the entrance to the room relative to the stairs. I found that two of my 3 major design elements have to be in a particular location to really work. The first is CP Capitol needs to be on a left-curving portion (as you leave Harrisburg yard) to give the true feel of the prototype. The other is that Hershey's main plant is on a curve where the plant is on the outside and the silos are on the inside. Most of my plans had this reversed and I always felt that the main plant wasn't represented accurately as a result.

So with these two ideas in place, I began to reexamine how to lay out the plan. I quickly realized that the only option that could really work and give me the LDEs in the right configuration was a U shaped layout with the center peninsula or the aforementioned E. CP Capitol would have to be at the end of one aisle while Hershey is at the other. Now, I have repeatedly mentioned my goal that the modeled portion of this line would be from Harrisburg to just east of Lebanon. I don't have the same constraints on the areas to model east of Hershey, as from that point until Reading, the line is pretty much straight, save for a few S-curves further east of Lebanon. It's easier to massage LDEs from a straight prototype to curved than it is to go the other way.

The last item to figure out was how to get access to the gas meter and still have enough room for the yard. I determined that the helix to staging on the one side of the layout would be in the small alcove at the bottom of the stairs, but not directly in front of the stairs. I also determined I would avoid the turnback into the helix at all cost, thus leaving room at the bottom of the stairs to ease moving things to and from the basement. The other helix that goes exclusively between the 1st and 2nd levels would reside "outside" of the layout room, however, I plan to construct it with the sides facing the rest of the basement completely covered from the floor to the top so that it is really an extension of the room, like a closet.

Determining where the helices, particularly the one to staging, were located gave me the design constraints on the size of Harrisburg yard. I already had an idea of the style yard I was going for based on some of the other plans I had done. Essentially I had the double track main, 4 A/D tracks with one being a runaround, 3 through class tracks, 3 stub-ended class tracks and two tracks for the TV terminal. The only issued remained was average train length to determine the size of the A/D tracks. By the time I figured out I needed at least 30 inches of space from the wall of the basement to the wall of the layout room for access to the gas meter, this left me with enough space for 10.5' to 11' trains. I then drew some car prototypes in XtrkCad, based on actual drawings from some freight car manufacturers, for items like well and spine cars. Knowing I would have a mix of articulated and stand-alone, I went with single cars for each and their drawing measurements. By the time I laid out a 20-25 car train, I was well under 10'. I also determined a train with 3 locomotives and 15 89' TOFC/COFC cars would easily fit under the yard design I had established.

So all of this work resulted in a plan that has a 28" aisle-way from the furnace area to the gas meter, which expands out to 32" at a point that is 48" from the corner of the basement where the gas meter is located. This ended up giving me a slight nook that I could use to ease the curves from the Harrisburg station through CP Capitol. The end result was a plan that gave me the yard, CP Capitol and Hershey in the places they should be and in the size they should be. All that was left was to fill in the blanks between CP Capitol and Hershey. I threw some things together, but quite frankly, I may redo after seeing the profile of the upper level. If I can narrow the non-yard shelves from the 15" I have alloted to close to 12", I will end up having aisles that are between 33" to 36" in width. Anyways, here is the working plan for level 1.
Note that the Lurgan Branch, Royalton Branch, and Amtrak go into staging. I may run them into their own couple lap helix to gain separation below the Hershey or center peninsula shelves for staging. I figure once I've gotten the staging and level 2 done, I'll post a single page that has everything on it, including layout parameters. I also plan to do cleaning this weekend while I'm snowed in by the next great snow storm of this winter and hope to maybe buy the framing materials next week so I can use President's day weekend to begin the framing/insulation of the basement.


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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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