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HO "Genesee Valley" Layout
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   Author  Topic: HO "Genesee Valley" Layout  (Read 1296 times)
CandF
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HO "Genesee Valley" Layout
 
« on: Aug 14th, 2013, 7:42am »
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I'm hoping to post comments and images for my HO layout in this topic.  First, I guess I should provide some background.
 
My model RR "career" started in the 1970's when my father built a 4X8 layout.  Eventually, he painted some Reading and Lehigh Valley engines (mainly Atlas GP40's, GP38's, and some Athern U-Boats).
 
My "career" really took off when my father and I joined the East Penn Model RR Club in Emmaus, PA (around 1981).  It was there that I met, and became friends with, some tremendous modelers.  I learned how to paint and detail models from those members.  I remained a member of the club, including becoming President for a few years, until roughly 1996.  
 
My father and I constructed a new layout in his basement in the 1980's.  This layout, which still exists, was a mythical divison of the Reading north of Williamsport.  Why, you might ask?  Because I could work in interchanges with the LV and EL (and therefore D&H and CR).  The layout was DC, using RIX throttles and a rotary switch control panel.  It contained two yards and three industrial areas for switching.  At the time, I was in electronics classes in high school and community college (where I subsequently earned a degree...also known by me as a "Community College Learners Permit"...Aka - an Associates Degree).  This education will become somewhat important in the development of my current layout.
 
Both the EP Club and out layout were what I call "duck under" layouts.  That is, you had to crawl under the layout to get to openings where you could also operate the layout from.  Even a young person, like myself, soon got tired of the crawling.  It started to become obvious that there had to be a better design.
 
My next post will start to discuss my current layout.


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Henry
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Re: HO "Genesee Valley" Layout
 
« Reply #1 on: Aug 14th, 2013, 11:38am »
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Looking forward to it!
 
Henry


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toptrain
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Re: HO "Genesee Valley" Layout
 
« Reply #2 on: Aug 14th, 2013, 3:39pm »
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CF Ok ! you got another person waiting also.
frank


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toptrain
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CandF
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Re: HO "Genesee Valley" Layout
 
« Reply #3 on: Aug 15th, 2013, 7:55am »
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Today I jump to 1996.  That year, I purchased my house as well as getting married.  Now I had my own basement.
 
For my own layout, I wanted to cover two specific areas.  I wanted mainline running as well as local switching.  The East Penn layout was a trememdous layout for mainline running, while a little lacking on switching.  For a time, I was fortunate enough to operate on Jim Hertzog's former L&NE layout.  The operation of that layout gave me a host of ideas about how to develop a layout that has plenty of switching operations.  It was what I call a layout with a purpose.
 
So what could I base my own layout with a purpose on?  From 1988 to 1991 I attended, and subsequently graduated from, the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).  It was there that I was exposed to the Genesee and Wyoming Railroad.  My first exposure was hearing the salt train from Rochester returning to Retsof while I walked to my 8:00 classes.  I'm also a railfan, so over the next three years I began to explore the G&W.
 
Many things drew me to the G&W.  They were their own railroad with a history, not just one that was formed to take over class 1 RR spinoffs (not that there is anything wrong with that).  They also had their own paint schemes, not just painting over and patching second-hand locos.  They had a purpose, to move salt (and lots of it).  They also interchanged with another RR under their ownership, the Rochester and Southern.  The R&S gave the opportunity to weasel in their former track owner, CSX/Chessie System.  Finally, they connected at two points to the Class 1 Conrail.  The Conrail connection could also be used to get EL, D&H, and NYC.
 
Yes, I know the Conrail heritage RR's were not in existence past 1976.  But as much as I am stickler for detail, I have always viewed model railroading as having the opportunity to push the realm of reality.  I really don't have a problem running pre-Conrail railroad equipment as if it existed in 1990. I also don't have a problem running some G&W power that may have been off of the RR by 1990.  After all, it's my layout, I can damn well do what I want!  Don't bother me with reality!
 
