Track Plan At A Glance
Layout Theme: Modern Day, Midwestern
Layout Type: Permanent
Scale: HO Scale
Track: Code 83
Turnouts: No. 6
Min. Radius: 30" (Mainline), 24" (Branch)
Article by: Jim Spavins
Published: April 5, 2016
A few weeks ago, I received an email for a request to design a layout for a theme outside of the northeast. The individual was looking to build a modern, midwest themed layout in a spare bedroom.
The Cireneg, IN, track plan has been developed based on this desire for a modern day, generic midwest railroad in a spare bedroom. The following were the key design requirements for the project:
- Room Size: 11.5'x22'
- One entrance - no windows
- Geographic Preference: Generic Midwest - Indiana, Ohio, Illinois
- Type of Railroading: Modern Branchline/Shortline
- Era: Modern
- Prototype Railroad: No preference
- Layout Style: Around the Walls, Peninsula optional
- Lift Outs/Duck Under: OK
- Preferred Operation Style: Continuous Running + Switching
Track Plan Overview
The track plan has been designed around a single fictional town in Indiana named Cireneg. A mainline for the Indiana Railroad passes through the center of town with a branch to an industrial park located on the other side of the river which bisects the area. A traditional grain elevator is located near the center of town as is an abandoned train station.
The mainline curves behind the main town to a small three track staging yard which is hidden from view by the gently sloping scenery. The staging yard is not covered but exposed to allow for trains to be accessed if there is a mechanical problem and to clean the track from time to time. All of the turnouts for the staging yard are expected to be powered with controls located near the aisle. A set of mirrors, placed towards the ceiling (see Fig. 1-1) would allow for trains to be monitored entering and exiting the staging yard. Since the layout is narrow enough, a small step should suffice to access the center area of the staging yard. However, emergency access areas, which require a duck under, are located inside the end loops should equipment derail in these areas.
Figure 1-1 - Proposed Ceiling Mirror System to See Staging Yard
The scenery and structures on the layout should be developed to feel like a typical Midwestern town. On the outskirts of the center of town, gently sloping open fields with the occasional tree cluster should fill the landscape. Closer to town, clustered two to three story brick buildings should dominate. Across the river at the industrial park, new modern industrial buildings for the transload facility and bottling plant would help set the scene in the present day.
Layout Operations Summary
The layout has been designed to accommodate solo operations as well as small group operating sessions. As a solo operator, trains can simply be left to run on the continuous loop or a local can be set up and then sent out to switch all of the industries on the railroad. While the room isn't very large, it might be possible to include two crews - each made up of two people - running two trains to serve the town. The first crew could work the industrial park - spotting cars at the three industries - while the second crew could operate a through train which stops in town to pick up and drop off cars from the grain elevator and industrial park branch.
Layout Construction Highlights
Because of the width of the layout at the end loops, L-girder benchwork is recommended for its ease of construction and flexibility for handling the free-form nature of the layout's footprint. In addition, a tall backdrop, with curved corners is recommended to capture the wide open feel of the region.
From a long term perspective, I'd recommend planning out under layout storage areas early on in the construction process (See Fig. 1-2). I'd recommend keeping the areas around the emergency access hatches free and clear of all items. In addition, in areas where under layout electronics would be located - like turnout motors - I'd highly recommend that any under layout storage system be placed on wheels. This way if there is a problem, the items stored under the layout can quickly and easily be moved. This will make maintenance chores less of a headache.
Fig 1-2 - Proposed Under Layout Storage Areas. | Drawing by Jim Spavins.
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