Tag Archives: HO

Reworking the Maintenance Centre Layout for modern prototypes

Overview

This all started when I saw a Facebook post by Aaron Riley showcasing his Metra Service Centre layout, adapted from a Robert Chant design, in HO scale. I reached out to him and asked if he’d be willing to share more about his layout with us all. Aaron was gracious and extended many images and much information about his layout that allowed me to create that initial post. What most struck me from the outset was that the layout in the photos does not look like what it is, a small footprint layout. It appears larger while providing a great deal of operating potential that would provide many years of interesting operations for anyone interested in building from Rob’s original design.

Inspired by the layout I pulled information from my day job working in a similar location and wrote the Operations for Maintenance Centre Layout Series (see the links for all 7 parts in the resources section below). While you don’t need to read all of the posts before taking on this post, there is a lot of contextual information there that will help in understanding the redesign that I’m proposing.

I want to take Rob Chant’s original layout design, which is more suited to an earlier time of operation (say through the early to mid-1990s) and bring it into the 21st century. Those not in the rail industry often think that maintenance centres change little over time. Nothing is further from the truth. As operational needs and operators change, major often drastic changes to facilities occur that allow operators to streamline and manage throughput (lowering costs in the process). My depot has changed twice in the last 20 years. Each time with major additions to its layout.

Enough preamble, let’s get into the meat of the article and look at how to bring Rob’s design into the modern-day.


Rob’s Original Design

For reference here is Rob Chant’s design, as used by Aaron Riley to build his layout. I’m going to be referring back to this image quite a lot. It may be worthwhile to either open a new window, or another tab with this image to make referring to it easier.

Rob Chant's original Track Plan with numbers keying to Aaron's gallery of photos
Rob Chant’s original Track Plan with numbers keying to Aaron’s gallery of photos

Bringing the layout into the 21st Century

The design below mirrors, to some degree, what I see at work every day.

A running depot for passenger operation of diesel hauled push-pull train sets
A running depot for passenger operation of diesel hauled push-pull train sets

Comparing the two designs you’ll notice right away the differences. The second design is streamlined and devoted to one function: getting train sets out of the gate and onto the mainline and the reverse as needed. To cover all of the changes I’ll start on the left and move to the right.

Parts Warehouse – GONE

Starting on the left top of the layout you’ll notice that the parts warehouse is gone, along with the scrapping line, sand house and locomotive shed. In modern facilities such as this, all parts have been moved into the main maintenance sheds and are now delivered by road. Except for rolling stock being returned from upstream maintenance centres, nothing arrives by rail.

Scrap Line – GONE

Scrapping too has moved off-site. As I mentioned in the article series major maintenance is carried out off-site at what I term upstream maintenance centres. Determination of end-of-life status for railcars and locomotives happens at this higher level and not at the running depot level.

To help you understand why running depots no longer have the means or the authority to scrap rolling stock onsite let’s go down the rabbit warren to understand the three major reasons for removing rolling stock from the asset register (or roster if you prefer):

  1. Condemnation occurs when rolling stock is:
    • life expired because of age, mileage covered, or material stress such as fractures in frames, failures of major high-cost components
    • determined to be uneconomic to continue to maintain or repair, often because of the rising cost of replacement parts or  sub-assemblies driving ongoing maintenance costs above those of outright replacement
  2. Withdrawal occurs when rolling stock is:
    • considered to be excess to current need due to adverse economic circumstances such as a downturn (COVID caused a lot of this), which usually means the asset will be stored out of service until needed later on by the operator,
    • determined to be no longer required by the operator, yet is still  in a saleable and serviceable condition in which case it will be put out for tender by interested parties and often sold into service with another operator, and finally
    • determined to be no longer required for operation by the operator, but usable as a source of spare parts to keep other similar units running by the operator
  3. Accident damage occurs when rolling stock is:
    • involved in an accident and has suffered damage sufficient to make the cost of refurbishment equal to or more than the value of the asset, its insurance value, for example, it will be stripped of usable parts by the maintenance teams, and then sold by tender to interested scrappers

Locomotive Shed  – GONE

Locomotives are generally left out in the open on an available track spot, so shedding is no longer required. All light maintenance that can be carried out at the running depot would be carried out in the regular maintenance sheds. These items would include checking and topping up fluid levels, replacing minor components such as oil filters, light globes, brake blocks, windscreen wipers, cleaning the crew compartment, emptying waste tanks, etc. All other maintenance items would be carried out at the upstream facilities.

