22 February 2010

Layout project, version 2.2

A small update on my layout project status after I received some very useful suggestions and feedback. Again I have to thank Byron in particular who helped me spotting potential points where I may have problems with my project.

There are two major issues with my project:
  1. how to keep the junctions of several tracks aligned between the three sections of the benchwork spanning on two different levels
  2. how to build the benchwork for the helix and keep it aligned with the adjacent section
And -last but not least- the helix should be "movable" somewhere else as the rest of the layout when I need to park the car.

I read a lot about various solutions people have already developed to keep different part of the benchwork together. All modular layout have came out with some sort of solution (for example FREMO modules) to achieve that. However, I'm not really confident I will be able to perfectly align the two levels of each section in a reliable way because of the very limited degree of freedom to move each section and because more than one track is planned to cross the section boundaries.
In addition, that's my very first attempt a building a layout and I'm better start off with something simpler.

So, here the latest version of the layout.

Mainline green; sidings and spurs brown; staging blue

I gave up with the idea of two levels and completely removed the need for a helix. Basically the former upper level has become the only level, actually on what was considered the lower level though.
In addition to simplify section alignments I now have much more "vertical" space since there's no upper level anymore. Overall there are about 20" of vertical clearance above the benchwork subroadbed.
Since the staging yard was planned on the lower level I had to find out a new place for that. Byron's suggestion was to add a removable extension in place of the helix to provide for staging. I thought that was a great idea and I tried to push it one step more.
The result is a double-ended staging that connects to the end of both lateral sections. This brings in a lot of advantages:
  • as in the real prototype trains can enter and leave the modeled area both from east and west
  • I get continuous running possibility passing through staging
  • benchwork for this staging yard is far simpler than a helix and can be adjusted to correctly align with the other sections
  • when not in use I can "store" the staging section away, I need to find out exactly how though
  • the piece of track to serve Owens Illinois Glass Auto Parts can be connected through staging providing an additional industry to be served
On the other hand this has some downsides:
  • since I don't want to rebuild almost all benchwork sections the layout height is not optimal. The former lower lever is at 45" from floor while I preferred nearly 54"
  • to operate the layout one has to duck under either the middle section or the staging yard
I'm sure there's still a lot of space for improvements so please give me your feedback.

See you soon...

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