Friday, April 23, 2010

Where did I go?

So it's been a while since I last posted here. The last time I put anything down on the site, I had bought all the wood I would need to build out the wall frames for the layout area. Well, since then I've had a number of things derail me. One, as many in the Mid-Atlantic know, it got warm real quick, which meant every single piece of vegetation in my yard decided to spring up. Then I did my taxes which resulted in owing a decent chunk of change which while not directly affecting anything moving forward on the wall construction did temper my enthusiasm. The final (things always happen in threes, right?) hit was a call during the heavy rains few weeks ago from ADT that I the water detector in the basement was going off. Thank goodness it was at 4 Am because there was about an inch of water in my basement from the sump pump deciding it wanted to take a break. Unfortunately since I hadn't started the construction, those piles of wood that I took pictures of (plus another round of purchases) were sitting in that water. After cleaning up the rest of the basement that morning and early afternoon, I was able to put the wood up on edge on saw horses, crank up fans and run the dehumidifier. All but one piece of wood has been saved, and the one that is somewhat bowed is for the baseplate, so I'm not sure it still can't be used for that purpose. Things will still be hectic for a few more weeks getting into May, but I really hope to get walls up (perhaps Memorial Day weekend?) before the summer.

While all this was going on, to relax my mind, I started playing around with the design and scope of the layout a little bit. One thing that came out of the the water in the basement was that while cleaning, I had all the stuff in the basement essentially on the side that will house the layout. We have a refrigerator in the basement but it is located over in the other half of the basement about as far away from the stairs as one can get. I've decided it should be at the bottom of the stairs next to the water meter. The implication of this is that that area is no longer available for a helix and that the layout would need to allow for the refrigerator to be opened. This led me to start designing something similar to Jamie's CSX Dixe Line plan, with a helix at the end of a peninsula and a duckunder/lift-out to enter. I even had a first level design down, but I didn't like the way the Harrisburg terminal fit. As I did more playing with the design, I realized something I probably should have realized before: Harrisburg's terminal is going to hard to model and even doing it using compression and modeler's license will take up 1/3 of whatever level it is on, not to mention the live interchange I feel is needed with the Lurgan branch for proper operations. As a result, I started to look at what would be a good piece of the line and began to narrow down on Hershey through Lebanon/Avon as the prime piece to model. I also went back looking through the special issues of MR including MR Planning 2010, paying special attention to Bruce Faulkner's CSX Shenandoah Division layout (I've also been an avid reader of his websites before this article). I've always thought about a Shenandoah Division Conrail layout as the few times I've gone to the valley, I've been mesmerized by the scenery, the history, and the vast potential of railroading that never happened. And I scratched that itch for a while, but ultimately came back to the Harrisburg Line. A piece of Bruce's layout article that appealed to me is the slotted staging with return loops.

The one item that the Harrisburg Line had is lots and lots of trains and the best way to represent this was, outside of the Harrisburg terminal, my biggest design issue. I essentially decided to follow this practice for my staging. I also decided that I should build Hershey through Lebanon/Avon on a level, place it high enough that if I wanted to build a second level for Harrisburg I could but it wouldn't be something I needed to worry about in the near term. So where I'm going with the design is using "outside-the-room" staging that's looped, a duckunder entrance into the layout itself, and modeling the line from Hershey through Lebanon with the understanding that expansion could be possible by adding a helix where the lines enter the staging room (to go East or West). I've got a few questions out to guys in the CRHS on some of the industrial operations in this area that will help in the design (probably should have done this a long time ago) so once I get them back, I hope to have something to show that's reduced in complexity but still has lots of operational potential.

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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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