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what better to celebrate the new forum start-over, than with a new layout?

the builders will start in march to make my new hobbyroom. so it is high time, to move from "could-be" and "should-be" to concrete plans.
but i know, that i tend easyly to overlook things. so i would ask all, to show me the flaws of my plans.

below i post my latest plan.
it consists of two folded circles, that are overlapping. on each circle trains shall run in both directions.
as a plus i will add a rural line using Fallertrain-rails.
generally it will be a 1:29 (because i got lots of acessoirs in that scale) western(?) or southern(?) early times set up. (with enough #8 thrown in, to have cotton, sugar cane, logging and mining integrated)

i think about three levels. the lower (2' high) as shadow-area to store future-excess-trains, the main layout at 3'height with a harbour and the upper level at 5' height.
the up and down connections shall be hidden behind the background with 2/5" grades (in the R1 curves) to 1/2" grades (in the straights).
later on i will try to realize my ideas about automatic loading and unloading.

the system is analog. the trains will steer each other using reed-contacts after the LGB-EPL fashion.

so, pluck it up!
show me, where the mistakes in planning are.

korm
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plan of indoor layout for Southern and Gulf RailRoad
Image exceeds 640 pixel max. width - converted to link. Mod.

Edit: sorry. korm 
here it is in smaller:
 

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You seemed to have spent a LOT of time on this.  It's your layout, only YOU need to be happy, but since you asked, I did have a few thoughts.

The first was that with 2 feet between levels (allowing about 4" for benchwork, etc.) will you be a bit crowded if you decide to have any taller scenery items such as trees, windmills or 3 story buildings?...also getting the "5 finger hook" to the backside of the return loops to rerail something might be a bit problematic. I saw access panels, but can you use them without squashing something on the other layer?

My second was to be reminded of the old "spaghetti bowl" Lionel layouts. Lots of track, very little scenery...Some like them, real railroads justifed every foot of track. Sidings and yards were built for a specific purpose (why build 2 sidings if a single team track will do?). Nothing wrong with either approach. I don't know your personal philosphy, so I can't make that call for you. Personally, I like a bit less track, then doing all the little bits and bobs that bring a scene to life. note: those R-1 curves will limit how big of stuff you can run, and how good it will look doing it.

Third thought was, 2 loops set up for automatic running...sweet!, up to a point... BUT will you get bored after a bit? Some guys do. Having a point to point section where you can switch and do operations might help keep you fresh. OTOH I have heard of guys just place a brick across the loop to simulate a point to point when they want to do something different.

But what do I know? All I have is a 5' x 8' loop in a 2nd floor apt. YMMV (your mileage may vary) Like I said before, only YOU need to be happy with it.
 
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The first was that with 2 feet between levels 

eh.... oh, oh.... you are right. i forgot to calculate benchwork's height. maybe, if i put the two lower levels down half a foot or so? i would hate to lift the upper level higher. (with 5' or 1.50 meter it is just eye level for most people)


 I saw access panels, but can you use them without squashing something on the other layer?

i am not sure. i will have to find out, when the rails are laid provisionally.

My second was to be reminded of the old "spaghetti bowl" Lionel layouts. Lots of track, very little scenery...

i agree with you on that. save in the stations i will try to have no more rail than one visible from any given observingpoint.
(i am not good enough at plandrawing, to show clearly, which rails will be hidden behind the background


(why build 2 sidings if a single team track will do?). 

i don't know the meaning of "team track". 
the two rails in stations are for the incoming trains from oposite directions. where there is a third track, it is for one direction to let the incoming train pause for one turn, while a waiting train goes on instead. (so not allways the same two trains meet at the same stations.)
in the middle, where the loops overlap, i planned four rails per station, because there will meet four trains.


 those R-1 curves will limit how big of stuff you can run, and how good it will look doing it.

yes.
but i see no problem there. my longest wagon is a boxcar, that came in a bachmann starter set (1' 4") all the others are 1' or shorter.
at the moment i can not imagine, to get interested in longer/more modern stuff.
i can't afford a bigger hobby room right now, and i am not willing to go outdoors with my layout. it is simply to hot here. seldom, that the temperature goes below +30° centigrade before midnight.

Third thought was, 2 loops set up for automatic running...sweet!, up to a point... BUT will you get bored after a bit? Some guys do. 

i am one of those blockheads, who like to see many trains running, but don't like the stress, to steer them.
if i am looking for a thrill, i allways can slip in between with a radio-controled inspection train and take time, how long i can evade a crash...;)
my last layout, i put up the benches, rails and the electricity in a couple of weeks, then to take years to toy around with scenery and buildings, while the trains ran around me.
(i never finished the layout, before we moved.)


