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James Stanford
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This HO scale micro layout was one of 3 proposed to be built,
to replace a previous modular but large-ish switching / shunting industrial branch layout,
representing the Dolton / Blue Island / Riverdale area in Chicago, IL, USA.

With the possibility of an impending move while that previous layout existed,
I decided that it would be best to minimise the layout moving stress,
and dismantle the previous modules, in favour of some smaller modules / micro layouts.


The Box Street micro is a 1200mm x 300mm switching layout based on the Boxer Shortline,
that can be found on the late Carl Arendt’s small and micro layouts website.

But I did add some extra trackage, and industry switching possibilities,
due to the extra width of the layout compared with the original Boxer Shortline plan.


Below is the track plan I decided on.





Layout Description

The sector plate can hold 1 short switcher and a 40 foot car, or a longer loco and no car.
There is a run around track for getting to the other side of car to switch some of the tracks.
A 2 track ‘yard’ where trains ‘arrive’ from.
2 team tracks, a flour and grain industry spur, and a food manufacturer.

This layout progressed quite quickly to an operating state,
and when I finally decided to do the scenery, basic scenery was quickly added as well.

This layout, along with another layout the same size called Pier 39 (more on that in future)
was added to a custom built bookshelf so that the two 1200mm x 300mm layouts,
only take up a little more than 1200mm x 300mm in floor space,
as they are housed in the bookshelf one on top of the other.





The 'double-stacked' Pier 39 (top) and Box Street (bottom) layouts in their custom built bookshelf.





Jaxxs Snaxx snack food manufacturer.





Looking ‘east’ towards interchange yard and team tracks.





Team tracks and derelict building.


The layout has 1 double slip, a single slip, and 3 turnouts,
and can handle about 6 cars an operating session,
with some cars already in industry spurs and some in the interchange tracks.

It is built to be operated as part of the Virtual Interchange operations group I am a member of,
which tends to have 1 or 2 cars per waybill and most spurs can hold about 2 cars each.


How It Is Operated

The start of an operating session sees some cars in industry tracks awaiting moving,
and a loco and some cars (placed there by hand) in the interchange tracks.

The loco crew has to work out how to best perform the required switching moves,
in the minimum time and with the minimum amount of moves.

This usually means that an operating session is akin to playing chess,
each move having to be thought out in advance.

When I originally envisioned operations on this layout,
I thought that I could have up to 50 scale feet cars without any problems.
After operating this layout for a while,
and experiencing some 'unsolvable' switching requirements when using 50 foot cars,
I now rarely use cars longer than 40 scale feet long.


Locale

The layout represents a small switching area,
near the B&OCT Barr yard in Riverdale, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois.

Its motive power is either a B&O S4, or a CM / MPAC switcher from CM / MPAC Blue Island.
CM = Colorado Midland, and MPAC = Midland Pacific,
2 railroads operated by a member of the Virtual Interchanging group I am a member of.


Si.
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Hi James  :wave:


Congrats on your nice version of 'Box Street'.  :thumb:


I have had this 'micro-layout' in my mind & trackplan folder for some time ...

... as I am sure have many others out there.  ???


Even if one wasn't going to build an exact copy of it ...

... there are for sure space saving ideas here, that could be learnt from.  L:


There are just 3 things about 'Box Street' which strike TOTAL FEAR into me ! ...  :w:

... single-slips, double-slips & sector-plates ! ! !


What's not to like ?  ;)


:P


Si.


James Stanford
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Si. wrote:  
There are just 3 things about 'Box Street' which strike TOTAL FEAR into me ! ...  :w:

... single-slips, double-slips & sector-plates ! ! !

What's not to like ?  ;)


LOL !

Yeah, My first sector plate caused me some trepidation.

But as I did three of them on one layout the first time I used them,
I soon got over the fear of them.


See the attached photo of that layout, the "Case Industrial".





I have used single slips for space saving for quite some time now, so they weren't a problem.
And the one in Box Street is recycled from 2 previous layouts.

But I had to purchase a double slip for Box Street to make the track plan work,
and it was rather expensive!

By far the most expensive piece of track I have ever purchased.


Regards, James


Michael M
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Mantua switches might help in building a micro layout. 

Mantua made a #3 switch. 
With the ends of the rails trimmed they shouldn't take up much space.
 
A #3 is really tight. 
I don't have one in front of me to measure, but it's maybe a 11" radius?





