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KenS

An Urban Tram/Bus Coffee-Table Layout

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KenS

After staring at my Tomytec moving bus system for several weeks thinking "that's too cool to hide in the back of my big station", I decided to bite the bullet and build a small coffee-table sized tram layout.  This is an idea that had been kicking around for over a year, as I ended up with the bunch of Modemo trams and only a short bit of track on the big layout where they could run, likewise not very visible.  I'd picked up some Unitram plates, but hadn't liked how they worked with the Modemo's.  And the Tomix Wide Tram stuff had been attracting my attention.  The bus system finally pushed me into doing something.

 

Now, of course, the question is: just what is that something?  I know a few things:

 

- The bus needs at least one loop (two would be nice, but likely won't fit)

- The tram needs at least one loop, and preferably dual-track (two loops); this I might fit, as it's going to be the part I play with.

- I'd like to fit in a 2' x 4' footprint, for a variety of reasons related to available space and materials I plan to use (2' x X' insulation foam), and a thought that I may make this another 2'x4' section of the future "really big layout" (when I have a real basement  :grin ),

- It's going to be urban, meaning mostly Kato and Tomix tower buildings, and an excuse for the main roads to be fairly wide.

- It's not going to be a recreation of any specific prototype (I have Setagaya trams and want in-street running, the two really don't mesh).

 

After a bit of thought, and playing with RailModeler, the best I could come up with was this triple-oval, which I really don't like very much.

 

Despite that, I ordered the track to make it (plus some more, to play with) and I'll start brainstorming in 3D when it arrives.  But if anyone has any suggestions, I'm listening...

 

Addenda: I might run a viaduct across the back.  I have some Kato viaduct track sections I'm not using, and they'd add a nice touch even without a train on them. The only problem is that it takes room from the tram and road parts.  Still thinking on that.

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Hobby Dreamer

Hi Ken,

I don't know anything about the building side of things but from an aesthetic perspective it might be nice to break the loops. Sometimes a "jog" in the tracks could do it or even an elevation change. Tunnels work but you might be able to exploit your viaduct in some

way.

 

Maybe you could have the green track at left join the top-most siding track so the yard is not at the edge, but within.

 

Another approach might be to offset the whole thing so the track is not parallel to the table.

 

You could use the viaduct as a road highway and maybe place this at a non-90 degree angle. If you have a curve section then it does not have to go from one end to another but hint at some action.

 

Cheers

Rick

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rpierce000

I would agree. Why not run the rails down main street and put the yard on one of the 2' ends? Or do a figure eight?

 

It might also be interesting to put a heavy rail interchange or platform somewhere for later connection to your dream layout.  It wouldn't have to DO anything, but it would add the "off the board" connection.

 

If you put all of the details on you buildings facing inward (streetward) they are going to be hard to see as you walk around the table. I think you may want to do some sight line work.

 

As a side note, has anyone ever seen a wall layout the way people do wall aquariums? I was thinking take a room dividing wall, bump it to 2'-3' thick, put a multi level layout in it.  Never seen it done, but....

 

Don't glue down the tracks, points for the bus lines are supposed to be coming!

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Bernard

Ken - Are you going to build the coffee table or get it from a furniture store? I know IKEA used to have a coffee table that was great for train layouts.

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KenS

Well, I was using "coffee table" as more of a size reference, although one of my thoughts is that the layout would be legless and could be set on my coffee table for use (another reason for the size).  I did think briefly of enclosing it and using it as a table, but with tower buildings it would be rather high.

 

A figure 8 would only work if I put the track inside the bus route, which has to be an oval/circle and can't cross the tracks . In fact, given the strength of the magnet used, I'm not sure Tomix can ever make a track-crossing for the buses.  It has a tendency to sieze even on it's own buried control magnets (not full stop, but sometimes it shudders when going over one). And reportedly this also happens with a Faller wire (which mounts in the surface of the roadway, not under it like Tomix's). From what I've read, that's one significant difference from the Faller design.

 

However, putting the yard on the end (or perhaps up the middle) is an interesting thought.  And "elevation" is making me think: with the buses ability to climb a 20-degree slope, I can get over track in in about a 10" run.  I'm thinking elevated highway across the rear third, with two on/off ramps and track running under and behind it. That fits the "urban" image rather nicely.

 

One of my other goals I forgot to mention was "keep it simple" to speed construction.  An elevated highway runs a bit counter to that, but may be worth it just for the three-dimensional aspect it would add.

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Mudkip Orange

I like it...

 

such is the pain of the mega-layout project. By the time you reach 50% completion you're ready to start something new!

