Track Plan At A Glance
Layout Theme: Portland, ME Area
Layout Type: Double Deck
Scale: HO Scale
Track: Code 83
Turnouts: No. 6
Min. Radius (Mainline): 30"
Article by: Jim Spavins
Published: September 13, 2016
My two friends, Andrew and Amanda - (The A-team!) - just bought a new basement. It is quite exciting and it means track planning around here has been in full swing to figure out the model railroad which will fill their new abode. They asked me to take an independent look at the space and come up with a design alternative.
Currently, the A-team has a home layout called the Boston & Maine Central - a proto-freelanced layout centering around the Boston & Maine and Maine Central lines in and out of Portland, ME. The current layout includes Rigby Yard as the center of operations with a branch to the docks in Portland, a branch to a papermill and sawmill, as well as another branch which heads up Maine Central's Mountain Division into New Hampshire (better known today as the route of the Conway Scenic Railroad). Their goal was to take that same theme and fit a similar layout into the new basement. They had a few givens and druthers for the new railroad:
- Rigby Yard to serve as center of operations
- Include Portland Terminal scenes (docks)
- Include Bartlett Roundhouse
- Include Crawford Notch Station
- Double deck layout
- Minimum 30" radius
- Minimum 36" aisles
- Staging yards can be located in adjacent garage
- Continuous run option
The top deck of the Boston & Maine Central layout. The lower deck is shown at the beginning of the article. | Trackplan by Jim Spavins.
Around the Railroad
Over the weekend, I completed the first rough draft layout plan for their space (shown above). The plan was meant to figure out the overall configuration of the layout in the space and many of the final siding and yard track arrangements were just meant as placeholders. (For example, the paper mill will be more than a two track siding.) As can be seen, the overall layout plan is a loop to loop double deck layout with two staging yards feeding each end of the railroad.
The central feature is Rigby Yard which fits around the far corner of the lower deck from the entrance to the room. A staging yard out in the garage will feed the yard from the south. In addition, to the south of the yard is a branch to a paper mill complex which hides one of the end loops used when the layout is in continuous run mode. Heading north, the mainline crosses the Fore River and into downtown Portland and the Portland Terminal docks. The mainline heads into a helix at this location leading to the upper level.
As the mainline exists the helix on the upper deck, a small logging scene sets the rural tone of the Mountain Division. The mainline winds around the room through Bartlett, NH, over Frankenstein Trestle and finally ending at Crawford Notch Station. A second staging yard - located above the lower deck staging in the garage - provides a termination and origination point for traffic on the Mountain Division. It should be noted the upper deck is slightly narrower than the lower deck around most of the room to allow for a clearer line of sight to the switching heavy lower level. In addition, most of the switching areas have been offset laterally on the two decks to allow space around the room for operators to comfortably work.
Operating the Railroad
The center of the layout's operations, as mentioned earlier, will be Rigby Yard. The basic theory of the operating plan is that two feeder trains arrive in the morning - one from Maine Central's Mountain Division (upper level) and one from the Boston & Maine (lower level staging) - which are broken down and then sent on several turns. These include quick runs out to the docks of the Portland Terminal, the paper mill, as well as to points south on the Boston & Maine (lower level staging). These trains would return and the cars assembled into trains to return to the Maine Central Mountain Dvision and Boston & Maine respectively. Intermittent passenger trains break up the action heading along the length of the mainline. While the exact traffic pattern is still under development, it is easy to imagine an operating session with six to eight people moving traffic around the room for a couple of hours.
For Track Plan Tuesday's, I am digitizing all of my old track planning notebooks and sharing the designs here on the website. To see all the plans, visit the track plan home page at: jimspavins.com/jimstrackplans.