James Stanford
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Michael

Thanks for the info about Mantua switches.

I have found that the Peco Setrack switches are usually fairly good for a micro layout,
but it's good to know there are switches with a tighter radius that those if needed.

I built a 2x2 feet Pizza layout in HO with 11" average radius,
and a Mantua turnout might have been a good option to have a spur or two.


Michael M
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James,

Years ago I had a small HO traction layout. 

Wish I had known about these back then. 

Would have come in handy.


Kevin Johnson
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Hi James

I like the planned look of your micro layout.


There is so much potential when building these layouts,

and I look forward to seeing more of your work.

:2t:


James Stanford
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Hi Kevin.

Thanks.

As I am primarily interested in operation, switching, and the like,
it can be challenge to design a micro track plan that actually fulfills my interests.

It helps that I found a good basis for the layout,
in the Boxer Shortline track plan.

Regards, James


oztrainz
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Hi James,

Double-slips shouldn't be too much of a problem.
 
Unless you do this to them... 


 

Not for the faint-hearted..


Michael M
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That's just begging for trouble.

Hard enough to make sure two rails line up every time.


I did have a small layout that folded up on itself like a suitcase. 

Two tracks bridged the joint. 

Got them to line up accurately most every time, but it was a lot of work.


Nice Guy Eddie
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I've never seen the San Andreas Fault modeled before

That'd rattle some teeth in the Observation Car


:w:


Eddie


Michael M
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Thank you, Eddie!

Now when some of my trackwork isn't quite right I can blame it on a fault line.


I remember reading about someone that was talking about the San Andreas Fault,

and what the listener got was that earthquakes were the fault of some guy named Sam Andrews.


oztrainz
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Hi James, all

If you think HO double-slips are expensive,

you should have seen the price tag on that O-scale one we put the Dremel through.

 :w::w: :shocked:


James Stanford
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oztrainz wrote:  
Hi James,

Double-slips shouldn't be too much of a problem.
 
Unless you do this to them...


Oztrainz, That's enough to give me nightmares!!

Regards, James


James Stanford
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Michael M wrote:
That's just begging for trouble.

Hard enough to make sure two rails line up every time.


I did have a small layout that folded up on itself like a suitcase. 

Two tracks bridged the joint. 

Got them to line up accurately most every time, but it was a lot of work.


Michael M,

I have had a number of modular layouts over the years,
where the modules were connected but long bolts through the frames.

It's amazing how even when everything lined up when the track was laid,
if the layout had to dismantled then re-assembled,
I often had to adjust the track to line up again properly.

I put it down to the influence of some guy called "Murphy",
who has a Law named after him,
but maybe it was 1:87 scale seismic activity??

Regards, James


Michael M
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Well, I am in California and use to deal with earthquakes. 
Some blame it on a guy by the name of Sam Andrews.


I've bumped in to Murphy a number of times in the past. 
Always causing problems and making life difficult.


If everything is going smooth, something is wrong somewhere.


James Stanford
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Recently made a name plate for the layout using MDF lettering.





Steven B
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Sorry, a little slow on the trigger, been rather busy.

Did someone say earthquake?  San Andreas?





Point Reyes Station, California, April 18, 1906.
 

By the way James, this Box Street puzzle looks engaging. 

Thanks for sharing.  :2t:


James Stanford
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Steven B wrote:  
By the way James, this Box Street puzzle looks engaging. 

Thanks for sharing.  :2t:


Thanks for your comment Steven.


I find it quite interesting to operate.

A 'normal' operating session involving about 5 cars can take about 30-40 minutes.


Regards, James


James Stanford
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Scaling back the track arrangement on my 4×1 feet HO scale Box Street micro switching layout,
to be more similar to the track plan that inspired it and re-arrangement of industries.



A few days ago, I was contemplating Box Street and thinking about how I can improve it.
I was initially thinking about a totally new track arrangement based on a Peco 3 way turnout,
but when I saw how much they cost I decided against that idea.

I looked through the Carl Arendt authored books I have for small and micro layouts,
and I happened upon the Boxer Shortline plan on which my Box Street layout is based.
After a bit of thinking, I decided I would change the track arrangement on Box Street,
to be more like the Boxer Shortline plan.


Here are the reasons why I decided to do that:
  • No extra cost to buy more track.
  • Simplifies the track arrangement.
  • De-clutters the layout.

The proposed track arrangement would be almost identical to the Boxer Shortline plan,
except for one extra spur in the ‘interchange yard’ area.





