Friday, September 5, 2014

HO Scale Working Hump Yard

So I have this test track and it sits on the carpet running round the edge of a room.  I used the the Life-Like Power Loc and some Life-Like flex track to build it.  Along 1 wall the track runs about 10' on flex track that has some carpet tape to hold it in place.

At the corners where the curve starts I used Power Loc...2 sections 22'" then 2 sections 9" straight followed by 2 sections 22" radius curve again then back to straight.  Then the Power Loc continues around the next 2 curves and back to flex and back to Power Loc and then into the 10' section of flex.

For the transitions I used just plain old wood door shims with some carpet tape.  My daughter wanted a large cardboard tube for a tunnel where the track runs under a credenza so a couple more shims on each end of that.  Then there is a spot close to the wall where a couple shims where needed on the Power Loc curve due to a slight bulge in the carpet.

In total there are 7 grade changes  between ¼" and a ½".  It took a lot of tweaking to get this to work out just right.  When all couplers are correctly height adjusted everything works perfect.  This is one way I use to identify locomotives and rolling stock that have couplers to high or low.

I usually pull 15-20 cars in a train on this track with 2 locomotives.  I have just a handful of locomotives that can do it alone -  GG1 can pull anything I thrown at it with no problems at all, a Bachmann pancake motor GP38-2 High Nose can do it and my Tyco C630 Power Torques can do it also.  There are a couple others that will surprise you also, but I'll save that for later.

There is one section of uphill grade for about 10' that tests locomotives and plastic couplers.  I don't have a good solution for getting Kadee #5's in those locomotives because the Bachmann couplers fit perfect..  I'll think about that one later.

All of this experimenting has lead me to believe that I can construct a working hump yard, but not in the way you would think....

What I have in mind is this:  a long lead track of about 15' or more, probably with a very curvy form to fit the layout room shape.  Near the end, 3-6 car lengths back will be an under track magnet.  I'm not real sure on the position yet, but that's my first guess.

Instead up a traditional hump, what will be at the control tower will be a ½" grade change going down.  Cars that have been uncoupled and "placed" in push mode will be pushed off the grade change left to roll into the yard on the track set by the Tower Operator.

The Tower Operator will have the switch list and will direct the pusher when to uncouple a certain car or cut of cars.

This design is more along the line of Gravity Yards, rather than true hump yards.  Here is a link to wikipedia article that has a blurb on Gravity Yards

I've identified 2 problems on my test track already....metal wheelsets will roll freely and crash into the car ahead on its track, or if the first car, it can roll past the end of the bowl.  A possible 1/8" grade change at the end fixes this, but there is a bit of rollback.  Not that big of a deal.

Plastic wheelsets that are really cheap may not roll at all or not far enough.  I have 2 solutions: 1.  Allow the Tower Operation to use the "magic stick" to push the car and 2. Have the bowl switcher come up and get it and bring it down into the bowl.  Obviously at the far end of the bowl there will need to be a switcher on hand to help tidy up the bowl.

One of the things I like about the design is that it takes 3 operators.  This meets one of my goals in that I want the layout to require lots of friends to come over and operate the thing.

Anyways this is something to chew on for a while - I'll be testing the concept in the near future and talk more about it then....