Thursday, July 22, 2010

Layout Progress, July 22, 2010

This is a little late, but wanted to mention the progress I made on the layout structure this past weekend. With assistance from my Dad, we put up all the standards I had on hand along with the shelf brackets for the upper 2 levels. Here are some photo updates:
From Conrail Harrisburg Line

From Conrail Harrisburg Line

From Conrail Harrisburg Line
I ordered some more standards and brackets. The brackets came yesterday and I put them on the empty standards I had. I also started ripping some 1x2s and 1x4s from left-over Maple plywood I have from some other woodworking projects. I'm going to be using this for L-girders that will sit under the support joists for the lower level. Yesterday I also put some of these up on the brackets I had an put up 3 locos and 4 Walthers 5-unit articulated double-stack sets to get an idea on train length. This train came in at 9' 4" and looked plenty long. I have been planning for 10.5' to 11' trains so even if I had to add a 4th locomotive, I'd probably still be under 10' for the longest train. About the only thing this will really affect on my design is my fuel loading tracks and A/D tracks could be somewhat shorter, but that's something I'll do through building the yard. The other thing it will do is I'd probably have to compress the LDEs so that a train "dwarfs" them. On this line in the prototype, the closeness of some of the scenes I'm doing may result in the engine entering one area while the end is in another. To do this on the layout would require either longer trains or putting the industries/LDEs closer together, something I'll play around with during sub-roadbed laying. This weekend, if I have time, I'm going to try to put the L-girders together and rip the 1x3s for the joists and maybe get them up, but we'll see.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Design Progress - July 15, 2010

Just a quick update on the design efforts I had ongoing. I've finished the design of the Harrisburg terminal area. The key to my design was an article I read in MRP 2005 about eliminating S-curves and some of the examples it had. Incorporating some of the ideas in that article, plus some of the discussions on the forums led me to the following design:
From Conrail Harrisburg Line
The yard consists of the following elements:
  • 2 A/D tracks
  • 3 Double-ended class tracks
  • 3 Stub-ended class tracks
  • 1 Intermodal track - closest one to the aisle
  • 2 Locomotive service tracks
  • 1 Locomotive ready track
  • 4 "mainline" service/fuel tracks
  • 1 Amtrak runaround track
Let me talk a little bit about the mainline service/fuel tracks. Apparently, the fuel rack on the main idea is one many railroads perform, especially in the Midwest/West. It's somewhat uncommon back East. Harrisburg's fuel pad is aligned between its two main lines at approximately the half-way point of the terminal. This lets trains enter and exit the yard area without worrying about being blocked access by trains refueling on the main. Unfortunately, all of my early designs allowed access to the yard from the east if an eastbound train was refueling, but not for a westbound if a westbound was refueling. Fearing a bottle neck or putting crossovers in the middle of the helix, I decided to adopt a practice used on many western roads, a fuel pad at both ends of the yard. As a result, there are 4 tracks that will have fuel pads on either end allowing however many trains to refuel as possible and in either direction as access can be gained from each direction. I also put the Amtrak runaround in to allow for the trains going to/from the Amtrak station to bypass the fuel pads and not be hindered by freights being "refueled". I think this design is much, much better. I also made CP Capitol double track much as Norfolk Southern did after taking it over from Conrail.

Now, the other item I've been contemplating, researching and generally discussion in various areas is benchwork. Below is my benchwork mock-up.
From Conrail Harrisburg Line
This is based on various designs I've seen of others layouts, the materials I have available and cost. I have 30 studs available around the perimeter of the wall and by using the brackets and standards for the top 2 levels, I won't have to purchase a lot more and lighting on the perimeter will be easy to install. The bottom level will be built like I've seen a number of shelf layouts with the girders directly fastened to the open studs. A gusset or brace will be installed were needed. Finally, the center peninsula will be built like the this and this. I've even gone so far as to figure out how I will build my helix using straight line cuts with angled ends, like a trapezoid. This layout used it and both the LDSIG and Layout Construction Yahoo groups have information on it. The goals for this weekend are to get the second and third level standards and brackets up and maybe the benchwork and sub-roadbed down for the 2nd and 3rd levels, respectively.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Layout Progress - July 11, 2010

Yesterday I attached some shelf standards and brackets and used scraps of 3/4 Maple plywood and Maple I had left over from a few furniture projects. I played around with heights and such. Here's pic of the setup.

