Switching area module - a design challenge?

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geofftiller
Posts: 46
Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2009 7:05 pm

Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by geofftiller » Thu Mar 28, 2013 8:53 pm

Hi All

Following the successful visit of the Essex Belt Lines alyout to Ally Pally last weekend I have become more inspired/fired up (call it what you will) to get on with a module of my own. I am usually working on the wiring and technicals and was the layout troubleshooter last weekend (fortuneatly few major issues) but would like to add my own piece to the setup. I am looking for some assistance to get the new module design proces kicked off especially as this will be my first serious attempt at a layout since my mid teens!.

I already have some boards and I have a design, drawn for me by Trevor Marshall in Torono, of Riverside Yard/salt shed/reload facility outside Bellows Falls in Vermont. While the plan would work well as part of a big layout I have found that my prototype interests have expanded and the plan has very few car spots for the amount of track, being intended at least in part to be a yard. Being a follower of Lance Mindheim and having seen Mike Arnold's Dillon module in operation last weekend I would like something which incorporates more switching activity, while not overloading the module with track as the yard function can be handled by the staging yard. (I already own a branch staging yard) I would be very interested in any ideas you might be able to suggest to help me find a design for this new module.

The module will meet the requirements of the Thamesiders Branchline Module standard (the boards were built before the new NMRA-BR documents were written), it is very similar to the NMRA-BR specification having no backscene and almost the same electrics but allows for off-centre track at the module ends.

The basic "Givens and Druthers" are below:
Module dimension is 9' x 18" (made up of three 3' x 18" boards) (I might be able to extend this to 12" in the future but only for use at meets or shows)
Single track interface is 6" from the nominal front edge. (locating dowels and bolt hols are already drilled) track can go anywhere on the module as lonmg as it returns to this location at the ends and has 6" of straight track at each end.
Minimum radiius
MaIn track 36"
other track 24"

Track
Peco "83 Line" with Number 6 switches

Era
Mid 1990's onwards

Must enable locos from the following Railroads to be used
Conrail
CSX
I am also planning some IHB locos in the future

Druthers
Location
Anywhere I can run locos of my favourite railroads

Industries/Cars
For this module I don't have any real preferences However I do have a varied collevtion of covered hoppers which could support plastics, grain, flour, sand and salt. Some are just basic 4 bay bottom opening hoppers so could carry any bulk commodity. I am also collecting paper industry related cars having got interested in papermills (thats a modelling project for the future) along with a smattering of centre beam flats, gondolas and a mixed bag of general boxcars.

I would be interested in any comments or suggestions.

Thanks for your help

Geoff

Mike_R
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Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2009 7:05 pm

Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by Mike_R » Thu Mar 28, 2013 9:22 pm

Hi Geoff

Funny that I seem to spend the first part of a meeting under the layout as well. Hopefully soon all our modules will be operating without problems and the owners will have the correct leads to connect them!

Back to your module, some questions.
Do you prefer one large industry or several smaller?
Are you allowed to block the mainline while switching?
How long are your freights?
Mike Ruby

geofftiller
Posts: 46
Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2009 7:05 pm

Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by geofftiller » Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:27 pm

Hi Mike

Most of the problems were minor track or turnout problems, we did have a microswitch go sometime on Saturday but that was replaced first thign Sunday.

On the module: my long term goal is to model a papermill but expect that to be a very large project, this time around I am not fixed on a since indusry to multiple smaller ones.
As it is a branch module I would expect some blockage of the main to be allowed while switchiing.
I would expect something around five or six modern cars on the branch.

I am rather taken with in the street trackage, which I should have mentioned in my first post.

Thanks

Geoff

redbull
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Location: Cookham Dean, Berkshire
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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by redbull » Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:37 am

Geoff, I'm also doing a paper mill on my 2 board module. Will be interested to find out more about yours.

Peter
Peter Borcherds
Rochelle Intermodal N Scale Modular Layout
http://www.rochelleintermodal.com

PeterLJ
Posts: 130
Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2009 7:05 pm

Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by PeterLJ » Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:14 am

[quote="Mike_R" and the owners will have the correct leads to connect them![/quote]

Hi Mike

You have highlighted a real problem here. I certainly can no longer be bothered to include the DIN bus as it is not needed (apart from the junction we are dark territory) and is not in the NMRA BR Spec. I think Thames Siders have the same bus, what do they do? We would only need one or two converter panels to get from DIN back to express net and the return wire.

(For those who are not following Western Union uses Lenz but not XpressNet).

All the best

Peter L-J

geofftiller
Posts: 46
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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by geofftiller » Fri Mar 29, 2013 11:23 am

Hello Peter

I don't want to stray from the topic but, as the original designer of the 8 pin control bus feel it would be useful to explain how it is used on Thamesiders modules.

