Prototype Trackplan: Sn2 K&DR (Part 7: Staging & Continuous run)

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REVIEW

Concept 6 with Kingfield added. The “K&DR” yard is mostly complete. The large main aisle between Bigelow and Kingfield is advantageous.

Gary and I reviewed the two concepts of Part 6. He preferred Concept #6 (shown above). He liked the openness of the plan and that the K&DR yard was complete. We discussed staging and continuous run, the topic for this post.

NO STAGING OPTION
Before we get into staging, let me say that staging is not required to enjoy the layout. It could be possible to connect Kingfield back into Bigelow (major tweak to the plan) and build the layout as a flat continuous run. The simplicity of building the layout without grades or hidden track is justifiable for 1-2 man operation. The layout would operate Bigelow to Kingfield train movements south of Kingfield would be ignored. However, Gary seems interested in capturing the flow of traffic through Kingfield, so staging is required to handle  trains to/from Strong.

STAGING REQUIREMENTS (OPERATIONS)

South of Kingfield, the F&M went to Strong where connections were made to the Maine Central at Farmington. The SR&RL of 1912 ran passenger trains, mixed trains, and freight trains between Kingfield and Strong, so what are the requirements?

Passenger Trains:
The F&M passenger trains were scheduled to meet the Sandy River passenger trains at Strong. The schedule was enable passengers to make
connections to/from the MEC trains in Farmington.

  • #15: Strong to Bigelow
  • #18: Bigelow to Strong
  • #17: Strong to Bigelow
  • #20: Bigelow to Strong

The SR&RL used the same passenger consist for all four trains. So no more than one staging track is required for the passenger trains.

Mixed Trains:

  • #22: Kingfield to Strong
  • #21: Strong to Bigelow
  • #24: Bigelow to Kingfield

Freight and Logging Trains:
It’s likely that the mixed train handled much of the general freight on the F&M/K&DR. But still there is opportunity for other traffic.

  • A through Freight train of lumber from Bigelow to Strong or Farmington
  • A pulpwood train from Mt. Abram branch up to Kingfield
  • A log train from Mt. Abram branch.

I confess, I’m not familiar with Mt. Abram branch. So what I’m suggesting is conjecture.  The freights and logging trains were run as extras and probably ran at night.

For a model railroad, we usually compress our sessions. Thus rather than run night operations I prefer to run the trains into the morning and evening. Having a morning loaded log train got to Bigelow from the woods then running an evening empty return to Mt. Abram is sufficient to emulate night-time activities.

Times of Trains South of Kingfield (aka. in staging):

  • Log/Pulp Train (Start-5am)
  • Pass #15 (Start-7am)
  • Mixed #22/21 (7am-11am)
  • Pass #18/17 (1pm-5pm)
  • Freight X-tra (6-7pm)
  • Pass #20 (8pm-End
  • Log/Pulp Train (9pm-End)

Notice that at any given time, only two trains are south of Kingfield at any given time. Thus 2-3 tracks should be sufficient to support operations. The first and last trains in/out of staging do not require turning, but the mid-day trains to staging should be turned.

UN-CONVENTION STAGING

Below is my proposal for staging and continuous run. The staging is not conventional, because it is a single long track, kind of like a “stack” in computer programing. First train in is last train out. The track is broken into three sections:

  • Section #1 in purple is always left clear for switching in Kingfield,
  • Section #2 in turquoise is for one train
  • Section #3 is orange is for the second train

Staging is a single linear track under Bigelow. There are three segments (purple, turquoise & orange. The segments are used first in last out. The continuous run is visible (shown in pink), but concealed by scenery and structures.

I hear some of you shouting…”Will never work”…”requires a runaround”….”What about 2n+1 tracks?”…..Well, here is how I got to the solution:

  • Rejected – Insufficient space in room for a reverse loop
  • Rejected – Use of casets or turntable in staging area under Bigelow.  Vertical clearance is too tight to work and see.
  • Rejected – Full train turn-table. Harry Brunk had an under layout train turn-table. One might fit under Bigelow. Again clearance is the limiting factor.
  • Rejected – Traditional stub ladder of tracks. Again rejected due to lack of clearance to maintain the system. This would be directly below Bigelow, a complicated set of trackwork, switch motors, etc need to be avoided.

Murphy’s law states “all complicated hard to access staging solution will stop working the day concealing scenery is added…that day just happens to be the day before the big open house.”