Bulk Oil & Diesel Tanks – MOVED

The bulk oil tanks for locomotive fuel have been moved to the area near the admin offices. This allows for trucks to deliver directly to the tank area. No supplies are received at the running facility by rail. The tanks can be serviced by trucks 24 hours a day, and most likely receive a top-up on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Road Vehicle Garage – MOVED

With the focus changed to getting train sets serviced and onto the mainline, road vehicles have been moved off the layout. Any of the greyed areas can act as parking spaces (so long as there is clearance between trains and vehicles).

Crew Amenities Building  – ADDED

The crew amenities building and the cleaners annexe have been added to provide better facilities for change rooms, meal (mess) areas, toilets and training rooms in line with modern practice.

Hazardous & Waste Storage – MOVED

These two sheds have been moved to the maintenance shed (off layout) in line with modern practice.

Paint Shop – GONE

All paint-work has been moved to the upstream maintenance centres.

Contaminated Storage Tanks – MOVED

As with the other storage buildings mentioned above, all of this storage is now contained within the maintenance building footprint.

Bulk Sand Storage Silos – MOVED

Sanding facilities have been moved to the roof of the maintenance facility to save space and simplify sand delivery to sandboxes wherever it is needed. Sand delivery comes in by road at the rear of 4 road on the paved area there. There is an air feed sand line that runs across the top of the maintenance sheds to the loco sanding facility between 9 and 10 roads.

As an additional point of interest, passenger cars can be filled by a sand buggy (not a dune buggy, unfortunately) that allows sand service to passenger cars when and where needed in the facility. The sand buggy has its own air supply to blow sand into the sandboxes.

Road Numbering – ADDED

Each road has been numbered and is used as follows:

  • 1-3 are for ‘ready; train set storage, that is these sets are ready to run out onto the mainline.
  • 4 through 8 are maintenance roads where:
    • 4 road is the washing road.
    • 5 road is the wheel lathe road.
    • 6, 7 and 8 roads are all pit roads for general service and maintenance of train sets.
  • 9 and 10 roads are for locomotive storage and supplemental sanding
  • 11 road is the locomotive fueling road

Modellers should note that fueling and sanding may occur without interfering with maintenance activity on 8 road. 9 road may be designated the locomotive arrival road. And when time allows sanding can happen here, before the locomotive goes to 11 road to be fueled. After fueling the locomotive can be stored on 10 road until needed.


Wrap-Up

This is the last post in the current series based around Aaron Riley’s excellent Metra Layout. I’ve tried to share my knowledge of the operation of these facilities and I hope that you have gotten something from the series. If you have a comment on what you’ve enjoyed and would like more of would be appreciated.

I’ll be moving on to looking at how I would operate the Australian RIP track layout I posted about some time ago. I have another very small layout design that I am working on at the moment in that vein, and I wanted to see what sort of operations you can have on a 4 foot long RIP track layout to keep it interesting. More on that in the next post.

Resources

Aaron Riley’s Metra Layout

Operations on a Maintenance Centre Layout Series

Staying in Contact

Interested in keeping in touch or discussing posts, pages and ideas?  You can do that in several ways:

Claremont Concord decals in HO

Over on Chris Meer’s Prince Street blog a recent post points to a new supplier of decals for the Claremont and Concord RR (yes that is the Railway that MR did a G scale layout of some time ago).

The C&C is a great prototype for the small layout builder (especially in HO) and these decals are in HO scale and at first glance appear to be crisp and match the prototype exactly.

While there are no guarantees, and Chris points out that he has not received them at the time of this post, these look very nice and here’s hoping that the seller’s customer service and the product meet expectations.

Prince Street

A quick cruise in eBay led me to this listing:

http://www.ebay.ca/itm/CLAREMONT-AND-CONCORD-44-TON-HO-SCALE-DECAL-SET-/141937362595?hash=item210c2046a3:g:xQAAAOSwP~tW6qy0

I have no connection to the seller and I haven’t seen the decals. Regardless, I’m excited and I’ve ordered a couple of sets of these to have a look at them. I’m a fan of the Claremont-Concord Railroad (my interest lies during the LaValley ownership period) and this decal set would be perfect for use on a model of the CCRR’s #30.

While I have no connection to the seller, I did exchange a few messages with him and each has been pleasant. I’m impressed with the service so far. I’m looking forward to seeing the decals and I’m thrilled to shine a light on a product that I haven’t seen produced before.

