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Model train layout


Model train layoutHaving settled upon the site for the model railway and determined the gauge, there comes a whole host of minor problems connected with the arrangement of the lines, that is, the layout of the track.

Practically speaking, there are three groups of track layouts. Firstly, the non-continuous systems ; secondly, continuous systems, mostly based on an oval; and thirdly, combination systems and the layout of sidings. A non-continuous track is one which runs from one terminal station to another at the opposite end of the line, and in its simplest form is a plain, straight track. This elementary plan is far and away the best for straightforward test runs, the hauling of young passengers, and so forth, but it offers little scope for embellishment, nor does it yield the maximum of interest.

Another disadvantage of the simple straight track is the space needed, a length which is seldom realizable in the average home, except along a corridor or somewhere ,of that nature, where a straight continuous track is the only possible arrangement. Some experienced model railway owners are, however, of opinion that the non-continuous track is very useful for timetable running, and that a considerable degree of realism I can be attained with such plans. One happy arrangement of a non-continuous line is shown in Fig. 1 a layout suitable for a No. "OO" gauge line in a space measuring 11 ft. by 6 ft wide.

Model train layout plan

This is really a very ingenious plan, as it offers the advantages of a long run in a small space, a result attained by the introduction of a diamond crossing. The terminal stations are disposed within the rest of the track, which at first sight appears to be an oval, but by commencing to trace it out from either terminal it will. be seen that a train leaving that station would traverse the diamond crossing, pass the second terminal station, run around the outer loop past the first station, then over the diamond crossing for the second time, and so to the second terminal station. Objections to such a system are the signalling of the crossing, and the fact that the engine must be moved by hand at each terminal and coupled to the other end of the train. This is not so vital as it may seem when a clockwork loco is used, as, in any case, it must be handled for the purpose of winding. Sidings or bays can be added at each terminus as desired, but the main line must be a single track, as a double-diamond crossing is an intricate piece to, make and many problems are introduced in the signalling and controls if accidents are to be avoided. One way of overcoming the difficulty is to substitute a skew arch bridge for the crossing, and to make one station at a higher level than the other, a plan that has manifest advantages on the score of realism.

A matter that must be studied most carefully when laying out any track is the radius of the curved portions, because it has been proved by experience that there is a minimum radius below which it is not possible to go without causing the trains to leave the track. These minima are as follows: No. "O" gauge, 2 ft. radius; No. "1" gauge, 3 ft. radius; and in the 2-in. gauge, 4 ft. radius. These dimensions are the minima, but it is highly desirable to increase them, and the practical minima for a track should not be less than the following: No."O" gauge, 3 ft. radius; No. "1" gauge, 4 ft., and for the 2-in., 5 ft. 6.75 in. The latter dimensions permit of express locomotives negotiating such curves at a good speed, but even these radii can be increased with beneficial results.

Commercially made tracks of many kinds are now on the market conforming to the foregoing dimensions, the former often described as "small" or old-radius curves, and the latter as "large" or new-radius curves. The curves of points and crossings must, of course, conform to these radii or be somewhat larger.

A practical hint when arranging for a track in any existing room is to prepare a large piece of cardboard or thick paper by cutting one corner away to the desired radius, and thus making a quarter circle template which can be laid on the floor and the position of the line thereby ascertained. Remember, however, to leave room at the corners so that long coaches or other stock can swing round on the curves without colliding with the wall or any other obstacle, not forgetting to include in this category any other adjacent lines or sidings; also remember that the minimum-radii curves on any double track must be allocated to the inner line, and the outer line made proportionately larger.

When a track layout is worked out on paper, it is imperative to make the drawings accurately to scale, as large as possible, and to be very careful to adhere to the actual radii of standard tracks unless the lines are to be laid specially for the job in hand.

Modeltrain layout plan

Coming now to continuous tracks, the elementary form is, of course, the circle, which is quite unsatisfactory for anything more than a toy. The natural development is to add straight rails between the two half circles, thus making the oval, which is perhaps the basis of all continuous tracks. A simple continuous track, suitable for a No. "O" gauge railway in a very small space, given in Fig. 2, provides a single main line, with a loop road at the station and a curved siding for carriages. A loop road leaves the main line near the station and serves a small goods yard and also a turntable which, in conjunction with the radial-type engine shed, forms a convenient way of handling and storing three locos. A rather more ambitious plan, suitable for a No. "O" gauge railway occupying a room measuring 16 ft. 6 in. by 11 ft., is shown in Fig. 16, and comprises a continuous run, a spacious goods yard, terminal and wayside stations, a turntable and loco sheds. The main terminal station is indicated at A and has two platforms, one arranged as a bay. The turntable shown at T allows the locos to be worked out from their shed, and the engine on an incoming train can be uncoupled, run on to the turntable, turned end for end, and by running over the junction line, can be shunted on to the head of the train.

