Multi-Level vs Multi-Deck

ChrisNH's picture
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Hi,

I have recently modified my original design for the "next" layout. I am modeling the Lyndonville subdivision of the Canadian Pacific in North East Vermont, now the Washington County Railroad run by the Vermont Rail System. A Map of the route can be found HERE.

My railroad interchanges with the Maine Central (MEC) and the LVRR (Lamoille Valley Railroad) in St. Johnsbury. My new plan dropped everything south of St. Johnsbury which will lead directly to staging and will instead include the portion of the MEC including the moderately sized paper mill at Gilman VT and the interchange with the B&M at Whitefield, the current subject of my 2x3 practice layout. This will let me run two locals, something I think would make my layout more fun for multiple operators.. something I did not have when I first started designing this.

There are two ways to do this:

1) I can run the CP line north into a large helix gaining 12"+ and create a double deck layout with the MEC below and the CP on top. If space was no issue it would be a no brainer. The down side to this is an excessive amount of mainline in hidden track and greater construction complexity. I could also do a split helix where the MEC descends and the CP ascends since St. J remains single level.. but that seems way too much work.

2) I can run the CP line noth into a small helix, get 4" of height and eventually being 6"+ higher, and run it behind the MEC ROW. I would use vertical seperation, scenic blocking, and care to make sure operational areas do not overlap. This would be easier to construct and require less hidden track. The down side is I will have the two lines somewhat unrealistically in the same scene.

I am curious how people feel about operating on a multi-level layout vs a multi-deck layout. My design is still sincere. Trains will move in a consistent east to west direction and only be in the same scene once. However, lines that do not run parallel in reality will be visible in the same scene at time.

It is my hope that with creative scenery operators will remain focused on their train and not find the juxtaposition of the lines jarring.

Regards,

Chris




shoggoth43's picture

CMSF?

Chris,

I would think that as long as you try to keep in mind Joe's "Quality of Run" pointers most of your operators won't even notice a train that's running 6 inches away vertically in the same scene.  I keep thinking of David Barrow's Cat Mountain and Santa Fe with zero scenery.  While he's not doing what you're doing, the fact that there's pretty much no scenery to speak of and very little complaining that I've heard of from his operating crew I'd say once people start paying attention to the "job" they start to tune out what's not immediately relevent.  Call it "occupational tunnel vision" if you like.  Short of literally having something in the lower/higher train burst into flames to drag their attention off what they're doing, they probably won't even notice the other train once you get some rudimentary scenery done.  Heck, if they have the train with sound in it, they might not even notice the flames in the quiet one, that's the other guy's job...

-

S

ChrisNH's picture

Scenery will be the key

I am thinking that creative use of scenic elements.. like trees.. will further enhance the illusion.

I am also thinking I may do a combination. Rise in elevation having both lines in the same scene, but switch to two decks once I have sufficient height. I could use a combination of a few short helixes along the run along with a "nolix" portion to get the height I need.

I am planning to build my yard at St. Johnsbury VT along one wall first. I like yards and just having that will be fun for me to play with besides being many hours of "fun" to build the trackwork. StJ is the one piece of the deisgn that is firm as far as inclusion as an LDE and the space it has to be included in.  That gives me time before I have to make a final decision.

Chris

“If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.”           My modest progress Blog

skiloff's picture

Thoughts in my head

I've been thinking about transitions between decks, like you, Chris.  What I'm leaning towards is having a peninsula at one end and put a view block on the peninsula, so it can go through one scene and continue on a grade around the peninsula and move up to the next deck.  I haven't got the final heights worked out, but it may require the train to be in the original scene much later in the run (at the root of the peninsula if that makes sense) or add a one turn helix somehow hidden by scenery.  You maybe don't have room for a peninsula, though.

Dave

Contemplating
HO Scale '70s/80s era
GMT-6

ChrisNH's picture

Similar

The first stage of the layout is a U shape with one leg of the U against the wall and extending into staging over my work bench. The rest of the "U" is floating like a peninsula with a backdrop seperating at least part. I think that my option would be similar to what you are describing. I have been mindful of some of what Marty McGuirk was talking about in another post and want to leave the other leg of the U open for a panaramic view even if it is divided into scenes.

For now, I have a 10x10+ point to point layout going into 13x16 space. Around the walls is not an option, I need to leave an aisle open and am stopping short of where the kids bathroom is upstairs, a potential flood zone! My design creates a lot of "edge" which I feel is an undervalued property of some designs. Eventually I will be able to claim more space. For now, it keeps things very open for folks to move about!

Chris

“If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.”           My modest progress Blog

ChrisNH's picture

Thats a nice way to hide the

Thats a nice way to hide the track, Tom. I was actually thinking in terms of them both being visible. I like that idea though.. its a good way to handle an area where the CP would be passing by a paper mill scene which was one of my biggest worries. However, I want to minimize the time that any train is not visible. Thats why I don't want a big helix.

Perhaps if I made it so the CP operator could view his section in a sort of "canyon" view at the end of that "leg", a dramatic shot, but the MEC operator switching the yard would not see it looking straight on using your technique. I could just fold the hill over. I need to get some pics of Gilman Vermont facing away  from the plant in various directions to see if that would work.

I already know I couldn't pull that same trick off at Whitefield, the other stop for the MEC before it dives into staging. However, by then I should have so much height seperation it will be far less of an issue.

Thanks for the idea!

