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Came back from a short vacation to discover the August GR waiting in the mailbox.

I was quite taken by the piece by Peter Jones (Scribblings on a Workshop Wall column) that dealt with the philosophy of railroad planning. While his thoughts mainly reflect on combining the practical side of maintenance with the fun of railfanning a garden railroad, he makes a number of good points that are well worth considering as we plan.

From my own perspective, I would have included some thoughts on operating the railroad and how the desired ops affect the planning ...

Well worth a read - and some clearer thought on what we are all doing.

Regards ... Doug
 
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Peter is one of my favorite contributors to GR...His latest Book "practical garden railways" is wonderful!
Funny thing is...yesterday afternoon, I was reading his article...went outside and saw my "yard" in a new light....immediately I decided to MOVE the entire line to the opposite end of the yard (for reason I'll share later)...when my lovely bride appeared out of the house to interject "why not put it there?"....an even better place than I had decided to move it to (more on this as well)...Wow, all from a 2 page article!
cale
 

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On topic: What is an essential in track/layout planning for me?

For myself, the most frequent point in the yard from which the trains will be viewed is the source for the answer.
I have seen layouts planned two feet away from the dirt NOT from the vantage point of where people will be most likely watching.
If it is a patio gathering point, then boredom will set in if the entire layout boundry is seen without observers moving their heads. Whoa! This is crazy? No. The opposing view is for the viewers to see it, they must scan the layout and not see it in one glance. So one way is an "L" shape if the entire layout length is seen as a static picture. Otherwise, there is a short look, everyone stays in their seats as if they just saw an overhead slide or painting, and conversation resumes. IF people have to scan they likely will get up and go to the layout to "see" it in its entirety. Above all, they don't simply take one look. The layout now becomes an annimation feature that keeps people's heads moving when they watch those well lit passenger cars pass and encircle the plants at the far end and.....


Keep on 'trackin!
Wendell

OK, I'm now open for cross X.
 

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As I was planning/building my layout, I felt that it was essential to keep it visually interesting. This is achieved by several means:

1. Having tunnels, mountains, cuts and other obstructions that prevent seeing the entire route of the train, and which allow the train to completely disappear from time to time. (This also creates the illusion of greater distance).

2. Avoiding long stretches of straight track parallel to the edge of the layout area. Even angling the track a little bit in relation to the edge, or adding some gentle curves, helps to prevent the "tabletop trainset" look.

3. Incorporating eye-catching features such as trestles and bridges, while attempting to make them appear as logical as possible. That is, they look as if there is a real reason for their existence. I also tried to make them look as if they were built to fit the terrain, rather than the terrain being built to fit the trestles and bridges. Besides being visually interesting, this also looks more natural.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
For me, in planning a layout several criteria are on my list.

1) first and foremost, the railroad must be fun to operate and capable of supporting operating sessions with several operators emulating a prototypical movement of cars and trains - if this criteria cannot be met, nothing else will matter for me

2) the setting should be aesthetically pleasing - the garden should integrate well with the railroad and provide scenic areas for both railfanning and photos

3) the railroad should be accessible - this means accessible for live steaming, accessible for throwing switches and coupling/uncoupling cras ... it also means accessible for maintenance and very importantly, accessible without forever crawling around on hands and knees

4) the railroad should be designed physically for the lowest possible maintenance - quality materials to withstand winter months of snow should be used coupled with the simplest and strongest design ... I prefer overbuilt simplicity to engineering innovation in this instance

5) the plan should carefully incorporate the movement of people through both garden and railroad worlds - I am a student of Chinese classical gardens and frequently incorporate oriental thinking into the design ... the oriental principal that people should be guided to viewing points is important both to showing the scene in its best light as well as keeping some order with many operators present

the railroad must meet many criteria for me to be happy with my design.

Regards ... Doug
 

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Haven't got to that article yet. I'm a slow reader:D
 
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Posted By Ray Dunakin on 07/01/2008 9:58 PM
As I was planning/building my layout, I felt that it was essential to keep it visually interesting. This is achieved by several means:
1. Having tunnels, mountains, cuts and other obstructions that prevent seeing the entire route of the train, and which allow the train to completely disappear from time to time. (This also creates the illusion of greater distance).
2. Avoiding long stretches of straight track parallel to the edge of the layout area. Even angling the track a little bit in relation to the edge, or adding some gentle curves, helps to prevent the "tabletop trainset" look.
3. Incorporating eye-catching features such as trestles and bridges, while attempting to make them appear as logical as possible. That is, they look as if there is a real reason for their existence. I also tried to make them look as if they were built to fit the terrain, rather than the terrain being built to fit the trestles and bridges. Besides being visually interesting, this also looks more natural.





Ray, I believe you succeeded in your quest!
 

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I've enjoyed reading this thread, and the Peter Jones article which inspired it. But there's one thing in the article that I don't understand. Jones writes -- paraphrasing here -- that there's no need for turntables on a rail line run with tank engines, except at roundhouses!


In the first place, just about every turntable I've ever seen in the real world IS in front of a roundhouse. I've seen a few at the end of stub tracks on layouts, where the operator didn't want to get an engine stuck, but in the real world this is generally solved with a 'go-round' track.


And in the second place, I don't understand what tank engines, as different from tender engines, have to do with it. Both have the ability to go in reverse quite easily... though I imagine the backwards visibility of something like a "Big Boy" could be a bit limited!/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/shocked.gif


Could somebody explain this to me, or was something 'lost in translation'?


BTW, Cale, I went looking on line for Jone's book, and came up empty till Amazon turned up "Practical Garden RailWAYS" rather than "..roading". Just a small clarification for other searchers.


-Gary the Garden Rail Hobo-
 

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Gary,

There are many historic instances of turntables not associated with roundhouses. Anywhere an engine needed turning was a possible site. At the end of a branchline, at a junction, etc. Of course in mainline terminals and at division points engine servicing and repairs were performed and a roundhouse or large engine house would most often be included with the turntable.

Running in reverse:
Railroads did not like to run steam locomotives tender first in road service. Besides poorer visibility tenders didn't track as well as the locomotives. This meant much slower speeds as well. Tank lokies lacking a tender could operate in either direction with equal efficiency and safety. That's what Peter meant by not needing a turntable.

There were instances of tender first running but these were confined to low traffic branches, etc., where the expense and distance traveled in reverse was short.
 

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I don't recall the details offhand, but one of the early Colorado narrow gauge lines used to have a covered turntable associated with a switchback on a mountainside. If I remember correctly, a train would pull onto a siding, then the loco would go through the turntable, get turned, then move to what had been the back of the train, in order to pull it up the switchback.
 
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