I am not sure I understand the statmenet
(For those who are not following Western Union uses Lenz but not XpressNet).
Is this because you use all Wi-Fi throttles?

Regarding module interconnecting cables:
every module has a set of cables to connect to the adjacent module and the club holds a small stock of spares.

Regarding the 8 pin control bus:
At Thamesiders every module has to include this bus as it is our control bus. As you know it includes the Xpressnet for Throttles, the booster bus to interconnect the command station to any boosters and the feedback bus. We haven't used the feedback bus yet (although I would like to) but the inclusion of the bus makes layout setups much simpler when considering the electrics. For example at Ally Pally I worked out the likely current requirements and found that we would need three or four 5A boosters, (we used four in the end). As our main layout is designed to be a circuit all modules larger then one board have input connections for the track and control buses making sure we can create any booster sections we need and ensuring these is always a feed available to provide Xpressnet for the throttles. There is no running of extra cables under the layout to interconnect boosters.

Bear in mind that the "Dumb booster" type units were not available when we started and bought our DCC system and when I designed the bus. However If you use those, things are basically the same except you simply amplifiy the track signal from the previous booster and don't need the booster bus. You just have to make sure you you never short out the initial booster as that will take out the whole string of boosters.

We continue to make most use of tethered handsets so have to run the Xpressnet bus around the layout anyway, this could be done on a setup by setup basis running cables under the layout but is much simpler when the bus is built into the modules and all you do is interconnect the modules. It alaso makes sure we get a good spread of throttle sockets around the layout as they can be placed anywhere required on the module rather then in a connection box or panel.
It is no more expensive to run an eight pin bus then the basic 4 wire Xpressnet (5 and 8 pin connectors are available at 50p each and Ethernet cable is not expensive), while soldering onto the eight pin connectors is a little more difficult we use eight pins only at the end of boards and for bus inputs all others are 5 pin. Using Lenz or TTX panels would be significantly more expensive. I have built a test ring that allows me to test the control bus using a LAN cable tester and I test the wiring on all modules before they get included in their first setup.

I have been using JMRI/Wi-Throttle but only a few members have the smartphone/ipod devices and I have been having serious issues with reliabiliy of the PC to layout connection (I have my eye on the likely cause but need the time to run it to ground).

I hope this helps explain how we use the 8 pin control bus.

I'm happy to discuss our wiring and how we setup the layout in more depth but perhaps we might want to create a new thread?

best regards

Geoff

Mike_R
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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by Mike_R » Fri Mar 29, 2013 11:55 am

We do have the 8 wire bus in our spec, but some have chosen not to install it or provide a temporary connection for plugging in throttles! but I do have a long enough lead to bypass the module.
It does contain the X-bus as you know, we copied it from you!
Coincidentally I've also just made up some leads so I can test the bus with a LAN tester.
We found cheap 8 core screened alarm cable from Rapid (we do connect the screen back to the command station), I've also used some 4 pair from work.

I use the booster bus for my module to provide track power for it, if we used dumb boosters they would be connected to the AUX bus as it stays on when track power is shorted and that bus is also mandatory for us.
The feed back bus will be used when block detection goes on the new crossing, we want working signals on this module.

We are also using WiThrottle, Peter has now got the track warrants and train manifests on them (a bit small on an iPod) and it is working well.

Still thinking about your module.
Mike Ruby

PeterLJ
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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by PeterLJ » Fri Mar 29, 2013 11:59 am

geofftiller wrote: I am not sure I understand the statmenet
(For those who are not following Western Union uses Lenz but not XpressNet).
Is this because you use all Wi-Fi throttles?
Hi Geoff

I will need to study your reply, but to answer your question we do not use the RJ12 cables (Which I tend to call XpressNet cables, which is incorrect).

Thanks again for your in depth reply.

Peter L-J

geofftiller
Posts: 46
Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2009 7:05 pm

Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by geofftiller » Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:05 pm

Hello Peter
Geoff, I'm also doing a paper mill on my 2 board module. Will be interested to find out more about yours.
I got interested in papermills a few years ago when I wanted to find a decent industry for a New England module, I didn't want lots of little industries but wanted loats of car spots and a papermill seems to be a good idea for that region. Lack of storage and vehicle space meant I had to abandon my original 4' x 2' Thamesiders mainline modules and was one of the drivers behind our branch standard.

My papermill module, or more correctly the lack of any module is a little bit of a running joke but as an inexperienced modeller I am not sure I want to start with the mill, hence my call for design help. And to be honest I have found condensing a mill down to a module to be hard, to do a papermill justice it will need to be big, probably bigger then I have space for at the moment. However I have been doing some on and off research and have collected useful details and photos from some Thamesiders members and from the Paopermill Modelers Yahoo group of which I've ben a member for a few years.

