1.12.2012

Fixing a Loop Problem

 
An area of my layout fairly unfinished is the new passenger terminal area.  As you can see in the photo, there's not a lot happening in this area.  I had an idea for this area, which I'll explain below, but it wasn't really something I was excited about.  As you can tell, there's a lot of space surrounded by a circle of track, and that's my challenge.

One of the things I've noticed in a lot of layout designs is that they attempt to hide their loops from view.   In a way, I don't like to NOT see the trains that I enjoy running, but on the other hand, the tighter than prototype radii aren't really that visually interesting.  The other problem, and I think the real issue I have with this approach, is that you end up fitting buildings or other scenery inside of a circle, which isn't realistic at all - particularly when your trying to do a lot of urban environments like my layout.

My original concept for this area was to have a road from the backdrop area cross the tracks near the back wall via a bridge, and then decline down to the track grade, where the station and other urban elements would be.  Unfortunately (and like my downtown area), this puts all the buildings, roads, etc...at the same grade as the tracks, resulting in a 'looped in' area of buildings.  I already have this 'feature' on the downtown section, so I wasn't thrilled with repeating this.
My second idea was to elevate the station to be at the same grade as the background buildings, which elements the awkward decline after the bridge to the statin area, but would require a retaining wall of sorts between the track and the elevated urban area.   The disadvantage with this approach is that the urban area is still stuck in a 'circle of track' although it would be a bit more improved given the retaining wall.
What I think I like the best (and hinted at above) is to cover most of the loop...this removes an uninteresting curve view of the trains, but has the benefit of allowing me to do a much more interesting urban area in and around the passenger station.  The track will be open and easily accessible from the side underneath this area as well, so cleaning and maintenance will not be a problem.
The big drawback with this solution is that it would be very difficult to access a switch on the far side of the layout that leads to a siding along the back wall (since it would be covered with the elevated streets and buildings).  I believe that every turnout should be easily accessible as  possible, and even with some creative engineering, getting to the switch for cleaning or troubleshooting would still be a hurdle.
The solution to the switch location problem is...move the switch!  In fact, there is enough space (and I have enough excess track sitting around) to actually double-track the whole curve and allow access to the long siding (and make it LONGER!) by placing the switch (potentially a double crossover) up to the front of the layout.  The red line below shows the new radius....
This solution I think is the best of all worlds.  I'm not thrilled with adding too many switches in highly visible areas, but I do like the fact that I will have a very long siding now, and I will have a good footprint to work with for the area surrounding the passenger terminal.

This will be the final part of the layout to get some finishing done to it, and I'm excited to get to work on the passenger terminal because I think it will be interesting to work on.   Its funny how the right 'solution' for a layout sometimes requires that you do nothing for awhile until you get to the point where you know what you want to do!

21 comments:

  1. Awesome!
    I think the idea of transforming you passenger yard into a terminus station is genius! This way you will be able to enjoy making a station like the Paris TGV terminals or Zurich's.

    Can't wait to see it! :-)

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  2. Indeed, I must be a psychic. ;)

    I'm going to be curious what design you'll come up for the terminal station. Windy or grandiose?!

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  3. It's surprising how often the "wait a bit" method produces a better design.

    But even if the switch is now accessible, have you planned how to access the track itself for the inevitable derailment or cleaning?

    Have you considered removing the middle of the table below the new "ground" (i.e., use a thin layer of plywood instead of foam, and gain access to the loop track from the middle?

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  4. What structure do you have planned for the terminal? My 2 favorites are Baden-Baden station by Vollmer and Union Station by Walther's. What about a train shed?

    KenS has a great solution with thin plywood for access (or try homasote!); especially if the area will remain level.

    Awesome stuff!

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  5. @ Kumo - Thanks for your comment! Indeed, when I first came up with this plan for a passenger terminal I thought I was not following any particular prototype as my thinking was more focused on the run-through stations found often in Germany, but you are quite right that all (?) of the great station in Paris, and in Zurich, are terminals as well! So I feel pretty good about the terminal basis, even if the stations is more 'fantasy' than based on any one of the real prototypes!

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  6. @ La Saucisse - Yes! :-) Quite funny that you mentioned the same thing not a few days ago! However, fixing the 'city trapped by a loop' problem on the other side of the layout will require a bit more re-engineering, but I think I will ultimately do something similar as well. Thanks for your comments as usual!

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  7. @ KenS - Yes, the 'wait a bit method' often produces better results! I'm even more engouraged by the positive feedback with this idea and it cements the idea that this is the best course for me!

