Riverside Blue Line – Layout Rethink

So, the countryside layout has been bugging me. It just wasn’t quite… Right. It was okay, but it was kind of boring. So, I went back to the drawing board. Or, in this case, AnyRail and SCARM, and used the pieces I had available to invent a new reality. This one involves grades. I can’t seem to keep myself away from them, even when I know I’m going to be sorry. I got smarter this time and actually planned it out, though, so hopefully I will be less sorry later.

The first thing I did was go to the lumber yard for some more table legs, got the piece of plywood I had sitting around cut to the right size, and built myself the ‘extension’ I had envisioned. Then, I sat down at the computer and started fiddling. This is what I came up with.




I have lived within walking or driving distance of the Mississippi River for most of my life. The grain elevator that I know of is sitting right next to it and looks quite a lot like the one I made for Olin. I had a big blank spot in my layout that was going to be a town, or wasted space. I also wanted some farmland in there, because my Olin boy is as much in to tractors as he is trains. So, I thought, what ‘scene’ do I know that matches all of those elements? The Mississippi! So, I plotted out a town bisected by a river, and a tiny farming community with some crop land on top of the bluffs. Then, I spent about three days fiddling with the exact placement of tracks to get an effect that is somewhat realistic and maximizes the space without being a complete bowl of spaghetti. I also really wanted to emphasize continuous run. While there are several spurs for industries, there are a number of ways to get a long loop. It is necessary to switch the turnouts to get a double loop or hit the ‘branch’ lines, but Olin is starting to understand the idea of changing the points, so it’s a good exercise.

Anyway, on to the description! Riverside Blue Line is an arbitrary designation. My railroad doesn’t have a name other than “the train table”. Olin’s passenger station is blue, so I thought Blue Line would be appropriate.

in the most protected part of the table, we have a cross-section of the river’s main channel. The left side will be primarily residential/commercial, with a beach front park and a little boat slip for leisure craft. The right side will be mostly industrial with the grain elevator, a boat dock near the tracks, and hopefully one or two other factories or warehouses.

The inner loop on the right goes around at ground level or slightly above. The outer loop will be raised gradually at about a 3% grade to cross the river high up on a trestle bridge or some sort of (affordable!) suspension bridge. The Mississippi river basin is entirely too wide to really do this, but I think it will work in this not-to-scale instance. The side of the bluff that’s cut so close, I plan to make look like a sheared-off limestone face using painted shreds of acoustic ceiling tiles, and use a really small drill bit to sort of ‘carve’ in the blast lines.

The shade of green is supposed to approximately represent the elevation of the topography. The whole left side of the board is, of course, farmland on top of the bluff. The blue station, dead steamie and feed dealer are all represented in the same way. The grade of those two tracks is probably going to have to be something between 3 and 4% because there isn’t enough run-up for less, but I will play that fiddly game once I have all my track pieces and foam risers, and can lay this out. I work much better with the physical reality, when it comes to model trains.

The reason that the tracks don’t match up perfectly in the sketch is because I have found that there is a certain amount of ” give” in the tracks that the software doesn’t take in to account. Additionally, some of the places where I used two or three little track pieces where one bigger one might suffice were to please the software when I know that the pieces I have will work just fine.

Once again, the turntable and engine shed at the bottom right are imaginary. I could scrap that idea and build another branch line off that way someday, if I wanted, or just leave it blank. I have my work cut out for me already with the plan I have.

So! There you have it. I’m waiting for a couple of right turnouts and a pre-cut Woodland Scenics riser before I can go any further with the layout itself. In the meantime, I’m working on buildings.

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