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Norfolk Southern Kirksville District in N-Scale

Started by Nathan Chidester, April 04, 2019, 08:04:47 am

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Nathan Chidester

April 04, 2019, 08:04:47 am Last Edit: April 04, 2019, 08:11:21 am by trainpixsnet
Hello everyone. I wanted to share my work of my proto-freelanced/what-if layout plan for the Norfolk Southern Kirksville District.

First, a little background...
This is based on the former Norfolk Southern's Moulton District located between Moberly, Mo. & Des Moines, Iowa. The line was abandoned in 1992, but was temporarily reopened for use, during the Flood of 1993 between LaPlata, Mo. and Moberly, Mo. to connect the ATSF Transcon west to Kansas City, and NS's trackage to Saint Louis and points east of the Mississippi River. Sadly the tracks were pulled up in 1995.

My layout is based on what if the auto plant was built between Macon, Mo. & Kirksville, Mo.---as was originally planned in the 1950's but was later moved to Claycomo, Mo., which is part of the Kansas City Metro---and other customer's came on-line, therefore making the line an important district in the western part of the system.

The modeled section is between Moberly, Mo.---where the NS has a yard at the confluence of the lines to/from Kansas City, Hannibal, and St. Louis---north through Macon, Mo. where the line goes over the BNSF Brookfield Sub, through LaPlata, Mo. where the line connects to and goes over the BNSF Marceline Sub (part of the Transcon), and finally ends just south of where the line crosses the BNSF Ottumwa Sub.

The railroad is to be built in a basement that is 23x23-foot, where the water heater and HVAC is located near the center of the room; scale is n-scale. There are two helixes; one is north of Kirksville yard, the other is where trackage would enter into Moberly Yard. There is stub-ended trackage for both N/B & S/B traffic on the bottom level before the helix near Moberly, Mo. and where the trackage leaves Albia, Iowa.

The helixes will make use of Kato 17.x" & 18.5" radius double track with super elevation, making it easier to complete the build. Plan is to use Atlas Code 55 and switches all visible locations and Atlas Code 80 in hidden trackage---though if possible instead of using Atlas turnouts, I would rather use Fast Tracks jigs to make my own turnouts. There will be a few three-way Peco turnouts and a double-slip switch from Peco.

Tom Springer

Trainpixnet (sorry, don't know your name),

I strongly suggest (as I always do) that you take your layout over to TrainPlayer and see how it operates.  (I always recommend TrainPlayer when I think a layout might have operational issues vis-a-vis how the creator thinks it should be working...)

However ... because you have a 2-level design and TrainPlayer is a 2D world, the exported layout will have the 2 track levels laying on top of each other in TrainPlayer. If you are going to run there, having each level as an independent layout which TrainPlayer can link together might be necessary to avoid the clutter TrainPlayer creates with multi-level layouts,  TrainPlayer doesn't know anything about track heights (unfortunately), so multi-level layouts (and their backgrounds for each level) can be a problem with TrainPlayer.

* * *

Just an fyi ... without seeing the AnyRail file, some things are hard to deduce just from an image.  So here's a few from an initial look ...

The industries at the top of the upper level (Adair/Lloyd/Ortech) appear to be serviced by the engine backing in to leave/pick up cars.  How long is the arriving train, how much track does it need (what track is occupied on arrival)?  Then after service where does the train go and in what direction will the engines be running to get back to the mainline?

Similar questions regarding the Toyota plant service.  How long is the arriving/departing train, and does it fit on the service siding track?

Another fyi regarding prototype operations: RIP track is usually out in the open; a building would be for more needed repairs.  Is that area at the upper left on the top level of the layout intended for both types of repairs, or just one?

Regarding "RELCO Locomotives":  an engine always enters this area by backing in, correct?  Presuming then that it comes down past 645th Ave, what does it do with it's cars before going into RELCO?  Looks like they may go to the northbound staging yard.  So then the train travels along the outer (white?) track around the helix in the gray area to back into that yard? So once the cars are delivered, how does the engine(s) get to RELCO, run in reverse down the blue mainline?  Similarly, how does an engine get a new train out of the Northbound Staging Yard?  Via the white outer track?  Same for leaving RELCO to pick up cars from the  Southbound Staging Yard?  Are you assembling trains within these 2 yards, or just picking up permanently assembled trains (ala "traditional" out-of-sight staging yards)?  You might consider having crossovers between yard tracks in both yards if you are assembling trains there.

* * *

Having the AnyRail file would be helpful to check other items.  As would be some info on your era (NS or BNSF) and the type of equipment you plan on operating.