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brill27mcb

If you're going to move the storage yard to one end, why not put a 30-degree jog in the "upper" street on your diagram? Then locate the viaduct down the middle of the block, between the rows of buildings. That would break up the loop visually. I am assuming that a "coffee table" layout would be viewable from all sides. You might also want to leave things changeable, so that if (when) Tomix issues the 317mm bus roadway curve that it displayed in the system's debut last year, you can add an outer bus lane outside the tram lanes.

 

Rich K.

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bill937ca

Inspiration for a fresh idea.  Filmed from under the Otsuka Yamanote line station. The Arakawa line does an S shaped jog to pass under the tracks.

 

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rankodd

Interesting that there doesn't seem to be any crossing guard there. Probably at least lights, but there's no boom coming down...

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bill937ca

Interesting that there doesn't seem to be any crossing guard there. Probably at least lights, but there's no boom coming down...

 

Many of the tram lines seem only have audio warnings. You can hear the sound as the violet Arakawa car approaches and less clearly due to track noise when the orange car crosses the crossing.

 

Another example, this one in Nagasaki.

 

 

Crossing gates would probably be down all day.  

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KenS

If you're going to move the storage yard to one end, why not put a 30-degree jog in the "upper" street on your diagram? Then locate the viaduct down the middle of the block, between the rows of buildings. That would break up the loop visually. I am assuming that a "coffee table" layout would be viewable from all sides. You might also want to leave things changeable, so that if (when) Tomix issues the 317mm bus roadway curve that it displayed in the system's debut last year, you can add an outer bus lane outside the tram lanes.

 

My goal is really one-sided viewing (my coffee table sits in front of the couch, with the TV beyond it).  I may even do a small backdrop.

 

Wouldn't that be a 214mm curve to fit outside the 103/140/177 curves? I'd like that kind of double-busway plus track, but I think I'd need to step up to a larger footprint to make it all fit, unless all I had was a very simple oval. Another alternative would be to give up one tram line and have a 103Bus/140Tram/177Bus (this presumes a 177 bus curve is planned).

 

I tried doing some things with jogs, but I couldn't get an asymmetric track arrangement to line up.  This may be something I need to play with in 3D to find a good approach.

 

I did try the elevated roadway idea out (see track plan below), with a bit of a loop for the busway in the middle.  The downside is there's no place for a real yard/enginehouse, just some storage tracks slotted under the expressway. Of course, making use of the space under the expressway is very prototypical.  One thing that's clear from this is that I'll need more straight roadway sections, and right now the only way to get them is to buy the bus system.  I just reserved two more of those (hopefully they won't show up soon).

 

I'd forgotten about the Arakawa station (I've looked at photos of it in the past).  Maybe I could make a station like that under one end of the expressway on the green line.  Assuming I do an expressway.

 

@Bernard: nice coffee tables, but not really for me.

@Mudkip: well I haven't abandoned the old one, I'm just clearing my palate with something different.

post-264-13569927993978_thumb.jpg

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KenS

The Setagaya line, in contrast, seems to have crossing gates on even very small crossings (see 0:19), although it's a bit more like a railway than a tram line in many regards.

 

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scott

Ken -- I'm looking forward to seeing how this goes--looks like fun.

 

On that last design--could you make the blue line follow the yellow farther into the back corners and then snake back under the elevated expressway? Just wondering you can get a bit more track length and make the geometry a bit more irregular. Just a thought, possibly a really screwy one.  :grin

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rpierce000

I like everything about the second design except that one of your stops is on top of your crossover. I think you might want to move the crossover to one side, it is a good place for the stop.

 

Japanese commuter buses do not usually run on elevated highways, but there are trams that do. Perhaps you should reverse your thinking? (Trams up, buses down)

 

I assume the reason the bus route is that shape is what is in the box for the starter system.

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cteno4

Ken

 

Fun idea! I like your second plan has that transit plaza feel in the center.

 

Did you look at a folded figure 8 ?

 

Cheers

 

Jeff

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KenS

I can't bring the tram up to the highway.  The reason I can do that with the bus is that it can climb a 20% grade.  The only way to get a tram that high would be a long grade; not impossible, but it's not going to look like a highway ramp, and it would take away space I want to use for the city.

 

That's the same problem I see with the folded figure 8, too much up and down. I could tuck the crossing away in the back, but I'd lose most of the sides to ramps.