From Conrail Harrisburg Line

The heights came out to be:
  • 1st Level - 40"
  • 2nd Level - 56"
  • 3rd Level - 70"
I felt 40" was a good height for the yard to be operated at. The 2nd level was the more difficult one to adjust as it is at a height that I can reach my arm to without going above the horizontal. I also went through as many of my Dad's Model Railroad Planning and Great Model Railroads he had to look at "shelf layouts". I also was looking to see if he had Lin Westscott's How to Build Model Railroad Benchwork. Unfortunately, he had the 1979 version, and what I had seen referenced on many forums wasn't in it, so I'm guessing it was in the 2nd edition released in 1996. Anyways, I saw some things in there plus had a few forum and IM discussions and this is the along the walls profile I am going to attempt to have for the layout.

From Conrail Harrisburg Line

As you can see, I plan to use 2x2s on top of the shelf brackets. This will let me drill holes to run wires. Also, the brackets I have for most of the shelves are 12.5" for the 15" wide shelves. This will give me 2.5" to put the lighting for the 1st and 2nd level on the 2nd and 3rd level's support structure, respectively. For the peninsula, I'm thinking of using the method described here by Bruce Faulkner on his CSX Shenandoah Subdivision and further described here on Jamie's CSX Dixie Line. Now, all I need to do is buy some more brackets and standards and start ripping the left over 2x4s into 2x2s to get started.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Design Dilemma: Placing the yard and station

Now that I've got the base of the layout area done, it's on to finalizing a plan I can build the benchwork around. In a previous post, I had shown the LDE for the Hershey plant. I've since finished up the design for the Reese's and Hershey West plants as well, although I may change the Reeese's from a trailing point to facing point, unlike the prototype. I have also done the Harrisburg yard and station area.
One of the signature elements of the Harrisburg yard itself is the fuel pad as can be seen in these pictures. There is also a fuel pad between the two mainline tracks so even trains that don't stop at Harrisburg can refuel and change crews (which is a nice touch to model for operations). Below is my plan for the first level so far:

From Conrail Harrisburg Line

What I'm struggling with a little bit is what to do with the end of the peninsula and the Amtrak station area. I've thought about swinging around the station so it's on the peninsula, thereby extending the yard area and having a little more freedom with the locomotive terminal and TrailVan area. If I did this, however, it would meant the 1st level is nothing more than the Hershey complex (which is really 3 different industries) and the Harrisburg complex. I'm open to any thoughts or suggestions.

Layout Progress - July 5, 2010

As I had hoped, I got the third wall done this morning, complete with blocking and anchored to the floor. Here are two pics of the "completed" layout room:

From Conrail Harrisburg Line

The picture above is the wall I put up this morning. Its length is about 10' 9 1/2". The picture below shows all the stud walls I plan to build for the layout room.

From Conrail Harrisburg Line

The total room size, when looking at just the walls comes out to 17' by 10' 9 1/2". There's an extra foot to a foot-and-a-half off the ends of the wall as well as the alcove at the bottom of the stairs that is about 7' by 40", but does contain the water meter so it's use is limited.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Layout Progress - July 4, 2010

So last night and today I finished putting together the "long wall" and mounted it this morning. It was a bear to lift and then shim, but I managed to do it. Here is a pic of the wall in place:

From Conrail Harrisburg Line

The wall itself is 17' 2" and I have it about 1" to 1 1/2" from the cinder block wall due to the drain around the exterior of my basement. I'm hoping, with the day off tomorrow, that I can get the 3rd and final wall up. After that, it's on to a few design dilemmas I have regarding Harrisburg's design.


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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