Box Street 4x1 feet HO scale switching layout

Discussion in 'Members Personal Layouts' started by James76, Jan 14, 2021.

  1. James76

    James76 Full Member

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    I thought I had already posted a thread about this layout, but I hadn't so here goes...

    The Box Street micro HO scale switching / shunting layout that is 1200mm x 300mm in size, the track plan based on the Boxer Shortline plan that can be found on the late Carl Arendt’s small and micro layouts website. But I did add some extra trackage, and industry switching possibilities due to the extra width of the layout compared with that in the original Boxer Shortline plan. Below is the track plan I decided on.

    Layout Description

    The layout has 2 standard turnout / points, a single slip, a double slip and a sector plate.

    01-4x1-plan-BoxSt.jpg.8eb80edbd51eda8715d77c57307be603.jpg

    The sector plate can hold 1 short switcher and a 40 scale foot car, or a longer loco and no car. There is a run around track for getting to the other side of car to switch some of the tracks, a 2 track ‘yard’ where trains ‘arrive’ from, 2 team tracks, a flour and grain industry spur, and a food manufacturer. The sector plate is also used to serve some industries, and is part of the scenic area of the layout rather than having it hidden away. This layout progressed quite quickly to an operating state, and when I finally decided to do the scenery, the scenery was fairly quickly added as well, although there is more to do (isn't there always). This layout, along with another micro switching / shunting layout called "Pier 39", was added to a custom built bookshelf so that the two 1200mm x 300mm layouts only take up a little more than 1200mm x 300mm in floor space as they are housed in the bookshelf 'double stacked' one on top of the other.

    02-ModelTrains_BoxSt_1010363.JPG.9474f3064aa02cecf0c74249b7042d66.JPG


    03-ModelTrains_BoxSt_1010362.JPG.c4d46c1f153555956523d4b127766329.JPG

    The layout can handle about 6 cars an operating session, with some cars already in industry spurs and some in the interchange tracks. It is built to be operated as part of the Virtual Interchange operations group I am a member of, which tends to have 1 or 2 cars per waybill and most spurs can hold about 2 cars each..

    How It Is Operated

    The start of an operating sessions sees some cars in industry tracks awaiting moving, and a loco and some cars (placed there by hand) in the interchange tracks. The loco crew has to work out how to best perform the required moves in the minimum time and with the minimum amount of moves, This usually means that an operating session is akin to playing chess, each move having to be thought out in advance especially when the number of cars is close to capacity for the layout.

    04-ModelTrains_BoxSt_1010834.JPG.980787bec05e344e4c6438ee408268b2.JPG


    05-ModelTrains_BoxSt_1010360.JPG.08a33867150cee5c4ba6194e27d36c2a.JPG

    Locale
    The layout represents a small switching area near the B&OCT Barr yard in Riverdale, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois, USA. It’s motive power is either a B&O S4, or a CM / MPAC switcher from CM / MPAC Blue Island. CM = Colorado Midland, and MPAC = Midland Pacific, 2 model railroads operated by another member of the Virtual Interchanging group I am a member of.


    06-ModelTrains_BoxSt_1010364.JPG.cce2083124b06c743c3d5005530fe136.JPG


    07-P1020207.JPG.265f9ef311cb8af57cb8894b7df0088b.JPG

    This post is based on information on my website at https://www.jimsmodeltrains.ws/box-street-micro/ .
     
  2. Gary

    Gary Wants more time for modelling.... Staff Member Administrator

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    That is pretty neat James, I like it very much !

    I do like the idea of 'virtual interchange operations group', sounds interesting. I better go check out your link now ! :thumbs:

    Cheers, Gary.
     
  3. James76

    James76 Full Member

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    Thanks Gary.

    The Virtual Interchange group uses to Groups.io groups:
    ... and a web-based application at: http://jstan2.pairserver.com/apps/interchangecars2/home (which I built for the group).
    Regards, James
     
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  4. James76

    James76 Full Member

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    Box Street Lighting

    The first post for this layout showed the state of this layout, more or less as it currently is, but dates back a number of months (due to me not realising I hadn't posted about this layout yet).

