Gregory’s been in touch with his XtrkCad track layout:
He made his start here, if you want to get up to speed.
“Well I am happy to see the positive response from my project, so let’s keep going:
First of all, I ended up using XtrkCad for a number of reasons. It is very hard for me to understand the underlying principles of CAD. Somehow, I was able to understand XtrkCad. (I tried SCARM, Anytrack, 3rdPlanit, CadRail. Ugh. I almost gave up!)
XtrkCad let me do two things that the others could not.
Create curves with 7” radius in HO scale.
Remember, some of these tracks are running in urban streets and this is common for street running.
Secondly, it allowed me to create a custom turnout, to match the Richard Orr single point turnouts. This was the biggest issue for me.
Downside is that there is no 3D. But I will address that later.
So I started:
The right side is the Howard Street area and the elevation is 0”
The dark line in the middle is a two sided backdrop and the left side is the run to Waukegan and is at elevation 4”. So the backdrop will have tall flats on the Chicago side and shorter flats on the Waukegan side.
The High Speed line to Milwaukee will disappear under a viaduct and remain hidden.
On the Chicago side, the topmost track will disappear behind some industrial low relief buildings. (Actually, I have some from Al that should work out just fine.) I didn’t put any industrial switching in just yet.
Then reality started to rear its ugly head. On the right side, I have 10 tracks running parallel and only 4 feet to fit them in.
The easiest one to get rid of was the center track running through the station. So I removed that and put a double crossover on the Waukegan side. The siding behind the buildings at the top had to go too. They were the least useful in this plan.
All of those tight turns and switches in an inaccessible area under Waukegan had to go too. That would never be a reliable situation.
So I made it a simple loop that would run along the edges of the railroad. It gave me pretty much access to those tracks (and overhead wire).
This is the loop that the Electroliner would run on. I have a brass model from Nickle Plate.
There are a few others available, but none of them are real reliable runners. So simplicity wins out. And if I want to run in the other direction, I just have to
switch the trolley poles.
They were articulated trains (one truck supported the ends of two cars). They had a top speed of 110mph, but the highway crossing gates could not come down fast enough, so they were restricted to 90 mph.
The North Shore also had freight operations. So the Steeple cab locomotive will pick up cars from the Railroad interchange (right next to the 2 sided backdrop) and drop them off at the Merchandise
Dispatch warehouse (double track spur on the Chicago side) and to various industries north of the city.
I put in a few spurs, just to reserve the space. This will be refined later on.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Electroliners, here are some pictures.
They were articulated trains (one truck supported the ends of two cars). They had a top speed of 110 mph, but the highway crossing gates could not come down fast enough, so they were restricted to 90 mph.
The North Shore also had freight operations. So the Steeple cab locomotive will pick up cars from the Railroad interchange (right next to the 2 sided backdrop) and drop them off at the Merchandise Dispatch warehouse (double track spur on the Chicago side) and to various industries north of the city.
I put in a few spurs, just to reserve the space. This will be refined later on.
The interchange tracks curve a bit at the far end. I anticipate that they will go under a bridge or something and butt up against a mirror.
This should create the image that they continue to go on, past the edge of the table. The mirror has to be set at an angle, so the viewer won’t see himself/herself when looking at it.
That’s it for today. There are still a lot of adjustments to be made.
And now on to Mike, who has also made a start:
“Hi Al….Started this year…Hollow core door and will have a 4ft extension off the back left…
Mike’s made a great start. And it doesn’t matter how small your start is – just make one. That’s how the fun begins.
A big thanks to Mike and to Gregory for sharing his XtrkCad track layout. I think he’s enjoying the planning just as much as the doing.
Please do leave a comment below if think there’s anything that may help Gregory.
That’s all for this time folks.
Please do keep ’em coming.
And if today is the day you stop dreaming, and start doing, don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here.
PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here. Still going strong and goes mad this time of year.
