Track Plan At A Glance
Layout Theme: Scenic Railroad
Layout Type: Permanent
Scale: HO Scale
Track: Code 83
Turnouts: No. 5
Min. Radius: 21"
Article by: Jim Spavins
Published: January 3, 2017
For part four of the Caboose Park series, let's look at taking the theme of a scenic railroad operating caboose trains and how it could be placed in a typical spare bedroom. The room used for the trackplan is 12'x12' with a single entrance doorway, a small closet, and a window opposite of the room entrance.
Just like the other plans in the Caboose Park series (Caboose Park I, Caboose Park II, Caboose Park III), the plan at the beginning of the article is for a scenic railroad which operates caboose trains between a main terminal and a destination along a scenic route. Since this version of the layout is set in a spare bedroom, the advantage of operating caboose trains shines through since the shorter length of the equipment can negotiate smaller radii (in this case just 21") and still look reasonable. A passenger train operating typical passenger cars between 80' and 90' long would need larger radius curves just to physically operate (minimum 24") and probably need much larger radii (36" to 60") to look good rolling down the line. Using these larger curves would fill up the room fairly quickly and leave very little room left for a mainline run. By using the smaller equipment, a reasonable length run can be obtained in the smaller spare bedroom space.
Around the Railroad
Overall, the railroad packs in about 45 feet of mainline. In order to accomplish this length of run in such a small room, an up and over track arrangement is used. The grades along this portion of the mainline max out at about 2% which is not too bad considering the layout only hosts short trains of about 6-8 cabooses plus a small locomotive.
Going on a tour of the mainline, the base of the operations would be at Hope Valley on the right hand side of the track plan. Here a small station and run around track are located. This would be the main headquarters of the railroad's operation and where passengers would arrive and board the train for the run over to the cider mill. Proceeding out of town, the mainline would swing through a wooded area before heading into a tunnel. On the other side, the mainline would begin a scenic run up a grade through generic New England forest scenery on its way to the cider mill at the other end of the railroad. Just before the cider mill, the mainline passes over Apple Creek and past the railroad's enginehouse and shop facility. The end terminal at the cider mill features a platform and a run around track.
Track Plan Analysis
Compared to the first two plans in the series, this plan feels a bit tighter due to the smaller space. Obviously the continuous run option available in the Caboose Park II and Caboose Park III plans are missing in this version of the layout but the plan does mimic the point to point operations on Caboose Park I. Even though the mainline run is fairly short, running a train around the railroad would still feel like operating a scenic railroad. The leisurely mainline run would wind around the room giving at least a sense of having gone somewhere and each terminal would require a run around move so typical of scenic train operations.
An advantage of the smaller size layout space is that some of the costs are taken out of the layout compared to the larger versions of the railroad. With the reduced amounts of trackwork, buildings, and details which need to be added to the railroad, the budget can be kept fairly reasonable. In addition, with less to be build, more time could be invested in higher craftsmanship activities like scratchbuilding or kitbashing - not to mention the higher level of detailing that can be achieved with the smaller scope of work.
Given the spare bedroom size space, it seems clear that an HO (and probably an N) scale version of the layout would adequately provide a model railroad which would capture the essence of a caboose train scenic railroad.
For Track Plan Tuesday's, I am digitizing all of my old track planning notebooks and sharing the designs here on the website. To see all the plans, visit the track plan home page at: jimspavins.com/jimstrackplans. Follow new track plan announcements at: facebook.com/jimstrackplans