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Layout description
All Points North Model Railroad Layout Details

We started construction on our layout in late January 2003. The layout is HO scale containing 530' of main line, plus another 230' of track going down to and around hidden staging, where there is also a balloon track that allows entire trains to be turned around.  There is also an HOn3 narrow gauge line. The track plan is a multi-grade (not multi-level) design that features a single track mainline with numerous passing sidings. The plan is free-lanced in both era and location, and therefore, does not follow any particular prototype or time period.

Click on photo for a larger version
 

The plan includes a large Port area with: a dock for unloading new autos from ships into waiting car-carriers, an intermodal yard, a grain elevator, a refinery with tank car loading racks and barge pier, a waterfront scene, a power plant and other warehouses supporting rail traffic.


From the coast the layout climbs, making its way into mountain scenes as well, and past other industries such as a paper mill, lumber yard, rail car maintenance & paint facility, and a mine. The route also passes through several towns with numerous industries. Also being constructed are a transfer table equipped diesel servicing and repair facility and a separate steam facility, complete with a round house.



Layout Schematic - click for larger imageThe layout can be run as continuous loop or point-to-point. The HO scale line has three industrial switching areas online, with more on the way. There are four staging yards - two above our workbench and two below the main layout peninsulas, providing a grand total of 25 staging tracks.

In 2007 we started holding regular operating sessions using RailOp, a computer program designed to manage car, engine, train, and track location files – and to create the paperwork needed to easily move freight and trains of all types over our railroad.
 


Some of the features of the layout are as follows:

  • 30' by 50' layout room (Original Layout) 50' by 50' layout room (expansion)
     
  • Over 2600' of track  (Original Layout)
     
  • 30" minimum radius on the main line
     
  • Number 6 minimum turnout size on the main line
     
  • Maximum gradient 2-1/2%
     
  • 9 passing sidings (excluding the yards) that range in length from 13 to 41'. Two of them can be used in combination for a single siding that is 56' long!
     
  • 4 staging yards with 25 staging tracks
     
  • 2 nested 1-1/2 turn helixes under Mount Willie
     
  • Approximately 100' of HOn3 narrow gauge line
     
  • All HO Scale track is Atlas Nickel-Silver Code 83.
     
  • Turnouts are a mixture of Walthers/Shinohara Code 83, custom hand laid and BK Enterprises. All turnouts have been modified to a DCC friendly format as outlined in the Allan Gartner's "Wiring for DCC" turnout pages.
     
  • Switch machines are a combination of Circuitron Tortoise and Switchmaster slow motion machines. Many of the Tortoise machines were modified per Don Crano's web article.
     
  • The bench work is an open grid design fabricated from 3" wide POcket Screws - Click on photo for larger image
    strips of ripped 3/4" furniture-grade plywood, fastened together with pocket screws. Two different types of plywood were used - Baltic Birch and Chinese Birch. Both types have 13 layers, so they are very stable. A jig was used to fabricate various size modules, however, most of the modules measured 5' x 30". We had to stick with 5' long modules since the Baltic Birch is only sold in 5' x 5' sheets.
     
  • The roadbed is made from 1/2" thick Homasote cut from 4' x 8' sheets into strips slightly wider than the track. For curving the Homasote strips, kerfs about 60% of the strip width are cut about every 3/4". The Homasote strips are then glued to the 3/4" sub-roadbed with Pliobond II adhesive and then painted with an earth-toned flat latex paint to seal.
     
  • The Layout is entirely DCC, controlled through a Wangrow System One Command Station, and is equipped to support NCE wireless cabs, using a Hypergain®  Model HG908P flat patch antenna to enhance coverage of the NCE RB-01 radio base.
     
  • A separate programming track where decoders can be programmed with a "Dog bone" cab or via mouse-clicks on a PC using the Decoder Pro software program and its easy to understand graphical interface.
     
  • An 18 foot DC test track to test run engines to tune their performance before converting them to DCC.
     
  • The layout has occupancy detection on the main line and is connected to a PC using Bruce Chubb's Computer/Model Railroad Interface (C/MRI) system. Ultimately the layout will be completely signaled through this system.
     
  • Via the C/MRI system, signaling and main line turnouts can be controlled and train locations can be monitored from a PC at the Dispatcher's Desk using a modern CRT based dispatching system written by Scott Kurzawski, one of our members. (A version of this program is available for download at the Yahoo CMRI Group site - look for the APN folder in the Files section)

    With simple mouse clicks on the two display screens, the dispatcher can change signal aspect, throw turnouts, or relinquish control of a selected turnout back to its fascia mounted control panel, allowing an engineer to locally switch a siding. Click here to view the program's readme file

    Click here for a screen shot of the display off both monitors showing the Trains dispatching program running the All Points North Model Railroad.


APN Dispatcher screen
Dispatcher's Screen.  Click on it for a larger view.


The Layout is located in a climate controlled 2500 sq. ft. building that was built specifically to house our club. The clubhouse sits on 2 acres, and in addition to the 1500 sq. ft. layout room, it has a meeting room/library, a 23' wide multi-station workbench with a vented paint booth, an office, kitchen and full bath.

Guests are welcome.

For more information, contact:

John Christiansen, APN President:

(713) 851-1641

Duane Darling:

(281) 257-8555

 

All Points North Model Railroad Club

Updated on 07/30/2017