    What follows is enhancements made to the layout since.

    Some time ago I added lighting over my HO scale Box Street micro switching layout. To do this I added LED lights, a switch and power supply under the baseboard for the Pier 39 layout which sits above it. When the room the layout it is in is darker than usual and the layout lights are on, it frames the layout rather nicely.

    01-ModelTrains_BoxSt_1020320.jpg
    Above: Box St before overhead lighting added.

    02-ModelTrains_BoxSt_1020321.jpg
    Above: Box St after overhead lighting added.

    03-ModelTrains_BoxSt_1020322.jpg
    Above: Box St overhead lighting battery.

    04-ModelTrains_BoxSt_1020323.jpg
    Above: Box St overhead lighting switch.

    05-ModelTrains_BoxSt_1020324.jpg
    Above: Box St overhead lighting in action​

    The switch that turns the lighting on and off is attached under the frame for the Pier 39 layout, which keeps it hidden from general view and doesn’t detract from the scenery on the layout. Initially the 'power supply' for the lighting was just a 9V battery but after a while I found a switch mode power supply that plugs into the mains and outputs 12 VDC at a much higher amperage than the battery and so I wired that into the circuit instead.

    After some recent thought on the track arrangement of this layout, I have been thinking I might 'simplify' the track arrangement somewhat, so it is more like the Boxer Shortline track. Currently the track arrangement is working well but the extra industry tracks that are not on the original Boxer Shortline plan only really add space for 3 cars and I am not sure whether that is really worth it. I feel that the track arrangement could be enhanced by simplification - the 'less is more' idea, I suppose. Maybe more like this:

    4x1-plan-BoxSt2.jpg

    Parts of this post are derived from my Blog at: https://www.jimsmodeltrains.ws/2020/07/06/micro-layouts-progress-update/ .
     
  5. Gary

    Gary Wants more time for modelling.... Staff Member Administrator

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    The less is more approach always works well. The only real difference is that it means just less moves involved on the new design, which isn't a bad thing. After all, with two less sidings, it actually gives you less opportunity to spot cars on those sidings, so in a way, it may become more interesting !

    On the new layout I'm currently building, the long siding has five car spots, so if you need to get to the last spot, you need to move the cars that are in the way first ! I think this just adds that little bit of realism to the layout. The same approach can be had on your layout as you may need to switch out or swap the cars (loading/unloading) in the Grain or Jaxx Snaxx sidings.

    I'm looking forward to any updates as your layout changes. :thumbs::thumbs::thumbs:

    Cheers, Gary.
     
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  6. James76

    James76 Full Member

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    Thanks for your comment Gary.

    Another thing that can be done (on the current or proposed track arrangements) is that when there are more cars for an industry (industry 1) than the capacity of its track that cars can be spotted then unloaded while a car/s for another industry (industry 2) is switched then the remaining cars for industry 1 swapped with cars already at that industry. Similar to what you described.

    I think the proposed changes will be more challenging to operate (a good thing) as spotted cars stopping access to the runaround track will be more likely. This would be especially so if more than one train serves the layout in an operating session.


    Regards, James
     
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  7. James76

    James76 Full Member

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    That revised track arrangement mentioned a few posts ago has no come to fruition.

    Here is what it looked like before the changes were made.

    02-P1020910.jpg
    Industries: Left: multi-industry building & Jaxxs Snaxxs; Centre: South Chicago Flour & Grains; Right team tracks. The Hot Mix Asphalt plant at the centre front of the layout can also receive cars, but they either foul the double slip or use the Jaxxs Snaxxs spur.​

    After the industries in the back centre and back right of the layout and un-needed trackage was removed, and the existing track re-aligned and a turnout installed to replace the single slip, it looked quite bare.

