|On the original version of the Shenandoah Division, I used the technique of
"iterative design" to refine
various areas of the layout as they are constructed. Since I had great success
with this methodology on the original layout, I'm using it on the
new layout as well. The design focus on Catawba, Va. came about as a result
of getting the physical benchwork in place and realizing that there would be
room for extensions of industrial spurs behind the backdrop at the back
entrance to the room.
Marcus and Tommy had already suggested a similar extension of the
Appalachian Power Co. Laurel Plant spurs on the upper level in this area
behind the backdrop, but it had
never occurred to me to do the same thing on the lower level until we
installed the benchwork for this area. The other impetus for doing this
redesign is that as I was preparing the cut the subroadbed templates for the
south end of Catawba, I noticed that things didn't quite extend as far to
the wall as they should have, so I wanted to generate the Catawba town side
templates to see where the error was (which I found to be in a measurement
elsewhere in the room, so the error actually was 2" to the positive). However, before printing all of that
1:1 scale templates from 3rd Planit, I decided to refine the design so that I'd only have to print
and assemble the templates once. :-) (See the
01/06/2003 Progress Report
for an example of these templates.)
The biggest change for this town is the expansion of the "forest products" industry in
Catawba. The original plan had 2 short spurs (about 13 cars between them)
terminating at the backdrop representing a Georgia Pacific OSB plant. The
new plan has 3 spurs representing a James River Corporation paper mill. All
3 of these spurs go through the backdrop now to a shelf which will be on the
lower level below a similar upper level shelf for the Laurel, VA power
plant. The inbound Chip Track will have room for about 21 cars, the outbound
Paper Track will have a capacity of approximately 16 cars, and the Coal &
Chemical Track will hold about 8 cars; so total industry capacity at James River is
now about 45 cars.
While adding this large industry to the design in 3rd PlanIt, I decided to
check the capacities of the two yard tracks in Catawba. The 2 tracks in the
original plan (at the bottom of this page)
only have the capacity to store about 20 cars between them (not
each!). This lack of yard capacity would likely have been a problem
even with only having the Georgia Pacific OSB plant that was formerly in
Catawba, as I had planned to have through trains set-off Catawba, Abbott,
and New Castle cars in the yard so that the Catawba Roadswitcher could work
the local industries in those towns.
Clearly, moving a dominating industry such as James River to Catawba would
have overwhelmed the small yard there, and I was never fully satisfied with
the appearance of the yard in the original design. I didn't like the short
engine spur at the south end or the curve at the north end because they both
looked too contrived to me. In fact, the curve at the north end was one of
the factors limiting my options in placing the yard tracks. As a result, I
decided to redesign the yard, and I tried several arrangements before
settling on the one shown on the bottom of this page.
The new plan introduces a gentle S-curve at the south end of the yard area
(left side of the plan just above Valley Feed). The mainline, passing
siding, 2 yard tracks, and the James River Lead then proceed straight until
the north end of the passing siding, where they curve back together. This
arrangement contrasts to the angled straight-line route connecting the two
curves in the original design (between the curves at the Valley Feed area
and the curves just south of the north end of the passing siding).
With this straightening of the mainline, I was able to create enough room
for two longer yard tracks and a lead track for the James River plant which
can be used as overflow for the yard or for the through trains to set-off
and pick-up James River cars. This plan also allows me to curve the tracks
into the plant, which I think will yield a more interesting plant complex
rather than having tracks running at an angle to the backdrop. The paper
mill buildings all will be "partial" buildings built an angle to the
backdrop rather than purely flats; I got the inspiration for this
arrangement from Jan's NTRAK modules representing York, PA. The
rearrangement of these spurs will give me the opportunity to model a truly
dominating plant, and the layout will now have 3 truly large
industries: Virginia Eastman in Carpenter, Salem Stamping & Fabricating in
Salem, and James River in Catawba.
The Catawba design change also allowed me to push towards the backdrop the
curve between the north end of the passing siding and the south portal of
Catawba tunnel. This change gives a much more pronounced S-curve leaving
town which further emphasizes the location of the railroad in the
Appalachians. Also, this change allows additional room at the north end of
town to model part of the "downtown" area of Catawba.
I was able to keep the spur for Alleghany Building Supply, which was
important to me as well. I've always liked the fact that this spur curves
around the aisle before getting to its destination; I think this will be a
neat area once it has scenery. Catawba Propane will
continue to be located on this spur just south of the yard as well.
I eliminated the spur at the south end of the yard tracks (just below
Catawba Propane in the original design) as I never particularly liked its
location, and it was in the way as far as trying to increase yard capacity.
This spur would have been used as a place for the Catawba Roadswitcher
motive power to tie up when finished working the industries.
In the new design, motive power will tie up just south of the south switch
to the James River Lead on the Valley Feed spur. There's room on this spur
for the 2 units that will power the Catawba Roadswitcher in addition to
capacity for up to 8 covered hoppers at Valley Feed. Through trains will be
able to set-off and pick-up from the James River Lead off the mainline or
the yard tracks off the passing siding.
After finishing the design improvements, I used features in 3rd PlanIt to provide me
with the capacities of various tracks. The James River Lead in front of the
plant will hold about 12 cars between the switches connecting it to the
mainline. The first yard track (closest to the passing siding) will hold about 15 cars, and the second yard
track about 13 cars. These three tracks will have a combined capacity of
about 40 cars now. However, the first track can hold up to as many as 25
cars if the lead at the south end is used, which would increase the combined
capacity to about 50 cars. With the new design, the capacity at Catawba
should provide Shenandoah Division crews with a better ability to serve the
"Valley" industries in Catawba, Abbott, and New Castle.
refinements of the Catawba design were done over parts of four days
(sometimes the process is faster and sometimes it takes longer). Once I was
satisfied with the design, I printed full-scale templates from 3rd PlanIt,
knowing that I could accurately place subroadbed, roadbed, and track in
their final locations. Using the iterative design process allows you to
complete enough of your design to get an early start on construction while
letting you refine the final design before committing to building it.