Well, here it is, my first attempt at a track plan for a layout in our apartment. As previously discussed here and here, I have chosen the “Liberty Village” area in the west end of downtown Toronto as my first potential (maybe only, who knows yet) option for a layout to study and assess. I’ve been working on and off on it for the past couple of weeks since I generally identified how much space for a layout could be created in the office/spare bedroom. As I’ve looked at track options, and learned more about the Liberty Village area, I’ve refined the conceptual design of the benchwork, and on developing a track plan.
I am trying to take inspiration from modellers like Trevor Marshall or Lance Mindheim who promote the concept of “Achievable Layouts”, i.e. setting realistic goals and expectations for what we can fit into our homes, and can reasonably hope to build. Living in a rental apartment, we could move before I even start this project, or live there another 6 years on top of the 6 we’ve been in our current apartment and see a layout reach a point where it’s completed and the joy comes from operating rather than planning and building. With that in mind, as I’ve written about, everything is designed to be supported by the furniture beneath, and not be anchored to the walls (because anchoring anything to the 50-year-old concrete walls in our building is a nightmare, I’ve done it enough I don’t want to do it again!).
In terms of inspiration, this is definitely a “Prototype-Inspired” layout. Using compression and some adjustment of locations for a shelf layout, I can represent a reasonable cross-section of Liberty Village along Liberty Street. In terms of era, I will be setting the layout in the late 1950’s. Exact date still to be determined, I’m leaning towards somewhere between 1955-57. In this era, Toronto would mostly have been diesel switched, using S-2’s and S-3’s for CPR, and SW8/9/900 for CN, though SW-1200RS’s may have been seen in switching duty following their delivery starting in 1955. There is also a chance that on CN at least, steam may have shown up. In the Toronto area, everything I’ve ever seen indicates that CPR was really fast to dieselize their freight switching operations following the arrival of the First S-2 in 1944 and the end of WW2. I’ve seen more pictures of hanger on steam on CN. Giving some poor crew at an ops session an end of life 0-8-0 or 0-6-0 that’s a bit to big for the trackage and set to perform as if it’s on its last legs would be an interesting challenge.
But, back to the track plan. Before I ramble any more, here is the first version I’m sharing:
Track Plan Version 1.0 – Bigger Version in PDF File HERE
The technical details are that I designed using Fast Tracks hand-made turnouts and crossovers. I haven’t yet fully committed to this and building my own turnouts (with micro engineering flextrack elsewhere), but, they offer some flexibility and the opportunity to learn/improve multiple skills. Turnouts are No.4’s aside from two curved No.6 turnouts by Hanna Avenue. I suspect, that I will use an open grid benchwork to provide room for mounting to the desks as the base, with a high-grade plywood surface. All of the benchwork surface can be achieved from a single 4’x8′ sheet. Given the almost complete lack of topography, I don’t need a foam layer, but it may not be a bad option for ease of inserting details like hydro poles and the like as opposed to having to drill into the ply everytime, but that’s a down the road problem when we get to construction. My current thinking is to use cork roadbed and sheets to build up the roads and track areas. As you can see if you go there today, or from pictures, the roads and rails were generally on the same level where track wasn’t in the streets.
Liberty Village Circa 1970’s (All Images from Toronto Archives). On the left, the corner of Liberty Street and Mowat Avenue (looking south), on the right, the intersection of Hanna Avenue and Liberty (looking east on top and west on bottom along Liberty). These images are from the long decay period for Liberty Village, between its industrial heyday and its rebirth in the 2000’s as a residential and high-tech neighbourhood.
The layout concept above has 8 rail served industries, with 13 possible locations for spotting cars at the industries. On the plan, I’ve shown 40′ cars, but some tracks and locations could accommodate 50′ cars as well. The layout attempts to capture the trackage at the corner of Liberty Street and Mowat Avenue faithfully at the “west” end (left), and a reduced version of Hinde & Dauch Paper at the “east” end (left). Exiting down Mowat Ave leads to CNR Staging, representing the yard adjacent to the Canadian National Exhibition Grounds (where Exhibition GO Station is today) and the greater world. Exiting past Hinde & Dauch takes you to the CPR Parkdale Yard and their connection to the greater world. In the middle of the layout, between Fraser Ave and Atlantic Ave, I have flipped the industries from the south side of the street to the north side. This lets me create a representation of the core area of Liberty Village between the two more faithful ends. The space available to me and the limitations of models to negotiate crazy tight curves as existed in the real world force compromises here. I think, so far I can live with them.
The greatest deviation from the real trackage is the provision of the “run around” loop in Liberty Street. This didn’t exist, despite the presence of sidings which could only be switched if you pushed a car in from some distance away at either yard. For example. CN would have had to push cars for Toronto Carpet or Thrane north on Mowat from the yard, similarly, CPR would have had to push cars into Hinde & Dauch or to Canadian GE. Having shared a version of this plan while working on this post with my friend Trevor Marshall, he suggested ditching the run around and making operators have to work as they did in the real world, in this case, replicated in the staging yards by how the trains were marshalled before a session. I’m of several minds on this. For serious operating sessions, it definitely pose more of a challenge to not have it. For days where I’m at home alone and messing about, having it potentially makes it more fun on “Stephen’s messing about switching cars for no good reason” sessions. And yes, there will be days where I just shunt cars for the sake of shunting cars, there’s no point building a layout if you can’t just have some fun running equipment on it for no good reason! That said, the run around loop is something that can either be built later if I leave it off and discover I really hate it, or lock it out of use for operating sessions to force visitors to work more prototypically.
In terms of next steps. I’m going to keep researching the area and working on refining the track and benchwork plans from any feedback I receive on this post or directly from reaching out to friends. The first thing to happen will be the replacement of my existing workbench and re-organizing the furniture that will support the layout. I’ve budgeted to do that sometime late in January/early February 2018. Once that is done, I can finalize the benchwork design and how it will be affixed to the furniture. So this will still be a slow burn for a few months before any real layout construction starts.