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Author Topic: Shelf Sanity  (Read 4230 times)
rustyrails
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« on: May 17, 2009, 09:52:25 PM »

After another one of those “Will my Acme Models 4-12-6 go around a 13” radius curve?” questions, I’ve decided once more to try to inject a bit of sanity.  Mind you, the ideas that follow are based on my experience, although I didn’t think up the system to begin with.  I don’t speak for anyone else nor am I on anyone’s payroll.  This just works for me.

The 4X8 sheet of plywood is evil.  We buy them because they are convenient and comfortably hold ovals with 18” or 20” radius curves at the ends.  The only problem is that they take up a LOT more than the 32 sq. ft. they measure.  A 4X8 sheet of plywood requires a room at least 8X10 feet and 8X12 would be better.   Instead of putting the table in the middle of the room, suppose I throw it away and use the aisle space around the outside to make a 24” wide shelf.  Now I’ve got a total of 64 sq. ft of layout space in the same size room.  Actually, not all the shelves are likely to be the full two feet wide, but I’ve still got plenty of layout room.  I have a linear space which means I can have a linear track plan, one that starts somewhere and goes somewhere.  And finally, I can have at least 30” radius curves.  I can run full-length passenger cars and I can have a passing siding long enough to hold my branch-line length passenger train.

The layout I’m building now is the second I have done using a commercial shelving system.  You know—vertical stanchions with clip on brackets that hold the shelves.  I use 1X3’s to make a frame to hold a roughly 4 foot long sections of 2” inch foam insulation.  I work on each section at my workbench (on the back porch during our nice, but oh, so short, summer) then join it on site to its neighbors.  As an added benefit, it’s nothing to add shelves under the layout for storage, and a shelf above the layout provides dust protection.   

I only suggest that folks working on new layout designs…or folks who want to run BIG iron on their pike…consider the around the wall model.  This is an expensive hobby and anything I can to do to maximize my return on my hobby investment is going to get my serious attention.  Just my two cents worth.
Rusty

 
« Last Edit: May 17, 2009, 09:56:00 PM by rustyrails » Logged
az2rail


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« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2009, 10:15:02 PM »

I like you idea, as that is my plan also. But, if you have another room you can access, try punching a hole in the wall, and go there also. I am planning on shelves in three rooms, and a double heigh track wide shelf running down the hall.

Bruce
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rustyrails
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« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2009, 10:25:48 PM »

The CFO nixed the tunnel throuh the wall idea...I did try, though.   Shocked 
Rusty
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Jim Banner

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« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2009, 10:27:08 PM »

Rusty, I like your 4 x 8 layout in an 8 x 12 room example.  The two foot wide aisle around the layout takes up 64 square feet and the layout takes up 32 square feet, or exactly 1/3 of the room.  By reversing them,  the layout becomes 64 square feet and the open area 32 square feet.  The layout is now 2/3 of the room.  Twice as much layout.  One half the amount of floor to sweep.

An around the wall layout requires either a duck under (my aching knees) or a lift bridge.  For a successful lift bridge, do not attach the layout to the walls.  Using shelf brackets with the layout just sitting on them is ideal.  Use Flush Mounts or a second set of hinges to maintain bridge alignment in the closed position.  Then any changes in the size of the room or the layout will be accommodated by the layout sliding slightly on the brackets.  If the layout is firmly attached to the walls, changes in size will be taken up at the weak points - the hinges.  And the bridge will be a continual maintenance headache. 

Rusty, there may be hope yet.  Two of the three fellows I have been helping with their layouts this winter asked their wives the same question and were initially turned down.  After the wives saw how nicely the layouts are turning out, they suggested expanding into the next rooms.  The third wife suggested moving the layout lock, stock and barrel into their family room which they were no longer using.  I think in all three cases the wives liked having their retired husbands at home but not directly under foot.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2009, 10:37:52 PM by Jim Banner » Logged

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RAM

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« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2009, 11:06:56 PM »

Rusty, I think you could go down to 8 inches for a single track and siding, or 10 inches for double
track and siding, using the building fronts, on one side of the room.  If you use the whole building it take up a lot of space. The flat building take up about an inch..  On a 4 by 8 that only thing you are doing is going around and around chasing the end of the train.
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rustyrails
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« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2009, 11:13:24 PM »

