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Track-plan version 3 : Introduction

Well, I finally have a version of the plan ! Version 3.26 means : 3 different layout shape and ... 26 modifications. I don't think this is the final one, but .....
I'm always open to improvements, suggestions and wise-cracks!
What I don’t like
  • NO helix
  • NO Duckunders to get in/out of the layout
  • NO hidden staging areas
What I want
  • Some passengers stations with pass-trough trains ( to run continuous commuters )
  • 1 main freight yard ( no stub-end )
  • Ability to do both point to point and continuous running
Track Specifications
  • N Scale Mainline and Branch
  • Nn3 on Narrow line section
  • Mainline track will use MicroEngineering weathered code 55 flex
  • Nn3 line tracks TBD ( I've found nice sample of JHM code 40 on ASPEN web, but wait for MicroEngineering tracks )
  • Turnouts on the visible mainline are mostly Peco code 55
  • Main line 20,50 mt (not including staging leads)
  • Branch line 10,32 mt (not including staging leads)
  • Narrow gauge line 10 mt
  • Min mainline raidus - 24" ( 60 cm )
  • Min mainline turnout - #6
  • Min industrial turnout - #4
  • Max mainline grade - 1.7%
  • Max branchline grade - 2.5%
  • Track heights - 42" (track height at San Francisco)
  • Time is around 1940 ( I don't know why i like this era, but seams to me that life was more "natural" ... sorry but I'm romantic )
  • Branch and Narrow line inspired by Southern Pacific’s Santa Cruz Mountain Sub-Division, former route of the South Pacific Coast.
  • During 1940 the branch from Los Gatos to Felton and Santa Cruz was abandoned after terrible winter rain, so this era can be a good remind of the line or better a "what if not...." fantasy.
  • This means all steam and maybe a special test run for PA on main route and 36’, 40’, and 50’ freight cars, Heavyweight standard Pullmann and first streamlined passengers, 60’ passenger Commutes cars on Branch line.
  • Mainly Southern Pacific Commutes and Freight service, but with some Dayligth trains to/from Los Angeles.
  • Logging and local passenger on the short narrow line.
  • Trains :
    - Commute & freight on Mainline
    - Freight only and Passenger mix Freight on Branch
    - Log only and Passenger mix Freight on Narrow line
  • BIG variety of trains : through trains, drag freights, local turns, log trains, branchline interchange. SP commute service from San Francisco to Santa Clara-San Jose and some Dayligth from/to Los Angeles
  • Interchange with Narrow gauge line in Felton
  • Possible Helpers on Felton branch.
  • Operators : Two yard operators, and one man crew for trains, but mostly of time operators are limited to me and my son, living some trains running on the main line.
  • I think I can have in the future a PC based software (CTC) to have automatic control of the main line trains.
Advantages of this plan
  • Scenic purity = no multi layer, tracks visibility
  • 3 ( more or less separated ) scenic areas : 1) big city and see coast 2) country hills and rural and 3) Santa Cruz mountains full of Redwoods and logs.
  • NO helix ( ok, there is one but really seams not a multi turn helix ! )
  • No hidden staging areas ( just two tracks emulating the Felton-Santa Cruz line)
  • 4 towns on the main line averaging well over a train length of single track mainline between them.
  • 2 towns on branch line and 1 on the narrow gauge
  • In some places there is nearly a scale mile between towns.
  • Given the slow speed restrictions in the mountains operation should be feasible.
  • Hopefully an ample set of Yards tracks to use as visible staging
  • Continuous run for shows or relaxed ops
  • 24" minimum mainline radius - this will enable to have running SP 4-8-2 or Mallets steam power.
  • No Duckunders to get in/out of the layout
  • Depict the lacks of backpanels separations , operators can't appreciate more than a portion of the track from one location.
Drawbacks of this plan
  • The two “human’s” areas between the aisles pinch down to 24" on either side of the peninsula (a result of the mainline 24" min radius). Space for only one operator. ( I need to loose some weight?)
  • Really complicated construction in the center peninsula
  • Two areas ( SF passenger station in the corner and the logging camp area up in the mountains ) have not easy operator access from the top : I need to think one or two removable "lift up" on scene.
  • Eats up enough space in the room to make life difficult when trying to store things like table saws (my wife is adamant about use this space also to store some stuff that “can be useful in the future” or just “leave it for a moment! “ )
  • I don’t really like the track plan of the Santa Clara yard : the pass through line is in the middle of the yard and this don’t simplify the operation for the local industries switching crew. Additionally the branch line to Felton is connected on one side and this involves main line cross to collect cars from both sides to make a consist for SF.
  • Another problem can be at Mission bay yard where the lead track is not so long. Prepare a long freight can be a bet also with the 36” and 40” cars of the age.
  • Unfortunately there is no space to have Santa Cruz , the relative warf, etc. Sigh...
Layout Specifications : San Francisco peninsula



N ( main and branch ) , Nn3 ( Felton to Boulder Creek and Logging camp)

Room Size:

The total space of the room is 4x4,40 meters ( 13" x15" ) but I want to leave space for a wall library and a computer and workshop desk so the plan is 15”x 9”living one wall empty and the center aisle space shorter for the desk.

Ceiling height :

2,30 mt( 8' )


Southern Pacific


SF to Santa Clara and Santa Cruz mountains


approx 1940

Layout height:

41 " (San Francisco) to 50" (mine and logging camp)


25 " minimum


L-girder, built in 'movable' sections


Main and Sidings: code 55
Staging: code 55
Type is TBD, probably ME flex

Mainline length:


Turnout minimum:

#6 main and stations , some spurs

Minimum curve radius:

24" ( 60 cm ) on main line
18" ( 45 cm ) on branch line
13" ( 33 cm ) on Narrow gauge Nn3

Maximum grade:

1,7% ( on Mainline )
2,7 (on branch for Felton)


DCC - probably a Lenz System

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Last update
Nov 2009
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