Frankly I’m surprised, constantly, by the lack of models or even just decals, for those with an interest in any of the shortlines owned or run by Samuel…

View original post 48 more words

Site seeing – July 8

Obsessive, obscure, observant and even excessive; all these monikers I’ve worn in my modelling career. And then just when you feel that you need to back off the scratchbuilding fanaticism along comes someone to restore my faith in the obsession.

Site 1: Scratch building a HO scale mattress box spring [Link –>]

Over on the FreeRails forum there is a build I just had to showcase. Sean W needed a box spring mattress for a scene. Not able to find one from a manufacturer he did what he had to do – scratchbuilt.

Sean W's HO scale box-spring mattress

Image 1: Sean W’s scratchbuilt box-spring mattress (

Visit the link above to see how he did it. Great work Sean!

Site seeing – July 7

A local site seeing tour today of the newest pages uploaded to the blog.

Site 1: Small Layouts [Follow the link —>]

This is the small layouts section of the old HunterValleyLines.com/gallery website that is now offline as mentioned in my post yesterday. There are over 30 layout designs in this section.

Site 2: Medium Layouts [Follow the link –>]

This is the medium layouts section of the old HunterValleyLines.com/gallery website. There are 13 layout designs in this section.

Site 3: Large Layouts [Follow the link –>]

This is the large layouts section of the old HunterValleyLines.com/gallery website. There are 3 layout designs in this section.

Site 4: Ideas and Scribbles [Follow the link –>]

This is the most interesting and fastest growing section of the website. The Ideas and scribbles section is the storehouse of all of the doodling and noodling that I’ve done over the years. There are narrow gauge loco designs, industry designs, layout ideas and designs but all are drawings only.

  1. Layout Bits
  2. Layout Ideas
  3. Other Stuff
  4. Track Diagrams

 

Broken down into four major sections follow the links and find some hopefully useful ideas to kickstart your own modelling process.

Site Seeing March 22

Bound for South Australia

Small, smart, practical exhibition layouts are not as easy to find as I’d like in Australia. Most club layouts are huge affairs, requiring many willing hands, a box trailer or van, and a pioneering spirit to move from home to exhibition to home.

Site 1: “Commercial Road” – 1960s South Australian Railways (Link Here)

One such layout that just popped up on my radar on Thursday is the Commercial Road layout of Gavin Thrum of South Australia. If you’ve not come in contact with the railways of South Australia before then you are in for a real treat.

Commercial Road – view the website for more great pictures of the layout

The South Australian railways are an interesting study in Multiculturalism. Originally built to English standards,  and operating practices, in 3 gauges (Irish Broad at 5′ 3″, Standard Gauge at 4′ 8 1/2″, and Narrow Gauge at 3′ 6″) the states rail system was a hodge-podge of types and wooden bodies goods and freight wagons until 1922 when the state’s worst financial deficit reared its ugly head.

To the rescue rode Commissioner William Webb (of the Missouri Kansas and Texas RR) and from 1922 Mr Webb revolutionised railroading in the south.

Engine 502 – 1953 – Public Domain Image courtesy of Wikipedia (more detial below)

Speed signalling, large steam engines, metal freight cars, Brill railcars, and more became the norm. Today there are still three gauges in use and lots of action through the state and in Adelaide where electrification has finally arrived (link here); Very similar to the Victorian VLocity diesel railcar (link here) that I travel in down to Melbourne. (I love electric traction)

But I digress; back to the layout. It’s a great small layout measuring 10′ 10″ long by just 13″ wide. Hop on over to his site and take a look at the images and the modelling. Really well worth a visit.

Resources

Wikipedia article on the SAR – Link Here

More on the big steamers of the Web Era

Why I chose not to design my layout – Part 5

Somewhere back in a previous post I am certain that I published a basic op session. Today I wanted to update that in light of the new layout design, as there is a pretty big change to both the ops plan and the layout since I first set track on plywood.

A Modified Op Session

An op session will start where ever the previous session stopped. You should keep in mind that I am aiming to have roughly one 30 minute operating session per night, at least 3 nights per week. I’d like more but the realities of work and family mean that aiming for 3 nights is achievable.

Assuming that a full day’s work (around 90 minutes odd) is planned for say a Saturday op session here’s how the work would be done.

The yardmaster will go through the electronic system (more about that later on) and determine what cars are due to be picked up and what inbound cars are due to be setout for the day. The YM then hands the paperwork off to the switch crew and goes about his business.