I’m intrigued by your concept and your track plan. You’re right – simple is always better. I forgot which well known traction modeler said it in a 1970’s issue of Model Railroader, but to paraphrase: a layout without freight switching doesn’t hold your interest very long. So introducing as many freight spurs as is feasible is a good idea. Now take my next ideas for what they are worth. I would suggest moving Waukegan farther toward the top and adding an extra turnout to it. Then the right hand track could be curved and connected to inner track at the bottom with another turnout located just before the crossover. At the top a track could connect the Chicago scene with the Waukegan one. All that would have to be done, other than add two turnouts on either end, is to make the highway viaduct (and the mirror) project a little further out. Finally you might consider connecting the track just below it with the Chicago reversing loop. These changes would do two things: one, allow continuous running, and let the electroliners show their stuff with high speed running, and two, by providing separate loops let the steeple cabs switch freight spurs without constantly dodging higher speed passenger trains. Having these separate loop you could use a system where the trains would traverse the loops a certain number of times before reaching each station. In other words, skipping station stops. This would approximate more of the high speed running and the schedules of the prototype North Shore. You would also need access hatches near the back of the Waukegan scene and the Chicago scene where either row houses and/or stores are indicated, but this is easily accomplished. I hope this would not ruin your brilliant concept.
Bob Beard is a smart guy.
A wonderful layout. In it’s last days I was critical of the North Shore Line, didn’t ride it anymore, and felt that the maintenance was mightily lacking. But, I remember riding the Electroliner from Milwaukee to Chicago with my Mother, my Auntie and my Grandmother to go shopping at Marshall Fields and the other wonderful stores in downtown Chicago. The real thrill for me was riding on that high speed electric train. On my layout, here in Milwaukee, I have one brass Niles car for the Chicago, Milwaukee and North Shore Railroad. I have yet to purchase a model Electroliner. Someday! I look forward to seeing photos of this layout as they come available. Keep on building!
I like AnyRail 6 as a CAD program. It rapidly shows track parts wont work.
Mike I like your start. I, too, am starting a HCD layout in N scale (and it’s even a double loop, albeit a slightly different configuration). I went with the sheet foam and foam inclines / risers rather than the more traditional plywood structure, so it’s interesting to see someone using this method on a HCD. I look forward to seeing future updates!
I really, *really* like the concept of your layout. You have a nice, long mainline run and it looks like you’re putting some freight operation in center loop. And I like the idea of making the inside loop a figure-eight; lots of visual appeal. If I had room, I copy this layout in a minute in HO scale and make the planned extension freight operation or mining/logging center. The one change I’d make is putting a long bridge one the track along the wall.
I’d love to see a top-down view of your plan and more pictures. If I could just squeeze a couple more feet out of my real estate agent ….
Thanks for posting. Looks like a great start.
I am excited to see someone model the North Shore Line, my first exposure to railroading. I grew up in Northfield and my father commuted to the Loop. Your layout plans look quite ambitious. I wish you the best of luck on your project and hope to hear more as you make progress.
Mike, truly Great start. I do N scale with very limited space. You are an inspiration for my future layout. Thank you. Ramsey
Thank you very much for sharing your layout.
It truly brightens the day.
Well, back to work, and thank you! again.
Thank you for all of your comments. Bob, I am not 100% certain that I am understanding your ideas. I was able to take one track from Waukegan and extend it down to connect just west of the interchange track. But I am not sure how the connections would be made at the top of the drawing. Any chance you could pencil it out for me?
Dominic, I used to go downtown on the Logan Square El every Saturday morning. Mom always took me shopping at Marshall Field. You and I might have passed right by each other. Does the streetcar still bend the corner around in South Milwaukee or has the track been torn up?
Tim, I lived in East Glenview for about 28 years. I still get back to that area sometimes. A lot of the old buildings are still there. One story buildings with a rounded roof, kind of like a Quonset hut. They are just too good to tear down.
George, my first drawings were in Anyrail. But they were just approximations. I laid a curve over a straight and called it a turnout. It was pretty easy to use back then. Not sure why I didn’t continue with it.
Anyway, watch for part 3.
I remember riding the Northshore line from downtown Milwaukee to Chicago to visit my Dad’s relative Vera.