* * *

With all that said, is there a Toyota plant in this area?  You said "Claycomo, MO"; I thought that was a Ford Plant?  I thought the only Toyota plant was the Bodine parts one in Troy.  Since you show the Toyota plant's tracks but I didn't see any buildings to indicate what type of plant, I'm curious ...
Tom Springer

(Unintentional Pyromaniac)

Nathan Chidester

Quote from: Tom Springer on April 04, 2019, 09:26:53 am
With all that said, is there a Toyota plant in this area?  You said "Claycomo, MO"; I thought that was a Ford Plant?  I thought the only Toyota plant was the Bodine parts one in Troy.  Since you show the Toyota plant's tracks but I didn't see any buildings to indicate what type of plant, I'm curious ...

Thanks for the advise to use TrainPlayer, can I use the demo version or do I have to purchase the full version to take advantage of the operational questions?

As for your question about the Toyota Plant--that was part of my proto-freelance idea. Originally the Ford plant was to be built between Macon, Mo. and Atlanta, Mo., though thanks to mayor of Macon at the time---who happened to be a Chevrolet Dealer in Macon---said that he would make sure that it wasn't built; therefore Ford moved the plant to Claycomo. The reason for making it a Toyota plant, because our family has Toyota vehicles and since there was the Ford Claycomo plant and the GM Plant in Fairfax (Kansas City, Kans.), why would they have another plant so close---plus I wanted to have an excuse to have some major traffic, other than grain and ethanol.


Tom Springer


Thank you and welcome to the forum.

I asked about the Toyota plant for 2 reasons - (1) with no Toyota plant that actually takes in parts and ships cars in that area, thought using the Ford plant as a model for operations might be the choice and maybe even be able to get photos of it for use as a "backdrop/background building" image for the tracks since there's no actual plant buildings on the layout, and (2) didn't remember any Toyota plant anywhere nearby Claycomo from my last railfan trip (many years ago) through that area.

You don't need a TrainPlayer license for just some simple testing. But I don't know if you get anything but the basic car images without one - have had a license forever so I don't remember what the demo allows one to do.  If you do try it, having both levels in a layout will make a "messy" layout as TrainPlayer sees it/shows it, so I suggest you create 2 copies of your layout, each with just one of the levels in it so the 2 layouts TrainPlayer sees aren't a mess; with a license, you could link the 2 layouts together at the helix connections.  You can't just "hide" layers in AnyRail because AnyRail exports all track parts, even if the layer isn't visible.  Someday hopefully we'l get the ability to control what is exported and "solve" this problem.

One thing your layout exposes is a weakness in handling a multi-level layout in TrainPlayer. As they are primarily focused on "virtual railroading" and operations, they (probably) never have any of their non-AnyRail users try something like that. I'll have to check with Jim (owner) and Bruno (support) to see if there is an interest in dealing with this on the TrainPlayer side. But I'd need you to post the AnyRail file to use it as the example for this effort.
Tom Springer

(Unintentional Pyromaniac)

The Track Planner

I'm impressed with your initial track plan. Proto-freelance, in my opinion, is the best way to go when designing a walk-along track plan. That said, as a professional track planning designer, there some areas I feel you should revisit, regarding your track arrangements. See comments below;
-  Kirksville area... 1) the first thing that jumps out, to me, is I don't think you have allowed enough vertical clearance between the roundhouse tracks and the beginning of the downgrade helix. Because you sent a jpg file I'm not able to verify the vertical height difference, 2) placing the main sorting yard tracks to the back of the benchwork, in my opinion, is never a good idea, you will have to reach over other tracks when coupling/uncoupling and sorting cars. It is always best to place the yard towards the front edge of the benchwork, 3) also, I would not place Adair Food, Lloyd Dist., or the auto part industry near the front of the benchwork, directly in front of the yard ladder. Again this can make sorting cars problematic, sense your yard lead is on the same side, which I assume means, most coupling and uncoupling (for sorting purposes) is going to be done on the left side of the yard, requiring you to reach over those industries. 3) the way you have you arrival/departure track situated, you make the process of making up and breaking down trains, slightly more difficult then it needs to be. In my opinion, you need to add additional turnouts between the orange A/D tracks and the yard lead. This way you do not have to pull consists back out on to the purple track to reach the yellow sorting tracks. One or two double-slip turnouts would solve this issue.
  -  Staging yards... Because you have enough space to work with, I would highly recommend you consider converting your stub-end staging yards to double ended with a reverse loops on both yards. Stub-ended staging, especially in N scale, can become a nightmare when you have to spend (sometimes hours) re-staging trains for the next op session. Including reverse loops eliminates this issue. With reverse loops, trains automatically re-stage themselves.
  -  Reach-in issues... placing the roundhouse and turntable as far back as you did, I feel, could create some reach-in problems, if the turntable needs servicing. I would move the roundhouse and turntable closer to the front edge of the benchwork, for easier access. Also, if there are walls in the northeast corner, with the benchwork, as currently designed, you will have a reach-in issue. The average 6 ft. tall person, can only reach-in comfortably approximately 36", anything more then that, will require some-type of step stool to stand on. I my designs, I try to avoid reach-ins of over 30" with 36" being the max.
  -  Final Thoughts... there are other areas, I have concerns with, like having the staging yard on the same level as the lower level. I might be inclined to design the plan as a three level plan with staging being on its own level, separate from the rest of the layout, i.e. levels. If you would like to discuss my concerns further, feel free to contact at thetrackplanner.com and I would be happy to go into greater detail, with you. If this is your initial design, you've got a good base design to work with, it just needs some refinements.

