Switching area module - a design challenge?

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Mike_R
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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by Mike_R » Mon Apr 01, 2013 6:14 pm

That is a bit like the freight end of my 11th Avenue module, where I have a double track warehouse (the outer track is also against a paved area), a team track, and a bulk power / liquid handling track with silos and tanks. These industries can handle a wide variety of car types between them.

Here is a plan of mine

Image

The right two boards contain the industries, the tracks from the lowest are a passenger storage track (the outer main when it was a double track module), the mainline, yard lead, bulk handling, team track and warehouse tracks.
Mike Ruby

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Gloriousnse
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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by Gloriousnse » Tue Apr 02, 2013 10:46 am

Looks good Geoff - don't forget that Atlas are coming out with IHB's Gensets which seem to be based in that kind of territory also.

OT for a sec - i'd oppose the idea of 'categorising' modules, surely a major point is their flexibilty in use. For example Alpha has been a stub end industrial spur (in a very similar vein to those Geoff linked to above) - it's also been half a runround loop at the end of a branch line, the end of a mainline passing siding, and so on...at Weston it'll be effectively be part of the wye junction complex!

By categorising them you risk not defining what it *can* do, but defining what it *can't* to - and i'd suggest there are very few modules out there that can *only* be used in one scenario.

Surely the onus is on the module builders/owners to think flexibly when designing, building **and** using their modules, and on 'run chiefs' to use the modules in ways that are appropriate to the capabilities of the module?
Martyn Read

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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by Mike_R » Tue Apr 02, 2013 5:12 pm

Gloriousnse wrote:By categorising them you risk not defining what it *can* do, but defining what it *can't* to - and i'd suggest there are very few modules out there that can *only* be used in one scenario.
I agree, 11th Avenue has been a double track through module, single track terminal and once another adaptor board is built single track through. It even works at two heights!

For the Western Union I have made up an Open Office drawing with our modules and the room size, that allows us to play around with them to see what fits and works best.

Perhaps what we need is a list of modules and their size, industry types and capacities for a meeting, then a whoever sets the plan has the information to figure out the best layout, giving routes between industry pairs and passing places for example.

Geoff's idea of going for a more general freight module is better for this than a single more limiting industry.
Mike Ruby

PeterLJ
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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by PeterLJ » Tue Apr 02, 2013 6:58 pm

Gloriousnse wrote: i'd oppose the idea of 'categorising' modules, surely a major point is their flexibilty in use.
Hi

I Disagree, for three main reasons,

Firstly a builder must have a clear idea of what he is building, what setting, ambiance even he is trying to capture. He must categorise before he even starts.

Secondly at a show like modules need to be set up with compatible ones (both scenic and operationally).

Thirdly different types of modules demand a different operational perspective.

By saying a module must be flexible is putting a restriction on the builders imagination.

All the best

Peter L-J

geofftiller
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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by geofftiller » Tue Apr 02, 2013 7:11 pm

Hi Guys

I have a pair of the new Gensets on order with Penguin and am thinking about ordering one or two of the SW1500s in the Tennessee orange scheme. I have a bunch of older blue box SW1500s which I hope to paint and decal in the previous black scheme.

When I responded to Peter's earlier comment I wasn't thinking that we should limit how a module could be used but more that it might help the Run Chrief (i.e. the guy who designs the setup) to understand the intention behind the design. If the module adheres to the specification it should be possible to place it anywhere in a layout but maybe we won't always get the best out of them.

As Mike suggests I think we do need to collect details of the module as part of a call for modules, in fact I think it should be strongly recommended if not mandatory that basic details of module dimensions and shape with railroad details including passing siding and spur capacity are available, preferably accompanied by a scale drawing to allow the module to be built into any setup and get the best out of it and the available space. This could be to allow for JMRI operations planning or simply to get a good mix of spurs on any particular part of the setup.

I'll try and get a draft plan together in a day or so.