Having a point to point section where you can switch and do operations might help keep you fresh. 

that sounds like a job for selfmade locos with remote-control to me.


thank you, your comments set me off thinking along some new lines.

korm
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Its mostly dependant on what you intend to run. Also if you chose to  use wider radius curves like 5 ft ot 6.5 ft so you can run large engines and cars, remember that all your switchs MUST match those engines min requirments. 

Did you include the depth of the supporting framework in your level height calculations? Thats at about 6 inches for benchwork framing assumin 1x4 framing members.

I assume the red track plan is the lowest level, why not place that level on the ground and use it only as a storage or staging yard? A place where whole trains are kept until needed. Then come up with 2 feet clear between that deck and the underside of level 2 benchwork (2'6" total floor to deck) up to level 2, then again up 2'6" deck to deck to level 3 at 5'-0" above the floor.

Are there going to be lights under each deck to light the lower level? Your going to have some big shade areas on 1 and 2
 

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I really like the looks of your 3-tiered layout. One item, everything you have now will run on R1 curves, but do you want to limit your future operations? Something to think about. I'm looking forward to your progress, I believe it will be an awesome layout!
 

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Expanding a previous point, your main level and hidden level are 1 foot apart, in reality more like eight inches apart including framing. If you need to retrieve, repair, put back on the track, etc. anything on that hidden level that isn't right on the front edge, you will have a problem. Imagine reaching back in about four feet and bringing out a recalcitrant engine that is stopped in the back corner.
 
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remember that all your switchs MUST match those engines min requirments. 

save two, all my turnouts are R1.


everything you have now will run on R1 curves, but do you want to limit your future operations?

yes, i want to. i got dozens of horsecarts, hundreds of civil war toy soldiers and cowboys, no hobbyshop nearer than Miami, Florida...
so i have to scratchbuild my future stock from toy parts. (freight for a small wagon from the US till here would be about $50 alone. plus the worth of the wagon) and i got a whole box of coffee stirrer sticks, waiting to be converted to falsefront-buildings, western style.
yes, i am quite sure, i will not have long rolling stock.


Did you include the depth of the supporting framework in your level height calculations?

i did not. first time i noticed that, was after Mik's answer.


the red track plan is the lowest level, why not place that level on the ground and use it only as a storage or staging yard?

storage yard for additional trains is the lowest/red level's main purpose. plus completing a loop for the mine-trains and the lumber -trains.
putting it on the floor is no option. by experience i know, that i need easy access for cleaning the floor below the layout. but i could lower the level about 6 to 8 inches.
that level will be hidden behind a curtain.


your main level and hidden level are 1 foot apart, in reality more like eight inches apart including framing. If you need to retrieve, repair, put back on the track, etc. anything on that hidden level that isn't right on the front edge, you will have a problem.

a small one. the bigger problem will be the up and down going rails, hidden behind the background. (i have other plans with a small access-space along all the walls. but then i loose the space for the harbour in the middle...)


Then come up with 2 feet clear between that deck and the underside of level 2 benchwork (2'6" total floor to deck) up to level 2, then again up 2'6" deck to deck to level 3 at 5'-0" above the floor.

i fear to make my grades too steep. the steepest, i had built up till now was 9/16" to th foot. and that was hard on the engines. the best ones, the two stainzes, made that with 10 aixles drawn. the bachmann, the playmobils and the scratchbuilts did even less.
so i thought, not to go steeper than 1/2" per foot on straights, and not more than 3/8" on curves.
that means, without the forgotten height of the frame, i allready need the black part of the curves on the left, plus the whole length of the walls plus till the middle of the window at the right, to gain the two feet difference.
using the whole length of the short wall for the grade as well, i might win additional 3 inches for the frame.


Are there going to be lights under each deck to light the lower level?

for the lowest level i will put some lamps, as necessary. below the upper level i will put tubes behind the frontblending. the upper level will be lighted from farther above, that the observers don't look into any light.

thank you all, for your input.

korm

ps: below the plan, i made before. with access from behind.

 

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Hmmm...

In your first set of plans, it looks like you have a section where the edge of the topmost level (the cotton gin) sticks way out over the edge of the level below (the mill). That could present both operational (bumping the old noggin) and scenic problems for the middle level.

The center peninsula concept is good; it is actually what I would have gone with had I that kind of space. (Alas, my train room was about two feet too narrow). As far as going back and forth between levels...how about using a helix, with R2 or even R3 curves on the center peninsula? That would be visually impressive, and you have enough space on the center peninsula to keep the grade down to maybe 2 or 2.5 percent.

