Much as I hated to remove the 'rock quarry' siding from the branch, I needed to make room for the service facilities and caboose track. Here is the result, with a 130' turntable and 6-stall roundhouse.
My latest idea was to switch where the main and staging come off the 8x12 portion. By switching it around and making the front track be the one that descends into staging, I have more scenic possibilities, plus less hidden trackage. Here is an overall view of the plan as revised, and a link to a picture showing a possible scenic treatment of the spot where the staging tracks go underneath the main line.
Updated Full Plan
I flipped the main yard, added a switch lead, and created a staging yard for the lower level. The plan is broken into three files here, the first shows the overall plan, the second shows just the main line with the branch line, and the third shows just the staging.
Full Plan 09/17/05
Main and Branch
And the development of the plan continues... Some suggestions were made to locate staging under the main line, since there is all that space. I do have some issues with height due to storage requirements, but I can slightly raise the main to partially compensate. So back again is the option of what is essentially two dogbones around the entire basement. Only this time, one of the shanks will drop down below the other. This version of the plan shows only the main lines, no staging yard, and the tracks are offset. But the way I see this working is that starting where it comes of the 8x12, the two outside tracks will drop down a 2% grade. At the yard, those tracks will be 2" below the level of the yard tracks - I simply build the benchwork 2" lower and stack 2 pieces of foam. Upon leaving the yard, the main line will climb 2% for a total of 4", and the outside lines will drop on a 2% grade for 6", for a total separation of 12". Around the blob at the top center, the same thing will happen, starting after the branch junction, the line will begin dropping down. Ideally I would like the entire left side of the blob to be level, to allow additional industry sidings, but there may not be enough room for the required grade while leaving room for the staging tracks to be level.
Latest Plan 08/27/05
After soliciting some responses on the Model Railroader forums, I have come up with the following idea. This is by no means complete, the majority of the main line is merely roughed in. There will be crossovers and sidings all along it.
New Plan as of 08/24/05
Track planning for the large layout has thus far been quite frustrating. Looking at the basement plan, it would appear as if I have a ton of space! But trying to fit in the details, that space goes away REALLY fast. Here is a PDF file of the plan as it currently stands. I am unhappy about a lot of things, but each variation I do ends up coming out pretty much the same. Anyone with some fresh hints is welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas.
Track Plan PDF (you need the FREE Acrobat Reader to view this file)
Some notes on the plan:
The two tracks closest to the wall on the right side (expands to 4 tracks for a stretch) is the staging area and continuous run link. Along the right and top, it will be hidden behind a backdrop.
The idea of the trackage at the left top is an interchange that uses an alternative connection tot he staging tracks so a train may enter/leave the branch and go to staging. This was not a requirement in my design but I thought it might add some operating interest. But it looks somewhat awkward.
The track plan for my layout will be an around-the-walls style shelf layout, with no duckunders or other obstructions. The layout being planned will be double-decked. Initial construction will start with the lower level, with the upper deck to come later. Planning for now is confined to the lower level.
Here is a blank outline of the basement floor plan:
Stop the presses!
We decided the 4x8 concept would not be big enough to test and experiment with all equipment. In the space to be occupied by the 4x8, there is actually room for an 8x12. On the basement plan above, this area is in the upper right of the vertical section. Searching for some workable plans, I found Plan #56 in the Linn Westcott book "101 Track Plans". This plan was drawn as a 6x12, but it was a simple matter to add a bit on the sides to open it up. I also revised some of the industry tracks to make switching and operation more interesting. The plan at present is shown below. See construction progress on the construction page.
We have decided to build a 4x8 basic plan to use as a test track and to experiment with tracklaying and scenery techniques (see the Construction page). Here is the plan of this experimental layout:
Some notes on this design: We want a continuous loop to break-in/test cars and locomotives, many of which have never been run. To avoid becoming bored with loop the loop running, some switching is desired. This plan provides both, and allows for two operators to do their thing. While one is testing equipment via the outer loop, the other can be busy switching cars between the two-track yard at the top and the industries on the switchback at the bottom.