So the decision was made, the G&W it would be.  Along with the G&W proper (from Retsof to P&L Jct.), I would incorporate the R&S (from Silver Springs to Rochester) and the CR Soutern Tier (near the interchange at Silver Springs).  This would give me the opportunity to have switching as well as the mainline operation.  Hence, the "Genesee Valley" layout was born.
 
My next post will start to discuss the design of the layout.  Be patient, I feel all of this background is in order.  Besides, it gives an opporunity for discussion.
 


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Charlie Ricker
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Re: HO "Genesee Valley" Layout
 
« Reply #4 on: Aug 15th, 2013, 9:53am »
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Ah, so THAT'S why you have had the G&W avatar......you went to RIT!
 
I'm looking forward to these future posts........and I'm also enjoying the background you are adding now!  
 
Charlie


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~Charlie Ricker

CandF
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Re: HO "Genesee Valley" Layout
 
« Reply #5 on: Aug 15th, 2013, 1:03pm »
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Yes, I'm an RIT guy.  Although I always make the distinction that I didn't just attend RIT, I'm also a graduate.  I've come to meet may who atended RIT, but.....

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Charlie Ricker
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Re: HO "Genesee Valley" Layout
 
« Reply #6 on: Aug 15th, 2013, 8:38pm »
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on Aug 15th, 2013, 1:03pm, CandF wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Yes, I'm an RIT guy.  Although I always make the distinction that I didn't just attend RIT, I'm also a graduate.  I've come to meet may who atended RIT, but.....

 
Absolutely, and it's a great achievement that no one can ever take away.
 
Looking forward to this series!
 
Charlie


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~Charlie Ricker

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Re: HO "Genesee Valley" Layout
 
« Reply #7 on: Aug 15th, 2013, 9:05pm »
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on Aug 15th, 2013, 7:55am, CandF wrote:       (Click here for original message)
 But as much as I am stickler for detail, I have always viewed model railroading as having the opportunity to push the realm of reality.

 
......I agree wholeheartedly. Some of the models I've most enjoyed building are those of the 'what if' nature.....Tom


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CandF
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Re: HO "Genesee Valley" Layout
 
« Reply #8 on: Aug 16th, 2013, 8:00am »
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On to the design.  As discussed earlier, my previous experinces were of the "duck under" design.  At some point, I started to see the wall mounted/walk around design, both a the RR club and private layout level.  I knew that I wasn't going to get any younger, so this started to appeal to me.  It did take some time for me to warm up to that design.  When you come from layouts that are wide, having a layout that is only a few feet wide takes some getting used to.  I chose a design that would only require using a short step stool to get to the hard to reach areas.  To me, climbing onto the layout to get to stuff is not at all beneficial.  I do not regret it.  While the layout occupies the majority of the basement, it is in its center.  This allow storage of household junk and other basement type stuff around the perimeter of the basement and under the lower level (perhaps part of the reason I continue to be married after 17 years).
 
A feature of this design is to opportunity to double, or triple, the usable layout space.  In other words, have a multi-tier layout.  So I decided to accopmlish this by the use of a helix. The inside of the helix is the only duck-under access space.
 
The main feature of my layout is the G&W.  The G&W occupies the lower level of the layout.  It starts at a dead end at Retsof and continues to the R&S interchange at P&L Jct, proceeding twice around the layout.  The transition RR would be the R&S.  The R&S starts on the bottom level at a two staging tracks representing Rochester, north of P&L Jct. After P&L, the line (southbound) enters the helix and emerges on the upper level.  From there, it interchanges with CR at Silver Springs but also continues southward and terminates again at two staging tracks.
 
The main RR on the upper level is the CR Southern Tier.  The Tier is a continuous single track loop with one passing siding and two storage tracks.  It makes two trips around the layout.  This is the portion that allows me, and my son, to run mainline trains without the need to change ends.  
 