Chris

“If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.”           My modest progress Blog

skiloff's picture

That's what I'm thinking for the other side

I have a P shape for my space, but the tail of the P can likely be only one deck, as I'll need the rest of the space for a workbench and storage of our stuff.  I figured the tail of the P would be my staging area.  At the end of the tail, I could make a loop for turning the trains and provide continuous running.  At the top of the P is where I'm thinking of putting the nolix or whatever method will work there and the bottom of the circle on the P, I thought I could put a double track helix up to the staging yard, so I'd have a double-ended staging yard.  One track of the helix would hide behind a ridge, like Tom's above, and come out further down the line as a coal train from another rail line.  I really need to get this idea into Xtrkcad to see how realistic it is, but that is kind of the plan that I've come up with in my head. 

I guess the more we throw out ideas, the better we'll all be.  Looking forward to seeing some concrete plans from others and I'll try to come up with a first draft in the next week.

Dave

Contemplating
HO Scale '70s/80s era
GMT-6

Jurgen Kleylein's picture

A helix can be your friend

I've been a proponent of multi-level designs for a long time.  Our club layout is a super-mushroom on steroids design which uses every trick in the book to gain space and length of run without compromising a train's logical progression around the building.  On our layout we uses multiple helices and hidden ramps to get the trains between levels, and trains have to change levels many times over the course of a run.  

Smaller layouts are usually designed with two levels and use one helix to get from one level to the other.  The problem with this design is that a helix (in HO, anyway) uses around 75 feet of track, and many smaller layouts are lucky to have that much track on one level.  This results in a psychological separation of the layout into two distinct parts separated by the helix.  A helix can be a significant interuption of the flow of the run in this case.  The idea of having St Johnsbury being on a middle level and the CP lines going one way up the helix and the MEC going down is actually the better design, because it minimizes the time trains are in a helix and breaks the layout into 3 scenes rather than the "us versus them" mentality of the two level design.

I think a clever use of helices would be to design a layout where you have two decks on one side of the room, and two more on the other side, but half a level higher than the first ones, and use helices to step up gradually from the lowest to the highest.  Then the helix would not be one big interuption, but rather several relatively short ones which actually help to separate the towns better, lengthing the run and making the layout seem bigger.

 

Jurgen

HO Deutsche Bundesbahn circa 1970

Visit the HO Sudbury Division at www.wrmrc.ca

The preceding message may not conform to NMRA recommended practices.

ChrisNH's picture

Makes sense

What you are saying makes sense.  I have been leaning toward a series of small helixes, one or two turns, rather then one big one. Kind of like going through a series of locks to get to a different water level.

I had shied away from the idea of having two helixes in one spot, one up and one down, but it may be workable if I stagger where one drops and one goes up.. that way I won't lose any valuable "front" space on the layout.. I can have the level change for one occur while the other is dominating the scene. Its easier to do the MEC drops since the CP line can be above a descending helix. Where the CP line going up will require more space "behind" the MEC line.

My original design, which had the MEC entirely staged, was going to use several one loop helixes for precisely the reason you mentioned in the last paragraph.. lengthening the time between towns. Especially in regards to ensuring that a train could have entirely exited one scene before moving to and working another. I want my operators to feel that when they are in Lyndonville, they don't need to worry about what the guy in St. Johnsbury is doing. Each cometic helix would be its own block and be signalled.. so my diagram looked something like

+ St. Johnsbury (about 10 feet)

+------- MEC Staging

| Block 1 (about 3 feet)

 O Helix block 2 (about 10 feet)

| Block 3 (about 3 feet)

+ Lydonville (about 6 feet)

| on to next one turn helix before "summit" to create a better visual height..

Before I had my 6 foot distance for 6 foot trains, but it would have been tight and would have often left portions of a long train in previous scene. Now I have significant space between scenes, as you described, and dont have to worry about a block of cars being pulled out of a spur causing a train to appear in the previous scene either.

Of course with the two deck design I will have much more significant distances between St. Johnsbury and Lyndonville.. probably about 12 feet visible in two 6 foot scenes and 20 feet in helix. Still a lot but broken up into two 10 foot helix.

Hope I didnt ramble too much.. anyway its very encouraging that others are thinking along similar lines.. I especially liked your comment on the way having St.J on its own level can unify the two levels in a way.. I had not considered that and it makes a strong case as well.

Chris

“If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.”           My modest progress Blog

Jurgen Kleylein's picture

Getting something for nothing

I've used the single-turn helix between towns quite successfully on several trackplans; it works just as you describe.  On a mountain railroad there's almost no excuse not to use that idea at the end of every peninsula or in lobes between towns--vertical rock faces beside tunnels can hide the helix quite easily.  On flatland layouts, not so much.  

I have also used the idea where one town is on one side of the aisle, and the other is on the other side on one side of a peninsula, instead of just running around the end of the aisle in a U-turn, have the track disappear into the base of the peninsula and turn around under the scenery on the other side someplace and then return.  You can gain just as much extra run that way, at no cost in space.

 

Jurgen

HO Deutsche Bundesbahn circa 1970

Visit the HO Sudbury Division at www.wrmrc.ca

The preceding message may not conform to NMRA recommended practices.

dfandrews's picture

Helix options

I have been working on a modular layout design, and had dismissed helixes.  But these discussions about helix and partial helix options is getting me thinking.  Thanks.

And I recently encountered another major helix construction article, that has accessible points at many levels, to many yards.  It may hold some interesting idea pieces.

http://users.rcn.com/weyand/tractronics/helix/hlxartcl.htm

Don

Rincon Pacific Rwy, 1960.  HO scale std. gauge - interchange with SP.

DCC-NCE, CMRI, JMRI


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