Jim Spavins Track Plan Logo
MRD Industrial O Scale Track Plan.

MRD Industrial Railroad

Two Rail O Scale Switching Layout

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Mr. Detail Parts Logo

Article by: Jim Spavins
Published: July 28, 2015

Even if you don't have a lot of space for a model railroad, there is always an opportunity to build a highly detailed, operationally oriented layout if you take the time to be creative with the design.  About two years ago I was working on sketches for a small portable display layout for my Mr. Detail Parts Shapeways store.  The general plan was a single spur O scale (two rail) layout which serves the fictional Mr. Detail Parts 3D printed detail parts factory. An interchange track is adjacent to the siding where covered hoppers from the outside world are delivered to the plant.  It is assumed a company switcher works the siding (which resides in the enginehouse on the left end of the layout) from cars delivered on the interchange track. While the track arrangement is simple, the task of arranging cars in the correct order can become complex very quickly.

The plan includes three 18"x40" sections for a total length of 10'.  The reason for this setup was to allow for a compact travel arrangement to fit in a rather small vehicle. The ten foot length would have allowed it be setup on two standard 30"x96" folding tables at a train show and leave enough room for marketing materials and product samples beyond what would have been included in the layout.

MRD Factory Section Details

Despite its small size, there are lots of interesting modeling projects on this layout.  These include the enginehouse, residential home, bridge, and factory.  In addition, there are a lot of great site details like stormwater structures and roadway details which can be added to the layout.

On the layout, the factory building will have some obvious locations to add stormwater management details.  Between the siding and the edge of the building is a place where there is a possibility that stormwater could become trapped.  Because ponding in this area would lead to long term damage to the track structure as well as to the mechanical systems, a means of escape for stormwater in this area is needed.  To accomplish this task, a trench drain will be placed between the building and the siding.  In addition, a catch basin will be placed near the silos to collect stormwater around this area.  These two structures would be combined together and sent through an underground pipe network to an outlet at the front of the layout.  On a modern day layout, this outlet would be directed into a rain garden or detention basin to help manage the flow and treat the stormwater but since the outlet is at the edge of the layout, there isn't enough room to model these features - just simply suggest that a rain garden or detention basin is modeled off the layout.  Combined with proper grading around the building and siding, stormwater on this portion of the layout should appear to be handled with ease with just a couple of detail parts.

In order to unload the product from the rail cars and send it into the factory, an unloading system will be needed.  As mentioned in an earlier post, the factory represents a 3D printing company which receives covered hoppers of plastic material.  The plastics used for 3D printing come in a powder form so for ease of unloading, Airslide covered hoppers will be used.  At a very basic level, to unload these Airslide cars, a vacuum hose is attached to a valve on the bottom of the car so the plastic powder can be pulled out.  This product is then typically sent to storage silos until it is needed in the production process. To represent this system on the layout, a pipe will need to be placed parallel to the siding with several valves to attach hoses which will connect to the covered hoppers.  This pipe will eventually lead to a small shed where the vacuum equipment is located along with distribution piping to the silos which will be placed adjacent to the building.

Enginehouse Section Details

No railroad would be complete without some kind of headquarters.  On the layout, the MRD Industrial Railroad is headquartered out of an enginehouse at the end of the line.  This building, which will be home for the locomotive as well as the offices for the railroad, can be kitbashed from various HO scale Pikestuff building walls and then detailed with O scale detail parts.

While small with only three total parking spaces, there are a number of details which need to be added to the enginehouse parking lot.  The most obvious details are for the parking spaces which will each receive a concrete curb stop.  One of the spaces will be an ADA space which will require the use of the ADA Pavement Marking template to paint the appropriate symbols and striping.  In addition, a bollard with an ADA sign will also be placed at the end of this space.  Around the parking lot, precast concrete curbing will be added and one catch basin will be placed in one corner of the parking lot to handle stormwater runoff.

As a final detail, I am assuming the fuel rack is fed through an underground tank.  In theory, this tank is located below the parking lot and the hatches to load fuel through are at the parking lot surface.  A concrete pad, similar to those found at gas stations, will be placed in a portion of the parking lot to represent this underground tank.  These fueling pads have several hatches (typically small ones for filling operations and larger ones so that people can enter for maintenance) as well as grooves around the edges of the pad.  These grooves are called positive limiting barriers and are meant to contain a small amount of fuel in the event of a spill.  The fuel would run into these grooves and could then be cleaned up easily.  The alternative would be to have the fuel potentially runoff into the ground and contaminant the soil.

Layout Operations

As for operating the layout, I came up with a simple spreadsheet which randomly generates a switchlist from the available pieces of rolling stock. (Download here. Note: Excel .xlsx file) The idea is that up to three covered hoppers of 3D printing materials have been left by the local railroad on the interchange track.  Several hopper cars are in process of being unloaded at the factory.  The switchlist shows which cars need to be switched out and where the newly delivered cars need to be unloaded.  The industrial switcher would start at the enginehouse and then make the necessary moves to switch the cars.  With the limited tail track (one loco + two cars long), the switching can become complicated quickly.  If you follow real-world railroading practices, it wouldn't surprise me it this little layout can take an hour to switch.

This layout would be a lot of fun for someone with minimal space who liked detailing models and enjoyed intense switching games.

To learn more about Mr. Detail Parts, visit the website at www.mrdetailparts.com.  You can also follow along on the Mr. Detail Parts Facebook page.