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Revised Plans for Starting Over

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
Welp. I've done it. I've revised my plan since starting over. One of the many things I am terrible at is making any kind of decision about anything. Alas though as I embarked on my new shelf, I realized quickly that 80" was long, and my space is short. Also realized 12" is narrow, and what I want to model is going to be wide. With that discovered I went back to the drawing board to draw the San Jose Switcher as Byron had intended it, and go from there.

Byron used two Peco curved turnouts, so drawing the plan turned out to be a bit of a challenge with Atlas RTS. Until now that has been my doodling software of choice because it is free and it's just too easy to learn. The limitations though are that it only runs on Windows, and it has only Atlas (and in some cases outdated and limited Atlas) track libraries. I still think it's a good tool, but like any tool it has a purpose and there may be a better tool for your specific task.

XTrackCad was a natural next option because it fit my no cost requirement. As an added bonus, it's not just free but an open source project over on SourceForge. In addition to source code, there are 32 bit binaries available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Since I am a Linux admin by trade, I'm quite pleased to be able to take one more step off my Windows PC at home. There are also included libraries for just about every track type available, if not all of them. XTrackCad is not for the faint of heart, there is a steep learning curve. The Beginner's Tutorial was well worth the 20 or so minutes it took to complete, and though XTrackCAD does a lot of stuff I still don't get, I'm proficient enough to be able to draw a basic plan.

I drew the plan as closely as I could to Byron's original keeping it 18x72, and proceeded to modify it a tad here and there. First thing to go were the Peco turnouts. I have an abundance of old Atlas turnouts and plan to use them vs buying more. I also curved the switching lead sharply toward the end, anticipating a possible expansion to a small yard and service facility. Since there won't be any coupling/uncoupling going on that close to the end and I still plan on relatively short locomotives and cars I expect the curve to be fine. Though the plan shown is sectional track, I also have an abundance of Atlas flex track I plan to use instead. The sectional pieces in the plan help me visualize car spots, siding capacity, and help in measuring and fitting the flex track later. Here is my end result, I hope to really try to adhere to it.

My new shelf track plan based on Byron Henderson's San Jose Switcher is 18x72.