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Gloriousnse
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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by Gloriousnse » Tue Apr 02, 2013 8:34 pm

PeterLJ wrote:Firstly a builder must have a clear idea of what he is building, what setting, ambiance even he is trying to capture. He must categorise before he even starts.
I agree with that, but still think it would only rarely be the case that a module would be full-on 'wrong' if it later was used in a different scenario...

For example i've seen your Jonesville module used so far as a small town on a quiet branch, and also as a 'branch terminus', but it would also work *perfectly* well in the middle of a busy main line (even a CTC controlled one!) with a couple of minor operational tweaks.
Secondly at a show like modules need to be set up with compatible ones (both scenic and operationally)
I agree it's better to have like *looking* ones together, but again most should be capable of being used in different scenarios.
Thirdly different types of modules demand a different operational perspective.
I strongly disagree there, the operations on a given module *may* need to be secondary to the operational needs for the *whole* railway.

The intention is to use the modules to build a working railway, to end up with a whole greater than the sum - not to just end up with a collection of modules that must do their own thing in only the way their builder intended.
By saying a module must be flexible is putting a restriction on the builders imagination.
I don't see how using somebodys module in an unintended way is 'restricting their imagination' - you could argue it's expanding it! ;)

I do agree with Geoff's concept to make sure the run chief has the data he needs to make the decisions though, i'm certainly not advocating 'random' collections of modules!
Martyn Read

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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by geofftiller » Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:39 pm

remaining OT for now,

When I see a call for modules on the main Free-Mo yahoo group it can 8 to 12 moths in advance of the setup (depending upon the show, size of space etc) this ensures builders have a lot of notice and should allow the run chief to build the best layout design.

While I think Martyn is right to say
I strongly disagree there, the operations on a given module *may* need to be secondary to the operational needs for the *whole* railway.

The intention is to use the modules to build a working railway, to end up with a whole greater than the sum - not to just end up with a collection of modules that must do their own thing in only the way their builder intended.
creating that greater whole might mean that modules will not always be used in the way the builder first imagined or that modules which are scenically different may be placed together. At a NMRA meet having different scenes together may not be a major problem but at a public show it might be more of a concern so some way to construct more coherent stretches of railway might be needed.

The most significant coherence issue that occurs to me might be a mix of eras, I am not sure what the distribution of interest is in other module groups but in Thamesiders we have some transition era modelers and some modern image (with, I think, slew towards modern image interest at the moment). It would not be reasonable to dictate that all modules must be of era A or era B but there may be occasions when the modules are so obviously of different eras that it is difficult to accommodate them. After lots of work changing stock in the middle of a show we decided quite some time ago that we would try to accommodate this by running transition and modern eras tun about at shows so with Ally Pally being a modern image setup (the coal branch was 70s rather then 90s) our next public show, at Spalding IIRC, will be transition era. This means some modules might appear in one setup and not in the next one but doing the eras turn about should spread the fun while keeping the coherent look we were after.

I imagine this might not be suitable for the wider BR but generally works for us. Of course a large enough collection of modules might allow for two completely separate layouts to accommodate the different interests at the same setup.

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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by geofftiller » Tue Apr 02, 2013 10:25 pm

Back on topic this time.

While doing a few other bits this evening I've had a look at some plans.

This first one was done before I found the Blue Island area and tries to include the core Chicago industries as suggested by Martyn with some of the look of the older industrial areas. Image
The steel reprocessing plant spur is intended to be a lead with a suggestion of the plant with space to leave a gon or two.

Having found the Alsip/Blue Island industrial park area this second plan, Image while similar to the first is an attempt to incorporate the core industries of that area and provide a few car spots at each one. The warehouse should accommodate three cars which i envisage as being Mindheim style different users for each door. (in the real Alsip area the paper mill appears to use at least part of one of the warehouses so paper related cars could go to both spurs) The paper plant spurs should each accommodate two cars, the top spur being inside a building perhaps, with tanks and/or covered hoppers on the lower of the two and boxcars with paper for recycling and/or market pulp going inside.