Jim, I like to walk with my trains, so to lower the horizon as much as I can, the layout will be high...mid chest on me...I'm 5-8 so maybe 50 inches, maybe a little more.  That's not too hard to duck under.
Rusty
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grumpy

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« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2009, 12:54:09 AM »

The problem with shelf layouts is that you are restricted to switching operations . a 4x 8 layout gives you options.
Don
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Yampa Bob

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« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2009, 01:55:44 AM »

For those with minimal space, I think a shelf layout is a great idea. I certainly would never criticize anyone who likes the challenge of switching and solving puzzles.  Every modeler has a preference for layout and operation.

Our layout represents a point to point between two large yards. For our own convenience we chose to wrap it up into a loop on a 4 X 8, using the center for our extensive yards.

We have 4 feet of clearance on both sides of the layout, and 6 feet of clearance on the ends.  Our trains never "chase their tail" as we never have more than 8 to 10 cars hooked up.

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rustyrails
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« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2009, 08:05:10 AM »

Don,
You are being too restrictive.  My layout has four sides, not one shelf.  One long (12 foot) side is a small WVa town, the other long side is a combination interchange and fiddle yard/open staging.   The two short (8 foot) sides are pretty narrow with minimal scenery to allow easy duck under. 

If I want to just sit back and run a train continuously, I can do that.  But I can also operate either by train sequence (by myself) or by time table and train order (the railroad will keep four or five people busy).  The issue is not shelves or rectangles, but rather space.  In the SAME space a 4X8 requires, a shelf offers up to twice the real estate for trains.   
 
I don't care how you construct your layout.  All I'm suggesting is that those who are considering a new pike and who want to run ANY size loco or car try thinking outside the (4X8) box.  You might be surprised at the new options that become available to you.

Rusty
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rustyrails
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« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2009, 09:32:20 AM »

Bob, I agree that everyone needs to accomodate their preferences.  One of my points is that when someone asks about getting a 2-10-2 around 18 inch radius curves, that person is expressing a preference for running large steam engines.  30" radius curves sound a lot better than 18" if you want big motive power.

Again, I don't want to be the final word on layout design.  I just hope that someone in the pre or early construction phase might get the idea that there are multiple solutions to the question of how to get the layout to do what he wants it to do. 

My priorities (preferences) are 1: continuous running (for the grand-kids); 2: at least 24" radius (larger if possible) curves to accomodate my passenger cars; 3: a small, through station reflecting the territory where I grew up; 4: operating potential (scheduled train movement, car forwarding, etc.); 5: transition era equipment; and 6: a working (or semi-working) interchange.  I am confident that my track plan is flexible enough to handle all of the above plus the other things that my experience tells me are going to come up.

The only thing I've found that around-the-walls shelves don't do well is the spaghetti bowl type track plan (how much track can I get in my space) that was so popular through the 60's.  The linear nature of the medium sort of forces the builder to think in terms of starting somewhere and going somewhere.

Rusty
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jward


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« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2009, 12:56:21 PM »

i think the biggest drawback to the around the walls type plan is that you need either a liftout or a duckunder. both can be a pain, literally.....

my preference, if i had the space to do so, would be around the walls, with turnback curves near the entrance to leave the doorway clear. i'd also seriously consider a multilevel plan, without helixes. if you like montain railroading, as i do, why would you bury your grades where they can't be seen? the climb to the upper deck would be accomplished by running the grade next to the backdrop and wall. it's an effective technique, with vertical seperation between the tracks you tend to see one or the other as you run your train.

other options this time using the 4x8:
remember you don't have to keep the 4x8 away from the walls. you can, and i have, put it back in the corner. just be sure to leave yourself access to the rear tracks. mine were usually buried in a mountain so i accessed them from underneath.

also, by extending the long side of the 4x8 by 6 inches you leave yourself enough room for 24" and possibly 26" curves. i do know that on a ping pong table sized layout, you can do just about anything you do with 18" curves on a 4x8, with 22" or 24" curves.

last, 4x8 vs around the walls is not an either/or situation. you can add to your 4x8 with branch lines along the walls. in fact that is what i am currently building. my space is limited to 4'x4 1/2' with extensions along the walls for yards, industries, etc. the 4 x 4 1/2 will allow me enough room for a twice around, over and under setup with a wye on the top level leading to industries, and a small yard on the lower.

it does help when you know how to lay your own track to fit the situation. but the plans were drwawn up using atlas right track 8.0, so i know it is doable using standard track components....


