Layout Design - BCSJ I (4x8)

Layout Design
BCSJ I - The 4x8 Layout

A link to the BCSJ I layout page.

Bear Creek & South Jackson - 4x8 Track Plan

This is the final plan of the 4x8 version of the Bear Creek and South Jackson Railroad as it was built. It's a twice-around with a single passing/run-around siding and 7 spur tracks. There is a bit of elevation change in the tracks and the scenery was designed to be as mountainous as possible but still fit in the other features.

Before arriving at the final trackplan I built a mockup of the proposed layout showing the curved trestles across Cascade Slough, the location of the hills behind South Jackson and the routes taken by the twice-around mainline.

Here's a link to one of the few "overall" pictures of the 4x8 BC&SJ layout.

Layout Features

The main town is South Jackson which has the only station on the layout and most of the industry (Machinery Repair, South Jackson Mfg, Brough-Caan Glass Co, South Jackson Feed & Mill, a ware house and an open air team track that doubles as an engine service facility.

The JS Barge Service Co is located on the shores of Lake Webster and ships and receives many different types of goods. There is a very short branchline ending at what can be a limestone mine, log loading facility, or oil field.

Operation uses two engines. One engine goes round and round stopping at South Jackson to drop off and pick up cuts of cars then hiding in the long tunnel. The other engine is stationed in South Jackson and does all the local (and some not quite so local switching). The double switch back in South Jackson can make switching a real challenge.

What did I do right with this plan

This layout was built in lieu of the On3 South Pacific Coast which I finally deemed too complex to build and too small to ever really replicate the mainline operation of the SPC. Although it looks like a railroad it's really a classroom! I knew I wanted industrial spurs, as long a mainline as I could manage, a continuous run option, and a number of scenery options including a creek or two, a lake, a town, and some mountains. I also wanted a couple of crossings.

Although I didn't know it at the time I found that a 4x8 island layout can also make a really good photo prop!

What did I do wrong?

Since I built the 4x8 BC&SJ I've operated on a number of other layouts and joined the Layout Design Special Interest Group. Things I think are missing from this layout include:
  • Lack of staging - there's no place to stash extra cars let alone an extra train
  • Only one passing siding means that only one mainline train can run at at time - two sidings are needed to have meets. When I built it I never thought I'd want more than 1 train at a time (even though it was wired for two cabs!)
  • No way to turn locomotives except that giant sky crane
  • The siding is needed as a runaround track for switching operations. Unfortunately the South Jackson switcher has to foul the main to access it. This means I can't even work on industries in South Jackson while the mainline train runs

This page and images Copyright © 1998-2005 by Charlie Comstock. All rights reserved.