    03-P1020914.jpg

    But it wasn’t long before the changes were complete, thanks to a Monday afternoon that I could dedicate to making the required changes.

    04-P1020928.jpg
    Industries: Left: multi-industry building & Jaxxs Snaxxs; Centre: team track; Right: South Chicago Flour & Grains.​

    In the process of making the changes, the abandoned building that was next to the team tracks was removed, and some grassed areas were added where spurs and buildings were previously.

    Operationally, it will be a little different to how it was before. The capacity of the spurs has been lowered by 3 cars. But there is still room for about 6 cars in the various industry spurs, and 4 in the interchange yard. Although now the runaround track is also the track that serves the team track so that will make the layout more of a switching puzzle than it was before.

    This post derived from my blog at: https://www.jimsmodeltrains.ws/2021/01/19/less-is-more/
     
  8. paul_l

    paul_l Staff Member Administrator

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    Nice, and also very doable - maybe not just yet for me, but I have some American stock, and a shortline micro layout maybe ideal.

    Paul
     
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  9. James76

    James76 Full Member

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    Thanks for your comment Paul.

    While the track plan that inspired the layout is called 'Boxer Shortline' (suggesting a shortline railroad), the track arrangement as I have it with the extra spur in the 'interchange yard' makes it work just as well as an inner city / suburban industrial switching area which is what my Box Street layout portrays. The 'Boxer Shortline' plan could just as easily portray an industrial switching area too, even without any extra trackage added. Whether the track arrangement is used for a shortline or an industrial switching area, short trains and small locos are right at home on a track arrangement like this.

    Regards, James
     
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  10. Mark4mm

    Mark4mm Full Member

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    Liking this industrial layout of yours James. Nicely modeller with some lovely detail.:thumbs:
     
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  11. James76

    James76 Full Member

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    Today I uploaded my first video of the Box Street layout to YouTube, featuring an operating session with an Also S2 and 4 cars. The operating session featured in the video was done yesterday.



    Regards, James
     
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  12. Gary

    Gary Wants more time for modelling.... Staff Member Administrator

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    Nice operating session !

    Cheers, Gary.
     
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  13. James76

    James76 Full Member

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    Hi all.

    It's been a while since I posted something on this forum, so thought I would add a post about intricacies of operations on the Box Street layout.

    I've been having regular operating session on my various micro layouts for a while now, and am getting used to the somewhat quirky nature of switching the Box Street layout, and having to think a few moves ahead when operating it. Mostly this is necessary because of the smallness of the layout, and my need to move as many of 6 or so virtually interchanged cars on some operating sessions. With 6 or more cars the layout it can be somewhat short of space for moving cars around.

    The cars at the start of the session I had today are shown in the photo below.

    20210509-IMG_20210509_093627~2.jpg

    There were 3 cars in the 'yard' (foreground right side of photo) which had insulated packaging materials for Midwest Foods which is in the tall building on the back left hand side of the layout. There were 2 reefers in the Team Track in the middle of the layout (1 of them being a 50 foot car) which had been unloaded and were ready to moved to Riverdale. There was also an empty box car to be moved to Riverdale and a covered hopper to be returned empty to Colorado at left hand side of the layout.

    To complete all the movements required for the operating session it took about an hour to complete.

    Part of the reason it took that long was the 3 cars for Midwest Foods could not all be moved there to be unloaded as the spur is only long enough for 2 40 foot cars, so I had to push 2 cars into that spur for unloading them shuffle one of those cars out to move the last of the 3 in to be unloaded after I had made other car movements. Because of the lack of available space to store cars I also made my fair share of switching mistakes (or are they switching experiments) which meant a bit more time to complete the session.

    Here is a screenshot the switchlist of the cars that had to be moved, from the web-based Model Railroad Interchange Car Forwarding application.

    20210509-BoxSt.jpg

    Regards, James
     
  14. paul_l

    paul_l Staff Member Administrator

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    :scratchchin: not part of the hobby I've progressed to (yet), I need a layout I can run and shunt on first :facepalm:

    But I like the idea of waybills etc to formalise activities and give a sense of purpose.