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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
rustyrails
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« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2009, 01:18:04 PM »

Ping Pong tables are 5X9 and lumber yards used to sell plywood sheets with one very good side for that purpose.  Most came with a free hernia.  I don't know if they are commonly available any more or not.  I think "RTR"ping pong tables usually have a fiber board top. 

My duck-unders are narrow and about 4 1/2 feet off the ground.  Not much of a duck.

Rusty
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bevernie

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« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2009, 02:02:40 PM »

 :DGREETINGS, ALL!! ???JIM, why does an "around the wall" layout require a "duck-under" or a "lift-out"?
     My (planned) Wink layout consists of a 4x8 with the 4 end butting into a 2x10 "shelf" which connects it to another 2x4 that butts up to a 4x6. The way all this connects, there is a 2' aisle between the 4x8 and 4x6. The entire layout is against 2 walls, but it might as well be against 3, because the 3rd is a couch in our family room! The area where the 2x10 and 2x4 meet provides for a bit larger space at the end of the aisle.   
      :oI'm thinking of putting a scene on a lift-out or duck-under at the aisle for a "burning building", but that is not required. If I do that, it will be a seperate entity, such that I can remove it and take it to show to friends. It will be completely operational seperate from the layout. Grin
                                                                                          THANX!!
                                                  Cool                                       Ernie
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pdlethbridge
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« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2009, 04:03:14 PM »

 Everybody is right. Each person has their own preferences, likes and dislikes. Each has a version of Bob's Rule #1.
I started with a shelf of 2' x 12' that has been expanded to a dog bone shape for continuous running and plenty of switching.
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Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2009, 05:11:10 PM »

Ernie, I think Rusty and I were talking about around the wall as in "all-the-way around the wall" layouts at that point.  I understand your point - the main part of my own H0 layout is a C shape or a dogbone with the ends folded in to avoid duck unders.

There are other alternatives.  Our group's layout at our local museum is a large oval with our workspace in the middle.  We have duck unders and lift bridges but almost never use them.  Our usual method of ingress and egress is via a good old fashioned stile.  A set of stairs up the outside, step over the layout, and another set of stairs inside.  I have also seen a large layout that had the bench work about 7 feet off the floor.  The open areas had platforms about 42" off the floor, each with its own stairway.  Both of these require a high ceiling, something not often found in a basement.

Yet another alternative is an "up the middle" type layout.  One of the model railroad magazines had an article on one many years ago.  The gentleman built a 4' x 8' platform about 5' high in the middle of his garage, leaving room to park a car on each side.  He then  built his layout on top of the ceiling joists, which made it about 3-1/2 feet above his platform.  I seem to remember that he had walls on at least three sides of the platform and that the walls supported the end of the joists after he cut them away over top of the platform.  I don't remember the exact size of his layout but it was similar in size to Rusty's 8 x 12 over all size.  In another variation of an up the middle layout, a friend moved his basement stairs to about the middle of his basement.  This left lots of room for his layout and a walkway between the stairs and the closest outside wall. 

If I were having a house built with a layout in mind, I would be thinking in terms of a bi-level with unfinished lower level.  Taking away a 12 x 20 area in the middle for utilities and family room/crew lounge, that would leave an 8' x 124' room running around the outside of the basement (assuming a 30 x 40 house to start with.)  I think that would be enough for a decent shelf layout, using 2' wide shelves on either side of the room and a 4' walkway down the middle.  That would be about 190 feet of shelf plus two 60" return loops, one on each side of the doorway.  Not exactly the size of railway that one person would build alone, but still something to dream about.

The sharp eyed among us may have noticed that I changed the title at the top of my posting.

Jim
« Last Edit: May 18, 2009, 05:13:28 PM by Jim Banner » Logged

Growing older is mandatory but growing up is optional.
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