Design Parameters
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CSXT Shenandoah Division Design Parameters

The parameters to keep in mind during the layout design for the Shenandoah Division are shown below.  These parameters are what John Armstrong refers to as “Givens and Druthers.” 

·        The layout will employ Allen McClelland’s “Good Enough” philosophy; especially since it will be large enough that it will take years to finish. Help from my operating crew will be appreciated, especially in the early phases of construction.

·        There should be a realistic scenery to track ratio, although I want a long enough mainline run that my crews will feel like they have done a “day’s work.”

·        Salem will once again be the site of the classification yard with a diesel servicing facility and shops area. The classification yard should be able to be quite a bit longer, so we should be able to return to building freights and doing block swapping here. Salem should have double track now from SN Cabin to South Salem, and trains should be able to easily work the arrival/departure yard from either track in order to give the yardmaster maximum flexibility to minimize traffic disruptions in Salem. Having double track will also assist the Rocky Mount Roadswitcher as it switches the industrial area in South Salem, VA.

·        The mainline should be long enough to have at least five passing sidings in addition to the double track at Salem (total of 6 places for trains to meet or pass).

·        There should be at least two major industrial towns (New Castle and Covington) on the layout, with 1-3 large industries in each town which generate large amounts of varied traffic (e.g. paper mill, chemical complex, wood products).

·        The railroad should pass through a scene only once, except where the Clinchfield-style Loops mountain crossing is used to move from one deck to another of the two-level layout. The first version of the Shenandoah Division contained a peninsula used to make the transition between the two decks of the layout, and the second version will use this peninsula as-is.

·        Track:

        ·        Minimum radius:

·        Visible mainline and passing sidings:  15” (typically 15” for passing sidings and 16.25” for the mainline, although the “Corkscrew” on the peninsula salvaged from the original layout is 14” on the main); radius to be 18” or more wherever possible on the visible mainline

·        Non-visible mainline and passing sidings:  14”

·        All other trackage:  12”  (i.e. yards and industrial sidings)

·        Track center spacing to be 1.25” (1.125” in yards on straight track)  

·        Minimum of 6 3/4" between reverse curves, including those through turnouts.

·        Minimum turnout number:

·        Mainline/passing sidings/crossovers:  #7

·        Yards:  #5

·        Industrial trackage:  #5

·        Atlas Code 55 flextrack and turnouts for everything except the existing New Castle peninsula and the large staging yards. The New Castle peninsula uses Peco Code 55 Electrofrog turnouts and Atlas Code 80 flextrack. The staging yards will use Atlas Code 80 flextrack and either Peco Code 80 Insulfrog or Peco Code 55 Electrofrog turnouts.

·        Grades

·        Maximum:  3% (prefer 2.75% or less)

·        Train Length:

·        3-4 locomotives, 30-36 fifty-foot cars (18-22 pigs/autoracks) and caboose/FRED.  Obviously, the longer the better (within reason)!  After all this is N scale, and the ability to run long trains in a realistic setting is one of the reasons I switched from HO to N in the first place in the late 1980s!

·        This train length works out to be 18”-24” for the locomotives and 120”-144” for the remainder of the train

·        Nominal passing sidings and staging track length to be 14’ (168”) to support the above train lengths.

·        Physical Dimensions:

·        Must have walk-in and walkaround layout. I do not want to have to duck-under the layout during operating sessions! I have decided that I will accept a duck-under for access to staging loops in order to maximize staging capacity.

·        Nominal aisle widths of 36”; however, no aisle should be tighter than 30”, and I prefer aisle widths of 42”-48” where possible. I want the railroad to be comfortable to construct, operate, and view.

·        No reach more than 24”

·        Layout track height of about for the lower level to be in the neighborhood of 42”-44” and the upper level 58”-63”.

·        Space should be left for my modeling workbench. This should be easier to do on ShenDiv V2.0 since there is an alcove next to the staging location. The workbench measures approximately 19.5” by 41.5” and stands 29.5” high.  My paint spray booth likely will be relegated to the garage workshop, which is not ideal but workable.

·        A closet on one side of the room must remain accessible.  Windows along three sides of the room should remain relatively accessible (i.e. the layout sections crossing the windows should be narrow and removable). Also, the two doors to the room must remain accessible.

·        Control

·        The preferred method of control is DCC via the Digitrax Radio Chief system.

·        Dispatching would initially be DTC/TWC with the dispatcher giving train crews permission to occupy “blocks” via radio.  The use of DCC would allow for ultimate conversion to CTC. I plan to investigate fully signaling the railroad to allow for CTC and powered mainline/passing siding switches, but the full implementation may occur after we get the railroad back to operating form.

·        I also plan to investigate SurroundTraxx from Soundtraxx so that I can have sound in N scale.

·        Staging:

·        Staging is a definite requirement, and the staging yards should be large enough to support a reasonable amount of the traffic desired. The first version of the Shenandoah Division had 4 staging tracks in a return loop configuration at each end of the railroad. This arrangement provided eight staging “slots” and proved to be a real help in restaging the railroad. I want to use a similar configuration on V2.0, but I want to increase the number of “slots” at each end to 12 or more if at all possible. I would also like to add NS staging at the south end for the joint CR&E traffic. Initial layout sketches indicate that I should be able to go to 6 staging loops (12 “slots”) at each end of the railroad, with additional room for 4 stub-ended tracks for the NS.

·        I would prefer visible, easily accessible staging yards.


This page was last updated on 01/01/11.


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