The signals and controls for this section should be located at Y, and another signal box and controls operated from Z, adjacent to the station and sidings at B, which turns this into a combined terminal and posting station. Goods trains can work from the goods yard, leaving at the upper end Y, make any number of circuits, and arrive at the goods yard by way of the crossing at X, picking up or dropping wagons at station B en route.

An example of a continuous double track suitable either for No. "0" or No. "1" gauge railways, and very adaptable as regards space, is given in Fig. 17 and, although simple in appearance, has considerable potential interest. Actually the plan was evolved for a No. "1." gauge model railway, electrically operated and controlled, and occupying a top room measuring 20 ft. long and 16 ft. wide.

There is in all about 100 ft. of double track, which stands on a permanent base 3 ft. in height and enamelled white. The railway is operated entirely from the outer edges of the track and occupies about 120 sq. ft. of floor space, which leaves room round it for the operators. The chief architectural items are the station, with a single line of track, two large engine sheds, a miniature ferro-concrete overbridge with flanking walls and approach road, and a fine tunnel with well-modelled fronts and abutment walls. Interest in this plan is mostly confined to long-distance non-stop runs and to local shunting operations ; one interesting detail of operation is possible thanks to the lengthy tunnel and the remarkable possibilities of electric control. If the layout is studied, it will be found that it is impossible to run a train out of the station around the track and then back to the station without shunting or backing, but by stopping the train in the tunnel and automatically uncoupling the loco, a second engine can be run into the tunnel at the other end of the train, and hauled by it in the reverse direction back to the main station. The first loco is, of course, shunted out of the tunnel at the earliest opportunity and brought back into service as required. In this way the effect of up and down trains, entering and leaving the terminal station gauge is readily attained.

This is one of the difficulties of planning a satisfactory model trains layout for a continuous or combined system, and is worthy of considerable attention. In principle, if terminal to terminal running is called for, plus a continuous track, one terminal must be placed "facing," that is, the train must approach the points leading to the station, and the other terminal must be "trailing," that is, the train must, when leaving the station, traverse the points on to the main or continuous track. Unless these conditions are met, no matter how they may be disguised, the train cannot work from a terminal station, around a continuous track, and run back to the terminal without reversing or changing engines.

Model train track layout plan

This difficulty has been very ably overcome in the layout (Fig. 3) devised for a No. "0" gauge railway. Here there is a single line arranged in the form of an oval, which is available by suitable signalling and controls for trains running in either direction. Any train can be run from terminal to terminal direct or can be diverted over the continuous part of the line, make the requisite number of journeys and finish a non-stop run at the other terminal. This railway occupies a room measuring 16 ft. square, and is built on a baseboard laid on trestles, mostly standing against the wall. In order to allow the door of the room to be opened, a lifting bridge is fitted at the point B and is provided with suitable locking bolts. The layout was evolved for control by one operator, and, therefore, shunting has been reduced to a minimum in the normal operation of the trains. The system is served by one main locomotive depot with turntable, and a three-road engine shed, and a coal and watering plant, shown at CW.

The main terminal, Norwich station, has four roads ; Lowestoft, the second terminal, has two roads and a bay. The harbour station is equipped with a water tower, WT, and a spacious goods yard and depot. A non-continuous tunnel opposite the fireplace is novel and attractive. Reedham has one through line and a bay, and local trains can be operated between it and the harbour station and between Lowestoft.

Operative interest has been attained by this layout in an admirable way, as the track arrangement provides for almost all classes of model train working, either long-distance passenger expresses or goods trains, and a local service can also be handled.

Pictorially the arrangement is very good and full of interest, thanks to well-executed wall paintings and clever modelling of the buildings. The harbour station incorporates a quay and depicts a characteristic channel port with harbour mouth and a distant view of the open sea.