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Posted in Articles by Rob Chant. (Last activity on Sunday, October 23, 2022 at 20:00:23 ADT.)

ARTICLE: Operating possibilities on a small, continuous run layout

This design was part of a double deck N-scale layout using hollow core doors, done for a member of another railway group in 2010. The upper deck represented an unrelated coal mining branch in British Columbia, and was a very simple design. The upper deck/door was supported by sides made of ¾" plywood, and the backdrop of the lower deck. I am only presenting the more interesting lower deck here, but I may post the coal mining branch at a later date.

The lower deck is the home of the fictional Central Alberta Railway. It was inspired by an article in Model Railroader [June 1988, page 80] by Greg Panas titled "The Northeastern Alberta Rys." In the article, Greg does a good job of explaining how to operate a small continuous run layout more realistically, and get the most out of an operating session. This layout expands on Greg's idea a bit more to achieve even more intense operations in a small space.

The layout represents a short line railway running north-south between the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railways. It is set in the mid-1990s when CN and CP were selling off marginal lines in Alberta, and the rest of Canada. Each side of the layout represent three separate stations, so there are six stations in the following order (south to north):

1. MANN LAKE (engine house, station, CP Interchange)
2. DAKOTA (grain elevator #1)
3. ETHRIDGE (farm equipment dealer, lumber company)
4. RICHTON (fertilizer company, propane dealer)
5. BURNS (grain elevator #2)
6. PARADISE (farmer's co-op, team track, station, CN interchage)

All crews start their day in Mann Lake, and head north (clockwise) towards Paradise. While each station has a passing track, only the trackage/industries designated for the station (above) can be used when switching the town. Between each stop at a station, the crew makes a complete lap around the layout.

When the north bound train reaches the last stop of Paradise, the crew works the CN interchange and the local industries, then heads back (counter-clockwise) to Mann Lake. Any work that may have been skipped because it required a run-around move (modern days crews avoid run around moves as much as possible) must be done on the return trip.

This layout packs a lot of prototypical operation in a space that is only 30" x 78", by using just your imagination and "seeing" only what your suppose to see at each station. It is a great way to get the most out of small layouts with continuous run designs.

Here's the design:

2019.10.14E-001.gif (48979 bytes)

TAGS: Design Feature: Continuous Run Option, Layout Size: Mini Layouts, Theme: Regional / Short Line Railway, Canada (Provinces): Alberta, Articles: Operating Small Layouts

User Comments:

Posted by Dwyane Ward on Friday, January 17, 2020 at 10:35:04 PM.

A number a years ago, I recreated the HO version from MR mag in N scale on a 36x80 door (long gone now). I am currently moving into a apartment and would like to create your plan (as I like the additional switching this plan has) but on a 28x80 door. Any chance you could adjust the above plan for the 28" width door.

Posted by Robert Chant on Saturday, January 18, 2020 at 7:15:47 AM.

Dwyane, there is very little difference in the 30" x 78" door used, and what you have planned. So just reduce the angle of the tracks slightly by rotating the design counter clockwise maybe a degree or two, and it should work in your 28" wide space. You have to appreciate that I get hundreds and hundreds of requests to modify my plans to other spaces, or scales, or using a different brand of track. And if I took on all those requests, I would have no time to create new designs. Right now, I am so busy that I have been even turning down paid work for the last few months. Hope you understand. Take care, Rob.

Posted by Dwyane Ward on Saturday, January 18, 2020 at 5:08:47 PM.

Understand Thanks Rob

Posted by Phil Duba on Tuesday, January 21, 2020 at 9:16:11 PM.

I think I have to go in the opposite direction as my door is 80". Going counter-clockwise seems to give the extra few inches a little more room. Other option might be to increase the radius a tad of the turnbacks. I have to figure out the Atlas turnouts (prefer them over Peco) and how they would line up. I think I'm just going to take the concept and play around with it until I get the setup needed.

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