Nathan Chidester

October 21, 2019, 05:25:41 am #6 Last Edit: October 21, 2019, 05:27:19 am by Nathan Chidester
Thanks for the nice words and the suggestions. Over the Summer and into Fall, I have been making some changes to the original design. I have taken a lot of the suggestions made earlier and have applied them.

Now granted, it is still a work-in-progress, but I feel it is moving in the right direction.

Take a look and let me know what you think can be improved, changed, etc.

NOTE: I have not done anything with elevation/heights.

Upper Level Image

Upper Level AnyRail file

Lower Level Image

Lower Level AnyRail file

The Track Planner

As I said in an earlier post I'm impressed with what you've designed. That said, I thought you might like to see an alternative design that would have, I think, numerous advantages over your concept. Below are comments regarding the attached sample. Please understand the sample is a VERY ROUGH depiction of a possible alternative to your design. The blue lines are track, the red lines are view blocks. There is no fascia/benchwork shown.
Based on the available space and to get you the longest possible mainline run with the least amount of labor and cost, I would design a two level layout with the main level being scenic and the lower level used for staging, with no scenery. The design is an around the wall with two opposing center peninsulas. In opposite corners of the room would be two helix's connecting lower level staging to the main level. This design is a true "walk along" track plan. Including view blocks on both peninsulas has [in my opinion] major advantages (1) when some enters the train room they will not be able to see the whole layout with one scan of the space, (2) they will have to walk around the peninsulas to see other portions of the layout, (3) this will make the "feel" much larger then it really is.
The design would require a lift-out or swing gate for entrance into the room [but, in my opinion] a small price to pay for the added mainline run.
Under each peninsula would be staging yards. These yards would have turn-backs so trains would automatically re-stage themselves. No extra re-staging movements between op sessions. Something that does happen with stub-ended staging.
By having all of the scenic parts of the layout on one level, makes for easier and less costly construction. Staging bench work be easy to construction and maintain.
This track plan could be operated as a pure point-to-point transportation system. Trains would enter the layout from one staging yard and exit the layout to another staging yard. Trains would traverse the mainline only once, giving operators the feeling of operating a real train. Note: the 45 degree angled tracks in front of the two helix's are there for continuous "display" running. During op sessions they would not be used.
With this design you would reduce bench work cost and complexity and would only loose a very small amount of liner mainline trackage, compared to your much more complex design.
Again, this example is a very rough idea of how you could utilize the space in a more efficient manner. A configuration that I think is much easier and cheaper to build, maintain and offers a more interesting walk-along mainline path.
If I had a client paying me for a N scale track plan, with this space (22 x 22) this is the plan I would recommend for all the reasons stated above.
Thanks for reviewing the plan.

Nathan Chidester

@The Track Planner, thanks for the suggestions. I would love to be able to take advantage for a completely free 23'x23' space, but unfortunately, I have a HVAC and gas hot water heater that are almost in the middle of the basement---hence the large "loop" near Macon--to give what would be in code with the City & County Statutes. I also have  to keep the bottom right easily accessible as there is a 10'x12' nook that is our primary storage, so that is why the isle between Macon & Moberly is so wide---and that was one of the deals my wife (and CFO, haha) and I made when I was given the okay to be able to take over the basement.

I would honestly like to figure out a way to make better use of the available floor space, but have the ability to move some of the modules, when needing to get stuff out/put into storage; as well as to be able to access the water heater and HVAC (as the HVAC is getting old and who knows how much longer it'll be running).

I believe that a mushroom design would be out of the question since I would have to have a false floor for the top portion of the benchwork. I like the thought of having the along-the-walls design, for ease of building and help keep the costs down.




Nathan, the loop around HVAC is a good alternative.  What about swapping upper/lower, putting the yard w/turntable on the lower level?