Needless to say, this layout is DCC,  There was no way that I was going to build a DC layout!  After doing some research, I chose to use Digitrax.  There are three power districts corresponding to the three different railroads. I've had some issues, including equipment failure, over time.  But I'm sure everyone does, I can't say I'm disappointed with Digitrax.
 
Let's face it, no layout is ever really complete.  Everyone adds things, even if they think they are complete.  Right now, the scenery is "complete" on the upper level and about 1/3 complete on the bottom level.  
 
I'm done boring you all with the gory details.  My next post will start to show photos of the layout.  I hope not just to showcase it, but also give the details as to why I did certain things as well as point out the mistakes that were made.  You will see that I'm far from perfect.  If anything, I can serve as a warning to others.


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Lfire83
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Re: HO "Genesee Valley" Layout
 
« Reply #9 on: Aug 18th, 2013, 8:01pm »
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I'm on board the interested train to see it as well. G&W is a very interesting railroad, only having a short mainline but connecting to so many class 1's. I'm also very fond of multi deck, narrow shelf style layout design. There was an article in MR in 8/2009 that highlighted a triple deck layout in a 20X26 ft room and had 495 ft of mainline. Given the right design, amazing things are possible. Look forward to seeing it!

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CandF
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Re: HO "Genesee Valley" Layout
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« Reply #10 on: Aug 19th, 2013, 7:19am »
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This first photo shows the construction of the upper level.  The walls are 2x4 wood stud attached to the ceiling/first floor joists.  1x4 wood supports are attached to the studs and form the support for the upper level.  2x4 wood supports are attached to the wall as well as supported to the floor for the lower level (not shown in this photo).  There is no need to EVER place a persons weight on the top level, however, I climbed all over the lower level while constructing the upper level.  You may also notice a piece of steel on the right of the photo.  These were fabricated at a welding shop to support the curves around the end of the walls.  A metal rod attached to the ceiling also helps to support the upper level ends.
 
Two separate track power wire circuits can be seen.  They power the CR and R&S.
 
Lighting for the lower level is accomplished with an under the counter circuit mounted under the upper level.  Placing the lighting there removes the possibility of shadows from people being cast onto the lower level.


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CandF
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Re: HO "Genesee Valley" Layout
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« Reply #11 on: Aug 19th, 2013, 7:26am »
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This photo shows the upper level lighting.  These are track lights salvaged second-hand from a Victoria Secrets store (true story!).  I believe 40 degree spots are used.  There was NO WAY that I wanted to use fluorescent lighting, I hate the color of it.  They do make LED spots, but they are just too expensive to justify their use.  Much cheaper to keep buying incandescent replacement bulbs.  The glass insulator collection is "just for nice," as the PA Dutch say.
 
Many more photos to follow where I will discuss many other topics.


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CandF
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Re: HO "Genesee Valley" Layout
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« Reply #12 on: Aug 20th, 2013, 7:16am »
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This is the helix on the single track R&S main.  You may notice the throttle port on the bottom tier.  The step stool is for my son.  This is the only duck-under location on the layout.
 
I should point out that the benchwork for this layout was mainly constructed by my father.  He retired in the late 80's and I must credit him with the design of the benchwork.  
 
The lower entrance to the helix is just above the top left of the frame of the stool.  The top entrance is in front of the ICG box car.  That train is sitting in one track of the two track CR staging yard.
 
This may also be a good point to talk about staging yards.  At the East Penn Club, as well as my father's layout, the staging yards were hidden under the layout.  The benefit to that was that they were hidden from view.  But I found there to be negatives to this concept.  If anything derailed, you had to crawl under to rerail.  This was difficult, especially if there were mulitple tracks.  I close a design for my layout where all staging is exposed.  This makes it musch easier to rerail cars as well as add to or change the consists.


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CandF
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Re: HO "Genesee Valley" Layout
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« Reply #13 on: Aug 20th, 2013, 7:21am »
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There are multiple throttle ports around the layout.  We also utilize RF trottles.  Each throttle port is labelled as to which power district it is connected to, in this case, the G&W.  This is helpful to identify faults in the various power districts.

