Sunday, August 16, 2015

Thinking outside the box

I built the Talheim industrial area around Kopper furniture and the Gregorius saw mill on a shelf early on during layout construction and it remained in limbo with a few adjustments since. Here's what it looks like today.

Pretty much unchanged from 3 years ago.

One thing that has bugged me for a while is the lack of a good sized run-around in the Talheim area that doesn't foul the main track and the turnouts at the entrance to staging. The existing run-around at the team track holds only 2-3 cars, and switching Talheim often involves dealing with 4-5 cars, so it just turns into an annoying puzzle exercise.

Here's the current track plan of around Talheim. I omitted Werner and Soehne on the left hand side of the aisle.

And here's a bird's eye view of the relevant area on the layout:

I thought about a couple approaches to get more space and squeeze in a better runaround:
  • Extend the shelf into the garage. Possible, but it blocks a doorway, and could not be scenicked seamlessly. What kills this for me is that between operating sessions I can't keep cars on the section that needs to be moved.
  • Widen the shelf into the aisle. The aisle is already quite cramped. Due to the way the track arrangements work out, it would have to be widening quite a bit, which is not an option.
  • In either case, I'd create a track far away from Werner & Soehne, in addition to the existing team track, and in most arrangements the additional run-around is not any longer than the existing. It just doesn't flow that well.
Other parts of the layout kept me more than busy, so I left this area alone to wait for an idea what to do.


And finally, one evening I realized I need to leave the box and enter the aisle, but not where I was considering it before.

I can move the curved turnout all the way over to the turnout at Kopper, and extend the team track around the curve. Thus, I not only get the runaround space I need, but also make it super-easy for the transfer run from Emsingen to exchange cars in Talheim: Push the incoming cars onto the outer curve track, and pull the prepared outgoing cars from the straight track leading over to Werner & Soehne. That way the transfer run can switch in Talheim without having to block main track 1, which should help with keeping traffic up.

The only drawback is that to accommodate the extended track,  I need to modify the road tunnel under Talheim which has been in place pretty much since the beginning of the layout. And I need to fit a plywood piece into that awkward corner of the aisle to support the new track. All doable and I will likely start moving on this in a couple weeks after I'm back from the NMRA National convention in Portland, OR.

Further work on the Schrebergarten will have to wait until the modified track arrangement is in place, since there will be slight changes to the geometry of the space between the curves where the garden is supposed to go.

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