Given the huge size of mills I have struggled to find one where the rail operations are concentrated along one side of the site, easily allowing you to relagate the rest of the mill as off scene. however mooching about on the net a week or so ago I came across the Finch Mill at Glen Falls New York which seems to be ideal. Have a look at http://goo.gl/maps/CvQlR (the full link is http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Finch+Pap ... +York&z=18)

If you ignore the wood chip area, which appears to not be rail served, then all the rail operations are located on the same side of the water (not sure if its the river or a plant outflow). At the moment that seems a good candidate for the curved module approach as used by Chris Coombes for his coal branch (as seen at Ally Pally) or a mixed straight and curved as it would be a very large straight module, at least in HO.

Cheers

Geoff

calaf01
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Location: Croydon, UK

Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by calaf01 » Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:45 pm

My only comment is that all the work seems to be inside the buildings. Where's the fun in that? I'm sure you've got a good answer to that. I like to see what's going on with the freight cars.
Alan C.

Mike_R
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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by Mike_R » Fri Mar 29, 2013 1:21 pm

You could put the building near the baseboard edge and then model part of the building with it open at the edge, to give an inside view.
Mike Ruby

geofftiller
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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by geofftiller » Fri Mar 29, 2013 1:32 pm

Alan/Mike

I'm the same and would prefer to see the cars rather then simply push them into a building. If you have a look a the chemical/Kaolin unloading area, see http://goo.gl/maps/aEyhj
That is all outside, it is usual to load paper undercover to protect it but I would do as Mike suggests with a building viewed from inside, a very nice touch, or possibly add some outdoor loading bays as well as having the track go inside the building.

The other thing would be to mix and match the bits from other mills, one alternative I think I have seen is a kind of carport arrnagment where the loading bay is outside but it has a roof and half side wall to offer some weather protection with the remainder of the spur being open. Perhaps time to have a look at my papermill photo collection!

Cheers

Geoff

Mike_R
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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by Mike_R » Fri Mar 29, 2013 1:44 pm

Nice cement works to the East as well, for your 4th board?

The warehouse could be on the left board, only need to model the right part of it. The pulp mill in the middle (a lot of pipe work there!), with the mainline connection on the right board. Then add the cement works as your add on board for meets. I'll have a play with X-track cad.

That is one well weathered loco on the train!
Mike Ruby

geofftiller
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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by geofftiller » Fri Mar 29, 2013 2:29 pm

Hi Mike

Thanks very much, I didn't realise the cement works was rail served until I spun the ariel view 180 degress and I saw it has two spurs a the back of the site. I don't think I'll be weathering my locos quite so heavily!

Another mill am reminded of (I have some phots from the Yahoo group) is at Luke, Maryland, it is much bigger and has tracks disappearing into the mill but some loading/unloading along the north of the plant. See http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?saddr=Luk ... sz=20&z=17

I have also been looking at Chicagoland induastrial parks, to see if there is anything suitable there, quiote a few industries but most are in anonymous warehouses. It is easy to get diverted with interesting videos on Youtube, specifically some on the Chicago Terminal, maybe a project for the future!

I don't think I'll be weathering my locos quite so heavily! as that one on the papermill line.

Cheers
Geoff

Mike_R
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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by Mike_R » Fri Mar 29, 2013 8:01 pm

Well here is my first idea. Based on the paper mill and cement works in Glen falls. Actually looking South gives a better view of tracks in the paper mill as well as the cement works.

Image

It has the basics, the warehouse at left for finished products, the pulp mill in the middle with spurs for tank cars. I added a spur for wood chips to add more traffic and there was a space there! The actual place doesn't appear to have a run round loop, I added one to make it more self contained from the mainline and access the spurs facing to the right. I did have a mainline connection at the left, it does fit, but adds switches and doesn't really add to operation, in fact I think it is better having the one access to the industries.

Four or five 50' to 60' cars fit in the loop and two locos can fit the left lead. The warehouse should take 4 cars the mill 3 and the wood chip 2. It would be easiest to switch by backing into the plant and perhaps switch the cement plant going the other way.

I put the cement plant on a 4th board, a lead to it comes off the mill, which would be a lead track when that board is not used. The mill can also use the cement plant as an extended lead to avoid fouling the main.
The mainline min radius is 37", but you could increase that and loose some mill space. There is a bit of 24" radius on one warehouse and one cement track and I used No5 turnouts for the spurs to the pulp mill.

Scenery wise the river and canal could form edges to the module, perhaps bring stone into the cement works via a conveyor under the mainline. The chip track could cross the canal so it would loop into the third board.
Mike Ruby

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