What was the steel reprocessing plant has been changed to a plastics plant, while this will need more structures close to the edge of the module the prototype area does seem to have a few plastics/chemical plants and perhaps just as importantly I have few plastic pellet cards and don't have any scrap steel gons :D this should also accept two and at a push maybe three cars.

The idea with the roads is that there would be a road across the module (RHS board) with a second road coming off that on a junction, this second road road is intended to run along the module between the loop track and the warehouse with the warehouse lead crossing the road. I envisage the road ending at the paper plant yard but also having a truck entrance to the plastics plant which crosses the paper plant lead (after the crossover) and the through track. (I am not sure if the would be enough room for this but it would be good to include the roads as well as tracks to the industries. I would assume that the plastics plant car entrance would be off scene on the road across the module and that the truck entrance to the warehouse would be on the opposite side of the warehouse from the rail doors so is off scene.

It also occurs to me that there is probably no need for the cross over and loop as all the industry spurs face the same way, much like the prototype, I did think about taking the paper plant as a spur off the through track but thinking about Mike's earlier comment about working the industries while running through on the main I thought having the warehouse and paper plant on the same lead made that more possible while still looking reasonable.

I have tried to leave some space between the industry lead turnout and the warehouse to act as a short lead, given more space of course this would be longer.

The "indication of a non rail served industry" might just be boundary fence and maybe the edge of a parking lot or possibly another building, I'm not sure.

As a further alternative, which might be better if the cross over is removed, the main industry spur could be moved up so the road would be between the main track and the spur, the paper plant turnout could then the swapped for a left hand. This would provide a bit of distance between the main and spur which might look better. I'll do a further plan for that.

Any comments very welcome.

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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by geofftiller » Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:26 pm

As promised yesterday I have drafted a further plan without the crossover. I have also slightly tweaked the paper plant tracks to get a little additional length.

Image

As before any comments would be very welcome.

Thanks
Geoff

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BrianMoore
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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by BrianMoore » Wed Apr 03, 2013 11:02 pm

Can I ask why the main line is not centred at either end, as I believe is the NMRA(BR) suggested standard? Not that I will be following the standard myself, as I plan to build 20"-wide modules using pink foam board, but the main line at either end will be 9" from one edge, so that it will mate up with "standard" 18" single-track modules on one side at least.

No problem in not having a run-around either. One of the guys at Western Union has an 8' module with the main line and two switches leading to short sidings either side of the main line, both facing the same way.
Brian Moore

geofftiller
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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by geofftiller » Thu Apr 04, 2013 5:52 pm

Hello Brian

Thanks for your comments. In my initial post starting this topic I mentioned that the boards have already been built to the requirements of the earlier Thamesiders branch line standard. This standard is based on a minimum 12" wide module with track centred and uses locating dowels. However when wider boards are used the standard allows for track to be anywhere across the width of the module end with a minimum of 6" from any edge (we decided to accept that the board edges would not be aligned). When I built the boards I was planning to build a small yard and felt that having the main through track to one side would be best, so placed the track 6" from one edge and placed the locating dowels appropriately.

As the boards have already been built, although for a design I have discarded, and the module would spend most of its working life with the Thamesiders it seems reasonable to keep with that standard. In addition the boards, which are also pink foam with a surrounding frame, would struggle to provide clearance for clamping in their current form. Rather then attempt to rework the existing boards it seems more sensible to consider building some adapter boards to make linking to additional boards simpler and more reliable. At the moment I think having the off centre main track might also allow for a more interesting depiction of some of the industries I'm thinking about with use of the extra space the off centre track provides. If I decide to build some adapter boards I would make these boards long enough to bring the main track back to the centre which would hopfully allow for the best of both worlds, a module suitable for integration with existing Thamesiders modules and with new NMRA BR specification modules.

Were I to start again completely from scratch I think I would build a new specification module which is capable of working with Thamesiders rather then the other way around.

Thanks very much for your comments regarding the run around, I think doing without it should be OK and is more prototypical for the industrial areas I am looking at. While I have to have a module that works in both 9' and 12' versions, as I can't get the fourth board up at home, I do have room for a narrow staging track which will allow me to switch if there is no run round.

