PC&N Mini Layout

This layout grew out of the decision to incorporate a test track on my modeling workbench.  But I’ve struggled with where to put and how to secure the track and controls on my workbench.  In the area to the left of my modeling workbench is a long wall that I had given thought to using to display trains on removable shelves.  The shelves would be removable to allow them to be attached to the main yard of the PC&N layout.

Ideally testing capabilities go beyond testing locomotive features (speed, sound, lighting, etc.) controlled by DCC.  Ideally testing facilities would allow:

  • Engines to be tested continuously to ‘break them in’.
  • Engines and rolling stock to be run through switches to insure they will operate properly (gauge, coupler height, etc.) when placed on the layout.
  • DCC components to be tested before incorporation in the PC&N layout.
  • Computer control to be tested before used on the PC&N layout.
  • The operator to be able to have some running trains fun while the PC&N layout is under construction.

So the thought process of the test layout has gone beyond mere test track.  Rather, it is a point-to-point shelf layout that incorporates switching and control applications.  It wasn’t built specifically to meet the Mini layout standards in Railroad-Lines.com which limit a Mini layout to 20 square feet in On30.  This layout has 23 square feet.  But in all other ways it meets the standard.

It is also designed to meet the operating standards for my long-term construction project, the Pacific Coast & Northern Layout.

Generally, here are the specifications for the PC&N Mini layout:

  • Layout shelf will be 12″ to 16″ deep by 20′ long.  It will be constructed as a fold down shelf using a combination of pine boards and Homosote.  When rotated into the horizontal position, the shelf will be supported folding brackets.
  • The layout shelf will be designed to allow accessory shelves containing trains to be placed so that the trains can be run onto the test layout.  These accessory shelves will normally sit on purpose built shelves that act as display locations for trains not currently in operation.
  • The layout will allow point to point operations serving face industries as well as switching operations.
  • The DCC engines on the test layout will be DCC controlled using the NCE Power Cab.  The power cab will be used to program locomotives on the test layout as well as in operating the layout.  The will be operated via radio control battery power implemented using Tam Valley Depot components.
  • Non-D C engines will be operated via radio control battery power using DelTang components.
  • Track and other standards will be consistent with those on the PC&N layout.
  • Switches will be operated on this using Caboose throws in the same way they are operated on the PC&N layout.
  • Track plan will be adapted from the shelf layout plan on P93 of “Track Planning for Realistic Operation” by John Armstrong, (c)1963, Kalmbach Books.

Shelf Layout

I like the fact Armstrong’s plan mixes a small switch yard and some industry sidings.  The test layout shelf will be limited to 16″ deep and will swing down as it is placed in a hall way.  Industries will be face industries placed on the wall.  The actual space relative to the Armstrong plan will permit up to five parallel tracks.  But relatively speaking, the layout is longer so the doubling up that exists on the five deep track area won’t of the Armstrong layout won’t be needed.  I also don’t see a need for the turntable.  But having one would add to the operational interest.  Because the shelf needs to rotate down for storage, there should be no structures on the layout surface, just face industries against the wall.  The following links are to individual posts relating to design and construction.  They are in reverse chronological order — the most recent post is at the top of the list.

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