We pick up with the switch crew after they’ve already travelled out to the interchange, connected on, pumped up the air and begun their return back to the Industrial park.

  1. Train arrives from interchange
  2. Loco runs around the train on the arrival track and moves the train over to the classification 1 track
  3. Cars are classified according to the switch list using the main, loop and the Class 2 track
  4. The crew checks the pickups and setouts for industries and then sets about doing the individual jobs for each customer. In cases where there are multiple customers on a spur, the job is handled as a single job
  5. Industries are pulled and setout as required by the switching documentation
  6. The crew then returns outbound cars to the yard, for storage while other switching goes on for other customers (if any that day)
  7. Once all of the industries for that day are switched all outbound cars are made up into a train (blocking is not required)
  8. The final work for the day is to pull the outbounds to the interchange
  9. The cars are set out, handbrakes applied as needed and the air bled off
  10. The loco crew return empty handed to the yard, carry out any further trimming of the class tracks as needed, and
  11. Run the loco back into the maintenance facility.

Here endeth the operating session.

As I said above this full operating session ought to take up about 90 minutes. Allowing the session to be broken down into shorter, easier to achieve 30 minute mini-sessions means I’ll be more likelt to play with my layout, and get more enjoyment from it.

Between sessions the paper work will be hung on clip boards off the front of the layout ready for me the next night.

Should I want to run a longer session I can do that and simply complete the previous sessions work as a part of that.

Why I chose not to design my layout – Part 4

I did some measuring on the new track plan (version 3) today and the result is pleasing (at least to me). On the HVRR we use a XAF10 Railbox car as our standard measure for cars; These car’s measure 190 mm over coupler faces – that’s right on the 54′ and some change that a real car has for door spacing if it is recorded as a 50′ car. With the numbers in hand I tried a few calculations to see how everything fit.

Yard Tracks

With measurements now completed on all of the storage and “yard” tracks our holding ability on all tracks suggests that the:

  • Main (at 1400 mm) can clear 7 standard cars,
  • Loop (at 1500 mm) can clear 8 standard cars.
  • Classification track 1(at 1800 mm) can clear 9 cars ,
  • Classification track 2 (at 1300 mm) can clear 6 cars, and
  • The total on-track yard capacity is 30 cars (not including the interchange as I consider the interchange loadings to be a part of this number).

Yard Occupancy

I don’t want to flood the yard on any one day so I expect that the total yard occupancy at maximum will be 50% of the total – leaving me with 15 cars maximum. So that even with a full train of 9 cars coming in from the interchange I can use Class 1 & 2 to store all of the cars and leave the main and the loop free to work. More on this though below.

Industry tracks

On the main board there are two industries:

  • Industry 1 is 800 mm long and can manage 4 cars
  • Industry 2 is 1600 mm long and can manage 8 cars
  • Interchange track (at 2400 mm) can clear 9 cars plus the loco. The interchange track is considered an industry also.

The trackage on the base of the L are to be built based on an article in Model Trains International #58, page 106 by Bruce Petty. While this was essentially an article on scratchbuilding the Strongheart Packing Co. there was also a track diagram included. While I cannot post the magazine article here for you, I can point you to Bruce’s website which has the same information and track diagram (link here)

The current track layout in this area bounded by East 49th and E 50th Street is somewhat different from that of 25 – 35 years ago, this is reflected in the two images here:

Strongheart Packing Co - Vernon CA

Image 1: Block bounded by 49th & 50th Street, and Gifford To Corona Ave

This is an overhead view of the same block as in the article, but several of the buildings have been removed; specifically Union Malleable and Strongheart Packing. Otherwise the track for the most psrt seems to be intact.

Vernon CA - 49-50th Street - Gifford to Corona Ave - Track Layout

Another overhead view showing a slightly different angle that puts the article map in perspective.

I’ll be leaving building’s in place at Ingle Bros. It is a nice, generic building, plain brick that will be easy to model. It will have the two car spots as on the plan. The Chase Bag Co will go. In it’s place I’m going to put a team track. This will ensure that I can have a range of cars in that spot, and in addition give a great view of the remainder of this section of the layout.

The other buildings will be changed slightly to give that 1970’s renewal look of tilt-up concrete construction so prevalent in Texas.