So, in the end, the design can only suport a simple single track, and that’s all that’s needed because only two trains need be stored at any given time. Obviously, there is no means to turn trains, but I’d say that is not a big deal for the following reasons:

  • Only the Mixed #22/21, Pass #18/17 and Freight extra need to be reversed, the others are pre-staged or terminating.
  • The passenger and mixed trains would be backing into Kingfield before entering staging. Seems reasonable to put the reverse the engine and train then backing into staging.

In the end, backing into staging is not prototypical, but it seems reasonable, for the ease of layout construction and reliability of no hidden turnouts.

VISIBLE CONTINUOUS RUN
The natural desire is to have the continuous run connect Kingfield to Bigelow. But that would eliminate staging. Another option is to connect the staging track to the mainline near the door. While this might be possible, it would introduce steep grades, possibly too
steep for an Sn2 Forney (Expecting the forney’s to do 3-4% is asking for trouble)

So, I feel that the best solution is to connect the “Alder Stream Branch” into the Bigelow sawmill tracks. This has the following PROS and CONS:

  • PRO: Lengthens Alder Stream Branch so a whole train can be stored and lengthens a Bigelow sawmill spur. Could even be used for loads in and empties out logging operations
  • PRO: Grade of mainline is not changed, and grade of continuous run is estimated at be max of 2.5%
  • CON: Alder stream branch is to close to the main line as it approaches Kingfield. Hard scenic.  Mitegation: I do think this issue could be mitigated by tweaking the mainline location or changing were the Alder branch departs the main line.
  • CON: Requires hiding the track behind Kingfield’s K&DR Yard.  Mitigation: Partial hiding. To me, the track should not be visible in photos, but it’s OK if a train can be seen on the track. A visible train can be re-railed and the track can be cleaned. I’d use stacks of lumber or logs and sheds of pulpwood, all common to Kingfield, to conceal the tracks.

I think single track staging and concealed continuous run are acceptable in the give room.  However, Gary does have more space, in the form of a Storage room. I like to keep a layout in one room, but the compromises presented above compel me to explore trackage rights in the storage room.

STORAGE ROOM
Supposedly the Storage room is 6′ wide and runs the length of the back wall. I do not know where door is, nor if there are other mechanics and such in the room. So I’m proposing minimal use of the space.

Moving the staging and continuous run connection into the storage room is beneficial in many ways. Ease of construction, ability to turn trains, more storage capacity, …

For the staging, I’m suggesting 2-4 tracks with an optional turntable. For the continuous run, I’m suggesting moving the Alder Stream
branch to a shelf in the storage room. Here are the Pros and Cons

  • PRO: Staging is easier to construct in storage room than under Bigelow
  • PRO: Adding turntable enable trains to be turned
  • PRO: Operating schemes are more flexible with multi-track staging
  • PRO: Continuous run could have a storage yard and be used with display trains not used in operations (a KC mixed or WW&F passenger)
  • PRO: No need for access under Bigelow. Thus mainline height difference between Kingfield and Bigelow could be a little as 3.5″.
  • PRO: Scenery around Kingfield’s K&DR yard would not be compromised by continuous run.
  • CON: Operators can not see the trains, operators have more confidence when they can see a train (positive feedback).  MITIGATION: To divide backdrop, and provide a portal into the storage room. MITIGATION: Add train detection to the track in the storage room.
  • CON: One must exit the room to access stalled/derailed trains

If Gary were willing to put track throughout the storage room, it would be possible to add a reversing loop and make the continuous run connect from Kingfield into Bigelow. If Gary says that is OK, I’ll provide another design.

CONCEPT #6r – REVERSE LOOP

Concept 6r is better suited for having a reversing loop in the storage room. Notice, that the design does not have a turnout in the storage room so there is little reason for a derailment within the storage room.

As a side note, Concept 6r (the other plan from last week) could have a reversing loop with limited impact on the storage room (see plan below). If Gary prefers a reverse loop for staging, he may want to reconsider Concept 6r.  While not included here, a continuous run would be simple to add.

SUMMARY:
If it were me, I’d put the tracks in the storage room. The ease of construction and maintenance are worth it. If yards are added, it would be easy to run all equipment into staging before working on the layout scenery.  Concept 6r is worthy if consideration, depending on how the room actually looks. (door location and such).

If I continue with the design(s), I’ll try to locate bridges and water and double check building sizes. Also, Gary would like Bigelow to be modified so that the depot is behind the main track. This would enable viewers to see the bay window.

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