    Paul
     
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  15. Chris Doroszenko

    Chris Doroszenko Lost in the spare room Full Member

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    Nice lil module...plenty of action...have I spotted a building thats been reused off Dolton industrial spur? I have followed all your films which have been a great influence on my layout plans. Cheers for sharing.

    PS...did miss the funky elevator music in your recent film:thumbup:
     
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  16. James76

    James76 Full Member

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    Thanks Chris.

    Yes, the triangular low relief building in the back right hand side, and the small unloading shed are both off the Dolton module. The various parts of the Hot Mix Asphalt plant and the freight platform in the left foreground are off the Illinook module which was operated when attached to the Dolton module.

    Thanks for the kind words and feedback regarding the influence I've had on your layout plans. It's always nice to hear about positive influences one has had on others!

    (For anyone else reading this and wondering what Dolton and Illinook were like, the Dolton and Illinook modules were part of a reasonably large modular layout I owned until late 2019. Info on those modules is available on my http://www.jimsmodeltrains.ws website in the "Previous Layouts" section. I haven't include info on Dolton & Illinook on this forum as they were scrapped before I joined this forum.)

    Regards, James
     
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  17. James76

    James76 Full Member

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    Shortening some longer covered hoppers to enhance operation HO scale Box Street micro layout.

    After my recent successful shortening of a bay window caboose (see post on my Tropical Pizza / Bamboo Island layout on 1st September 2021), I was pondering some 56 scale feet covered hoppers that I purchased some years ago but couldn’t really use on Box Street or my other micro layouts due to their length. I have 5 of them, and wondered whether I could shorten them like I did the caboose. Each of the covered hoppers looked like this, but with different color schemes representing different railroads.

    P1030727.JPG

    The first thing I had to do was figure out how to dismantle the cars. As all the cars are the same, except for color scheme, I could dismantle one car and that would allow me to see how best to shorten all of them. After a while I was able to dismantle one, and upon investigation realised shortening them would be relatively easy.

    P1030728.JPG

    Because each car had 3 ‘panels’ on the side, I could remove the middle panel then glue the two ends together, then do something similar with the chassis, then cut the roof and walk way on the top to fit the shortened car. I decided to try shortening the car I had dismantled to see how it went, then if it went successfully I would shorten the other ones. On a Saturday night, I did the dismantled car and was rather pleased with the end result.

    P1030729.JPG

    On this first car, I made a mistake with the chassis which resulted in there being a gap between the two sections, but as it would not usually be seen and the chassis wasn’t where the car got most of it’s rigidity / strength from I figured it was not too big a problem. I thought I could shorten the chassis on the other subsequent cars a different way so that there was no gap.

    P1030730.JPG

    The next day, I shortened 3 of the others, but left one of them 56 scale feet long as the couplings on that car required attention. The end result was that I now have an extra 4 covered hoppers that are about 39 scale feet in length that I can use on the Box Street micro layout, but also on my other layouts where necessary.

    P1030731.JPG

    The joins can be seen on the sides of each model, but they’re not overly obvious, and can probably be disguised with some graffiti or other painting. Over all, I’m quite pleased with the result.

    (From https://www.jimsmodeltrains.ws/2021/10/17/covered-hoppers-for-box-street/ )
     
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  18. Gary

    Gary Wants more time for modelling.... Staff Member Administrator

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    Nice conversions ! Apart from the Rio Grande wagon missing a fair amount of railroad company logo, the other three look like they belong and not out of place !

    I often look at the four bay hoppers and think, they look good, but I do prefer the smaller 2 and 3 bay hoppers !

    Cheers, Gary.
     
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  19. James76

    James76 Full Member

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    Thanks Gary.

