Sunday, October 5, 2014

Thunder Mesa Track Plan: A Simple Change

Here's the most up to date plan for the TMMC and how it fits into the train room/art studio. Grid spacing is 12" and the greyscale areas of the plan are sections still under construction. Tip: To see images full size, right click and select "Open link in new tab."

I've decided to make a minor tweak to the TMMC's track plan that should greatly improve enjoyment and operations. Over three years ago, Thunder Mesa started out as a simple 3'x6' continuous loop - a real caboose chaser one might say. Over time, the concept evolved and the railroad expanded, but the core loop always remained. I enjoy operations, but I also really like just sitting back and watching the trains roll through nice scenery. The trick has always been to design a plan that offered the best of both worlds. Recently, I discovered a solution that would let me operate the railroad in a realistic point-to-point manner, while still allowing for continuous running. It turns out, the simple addition of a switch and the re-alignment of a couple of tracks are all that was required.

In the old plan, a hidden wye switch was installed inside of Rainbow Caverns so that operators could choose to send trains up the mainline to Calico or back via the return loop to Thunder Mesa. Now, a new right-hand switch will be installed along with a straight section of track to convert the entire Thunder Mesa Section into a reverse loop. The old loop track and hidden wye will be removed.

A closer view of the revised plan. With the new track arrangement, trains can now travel the entire mainline in a reverse-loop-to-reverse-loop continuous run. Why didn't I think of this before?

The reverse loop sections will be controlled by DCC reverse loop modules and I might also automate the turnouts to switch automatically so I can just sit back and watch 'em roll. I'm not sure why I held on to the original loop for so long. Perhaps it was because I knew that giving it up meant I wouldn't be running trains very much until the entire mainline was finished. This simple change of plans might just be the motivation I need to get that done. Comments and questions welcome below. Adios for now!

Edit 10/24/14: Just a couple of weeks later and I've completely revamped and updated the entire plan. See the updated plan here.

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