Revised track plan.


Two of the spurs would be removed, and replaced with scenery,
and the location of industries changed to suit the new track arrangement.


Here is what it looked like before the changes were made.





Industries.
 
Left: multi-industry building & Jaxxs Snaxxs.
Centre: South Chicago Flour & Grains.
Right: team tracks.


The Hot Mix Asphalt plant at the centre front of the layout can also receive cars,
but they either foul the double-slip or use the Jaxxs Snaxxs spur.

After the industries in the back centre and back right, and un-needed trackage was removed,
and the existing track re-aligned, and a turnout installed to replace the single-slip,
it looked quite bare.





But it wasn’t long before the changes were complete,
thanks to a Monday afternoon that I could dedicate to making the required changes.





Industries.

Left: multi-industry building & Jaxxs Snaxxs.
Centre: team track.
Right: South Chicago Flour & Grains.


In the process of making the changes,
the abandoned building that was next to the team tracks was removed,
and some grassed areas were added where spurs and buildings were previously.


Operationally, it will be a little different to how it was before.
The capacity of the spurs has been lowered by 3 cars.
But there is room for about 6 cars on industry spurs, and 4 in the interchange yard.

Although now the runaround track is also the track that serves the team track,
so that will make the layout more of a switching puzzle than it was before.


Regards, James


This post derived from my blog at:

https://www.jimsmodeltrains.ws/2021/01/19/less-is-more/


James Stanford
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Today I uploaded my first video of the Box Street layout to YouTube,

featuring an operating session with an Also S2 and 4 cars.


The operating session featured in the video was done yesterday.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzlb7aCkoQc


Regards, James


James Stanford
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Shortening some longer covered hoppers to enhance operation.
HO scale Box Street micro layout.



After my recent successful shortening of a bay window caboose
(see Hello Shorty blog entry on 1st September 2021),
I was pondering some 56 scale feet covered hoppers that I purchased some years ago,
but couldn’t really use on Box Street or my other micro layouts due to their length.

I have 5 of them,
and wondered whether I could shorten them like I did the caboose.

Each of the covered hoppers looked like this,
but with different color schemes representing different railroads.





The first thing I had to do was figure out how to dismantle the cars.

As all the cars are the same, except for color scheme,
I could dismantle one and that would allow me to see how best to shorten all of them.

After a while I was able to dismantle one,
and upon investigation realised shortening them would be relatively easy.





Because each car had 3 ‘panels’ on the side, I could remove the middle panel,
then glue the two ends together, then do something similar with the chassis,
then cut the roof and walk way on the top to fit the shortened car.

I decided to try shortening the car I had dismantled to see how it went,
then if it went successfully I would shorten the other ones.

On a Saturday night, I did the dismantled car,
and was rather pleased with the end result.





On this first car, I made a mistake with the chassis,
which resulted in there being a gap between the two sections.

But as it would not usually be seen,
and the chassis wasn’t where the car got most of it’s rigidity / strength from,
I figured it was not too big a problem.

I thought I could shorten the chassis on the other subsequent cars,
a different way so that there was no gap.





The next day, I shortened 3 of the others.

But left one of them 56 scale feet long,
as the couplings on that car required attention.

The end result was that I now have an extra 4 covered hoppers,
that are about 39 scale feet in length, that I can use on Box Street,
but also on my other layouts where necessary.





The joins can be seen on the sides of each model, but they’re not overly obvious,
and can probably be disguised with some graffiti or other painting.

Overall, I’m quite pleased with the result.


Regards, James


Kitbash0n30
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Hey, that's an idea well worth borrowing,

for the 6.75ft by 2.5ft layout here.




Ken C
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James

Performed similar hack and glue jobs,
on a number of Bachmann 2-bay coal hoppers (On30),
to make 18 foot ore hoppers.

Still need painting and weathering.


James Stanford
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Ken C wrote:
...hack and glue jobs...


Ken

That pretty much sums the process I did to shorten these cars.

I found another 2 of the same 58 scale feet length cars,
and managed to convert one ok...  but the other...
well, let's just say it ended up on the scrap heap !

But I got 5 good shorter cars out of a possible 6.
That's not too bad.

Regards, James


Ken C
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James


I ended up with 25 ore cars, and 1 covered hopper,

then had to find a 2-bay hopper for the odd coal load.  :bang:


Got a deal on an S-scale hopper car.  :bg:



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