Sunday, April 27, 2014

Track work completed!

 Yesterday was a productive day. I installed and painted the backdrop and managed to paint the tracks and reassemble the module. So far, so good.

I also installed a wood crossing made of balsa. I distressed the wood to get a more realistic worn out look. India ink washes were used to stain the wood. I'll probably try to get an even more distressed look.

I also did a few operating session this afternoon. It takes about 30-45 minutes to switch the layout with an inbound train of 3 freight cars. These sessions helped me to find out what is good and was is wrong.

On the good side, the feedmill scene work just fine. It's fun to switch and looks pretty good.

However, I'm not that crazy about the runaround. Why? My office room isn't the best out there. It means my desk separate the two module. I have to go around the desk just to move one turnout, which can be frustrating as I have a wired NCE Powercab and the chord just get stuck over my desk. Also, the layout height is 39", which means I'm operating sitting on my chair. Nice to have a realistic view, but really bothersome when wanting to throw that far away switch.

Also, I only have about 24" long beyond the runaround, which makes sorting cars quite difficult when I have more than 3 cars to pull... A real bother...

Another issue is mainly visual. There's little space between the end of the runaround and the wall. It means a train leaving the layout after a session doesn't give the true feeling of definitily going somewhere beyond the layout.

I really want to adress these issues before moving on scenery. First of all, adding an overpass somewhere on the second module would be a good occassion to frame the scene and make the train disappear to some non-descript but scenicked staging area. The overpass would be located somewhere between the runaround turnout and the feedmill (the turnout would be on the staging area).

This solution isn't completely satisfying because the turnout is still far away. I could install a turnout control, but still, means I would have to walk around the desk to uncouple cars, which isn't the best option.

Another option is to remove the runaround an replace is by a stub siding running parallel to the mainline until it reach the right end of the layout. It would means I could not reverse trains anymore on the layout. Is it bad? Not that much. It could means the runaround does exist but somewhere beyond the staging area. I only hate the fact it would means more track density in front of the feedmill. I find this scene to be already crowded enough. Also, that would means track to relay and some rewiring... Well.

I could also see the layout as a throught mainline which is only switched by trains running right-to-left. That could be a very intesresting feature. If doing so, I would had a cassette on the right side, thought it could be quickly a gimmick.

So no, there's no easy way out. I think having a runaround is a double edge sword on a small switching layout. You really need enough place on one end to sort cars. I failed to see that. In fact, I had previously planned another shelf on the left side to have trains disappear to somewhere and have a switching lead. I scrapped the idea, but didn't think it would have an impact on operating pattern.

Anyway, before tearing down what I did, I will just continue to operate a little bit more to find more efficient patterns, just like a real railway would do.

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