As far as the rest goes...the idea of a lower storage level is fine - but keep the tracks to the front, where you can reach them.

Outside of the center peninsula, which would have to be about eight foot wide (something I learned the hard way on my own indoor layout), most of it should be on fairly narrow shelves, no more than three feet deep - past that you get into 'reach' issues.

The upper level, to avoid the 'overhang' effect should be narrower...maybe only a foot or foot and a half deep.

You should be able to get away with a couple of 'endpieces' at the end of the walls that would be wide enough to accomodate the return loops that would 'dovetail' in with the center peninsula but still allow room enough to 'reach' most of it.
 
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...the center peninsula, which would have to be about eight foot wide (something I learned the hard way on my own indoor layout), 

even my layout at the remote ranch had enough visitors. so i am determined to make the visitor's accesses at least three foot wide. (to not having them assbrushing the layout)

center-peninsula of 8' plus two accesses 3' each, would leave me with one foot wide shelves along the walls....

could you explain further, why you are thinking, the center has to be that wide?

thanks, korm
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could you explain further, why you are thinking, the center has to be that wide?



Hmmm...

for a R1 circle, with proper minimum clearances, you'd be looking at a minimum width of just over 4.5 feet - actually, five feet if you could manage itl.

for a R2 circle, with the proper minimum clearances, you'd be looking at a minimum width of just over six feet, and if you can manage it, you'd want 6.5 feet.

If you were to try 'stretching' the width of that R2 circle by dropping a 12 inch piece of straight track, even if it is 'angled' in relation to the peninsula's width, what you need for minimum clearances becomes seven feet (this is the situation I'm in.) Otherwise, your looking at 7.5 to 8 feet - at least for that part of the peninsula.

I think the clearances for an unmodified R3 curve come out to about seven feet, but I'm not sure.

'Clearances' gets into the overhang of the loco's on the curves.

Both Vic (VSmith) and myself have done a bit of experimentation with grades on curves. The tighter the curve, the more your engines will strain themselves getting up it, and the less they can pull. Hence, if at all possible, you *really* want your grades on a curve to be as wide as you can manage - which would mean R2 and R3 if possible.

Because this would be a climbing helix or spiral, your upper, or inner loop would have to have a tighter radi than the one below it - and you still need to maintain proper clearances. Play around with it enough, maybe drop in just a couple of R1 curves at the very top...you might be able to get the width of the peninsula down to about seven feet (I managed this, but it involved `stacking the track' at one point). Visually, though, it would be impressive.

I'd use a bridge to cross from the top of the helix to the upper level.

I would also point out that only the part of the peninsula with the helix/spiral on it need be the full width.
 
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thank you.
i think, i understand now.

i tried to make some calculations about a helix.

as base i take my experience, that i need at least a width of 6" to have the needed clearance on both sides for one foot long wagons.
my highest loco needs a clearance of 9 1/2" (counting from the base of the sleepers) plus, at least one inch for woodwork.

if i am not misstaken, at a grade of 3/8 per foot, that means i need at least 28 foot of rails to raise the height the trains have.
28 foot that is at R1 two full circles plus four straight one foot pieces.
conclusion, i can not put the circles one below the other, like in H0.

2' 2" elevation to the next level at a 3/8 per foot grade calls for 70 one foot long rails.

i played a little bit with my trackplanner...

and after doing that, it definitely reminded me too much of the big mountains, i had on my last layout:





 

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Hmmm...

...I think you had an extra loop there in your drawing. The grade for the top one would work out to 4% or about 1/2 inch per foot.

As it is, if you were to start the ascent at point 'B' with a steady 3% grade (about what your aiming for), at the end of the first loop, you'd have gained 10.5 inches of elevation over about 29 feet. The next loop in at the same grade would climb 9 inches in 25 feet...which gets you into problems. You could get out of this by either increeasing the grade to 3.5% (not unless you have to) orextending the length of the 'climb' section from ten feet to about twelve feet (which would almost let you gain the whole 2'2" in just two loops - actually, if you began climbing before point B - say at the base of the peninsula, you could do this). I'd also really recommend R2 curves instead of R1 if possible.

I like the pic, by the way. Were you unhappy with that particular layout?
 
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ThinkerT,

you raised my curiosity.
i think, when the room is done, first i will make a test setup of a helix.
i am in no hurry. the last layout did not get finished from 1985 to 2004. and i don't see, why to speed up more than double for the next one.


