Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Return to Bassin Louise - Layout Extension

Funny thing, English royal couple just toured Quebec City last week-end and our layout is back to Princess Louise Basin. What happened?

In fact there's no connection with the British Crown. To put it short, we had a little mixed feelings over the last weeks about the Murray Bay extension proposal. Benchwork had been built and looked promising. The peninsula with a central background work nicely to create two different scenes. There was a consensus among us to keep it. However, the theme and trackage our this extension remained full of question. It was like running a train to nowhere.

Last Monday, we decided to start planning a serious proposal for the extension. Over the last weeks, we already explored ideas about rolling countryside with a farmer's cooperative (mainly inspired by Lyster Station, Quebec) and bringing back the harbour scenes, notably the huge grain elevator and the car float.

I was also personally concerned about providing a mean to return trains and engine. It was decided to build a returning loop. The good thing is that it will need a tunnel and one exist in Quebec City Harbour near Wolfe's Cove (aka L'Anse-aux-Foulons). On the other hand, Lyster Station was also a junction so it will fit perfectly in the setting.

Overall, this new extension proposal will complement nicely our existing industries at Hedley. Also, the idea to have a point-to-point layout with two yards will give enough opportunities to have three people operating at the same time which was lacking on the actual setting.

The New Layout

New layout extension proposal.

Design criterions:

-22" minimal radius (only once in the tunnel), average radius is between 24" and 36"
-#6 Turnouts on mainline and other places were switching can be tricky or 6-axles engines can be used
-No S-curve
-Long sidings with large industries

Typical Train Operation

Imagine a grain train leaving Hedley-Junction. It crosses the furnace tunnel and exit at Lyster Station were it must enter the passing to let pass an eastbound train. Then it exist Lyster and come near St. Lawrence River when it gently run through the peninsula ends. At this point, the train continue, pass the diamond with the diverging route and enter the yard siding. At this point, all cars are left in the siding and the engines continue to the end of the layout were they can stop at the engine house. The staff take a break, a lunch and prepare the engines for the next trip back to Hedley.

Meanwhile, a switcher exit the yard, take the train and bring him back to the yard. Grain cars are then shuffled into the grain elevator and the switcher use the small crossover at left to escape from the siding. A new train is assembled in the yard and put back in the siding. Our original crew put the caboose at the end of the new train, runaround it and finally can head back to Hedley.

Grain elevator cars will be spotted by a motorized cabestan that will move the cars without the need for a locomotive. This kind of device is often seen in this kind of industry.

As you can also see, the switcher can operate in the yard without having to use the mainline. Most industries face the same direction which will eliminate most of the tiresome runaround. Once a while is fun, too much is just a bother.

Now, time to put these idea in the "real" world.

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