Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Current Basement State

So I've mentioned that I put a bunch of things up on the benchwork before Sandy came through and that most of it is still up on the benchwork. Well, here's some photos to show it. I will say this, my techniques created pretty strong shelves!

One side of peninsula with wood, paint, and carpet on it.

Other side of peninsula with even more wood on it

One wall with even more wood on it and some more paint.
Someday I'll clean all this up and either rebuild the benchwork or something, :)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Multi-Pass Concept

So I mentioned in my previous long winded post that I had looked at the heavy industries served by Conrail in the Rust Belt region. I came up with the following types of industries from that general area:

  • Steel Mill of some kind
  • Auto Plant (Assembly or Stamping or both?)
  • Oil Refinery
The one that I thought was interesting was the Oil Refinery. Until watching The History Channel's The Men Who Built America series, I hadn't realized that the origins of oil in this country came from The Ohio/Pennsylvania area. Some one had said that at one time and I hadn't paid much attention to it. However, while doing research out in that area I found a number of larger refineries both in Ohio and Pennsy. I thought those types of industries were only in NJ or Texas or other port areas, not inland. Who kew?

So, combining the list above with a few other sections for modeling and I had 7 areas of the layout with 2 for the Yard and subsequent yard lead/industries around it, one for staging, and another one that will be the "filler" one, more on scenery but will have some operational aspect. Here is what I came up with from a concept effort:
The green locations would generally be "upper level" areas of the multi-pass while orange is on the "lower level". The pass around on the left would actually go behind a wall I have constructed to give an aisleway back to our gas meter. I figure a 3" wide strip there isn't going to hurt that aisleway. The inspiration for this type of plan came from one of the layouts I operate on here in South Jersey, the Raccoon Valley. It has a very similar layout as mine but a few more operating areas because it's much larger. We're talking 30 car trains in HO scale on some staging tracks. When you take a train across the layout it doesn't go by quickly. It is also double-track as are a number of others I operate on so I'm still weighing double-track or single-track. I go back and forth on it so that may not be decided until track meets roadbed.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Narrowing Focus

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm heavily leaning towards the multi-pass design. That's not final, but I think it's the easiest way to ensure a relatively longish run on a single level layout in my given space and minimize the hidden trackage. Since this would be freelanced, I started going about the types of industries I'd want to represent on the layout. I've usually been focusing my efforts in research on the eastern portion of Conrail. That area is really dominated by chemicals and intermodal (and auto distribution) customers. There are a concentrated pockets of other important customers, like grain/food in Delaware and South Jersey, but by and large, that was the heavy traffic coming into the Philly/NYC area of Conrail.

A few weeks ago, when the configuration was presented to me, I was still holding out hope of doing the Harrisburg Line. The more I looked at the operations, however, the more I realized I would either have to a) severely compress the line or b) add more operation and traffic then existed or even exists today on this portion of Conrail's system. Because I was holding onto the idea of a single track line with industrial support, I started looking at other areas of Conrail that had decent traffic. I hadn't realized it but the Indianapolis Line between Berea and Galion, Oh., is single track. It doesn't have many largeish industries or decent yards. One could proceed into Cleveland, but then that would introduce the Chicago, Buffalo, and Cleveland lines into the equation with possible need for staging, etc. I went a little further west and thought about centering the layout on Marion, Oh. I went to the Rail BBQ there a few years ago when the CRHS held it at Marion Union Station, however, I felt that there might not be enough industry on either side of it to really work not to mention intermodal traffic diverted to Columbus at Galion. I haven't completely ruled it out, but I kind of left that area and started to explore other areas.

So the next course of action was to download appropriate ZTS documents from the Multimodalways archive. I really started exploring the areas from Columbus up through Cleveland then back down towards Pittsburgh which was a mix of the Indianapolis and Pittsburgh divisions. The thing that jumped out at me was all the various parts of the auto industry and also the number plants tied to the steel industry as well. To me, that felt like the Conrail that had a nice, big, industrial presence and really moved the goods in and out. This research actually brought me to the Ft. Wayne Line between Alliance and Crestline, Oh. Anything heading towards Indianapolis or Columbus used this line as a shortcut, thus avoiding Cleveland. This included Mail-3 and other TV/Mail trains. It also supported a number of signature industries like Rubbermaid, Smuckers, Step2, and GM in the area as well as the Republic Steel plants in and around Canton. It also had interchanges with the W&LE as well as the Ashland Railway. What this section lacked, however, was a single classificat-type yard. In fact, it really had two smaller, industrial support yards, one in Mansfield and one in Canton, both generating locals out to the various industries in the area.

While I'm not actively pursing this more, at the moment, the research has led me to look at incorporating the two major players of steel and the auto industry into any future layout. One, they are traffic consumers and generators, being switched multiple times a day. Two, other then intermodal traffic, those two areas were big money makers for Conrail and to really only represent them as perhaps overhead traffic I think would be wrong. So add them to the list of focus areas for the layout plan in addition to intermodal operations. With that, I started doodling, but I'll put that in another post shortly.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Directional Leaning

As I mentioned in my post a few months back, I've been working with a few individuals on other possible configurations for my layout. Most have centered around a G-shaped layout. The only question really left to answer at this point is do I modify the double-deck benchwork I still have up or tear it down and put up simpler lower level benchwork. Before I answer that question, however, I thought it would be wise to work with the general layout shape and really see the total number of people that might be able to fit comfortably in the space provided. To do that, I drew out the shape I keep coming back to and added what I call people blobs to it. These blogs are 30" x 15" ovals, well, really two 15" circles and a square joined in XTrackCAD. Here is what I ended up with:

As you can see, there could be 6 operators on this layout and that would probably be the max allowable for the space available. I added these people blobs to my other designs and concluded that double-deck spacing for towns/operators would be much greater then if I did single-deck. In fact, I think I'd lose potentially one or two areas in order to keep the operators separated. I haven't ripped out the double deck benchwork yet (mostly because there's still a ton of stuff on it) but I'm thinking I will just after Memorial Day.

Now the question goes to the type of layout for this space. I want a continuous run. Sometimes you just want to sit back and watch trains go around while enjoy a nice drink or having visitors over to see the layout. One option is to run the turnback loop behind a low backdrop all the way back around to staging. Not bad, except that could be a lot of limited visibility/hidden trackage. Another thought I had was essentially a folded dogbone with the top and right-side being multi-pass areas. I operate on a layout that has a similar configuration but has staging essentially below the left-side and some areas that are about half a train length of visible trackage so your switching in tunnels. I can get away with making the staging on the left-side of the wall, thus eliminating that type of hidden trackage and I'd probably limit myself to 3 areas of the layout on differing levels where the two lines would parallel or cross each other.Transitions would be key in that type of design but I've visited and participated in enough layouts that while operating, you don't really notice the other "levels" when things are clearly marked. So that's where the planning/decisions stand right now. I've completed the dresser, crib and beds. Now just need to stain them. Hopefully by June I can get back downstairs and get this all straightened out before the next hurricane comes here and I repile stuff on the benchwork.


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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