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Thread: Suggestions for trackwork at a modern coal mine

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    Default Suggestions for trackwork at a modern coal mine

    HI Folks:
    I am working on track planning, and tonight the topic is my coal mine scene. As you can see from the attached picture, I have an area about 8 - 9 feet long (the total area is 10 feet) by about 1 foot wide, this area is elevated about 3 inches above the main part of the table.
    I model in N scale, and will be running modern equipment, and trains about 6 - 10 cars long (or maybe longer depending on how yard and scaling projects turn out as I continue to plan.
    This is to be a drift (underground) mine with loading facilities (again, modern day)
    Id really like some input on how to lay out the track etc to give me good switching action on my layout
    Thanks
    TIMOxbow Mine area Marked.jpg

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    Greetings, Tim! I can't help with your track questions, but La Veta and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains caught my attention. Most days I can see those mountains from my kitchen windows or rear patio. I'm about 20 miles east southeast of Colorado Springs.
    Cheers!
    Gordon
    Rheinland Bayern Bahn
    http://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...4-x-9-5-layout

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    Maybe this will help. Look at the left side of the plan.
    http://appalachianrailroadmodeling.c...l-Labels-b.jpg
    If your using a flood loader then a balloon loop is the main method of loading and 'reversing' the unit train.
    There's this prototypical plan.
    https://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/g...616195854.jpeg
    Just remember the track doesn't have to be in a straight line. curving around a valley side can be as effective -visually- too.
    Cheers,

    Russ

    CEO of Devil's Gate Mining Co.



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    Quote Originally Posted by mosslake View Post
    There's this prototypical plan.
    https://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/g...616195854.jpeg
    Just remember the track doesn't have to be in a straight line. curving around a valley side can be as effective -visually- too
    If I'm not mistaken, the Edna mine shown in the second of Russ's links is the prototype on which Walthers based its New River Mine tipple kit.

    And as he mentioned, modern flood loaders in the West typically have balloon tracks to accommodate unit trains. There's plenty of space for them. Appalachian "hollers" were usually too narrow for those arrangements.

    One thing I'm curious about, @taholmes. You mention trains of 6 to 10 cars. That's not exactly Western unit coal train length. And UP (C&NW)/BNSF don't run short locals of MTY hoppers to regularly serve loadouts. Just so you know.

    As for track plans, there is no one-size-fits-all. I suggest you download this PDF (https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sour...=1567397145378) and use Google Earth or Google Maps to garner ideas.

    Hope this helps.

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    Default The San Luis and Rio Grande

    Quote Originally Posted by el Gato Gordo View Post
    Greetings, Tim! I can't help with your track questions, but La Veta and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains caught my attention. Most days I can see those mountains from my kitchen windows or rear patio. I'm about 20 miles east southeast of Colorado Springs.
    Very cool -- im working on a freelanced version of the SLRG that exists in a (slightly) alternate universe:

    Heres the (rough draft of) the story

    Due to the destruction of a major bridge and tunnel complex from an earthquake, The BNSF southern transcon Route is currently closed between Gallup and Belen NM. As a result, BNSF had diverted as much of its traffic as possible to its trackage rights over the UP Rocky Mountain Division, however because of the closure of the UP sunset route from the same earthquake, the UP was forced to impose traffic quotas on forcing the imposition of traffic quotas on the central rout. This has forced the BNSF to find additional trackage and as a result traffic has dramatically expanded over the SLRG in the past 6 months. The BNSF is routing traffic into walsenburg, and then routing it south to dallas. Likewise AMTRAK has diverted its Southwest Chief, and Sunset Limited service over the SLRG bringing an influx of passenger revenue. Over the previous 20 years or so, climatalogical changes have increased the production of the barley, wheat, potatos, sugar beets and lumber. The increase in productivity has caused several agricultural companies including Coors Brewing, Archer Daniels Midland, and Ore-Ida, as well as both the BNSF and the UP to invest heavily in the area and has allowed the SLRG to upgrade many of its facilities and physical plant. As well, since the catastrophic events of 9-11, and the subsequent drop in airline passengers, coupled with the development of highly efficient hyperloop systems, passenger rail has seen a resurgence to levels far exceeding its heyday in the 1950s and passenger rail service in the San Luis Valley is booming.