Regarding your double track on 18". it would be possible to interface that to both single and double track versions of the new specification, as you comment you'd simple end up with bord edges which don't line up. In the longer term you might find you want to build some simple adapters to widen/offset the board edges as appropriate but at least you can connect up and run trains straight away.

tunnelmotor
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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by tunnelmotor » Thu Apr 04, 2013 6:44 pm

Geoff,

A few thoughts although a bit late into the fray and feeling guilty because I suggested you post your quest here.

In your "givens" you have specified board size and by inference I assume the space in your flat to put them up, i.e. 9 feet of length, the extra 3 feet being at Frating or wherever, but not at home. If my inference is right your design needs to be capable of operating in its 9 feet format. This means that the run round needs have a lead long enough for the largest loco you want to run on it (a Geep?), at either end. Right hand end looks OK and the left hand probably needs it moved as far right as you can go. I am assumimng here that the paper industry gets chopped off at home. In that case it would look best if the turnout creating the two roads is on the fourth board as in one of the plans - makes the sidings shorter but leaves the other nine feet intact and looking complete. Have a building that lines the approach track to the paper products place so you can load/unload as you wish at home or treat as non-rail served now when operating with the paper industry board added.

In this form, you have the look of that Lance Mindheim switching layout he did as a book project and then sold off on e-Bay, a single track in with no run round and two sidings all on a door.....and you have an extra 2 feet 6 inches to play with....

Looking at Dillon, I cheated by creating industries that could receive multiple car types - it was Lance Mindheim, he told me to, honest. Industrial units could be anything from distribution of commodities such as elctrical goods (box cars) to paint manufacturers or food processors (box cars and tank cars and even reefers for the latter). Paper products in hi-cubes - kaolin tanks for a paper manufacturer. Gas tanks may also needed for any processes applied to commodities. A team track then gives you endless possibilities....

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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by geofftiller » Thu Apr 04, 2013 9:30 pm

Hi Mike

You're quite right, I can't easily put up 12 feet of railway at home, there is one place way I could just about do it but it is just so impractical. At the moment two of the boards are up on the bottom landing but I can't leave the third up as it blocks the stairs. Once construction and lots of gluing is finished it would be possible to put in the lounge, decent carpets prevents that any earlier!

You did spot a mistake in my initial plans, I hadn't noticed the lead off the RH end of the run round would be too short when in 9' mode. The paper industry would be lost in 9' mode. When I did the second version of the Alsip area plan (without the run round) I tried moving the turnout to get a longer set of spurs for the paper plant, it would be a compromise I would not really want but might be willing to live with.

Your idea of using that lead in 9' mode is interesting, I had intended to have a road running down the middle of the module from a junction in the right all the way towards the paper industry, reflecting the extensive roads in the industrial area as trucks are as, if not more prevalent then trains. I'm thinking something like this http://goo.gl/maps/Tvk0F. except I would have the main track running on one side of the road and the industry lead crossing the junction to run on the other side of the road. In the first plan I showed the industry lead on the same side of the road as the main track, but I prefer the separation between main track and industry lead. A further alternative would be for it to run down the middle of the road but that seems less realistic in a modern environment.

I am not sure If I could fit In a viable rail served industry building between the paper plant lead and the warehouse spur, however your mention of a team track makes me wonder if simply widening the road at that point and the placing of some temporary details might make for a reasonable team track which reverts to being the paper plant lead when the extra board is fitted.

It is very Mindheim in style but having been doing this research of Chicago industrial areas I think that approach, with fewer longer spurs, looks much more prototypical for those modern industrial areas than a dense set of sidings and spurs. Placing multiple car spots on each track, where possible should help. I am not sure about the run round but as I commented in response to Brian earlier I am leaning towards doing without it.

