More El Portal Plans: Compression and Reality of Layout Space

I have been working on track planning in earnest this week in my free time.  There is a daily routine going of gluing and weighting parts for my YV15 caboose build, work, and then digging into track plans.  At the moment I’m please to share some of that progress with you.

What is wrong with the plan I had?  The easy answer is, it’s not buildable in my circumstances.  It’s a buildable and workable plan, yes.  It’s 100% of the prototype track at El Portal, in the prototype locations.  I did, however, need to include a bend in the yard that never really existed, just to get it to fit into my 20×20 maximum space.  That space, too, is the maximum, but the reality is I need to get down to a space that is roughly 20×10 so the other 20×10 can be shared with my wife for her own layout and modeling projects.  Not super easy, with all the track included, which means some choices need to be made.

First choice, the yard needed to be straightened.  The big bend in it wouldn’t, with my skill and vision level, be buildable on modular benchwork.  That’s a given of reality and needed to be addressed.  Second, compressing the yard would require me to loose some of the track, and likely some parts of some structures.  That’s also probably a given with the limitations of size and layout space.  

Off we go then.  

My first pass at a new drawing removed two of the 4 yard tracks, and tried to keep as much of everything else as possible.  It worked, but then we’re at 30’ long.  I’m never realistically going to have a 30’ space to put a layout in.  However, the yard was straightened out and the 4+’ depth across the tracks was fixed.  That’s a good thing!  Progress.  It still “feels” like El Portal to me as well, which is important as well.

This is the “middle” stage of drawing El Portal again. It’s 24′ long, still too long, but the process of picking what track to shrink is ongoing at this point.

Next changes, removing some of the track in certain spots in the middle of the yard gets me to 24’ long.  Then a further decision to loose the passenger train shed and part of the YV station gets the plan down to 20’ long.  I’ve finally achieved getting the turntable in, which I’m thrilled about, and the “business” end of the YV station is still there.  I could park some passenger equipment in front of that occasionally for fun and photos.  

Almost there! I’ve got the plan down to 20′ in one direction, but it’s still 11′ in the other. The El Portal yard has been fit to a reasonable and buildable space. Now there’s a new dilemma brewing where the red arrow points.

I used a 52” radius curve on the West end of the yard, and that then get’s me to 11’ in the opposite dimension.  Getting closer.  By using a 52” easement and a 48” main curve, I can get to a 20’x10’ overall footprint.

This then brings me to a new dilemma.  What to add to the space opposite the El Portal yard?  Three options come to mind.  Option 1, a scene in the Merced River valley, with just a single track running through it.  Option 2, the next real station to the West, being Incline, where the log trains could operate.  Option 3, the next spot to the West where the local freights would have much work to do at Emory where the limestone quarry for the Yosemite Portland cement Co. was located.

I discussed the thoughts with my wife.  The plan to have one train operating is a strong draw for me.  There isn’t really room here for more than one train, “the” local.  However, the space available is also valuable as an opportunity to add some additional operation to the layout plan.  “You like switching, so add some more operation” was the suggestion I received from her. She knows me well.  That eliminates just a track running, so option 1 is out.  Again, the idea of incline, while tempting, means two trains, and one just moving back and forth along one side, without much to do.  That eliminates Incline.  Emory wins as the other location.

The current working and nearly final plan for a 20’x10′ Proto48 version of two places on the Yosemite Valley Railroad. In the next few days I’ll fill in actual structure sizes, fascia and scenery locations, and begin to lay this out on paper in full size to make sure the CAD drawing fits what I’m looking for in the full size model.

With El Portal and Emory on the layout, in a 20’x10’ space, the CAD drawing looks pretty good.  This is a plan I can lay out in full size and see how things fit on a roll of paper.  

That’s the next planning step.


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