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    Hey Paul:

    You are right, my short trains are not typical western unit trains at all, unfortunately I just dont have the track capacity to handle the longer trains, so there will be a bit of imagination involved. My actual line that I am modeling in a highly freelanced version is the San Luis and rio grande. Thanks so much

    TIM

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    Wow -- excellent stuff -- thank you so much -- I think im going to work from the Edna plan -- that looks exactly like what I want

    TIM

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    Cool story, Tim! I look forward to seeing your progress. Beware the moose stampede, post photos of aquisitions and developments.
    Cheers!
    Gordon
    Rheinland Bayern Bahn
    http://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...4-x-9-5-layout

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    Couple of thoughts. @DJSTRAINS has an excellent video describing how things work today on CSX here: https://www.nscale.net/forums/showth...highlight=coal
    See also the video in my sig.

    Quote Originally Posted by taholmes View Post
    Id really like some input on how to lay out the track etc to give me good switching action on my layou
    Modern loop tracks don't involve much in the way of switching.

    Second way is the old "back up in the holler" mine with no turnaround at the mine; the engine backs a string of empties up the hill to the mine and pulls the loads down. Lots of switching but I don't think this applies to modern.

    Third way is see DJ's comments on his video; more track at the mine.

    Common scheme for a layout is to have the source (mine or coking plant) and sink (say a power plant) positioned on opposite sides of a ridge such that the tracks are actually connected via a hidden tunnel so that when you push a string into the mine or power plant it comes out at the power plant or mine. You need a runaround and enough track to store an extra string of cars at both locations. A turn looks like this (where you start is up to you): Take a string of empties to the mine and park them. Run around and pull out the string of loads. Park the loads and push the string of empties into the mine (which pushes them out at the power plant). Take the loads long way around to the power plant and park them. Run around and pull the empties out of the plant, park them, and push the loads in (which pushes them out at the mine). Take the empties long way back to the mine... Rinse and repeat.
    Last edited by NtheBasement; 2nd Sep 2019 at 10:24 AM. Reason: changed quote to link

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    Thanks everyone -- Great stuff -- im looking at having a mine and a breaker plant make up the loads in empties out -- Gonna try to to lay it out tonight

    TIM

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    One thing to think about at any bulk loading/unloading facility, you should have room for both the emptys and the loads. Otherwise, the mine can't load them. Since looking at about 6 cars, leave enough room to put all six cars behind the loading point, with enough room for the mine personnel to pull them down past the front side as they're loaded. Two six car tracks with the tipple in the middle will handle this fine.

    Have fun!
    Tim Rumph
    Modeling the Southern Railway in N-Scale

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    Quote Originally Posted by NtheBasement View Post
    Common scheme for a layout is to have the source (mine or coking plant) and sink (say a power plant) positioned on opposite sides of a ridge such that the tracks are actually connected via a hidden tunnel so that when you push a string into the mine or power plant it comes out at the power plant or mine. You need a runaround and enough track to store an extra string of cars at both locations. A turn looks like this (where you start is up to you): Take a string of empties to the mine and park them. Run around and pull out the string of loads. Park the loads and push the string of empties into the mine (which pushes them out at the power plant). Take the loads long way around to the power plant and park them. Run around and pull the empties out of the plant, park them, and push the loads in (which pushes them out at the mine). Take the empties long way back to the mine... Rinse and repeat.
    The old 'loads in/empties out setup as written by John Armstrong way back in the 1950s or '60s. It works with any sort of open car, I've seen it on logging lines too...
    Cheers,

    Russ

    CEO of Devil's Gate Mining Co.



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    HI Folks
    Ive been working on refining my ideas for the coal mine scene on my railroad, I looked really hard at a loads in empties out situation, but my original intent was to do something like the way that the Virginian that was published in Model Railroader. The idea is that coal is mined, and picked up, and brought to a marshaling yard, and then shipped out to the power plant. I think the plan is going to be similar to the edna mine
    TIM

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    ​Ok, so I broke out the planning software and tried to get some ideas in line for the coal mine area. Attached below is what I came up with -- Id appreciate some critiques -- this is going to be modeled in N scale. Each grid square is 1 foot, what is not depicted is the level change which is on the grid line to the left of the main, To the right will be scenery, rocks, cliffs etc as well as the entry to the mine, and conveyors and such.
    Please let me know how I can improve this for appearance and operation both
    THanks
    TIMOxbow Area track plan.jpg

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    My first thought was that the tracks under the tipples seem too short, as the clearance points for the turnouts will probably admit only one or two cars at a time, but then I see from the Edna diagram that the way hoppers flow through, this might not be much of a detriment. I think the Edna diagram still has longer tracks, so that each tipple track can have a cut of 4 or 5 cars on it, and those tracks have a slope to them so that, by means of handbrakes, the cut can roll forward to load the next car. There is thus a similar length of track both before and after the tipple, so that you begin with car #1 under the chutes and cars #2 thru #5 empty behind it, then end with car #5 under the chutes, and plenty of length for the 4 extra cars before and after the chutes without fouling any turnouts for the other tipple tracks. In your case, you would be limited to cuts of 2 cars at a time.