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CandF
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Re: HO "Genesee Valley" Layout
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« Reply #14 on: Aug 21st, 2013, 7:48am »
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Location, location, location.  One of my issues with operating on model rr layouts is knowing where you are on the layout.  I have operated on layouts based on locations that I was familair with, yet on the layout, I had no idea where I was.  My solution for all was this signage as well as track diagrams.  Pictured is Gainesville on the R&S.
 
I decided to make it easy by color coding locations based on the RR.  That is, the signs and track diagrams are grey for CR (I chose grey more for the EL reference than CR), yellow for R&S, and orange for G&W.  I placed the location signs behind the corresponding track location.  All one has to do is look at the track in front of the sign to know where they are.
 
It's a little hard to see, but there is a yellow sign for Gainesville in the picture.  This is the southern terminus of the R&S on the layout, where the two track staging is located.  The decals for the signs were mage on a laser printer and placed on strip styrene with a wood post.  I know the signs aren't prototypical, but they serve a purpose.  You can also see the information sign for Gainesville, which was made in MS Word and printed on yellow paper.


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CandF
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Re: HO "Genesee Valley" Layout
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« Reply #15 on: Aug 21st, 2013, 7:59am »
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Ballast.  Pictured below are the tracks at P&L Jct.  You will notice that the four tracks at the top have different ballast than the track at the bottom.
 
I have come to observe that different railroads have different color ballast from each other, due to the different quarry locations.  The track on the bottom is the G&W main.  I remember that the G&W always seemed to have nice light colored ballast.  I use straight Woodland Scenics (all the ballast is Woodlans Scenics) fine light grey ballast.  The other four tracks are the R&S.  The R&S was not as well kept as the G&W.  I chose a mix of light grey and black.  The CR line utilizes light grey mixed with red.  I always remember the EL having red ballast mixed in.  
 
I feel these little things can go a long way to make thigs a little more interesting.


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CandF
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Re: HO "Genesee Valley" Layout
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« Reply #16 on: Aug 23rd, 2013, 7:28am »
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This photo shows the two-level design.  You might notice that the seasons aren't quite the same on the top and bottom.  My favorite season for railfanning has always been the fall.  I also think that most RR paint schemes look best against fall scenery (especially EL).
 
I chose fall scenery for the top level.  But at the same time, I thought that doing the whole layout in fall would be too much.  I also wanted to do some scenery that can only be found in the summer.
 
The bottom level scenery was done with summer colors.  I guess you could say that it takes some time to travel through the helix!
 
The bridge on the top level is the crossover of the CR Southern Tier (it loops twice around the layout).  If you closely directly under the bridge, you can see a coal train in the CR staging tracks.  The rounded wall to the left of the bridge conceals the helix.
 
The track in forground on the lower level is the G&W main.  The middle track is the R&S, with the two track staging yard (Rochester, with a B&P pup) to the left and the end of P&L Jct. on the right.  The top tracks, with the tank cars, are the end of the industrial tracks in Calendonia (former NYC Peanut line).  The tank cars are at Jones Chemical.


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Lfire83
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Re: HO "Genesee Valley" Layout
 
« Reply #17 on: Aug 23rd, 2013, 5:56pm »
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I can really appreciate noticing the details of the right of way. Even railroads with parallel tracks can have different ballast. I recall being in Illinois and seeing "pink" colored ballast.

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CandF
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Re: HO "Genesee Valley" Layout
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« Reply #18 on: Sep 3rd, 2013, 7:37am »
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Now for some trains in the pictures!  A westbound hopper train crosses the flyover on the Southern Tier behind an SD40 and a GP35.  During my time in western NY, the CR GP35's were being reactivated for the last time.

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CandF
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Re: HO "Genesee Valley" Layout
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« Reply #19 on: Sep 3rd, 2013, 7:40am »
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The WB hopper train proceeds through CP Rock Glen.

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