    In terms of access, most of the track that is covered will be open and accessible from the side, the part along the back wall I am thinking I will access via a 'pull out section' of the city from the top (there's too much stuff in the way and really not a lot of room to access from the bottom). I think it will work okay, and I don't anticipate too many derailments as there will be no switches or other common problems in that area, so mostly just routine cleaning. Thanks Ken!

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  8. @Nittany - Great question! I originally planned on going with the Baden building as its a fantastic structure and I'm excited to build it! However, its also a commont terminal so I've been thinking of what else to try that could be a bit different. I considered the 'retro-modern' Herpa building that I have, which could be very interesting, but as I've really enjoyed some recent 'scratch-build' projecs, I'm actually going down the path of scratch-building a modern-style station. The trick is I do want a train shed, and I really like the old style train sheds, but not sure how to integrate the old train sheds with a modern station. Thanks for your comment!

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  9. Jerry, in terms of your track look being hidden, make it a feature. I did that with my modules. A detail view is at (http://www.philobiblon.com/eisenbahn/plattenbau/pv2-module4.jpg), with more information at (http://www.philobiblon.com/eisenbahn/pvmodule.shtml). Kids love to see the trains. The outline of the module follows that of the loop so it is rounded and the trains always close making access easy. Cheers, Peter

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  10. ...or even better, perhaps an underground station platform with elements subway tile, escalators and a working clock?

    like these...

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_D2YuA0o8_-k/TKsNY3hMHBI/AAAAAAAAAlY/4ciJI0YBGws/s1600/DSCN1529.JPG

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5Z2Mn-C9p8&feature=colike

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzXXAGSUQLU&feature=colike

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  11. Why don't you just make a "cut" like you did in the "downtown" area ?

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  12. Oh, I'm sure you'll find a way to ingrate an old train-shed and a modern looking building. But you could also do something à la Osaka (http://kansai.daynight.jp/cgi-bin/stored/0201.jpg) or Kyoto station. Or think about Strasbourg's station, I think you saw it when you were in France.

    And don't forget to put a cool looking action figure or model on the plaza.

    And yes, all the stations in Paris are terminal.

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  13. Very nicely done - the old mental percolator at work. Are you going to invent fictional destinations for the two visible ends of the loop or just run trains and have fun with it?

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  14. @ Papphausen - YES! That's exactly what I am thinking! Easy to access and still offers the chance to view! Perfect photo of what I'm thinking! Thanks for sharing!

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  15. Love the look of the terminal. I understand your reservation about using the Baden station. I had the same reservations, but I found changing the colour scheme helped make it look a bit different. Although it is found on a lot of layouts, you can't deny its charm and majestic appearance. You might consider Faller's Bonn station or Kibri's Osterburken station. I'm actually considering getting these two to alternate the look of my layout from time to time.

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  16. poiGreat idea ! But I have an idea :

    What if you extended your tram line to make a passenger terminal terminus ? I mean, the people of your city (does it have a name ?) need a way to get to the passenger terminal fast so they can catch their train !

    Mark F.
    Philadelphia

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  17. @ Train Spotter...Oh, don't get me wrong, i still fully intend to use the Baden station (and maybe more than one!), I'm just thinking it might be a nice kitbash project for a university.

    Check out these photos:
    http://public.fotki.com/modelerscorner/building-pics-1/2010-01-24-steves-apt/baden-triple-stacked-11.html

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  18. @ MarkF

    Its a great idea, and something I'm thinking about. The trick is to get the tram line up to the road grade with a decent gradient, but also not use too much space with more track resulting in less city. I am thinking of either adding a second tram line (or maybe Faller Car stytem) to the passenger terminal area, really depends on how much space is there!

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  19. Jerry, this stack of the Baden-Baden station is impressive. If you add some balconies to it it could look like a palace hotel (cf. Carlton at Canne) or simply a Royal Residency.

    For the tram, I could see it cross over the gap separating the two peninsulas. :p

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  20. Hi Jerry,

    I like your idea of kitbashing the Baden station. I don't know if you've already purchased a 2nd Baden station, but you might want to check out the Altstadt station. It appears that the modules for the two stations are very similar.

    http://www.eurorailhobbies.com/erh_detail.asp?mn=7&ca=16&sc=N&stock=V7506

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  21. Yes, you're right, the incline would be tricky, but ...

    Why don't you connect the two parts of your city ? and if both parts are at the same elevation, there would be no need for an incline ! Maybe that could be (or at least a part of) Version 5 ! But it would create some sort of "island" in the middle of the layout. Maybe it could be the control center of your layout.

    Mark F.
    Philadelphia

    P.S. I would also think it would be cool if you put a few intermediate stops for the tram line between each terminus. Like that it would look more real ...

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