Alberta & Columbia v.5 “Trying too hard”

Another partial layover night shift in Grande Prairie (at least aided by some Gibson’s Finest today), so here goes with another blog post! After a big photo post last time, let’s take a look at another layout design for the space I’m planning in the basement. This is version 5 of the A & C, last days off I was working on either version 10 or 11 (all that tells you is that I’m way behind on the blogging!)

Since this design was drawn, the space outline of what I’m going to have available has changed. However, if you’re looking for an L-shaped plan, here it is. I titled this one “Trying too hard” because of the reduction in the minimum radius for the plan. I’ve been using a 28 – 30″ minimum for all my designs to this point, but for this one I decided to step it down to 24″ to see what I could fit into the space. I left the turnout standards (#5 in the yard and industries, #6 on the main) alone. I used 24″ years ago in my parent’s crawl space, and successfully ran SD40-2s and a U33C, but they didn’t look great. I’m planning a maximum of a 2-10-2 (though I have to admit that brass Selkirks, either a T1a or T1b are tempting), with the bulk of the power being no larger than a 2-8-2 or 4-6-2, so if I would speed restrict the Santa Fes and let the Mikados and Pacifics run free, the 24″ minimum would be acceptable.

Following the completion of this design, I decided there was no point in dropping the minumum radius down, as the appearance and operation concerns just weren’t worth it. Part of the problem is how tight it makes the aisles, and that’s just not worth it in my opinion. I’m not real wide at the point (even then, I’m over 200 lb), but I can’t say for sure that I won’t be later in life! Even a 24″ aisle that I’ve been using as a minimum to this point is tight, and this plan drops that down to 18″ in a couple spots. Let’s take a closer look at the plan, and go through it a piece at a time.a-and-c-v5-lower

One major difference with this plan is the relocation of the main yard into the corner at the lower right. This eliminates the possibility of a town in the lower left, and to be honest, I’m not sure at this time how to scenic or operate the loop at that end. I am planning to use Sergent couplers, so the curve through the yard won’t be an issue, however, if you want to use Kadees, that can be an issue. Heading out of the yard the benchwork drops down to a bare minimum of around 8″, and the mainline (beyond the yard lead), starts down a short descent. After crossing under the line from the peninsula, it begins a long, steady ascent (see the profile later in this post). The biggest advantage of the smaller radius, is the addition of the peninsula to lengthen the mainline, at the expense of benchwork width on each side, and aisle width as well.v5-profile

As shown on the profile, once over the lower line at the base of the peninsula,  the line drops off briefly before starting the ascent into the helix. The steepest part of the line (deliberately placed in advance of the helix, to avoid stalls therein) is before that little drop, and the helix is steady 2.32%. It’s a tight 24″ radius spiral, as noted on the plan a smaller climb per turn reduces the grade, but leaves less space for hands when it comes time to fix derailments.a-and-c-v5-upper

Once we make it to the upper level (above the four-turn helix), be wrap around the outside of the helix, and arrive at a siding at the top of the hill. From there line drops to a wye which is the junction with a branch atop the peninsula (another advantage of the smaller radius is fitting branchlines in easily). That line climbs sharply past one mine, then terminates at a pair of mines (and runaround track), one of which is served by a switchback. I envision the branch being served by one or two three-truck Shays, as the CPR did in the Rossland / Phoenix (BC) / Motherlode areas. They could either run down the main (slowly) to the smelter at Anaconda, or trade off their traffic to mainline trains at the junction.

The tail end of the line is a smelter town based on Anaconda (in the Grand Forks area of BC). It had a small yard, allowing mainline trains to make simple lifts and setoffs, while a local switcher works the variety of spurs, including the slag dump across the mainline. With a larger space, to allow a larger minimum radius, this plan could have lots of potential. Unfortunately, as drawn, I’d consider the aisles to be too small, and the curves overly restrictive of what equipment can be run. It did show me that it wasn’t worth reducing the curves in the space I have, so I’m using the 30″ minimum when I do finally get to construction.

As usual, should you choose to build this plan, drop me a line and I’ll offer whatever help I can. Thanks for looking!

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