Wednesday, June 06, 2007

An alternative layout

I can't sleep... so I spent more time with an alternative layout.

Here is the layout:

The visible parts: The main station, mountain track, freight and servicing area

The hidden parts: Mainly the ramps and the hidden station

The theme is a station at the end of a dual-track main line coming from East. At the south-west end of the station, the two single track lines split: One line takes a gentle slope down and escapes out of sight to the hidden station. The track is hidden behind the dam of the other line climbing a 1:40 grade along the north side (to get over the station tracks on the east side), swings around a mountain on a gentle 1:30 downgrade and disappears in a tunnel to reappear again as part of the two-track main line (I had to cheat somewhere to close the loop).

Note the track loop built into the freight area north of the station building. The freight area has a depot and loading ramp, as well as a judicious amount of uncouplers. Nearby is the main station building with platforms for travellers. There will be a few additional buildings, and a road that crosses under the tracks to the south. There might be enough clearance between the tracks on the north side to let the road continue, but there is a lot of track in the way, so I'd likely just let the road end at the station. The city that belongs to the station is not included in the layout and located to the south-west where we (sadly) need to leave space for the operator.

At the south-east side of the station a small locomotive maintainance and service area is ready to refuel engines with coal, sand, and whatever else is needed. This is also the home of the yard engine. In order to get from the maintenance area to the freight facility the yard engine needs to zig-zag accross the main line.

On the mountain in the south-east is the scene of a small village in southern Germany, complete with church and houses. In general, the landscaping and style of the buildings would be as found in the North Black Forest in southern Germany. The village has a small stop with station building on the mountain line that is served by the occasional "Schienenbus".

The inside of the mountain houses a helix that brings one track of the main line down to the hidden station. Because of clearance requirements and how the track ended up, the lower level is 19cm below the station level. In general I'm working with 11cm clearance between track levels. The track in the helix has a grade of 1:40, more than I wanted but there is just not enough space. Even though it's not consistently marked this way the lower level is of course completely invisible from the top.

The hidden station is accessed via the helix, as well as the single-track line mentioned earlier which gently slopes down mostly hidden from sight along the edge of the layout. The hidden station is built around another loop of track that works opposite from the surface one, so depending on the direction they are traveling, trains can change direction using the loops without the need to back up. The hidden station can hold 4 trains of moderate length.

The area in the lower left corner (south-east) is for the operator and guests. It measures roughly 120 by 60 centimeters. Just enough space for the controls and a stool.

The one thing I really like about this layout is that a lot of track is visible (contrary to my crazy digging action mentioned earlier), there's good opportunity for landscaping and watching trains as they go by. This is also a good play layout with the two reversing loops, the station, maintenance and freight facilities.

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