    The mine turn train deposits empties on the long tail track, and picks up loads from the loaded storage tracks. What I think you're missing to some degree are the loaded track(s). You've got one track to collect loads, but maybe this should be two tracks similar to the Edna diagram. You might just add a second track as a stub-ended track that begins below where the two tipple tracks come together and the "crossover" comes in from the main; this could then bend around the curve, but just not join up again, unless you want it to. This gives a bit of extra space to collect loads, because you could have a number of loads equal to the capacity of the empties tail track plus the two tipple tracks (imagine the mine begins the day with each tipple chute track occupied, and the tail track jam packed with hoppers; at the end of the day, all those loads will need to be stored somewhere).

    This entire mine configuration works on gravity, with the empties tail track higher than the loads storage tracks, so that hand brakes can be used to maneuver the hoppers through the facility. You might achieve similar operations by giving it all enough slope for your free-rolling stock to guide itself. To stop cars, you can have "whiskers" that reach up between the ties to snag on the axles and thereby induce drag. I'm envisioning a stiff-bristle paint brush that you cut away most of the bristles, and configured to move up and down in a hole or slot between the rails, to either snag or release cars at the tipple and at the empties tail track. You could probably use a turnout motor mounted on its side to get the up and down motion, or use servos.

    The biggest headache of this arrangement is that it ignores the benefits of a Loads-In-Empties-Out industry pairing, which is that you don't have to see the same car in both loaded and empty states. On the contrary, this is calling attention to the loading process, and you're going to be seeing empties turning into loads in real time. This means you'll need an easy way to place loads into the cars, and it even suggests you might want to try actually loading cars with real granular loads (perhaps black art sand). If this were a L-I-E-O arrangement, the tipple would be right up against a view block of some kind, such that we don't see any of the empties storage track at all; instead, that track is part of scene on the other side, belonging to the paired industry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WP&P View Post
    you might want to try actually loading cars with real granular loads (perhaps black art sand).
    I'm all in for loading and unloading coal, but watch out for black art sand; mine had granules that magnets pick up, presumably iron filings. Bad for motors. Also weighs a lot more than coal. Real coal creates coal dust (and presumably real black lung); I've settled on WS fine cinder ballast.

    Due to the square-cube law you won't reliably get N scale cars to roll without a steep grade or some kind of boosting mechanism, or maybe something to vibrate the road bed to get things moving.
    I just use a GP to spot the cars and a foot switch to move the coal.
    I've thought of trying to make an operating winch (er, "rail car positioner", see https://www.richmondengineering.com/ ).

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    Quote Originally Posted by NtheBasement View Post
    Due to the square-cube law you won't reliably get N scale cars to roll without a steep grade
    I would say that greatly depends on whether you are willing to replace wheelsets; I use Fox Valley Models metal wheels inside Micro-Trains trucks, and these are extremely free-rolling, and won't stay parked on a 1% grade. Provided all the cars are brought up to the same specs in terms of trucks, wheels, and weight, it should be feasible to find a slope that works and that is not too steep.

    Adding weight to empty hoppers, though, can be tricky. I've had some success cutting lead sheet to fit over the humps inside the hopper; once painted black, it's not too objectionable.

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    Hi Guys:

    IM actually gonna cheat on the loading and unloading, and use foam blocks cut to fit the cars painted black with glued down coal that I crushed up from some run of mine coal I bought at a local grain elevator. I'll just drop the loads into the cars in between sessions or at a break or something. Im not going to be animating the loading and unloading. I will probably use a geep or something to spot the cars.

    WP & P - Im kinda sleepy tonight, so I'll re-read your email tomorrow when I can think clearly but on first reading it looks good, Im just not sure how to get more space on the tipple tracks, Also, on a different board someone sent me pics of a single track loader which has me kinda interested as well, so some combination of the 2 may be the ultimate solution

    Thanks to you all

    TIM

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    Hi Folks:
    After visiting a club today that has a mine scene, I came home and started drawing, and came up with the following plan for the coal mine area. A couple notes about this area . The tipple has outputs of 2 sizes of coal, Stoker coal for electrical power and metallurgic coal for steel production. Loads will generally be made of one or the other, so one or the other loading track will be used. This will allow cars to flow smoothly down from the top end of the pic in the empty storage tracks, under the loader, and on down to the loads storage yard. Im not going to try to set the grade and all the associated problems, I'll have a switch engine move them around as needed.
    I looked again at doing a loads in empties out type scene, but it really doesnt fit with the operational story, so I decided not to do it.
    TIM
    Attached Images Attached Images

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