The industries have been suggested in part because of those in the Alsip area and in part due to the collection of freight cars I own. I have have a dozen plastic pellet cars and bunch of box cars for general merchandise and due to me interest in the paper industry I've got kaolin cars, a couple of chemical cars, covered hoppers for some of the additives and paper service boxcars. The plastics plant couldn't really support different car types but, as you comment, the warehouse should be suitable for boxcars and/or reefers and could be three (or hopefully four) different customers. I'd hope to arrange the paper plant to have a couple of car spots on each track with at least one of them having specific unloading spots for kaolin and/or chemicals to keep the switch crew on their toes.

I'll make a mod to my last plan to move the paper plant turnout back onto the fourth board.

tunnelmotor
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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by tunnelmotor » Fri Apr 05, 2013 10:19 am

Geoff,

Sorry my mistake about the industry flat - could not see the plans when I was composing...forget that idea! Not an idea at all.

But just one observation - this to me is LDSIG at work. Is it something we would like to see more of?

Mike
geofftiller wrote:Hi Mike

You're quite right, I can't easily put up 12 feet of railway at home, there is one place way I could just about do it but it is just so impractical. At the moment two of the boards are up on the bottom landing but I can't leave the third up as it blocks the stairs. Once construction and lots of gluing is finished it would be possible to put in the lounge, decent carpets prevents that any earlier!

You did spot a mistake in my initial plans, I hadn't noticed the lead off the RH end of the run round would be too short when in 9' mode. The paper industry would be lost in 9' mode. When I did the second version of the Alsip area plan (without the run round) I tried moving the turnout to get a longer set of spurs for the paper plant, it would be a compromise I would not really want but might be willing to live with.

Your idea of using that lead in 9' mode is interesting, I had intended to have a road running down the middle of the module from a junction in the right all the way towards the paper industry, reflecting the extensive roads in the industrial area as trucks are as, if not more prevalent then trains. I'm thinking something like this http://goo.gl/maps/Tvk0F. except I would have the main track running on one side of the road and the industry lead crossing the junction to run on the other side of the road. In the first plan I showed the industry lead on the same side of the road as the main track, but I prefer the separation between main track and industry lead. A further alternative would be for it to run down the middle of the road but that seems less realistic in a modern environment.

I am not sure If I could fit In a viable rail served industry building between the paper plant lead and the warehouse spur, however your mention of a team track makes me wonder if simply widening the road at that point and the placing of some temporary details might make for a reasonable team track which reverts to being the paper plant lead when the extra board is fitted.

It is very Mindheim in style but having been doing this research of Chicago industrial areas I think that approach, with fewer longer spurs, looks much more prototypical for those modern industrial areas than a dense set of sidings and spurs. Placing multiple car spots on each track, where possible should help. I am not sure about the run round but as I commented in response to Brian earlier I am leaning towards doing without it.

The industries have been suggested in part because of those in the Alsip area and in part due to the collection of freight cars I own. I have have a dozen plastic pellet cars and bunch of box cars for general merchandise and due to me interest in the paper industry I've got kaolin cars, a couple of chemical cars, covered hoppers for some of the additives and paper service boxcars. The plastics plant couldn't really support different car types but, as you comment, the warehouse should be suitable for boxcars and/or reefers and could be three (or hopefully four) different customers. I'd hope to arrange the paper plant to have a couple of car spots on each track with at least one of them having specific unloading spots for kaolin and/or chemicals to keep the switch crew on their toes.

I'll make a mod to my last plan to move the paper plant turnout back onto the fourth board.

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Re: Switching area module - a design challenge?

Post by Gloriousnse » Fri Apr 05, 2013 11:27 am

I'd agree that no runround is appropriate for the location, worst case scenario if it ends up at the end of a 'branch' it's a good excuse for working it with a shoving platform. ;)

I like the industry with the tank cars on the right in your last link Geoff, with a bit of digging (and unfortunately I can't find a sign on the building to confirm, partly because the Google car was pacing a truck along S. Pulaski!) I think it's called Arkema, who do resin coating of various things - on the left is AEP industries who are another plastics packaging company..

And if you follow the spur West and round the corner on the Bing overheads you find an orange SW1500, plus shoving platform - no excuses needed! :)
http://binged.it/10AX2jM
Martyn Read

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