Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Update on No Progress

Well, I guess I finally hit that proverbial rut when it comes to the layout. It was bound to happen sooner or later. Essentially, I built a lot of benchwork, had some things come up, and the layout, or should I say benchwork, sat with more and more being put on it. Let's put it this way, I have very nice shelving in the basement now. It's not just the layout, but other things around the house have been put off. With two small kids, time is hard, especially when they involve using power tools of some kind and you have to work around naps and other commitments. But, I recently just started making a list of the other stuff and checking them off as I do them. I'm half-way through the list. So as I see the end nearing for all those honey-do items, I began looking back at the layout and what was stopping me there. I finally came up with the reason:

Double Deck Layout

There really is no other reason. A double-deck layout is a daunting task. Others in my area are building them but are doing so on semi-scheduled work sessions. With my lack of a set schedule, I don't think I could do that so it'd be whenever I get down to the basement to do some work. I've also never been happy with the helix, it's location, or even usage (see my 50+ other posts on differing designs and placement). Every time I went into the basement, I would cringe on where to start, what to do. It's gotten to the point where I don't even want to look at that side anymore. It's also becoming my storage for the parts for the crib/dresser, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's just another obstacle (truth be told, that dresser better get done before anything else happens on the layout0.

Enter Mr. Popp

Back in February I bought Building a Model Railroad Step by Step, 2nd Edition (Modern Railroader) by David Popp. It wasn't until April or May that I really started to sit down and read it. Well, it changed my philosophy on what I want to do. If you're a subscriber to Model Railroader you can find his plan in their track plan index or in the book itself. David's layout was built for operation. In March, 2011, he wrote a series of operating articles in that month's Model Railroader using his layout as an example. While the book itself is a good read and provides techniques on building a layout, it's not showing anything really earth shattering that isn't covered elsewhere in the hobby press or online. No, what finally changed my philosophy was his operating chapter at the end of the book. I want to operate. I like to operate and attend a monthly session on another person's layout. To me, if you don't operate on a layout, you're just running trains under the Christmas tree. Don't get me wrong, there are wonderful layouts built that don't operate, but to me their just displays whereas a layout that operates, has a functional purpose, it becomes a living, breathing thing. I want that in my layout. I could've gotten that with the double deck plans, but it would've been a looooong time coming. So instead, I focused on my space and used his track plan as a guide for a few differing concepts. Here's the one I'm currently actively using as I do a little more detailed planning:

The orange portions are supposed to be hollow core doors as that is what David's layout is based on originally (didn't know that until I read the book). While I don't think I'll use them, that's what is was supposed to represent. Essentially, I'll have 5 main switching areas where I'm thinking of 4 or 5 locals to do the work. My guess is anywhere between 2 to 3 manifests would bring in cars to the yard where they would most likely terminate, although I think having one going through would be good to add variety. The locals would originate in the yard and go out accordingly to the various towns to switch. Adding some spice, I'd like to institute some passenger operations into the scheme. I'm thinking of the branch going out to the auto plant having a small commuter yard between the two towns on that line. The one thing I learned from that operations chapter is you don't need a sprawling, double-deck layout to keep a nice contingent of operators feeling busy. Adding in some commuter operations can fill time/space while the locals are built up. I figure the manifests come in in the morning and perhaps one in the afternoon. The locals scatter to do their work and come back for the work to build up the departing evening freights. In between each of those would be the morning and evening commuter runs. I figure a 6-7 operator crew is all that would be needed, which would include a dispatcher and yardmaster.

As for a more detailed design, I've actually already hashed out the 2 Industry town with a brewery and plastics plant as well as the Junction/Industrial Town with a few industries. I've begun work on the auto plant and while I completed the yard, I'm probably going to flip some of that around to see if I can make it's operation flow a little better without compromising certain necessary aspects like diesel service facility, enough classification tracks, etc. Hopefully I'll be blogging more on that design process and the eventual replacement of the benchwork in the basement (and maybe pics of the crib and dresser) in the not-to-distant future.


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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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