 

For those not familiar with the bus system, it comes with a half circle of R103 roadway and a half-circle of R140 roadway, plus 8 70mm straight sections, three of which are the bus stop.  You can make an slightly angled oval with that, and with two a dual-lane road with two buses. To make the expressway version would take three of these due to the number of straight sections.  I have two already, and had been thinking of getting at least one more for another bus, so that's not a problem for me.  It is surprising they didn't make the roadway sections available separately when the bus system came out, but perhaps they have a limited production quantity.

 

I do like the "plaza" at the front.  I'm a bit worried that the way I've done it using R140 curves may take it back too far, impacting the route of the tram at the rear.  That's needed with two bus system sets, but with four I can switch to R103 curves, which should make that more practical (you can see where this is going...).  I'll see how that looks in the next iteration of the track plan later this weekend.

 

That crossing is a real nuisance.  Scott's idea of moving the blue line further back is something I'll look into.  Maybe it will let me put the crossing off to one side.  I agree it looks bad front-and-center.

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disturbman

What I'm thinking is:

 

1/ You could have two loops (one tram and one bus) and a point to point tram line.

2/ The point to point tram line is elevated and connects to the bus loop with some stairs linking both stops on those lines.

3/ The tram loop goes under the elevated line.

  a/ In a tunnel, the point to point line is on a higher part of the city

  b/ The elevated line is only on a viaduct and you might be able to keep the storage tracks behind. The elevated line is used a scenic breaker.

4/ The tram loop uses R140 or R177 curves and the bus loop R103 or R140 curves, both loops are (in the front of the layout) side to side.

 

I hope you can understand what I mean.

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cteno4

good point vincent, a point to point might be fun. helps stop the loop-t-loop-t effect! this is the problem i have with the small tram layouts with a loop after a dozen circles they tend to make me loose attention. one of the reasons i have not yet set up my unitram. point to point always seems a bit more interesting for some reason.

 

last year i started to investigate ideas for doing a small tram layout for something to play with easily and cart around. i knew loops were death for me, so i worked on a folded figure 8 design that gave me a sort of randomly running tram around 4 small blocks of scenery an then i was looking at a loop around the whole thing as the loop on the outside would be more obscured with the blocks of scenery and the more random inner folder figure 8 i hoped would break it up. ended up with something i was pretty happy with but got side tracked on other projects.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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Hobby Dreamer

Some really good ideas disturbman!

 

Ken, the best part of this hobby is that you can dry fit the layout or easily change it should you adopt new track of structures etc.

 

Its cool that you have both the bus and tram tracks.

 

Cheers

Rick

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KenS

Hmm, I'll have to give that elevated point-to-point concept some thought and try working up a track plan for it.  It sounds like an interesting approach, and while I want two tram lines and a loop, nothing says I need two loops.

 

Meanwhile, I worked up a variation on my last track plan using R103 roadway curves exclusively (this requires four sets of Bus Set A to get all the curves needed) and what I think Jeff was suggesting with the blue line at the back.  I didn't quite have enough space in the middle for a second bus stop (I tried), and the blue line has an alignment problem (but that may just be RailModeller being quirky, I'll have to try it in real life and see if it works).  That is, indeed, one of the nice things about sectional track like Unitrack and Finetrack: it's easy to try out a track plan and adjust it.

 

This design does have the benefit of putting the crossover off to the left, out of the way. Although I don't like the s-curve it creates on the inner line.  I'm not sure my Modemo articulated Setagaya trams can negotiate that reliably (another thing to test once my track comes in).

post-264-13569927994695_thumb.jpg

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ShinCanadaSen

That last plans looks real nice. I would see if maybe the tram storage could turn 90 from the top of the loop and pass under the bus overpass and make it come off the inner loop that could solve your s-curce issue. That way you could incorporate a tram shed or little service area. May not work with the limited space though.

 

Kai

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keiman

Agree Ken,

The last one looks the best.

Have you tried laying your own bus track yet to see if you can get the buses going round tighter more realistic curves?

Will be watching with great interest.

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brill27mcb

Here's a version that gets rid of the bus incline, which I think might eat up batteries, or at least make them unusable sooner (stalling on the hill). This version makes two bus lanes for a portion of the back road. (I use AnyRail, so squint and imagine your nice colored tracks, roads and buildings on this drawing.) I think the busway is just one 70mm straight more than two bus sets, if you can fit in the second bus stop. Don't worry about the joint miss on your tram track -- it will fit fine. The miss in the busway is more significant, but things in the real world will probably work out. Using the 140mm bus curves, as I have shown, lessens the mis-fit and saves on bus sets needed.

 

Rich K.

post-448-13569927996713_thumb.jpg

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scott

Ken -- your last one looks good; that's exactly what I was suggesting (not that that makes it anything special, of course).

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