Track Plans

Some track plans used on past display layouts

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Contents below on this page:

1. Some Thoughts On Display Layout Track Plans [below]
2. Samples From Discontinued 'T1' Track Plan Set [below]
3. Approximate Track Requirements For Plans In T1 Track Plan Set [below]
4. Two Additional Track Plans [below]

Discontinued 'T1' Track Plan Set

1. Some Thoughts On Display Layout Track Plans



Putting this set of drawings together into a formal set of track plans was the idea of Ed Zellner, so he gets part of the credit (or discredit) depending on whether you find any value in this collection of ideas.

We try to "tangle" the tracks loops up as much as possible, as opposed to just running trains in concentric circles. Using trestles to operate on different levels, plus automatic block controls to operate multiple trains on the same track, we can get some interesting visual effects, in spite of the constraint of being required to set up and tear down the layouts within a few hours.

For reference, the 3 standard G scale track circle radii' are shown in the following figure.

Fig 22b -- Common Track Radii

The General Theme

Some of these layouts have a general "theme" to the track plan, which I will now try to point out.

These layouts with "the theme" have have typically 3 loops.

LOOP 1: "Loop 1" on the outside, generally goes around the outside perimeter, except that it the rear it comes into the inside, as shown in the following figure.

Figure 22c -- Outside "Loop 1"

This "tuck in" in the rear allows us to visually "tangle" this loop with the rest of the layout, instead of looking like a separate isolated loop just running around the outside.

LOOP 2: The 2nd component is a "Loop 2" that runs inside of Loop 1 and must be elevated so that it can climb over top of Loop 1.

The following figure shows the elevated Loop 2 added. Loop 2 typically starts climbing around point "2A", and comes back down to ground level around point "2D". In addition, you can elevate the outside "Loop 1" between points "1A" and "1D".

Figure 22d -- Adding The Elevated "Loop 2"

Squeezing In Loop 3

If you have a larger space, you can often squeeze in a "Loop 3" that uses the space left over on the inside, as shown in the following figure.

Figure 22e -- Adding "Loop 3" On The Inside

Examples Of This Theme

Comments About Notation
Some of the drawings use a notation such as, for example, "T050". This is short for Track Plan # 50.
Plan T049 titled "Model Train Mania/Lakewood Optomists" in this booklet shows a plan that has all 3 loops, in about the minimum space this can be done with the outide loop being 1600 radius.

Layouts T051 and T053 also use this 3 track theme, and these two layouts also have the outer Loop 1 elevated in addition to the always-elevated Loop 2 as described above.

Track Plan T050 "Ninth National Garden Railway Convention" uses this theme, but omits the inside Loop 3 due to its small size.

Uphill Rights Better than Uphill Lefts ?

Whenever the track plan has an incline, I try to do the "climbing" on straight track, as the engines can pull significantly more cars if they do not have to pull the train through an uphill curve. If an uphill curve is unavoidable, I try to use an "uphill right" in preference to an "uphill left". This is because the LGB engines have the traction tire on the left side, which causes the engines to have somewhat of a built-in tendency to "torque" to the right. So by curving the track to the right, you are guiding the engine in the way the traction tire is already trying to make it turn.

Master Loops and Slave Loops

On some of these layouts, where both outside Loop 1 and middle Loop 2 climb a grade side by side, we have modified the controls slightly so that one loop is a "slave" of the other loop.

Plan T045 shows outside Loop 1 slaved to middle Loop 2 by moving the T1 and T2 track contacts of the Model 944 automatic block on the outer loop, and relocating them to the middle loop. This arrangement prevents a train from exiting the 944 block on the outer loop until a train exits the 163 switching block on the middle loop. The net result is that the middle Loop 2 "cues" the outer Loop 1, so that two trains climb the upgrade more or less side by side.

Plan T051 shows the middle Loop 2 slaved to the outside Loop 1, by moving the T1 and T2 track contacts of switching block B2 to the outside loop. In this case, outer Loop 1 cues middle Loop 2, with the same objective of having two trains climb the upgrades simultaneously.

Plan T048 shows an arrangement where the middle Loop 2 cues the outer Loop 1, where the two loops are running in opposite directions.

The objective is to have the trains travelling in opposite directions meet at the same time at the "high bridge". This idea works, but I question whether the visual results justify the additional complication to achieve it.

In general, this "cueing" seems to produce a more impressive visual result when the two connected loops are going the same direction on side-by-side upgrades.

2. Sample Track Plans

What's Included In This Section
I have included samples of some the the 14 plans in the Track Plan Set, as I have most of the drawings on the computer. Most of the photos, however, are not included, as I do not have them scanned.


Track Plan #6

Figure 6A - Single 120 foot Route

Figure 6B - Same Plan, but modified for Two Diverging 60 foot Routes

Note that the mainline has been split up into two different routes, and trains travel both routes.

Compare it with Figure 6A above.  The two layouts are very similar, except that one of the turnouts have been moved -- so that instead of having a passing siding, there are instead two routes.

Figure 6C - The hand-drawn Plan #6, upon which the above two computer drawings are based.

Figure 6D - A screen capture from the video #V8907 "Six Trains On 1 Track" [Vimeo, 4 min].

Track Plan #8 

Figure 8A - The hand-drawn Plan #8

Figure 8B -
Plan #8  -- shown
configured for a SINGLE mainline,

Figure 8C -
Plan #8, Configured for 2 Diverging Routes (image from Video #V632)

The Video #632 -- "Automatic Route Selection" [Quicktime, 16 min] [Youtube, 10 min] shows the above layout in operation.

Track Plan #48


Track Plan #49



Track Plan #50

Track Plan #50, 1993 -- Ed & Linda Zellner and Jim Ingram built this minidisplay with mega-action at the 1993 National Garden Railway Convention in Santa Clara CA, using 2 automatic switching blocks to run 7 trains in a space of only 12' x 20'


Track Plan #53

Track Plan #53, Nov 1993 -- Here's a job you probably wouldn't want to tackle with command control -- 3 of Ed Zellner's automatic switching blocks control 12 trains (4 per loop), 12 hours per day, on one of his 70-foot long Christmas megadisplays


Track Plan #55


3. Approximate Track Requirements For Plans In T1 Track Plan Set

The following tables show approximate track requirements for some of these layouts. Straight track is tabulated in total feet. Curved track is tabulated by number of pieces.

All quantaties are crude estimates. Quantities are for main lines only -- sidings and spurs are not included.


4. Two Additional Track Plans (added to latest version of Track Plan Set T1)

Track Plan #57

This small plan was used for the demonstration layout at the Twelth National Garden Railways Convention in Orlando, Florida in April 1996. This layout operated 5 trains on the elevated loop using Zellner Yard, plus an addtional 2 trains on the inside loop using a single-track automatic block.


Track Plan #58

[006scan] [008]

This page created June 1997, modified 9/1/2012-d by (bottom include) , Williamsport Pa, Voice Mail 570-322-7597