Were you unhappy with that particular layout?

at first yes.
everybody, who entered the room was confronted with this sight:





and the rest of the layout paled out. - looked insignificant.
after some mayor civil engineering (putting a steelframe and weels under three unconnected tables of 5 1/2' x 7' each) i moved the mountain to be at the far side of the room.
then it was better. sacrificing the best view, the mountain fitted better in the overall picture.







only turning a bit to the left, gets one access to the former main view.





this one is from the background.
(before digital cameras i was too dumb, to make usable fotos. so all fotos are from the time, when the layout was abandoned allready.

 

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Good looking work. Why not pull that passing siding on the lowest level out to the front edge? This is a great thread, it takes courage to share your thinking with everyone (specialy because it is so easy to critique someone else's ideas) Keep it coming!
 
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CCSII,

in modification of an old saying about talking:

how should i know, what i am thinking, before i read, what i am typing?

by formulating my thoughts, i precice them. and by getting critics and thoughts from others i can modify them.
my win.

korm
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well, the comments i got, send me thinking.
as did the fact, that i have not enough switches for the former plan...

as i still don't really trust the helix idea, i made another plan, how to build, if a helix would be no option.

all those alaskan mountain and mining fotos got under my skin. so a mountain must be. a big mountain. a three foot mountain.
it will be on the mainlevel, with a 32mm gauge (O Gauge?) mining line at about 10" of height. (pink). above that will be the storage to fill the train.
high up the coal will be brougt out of the mountain by a conveyorbelt, falling in a mill and from there in the storage.
the mining train will run on trestles to the loading facility.
in the foot of the mountain will be hidden the loop of the downgoing 45mm Lost Gulf Branch line. (red)

next to the loading facility for the LGBRR will be another mountain(not so big), hiding the loop for the upward connection of the Southern & Gulf RR.
high on that mountain will be the mouth of another mine, where a guy with a handpushed cart (HO Gauge) spills ore on a slide.

next will be a logging area, then a working sawmill.

at the harbor the LGBRR will unload the hoppers in a boat.

from there the two lines will run on the same track (so i may bring trains from the storage area to both lines), before the red line goes back down inside of another mountain.
the Southern & Gulf goes on to a city, where cattle will be unloaded on a siding. from there in a loop below another mountain up to the higher level.

on the upper level will be two towns. one to serve a ranching area, and one that has a cotton mill. the latter has one extra siding, to alternate trins in one of the directions.
from there another small  Gauge line (32mm) will serve a cotton plantation district. (pink) - (may be a 'rule 8' sugarcane district too)

for this plan i have nearly everything.

i just have to make a second hopper (copying the one i allready made - easy)
the one switch still missing, i am trying to build myself (had to stop for the moment, i have no resin, to make the frog)
fabrikating some more epl type impulsors for switches is no problem.
most animations planned are similar to things i made before.
for buildings i will first put the toys i got, and replace them over the years with custom made houses.
most challenging will be the three more needed locos for the 32mm Gauge lines. (but i got lots of motors and gears from toys lying around)

the dotted lines are for tracks hidden in mountains, or behind scenerie and background.
the orange crosses mark where i plan animated scenes.

here the same pic in bigger for those with 'largescale eyes':  kormsen.ko.funpic.de/bahn/25feb.JPG

 

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Ok...looks pretty good.

Lower (storage) level : If at all possible, I'd really recommend keeping the tracks here - especially the sidings - as close to the 'edge' as you can manage. The 10 inch high ceiling in there will really limiit your 'reach' ability.

Main level: Looks pretty good.

I would point out it would cost you nothing to scenic the 'backside' where the climbing and decending tracks are (keep these tracks in the open). It might even be possible to work in a minor 'whistle stop' type station back there somewhere (something to give a bit of thought to, maybe).

I'd also give a bit of thought to relocating the switch for the descent track; maybe move it back towards the port a bit. Turn the port into the junction as well as a port. Let the first part of the decent track run in parallel with the main line.

Also, I didn't see any 'standard guage' sidings for the sawmill at the narrow guage intersection. (the narrow guage bit is a nifty idea).

Upper level: Shelves might be a bit wide, overhanging the lower level too much. If it were just where the downward loops have to be stashed, it wouldn't be too bad, as it is, there is the 'overhang' effect.

Question: given that all this is freestanding; how do you intend to work the supports between the main and upper levels?

A thought: maybe 'flip' the narrow guage lines? Put the mining line on the upper level, with attendant businesses (allowing for narrower shelves and the isolated peninsula bit) with the agricultural line on the main level.
 

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That looks interesting, one question, why is there so much open real estate along the track to the cottonfields area? is this to be all scenery?
 

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I don't have much to offer in way of a critique, but I do think that your planned railroad looks like a lot of fun!! The old one looked great, too!  

Mark
 
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