Industry occupancy

Just as for the yard, I do not want to flood the industry tracks with cars. There are two reasons for this:

  1. I like that industries are not always blocked with cars – this is also very prototypical, and
  2. I am aiming at maximum to have industries be 50-60 percent occupied

Thus the total car numbers of the main board will be:

  • Industry 1 holds on average 2 cars with a maximum of 3 cars
  • Industry 2 holds on average 4 cars with a maximum of 5 cars
  • Interchange holds on average 5 cars (rounded up from 4.5) to 7 cars.

As noted earlier it can clear up to 9 cars at any one time if needed; this ensures that the interchange and the yard tracks should never be flooded with cars to stop the operations of the railroad.

The industrial park (bottom of the L) boards will hold on average 7 cars using the same occupancy rate. In total then the maximum cars in and out of the layout (should all of the occupied spots be switched on one day) would be 17 cars. Luckily that is not going to happen because these car movements would be spread over 6 days.

I am hoping the average will be in the range of 4-5 cars per session. This meets my goal of a short switching session, but with plenty of interest for me as the crew. More on this later.

Why I chose not to design my layout – Part 3

I wanted to show my working (as my Math teacher always encouraged me to do) on the layout design as it evolves to meet my needs. I was not happy with the way the original design performed when I looked at the yard throat design. There was an ‘irksome’ separation between the mainline and the branchline running into the future Industrial park extension. Image 1 below, shows my attempt to fix that issue; a simplified version of the first track layout.

New Layout Design - Take 2
Image 1: Take 2 on the layout design

The throat area is the set of switches around the Interchange track and the branch out to the rest of the industrial park. In mock operating sessions the biggest issue I had on the fist design was the lead out to the rest of the industrial park had crept down quite a way onto the upright of the L shaped boards. Keep in mind here that the other boards are not yet attached to the three boards in the image.

Additionally, I wanted to have a better yard throat, that was easier to switch through and took up less space.  After due reflection, the layout just didn’t look right for a small, smart industrial line with the smarts to build their own industrial park out of a couple of abandoned branch lines. Thus we arrive at version 3.

New Layout Design - Take 3
Image 2: Take 3 of the layout design

First there’s a better use of space,and visual appeal (to me anyway) with the long classification track #1, and the maintenance lead / class track # 2 being at the front end of the board.

All of it coming direct off the old main (now the interchange track). It simply feels better, and right in a way that the previous versions did not. I’ve run a quick thought exercise ops session on the new layout, and it also makes it easier to do business on the new layout. I’ll post the results of that a few days in the future once I have some other modelling work that I have to complete done.

On reflection I will be moving the switch (currently a Wye that will be replaced with a left #5) further back toward the camera to extend the run-around on both the main and the loop. This will stop just short of the road overpass and ensure that a loco can pull clear of the switch to allow the run-around move to take place. Additionally it will allow the

That’s it for me at the moment. Talk to you all later. If you have any questions let me know.

Site seeing March 18

So much for catching up! I had promised to catch up on my posts after a long week of the flu; Sun Tzu was right – no plan survives first contact with an adversary (or a past time).

Site 1: BobbyPitts44 build of a flexiflow car

Over on the FreeRails forum (Link Here) there’s a brief discussion on the work done to take what is essentially a 1960s era toy freight car and turn it into a scratchbuilding masterpiece.

While the forum does not have a lot of information on the build, luckily his Flickr site does. Everything is back – to – front, but there is some really amazing work there to be viewed.

View the Flickr site (Link here)

It’s great work and well worth a view.

Site seeing – March 9

Introduction

All of last week I was sicker than could be with the current Ballarat flu bug. I am almost over it just in time to see the cooler Autumn weather really kick in. As a result of the dreaded lurgy I did not feel in the mood to model or post or do anything beyond making a buck. The next few posts are a catch up from the last week and should bring me back up to speed.

Site 1: Trevor Marshall’s ‘The Peterboro Project

With the current layout build under way, I’ve looked about for inspiration for the scenic treatment. In both the model and the prototypical sense I’ve found inspiration for the look as well as the overall design. Today’s site is a source of my inspiration. I hope that you enjoy looking it over as much as I have.

Trevor’s S Scale Port Rowan layout has been featured here before. Before this S Scale masterpiece there was an HO Scale masterpiece – The Peterboro Project. In 2006 he and a friend, intrigued by the Free-mo modular standard, decided to build a module.

Not just any module though, this was a complete layout module set, that could then be joined to other modules with like-minded Freemo modellers. While the layout itself is fantastic, the experiment did not work out for Trevor and his friend. The layout .

However, the pictures of the layout still exist, and are very worthwhile to review.

Enjoy