    Yes that Rio Grande one missing part of the name is a bit obvious! Although I have seen some cars where a repainted panel has resulted in part of a logo being missing, so it could be prototypical. But I am planning to add some graffiti to that one, so it should be able to disguise it ok. Close up each of them has capacities stated, which are now incorrect, and the C&NW one has some writing cut off at the bottom where the join is (which isn't overly obvious except close up), but I am thinking I will just patch those sections over with some black paint (a common enough occurence on the prototype), and then maybe give all those cars some fairly drastic weathering treatment.

    Regards, James
     
  20. Echidna

    Echidna Full Member

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    Dear James76,

    1 / an interesting article, and a nice little, yet interesting shunting layout, well done.

    I do also like your short hopper conversions, especially so since these short hoppers are still seen, albeit in limited numbers now, still in daily service in North America.

    On the prototype North American grain branchline, those large, and heavy, bogie grain wagons have the unintended effect of restricting service, due to their heavier axle load causing the track to give way under their loaded weight. I understand that this had also been a problem with XGAY / WGBY / WGSY / BGSY new Australian generation bogie grain hoppers at 68 tonnes loaded, 92 tonnes gross, 23 tonne axle load, which are too heavy for many grain branch lines.

    ( Removing a toppled over loaded grain wagon would make for an interesting day ! )

    2 / re the "other Industries" building illustrated in Post#1 andPost#13, could you please tell me the source of this interesting building please ?

    3 / Carl Arendt's site is a hidden gem of info on small railways that is equally useful for larger layouts.

    The Inglenook concept ( 1958 & 1979 ) by the late Alan Wright, and its predecessor A R Walkley's 1926 suitcase layout , of which Alan Wright was unaware of, are interesting little shunting layouts. These layouts generally have a formulae of either 5-3-3 or 3-2-2 sidings capacity, and it is surprising how many prototype locations have a similar small capacity.

    The Inglenook sidings are based on the prototype Kilham Sidings ( Alnwick - Cornhill branch, NER, LNER, BR-ER ) which also had the 5-3-3 siding capacity.

    4 / From an Australian perspective, I was looking at the Powerline HO scale VR VSX / VLEX Bogie Louvre Vans, the prototype of 250 being built between 1972 and 1976, and which are 56' long, with a 50 ton load capacity, which was a Railways of Australia / RoA agreed standard specification for interstate traffic.

    In modelling terms these wagons are about 9" / 230mm long over couplers, so if you allow for 10" / 255mm per wagon, that means 5 wagons = 50", 3 wagons = 30", 2 wagons = 20" per siding length, and this will allow for placement in clear of the siding without hitting the buffers or end stops ( which is a definite no no ).

    If you happen to have both bogie and 4w wagons, and prototype BR wagons with a 9' or 10' wheelbase translates to ( in 4mm scale ) 4" / 100mm, ( over couplers ) so allow 5" / 125 mm per wagon, this gives you double the 4w wagons for the same spaces outlined above. ( ie 5 = to 10, 3 = to 6, 2 = to 4 )

    Therefore, if you base your Inglenook on the 3-2-2-formulae for the VSX bogie vans, you then have the possibility of running either a 3-2-2 or a 6-4-4 shunting layout. On this basis, 30" for maximum siding length, + 30" for points, + 10" for the locomotive ( US SD-35, British 4F 0-6-0 Goods ) & 10" for the Brake Van ( 5 " for 4w or 6w Brake ) gives you 80" / 6'8" / 2030 mm Total baseboard length, and 1' / 300mm or even 1'6" / 460 mm width for your reasonably flexible shunting layout that would allow for a mix of eras, or even prototypes.

    This space could accommodate US style 40' or 50' boxcars, or a mix of Australian 4w and bogie wagons, or a mix of British 4w short and long wheelbase wagons.

    From another perspective, the standard Australian interior door is 7'6" / 2285 mm X 32" / 810 mm, so a redundant door can be sawn vertically in half, which will give you an extra 10" / 255 mm of wriggle room, and with 16" / 405 mm width.

    Best wishes and regards to all, Echidna
     

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