Layout Design - BCSJ III

Layout Design
BCSJ III Trackplanning
Updated 4/27/15

The Third Time Around

In Nov 2002 I moved out of my home (and train room). To make up for the loss of BC&SJ II I was moving into a new home with a custom train room in the basement.

The new room would be much larger than the space in the garage occupied by the second version of the Bear Creek. In anticipation of the new layout I carefully diassembled the old layout and saved as much of the lumber, plywood, track, turnouts and wiring as I could. I also managed to save the entire, recently completed Mill City area (stashing it in a moving company warehouse while the new house was built.

The new trackplan was designed hand in hand with the new basement. Many of the design tradeoffs were documented in the article "Fine Tuning a Trackplan for Operation" in MRP 2003. Finally the day came when it was time to move in. After the necessary honey-do's it was time to start on the new, improved (and much larger) BC&SJ.

Note: The move was completed in Oct 2003 when we moved to the new trainroom... er.. house!

Here's the skinny on the track plan. The new layout features:

  • A division point yard - Bear Creek
  • A smaller yard to deal with the Deschutes branchline and helpers - South Jackson
  • Multiple towns and industrial tracks requiring the services of the yard
  • A 2.7% helper district between Mill Bend and Oakhill
  • A branch line - the Deschutes Branch
  • An industrial district - East Creek
  • A pair of agricultural towns - Browning and Redland
  • A logging area at Oakhill and mills in Mill Bend and Redland
  • 16 tracks of double ended staging connecting the two major ends of the layout. Plus two other stub-ended staging areas (with 7 track).
  • Enough action to keep a good size crew busy and aisles to hold them all.

The new layout will be double deck in some places - main staging will be below the peninsula, Redland and Deschutes staging will be below Oakhill, and Siskiyou staging will be under the track between Bear Creek and Oakhill. Main staging, although below Bear Creek and East Creek will be at 36" elevation with the yard and town above at 53" and 50" respectively giving a foot of visible deck separation making it possible to see what's going on in those yards.

The layout will be 'dark' (unsignalled) with a single track mainline and opposing trains. Dispatching is by Track Warrants with the intent of moving the Time Table and Train Order when feasible. As this is written (June '08) there has only be one TTTO op session).

Parts of the layout (especially the schematic) may bear something of a resemblance to the SP in Oregon. On a Scale of Prototype Fidelty:

Freelanced <=====X=====================> Prototype

Don't look for too many signature scenes. I'm being creative here.
The layout can support an mini-army of operators (when available) but should be runnable with a skeleton crew when necessary. The double ended main staging area also makes it easy for the Superintendent of Nearly Everything to run a train should he feel like it. No more needing to back a train around the layout afterward to restore it to it's proper place!

The major function of the layout is to collect traffic at Bear Creek yard, where cars and blocks are classified and sent out to the various online and offline (unmodeled) destinations. Bear Creek is equipped with a main, 2 A/D tracks, 7 class tracks, a thorough-fare track, ice-track, an empty car yard and engine service area. There are switch leads at both ends of the yard allowing for two switch crews to bang cars at the same time (under the sage guidance of the YM). A hosteller may be pressed into service to deal with all the motive power passing through the yard.

A smaller yard at South Jackson deals with traffic for Mill Bend and Oakhill plus getting cars on and off the branchline. which classifies carss and generates new trains. There are also a number of through trains to keep up the traffic level without swamping the yard. Bear Creek is designed to allow separate hostler, a switch crew at each end, and yard master to ride heard on the operation. Assuming trains are mostly well blocked when arriving the target is to break down an arriving train in 12 minutes or less and build a departing train in 8 minutes or less. This will take a lot of cooperation (and practice) between the yard crews.

The second function is to provide a helper district. The grade from Bear Creek to Oakhill is about a scale mile. The grade from Mill Bend to Oakhill is about 5/6 of a mile. Helpers may also be required for moving trains up from the Deschutes line to Mill Bend.

A third feature is industrial areas big enough to generate/receive significant traffic. These are featured in East Creek and Browning. Mill Bend provides a large lumber products area. Oakhill and the towns on the Deschutes line provide logging and few other local industries (warehose, bulk oil).

A very short line to Roseburg and Coos Bay leaves from Bear Creek and terminates in stub-end (ech!) staging providing another set of destinations for the yard crew to deal with.

And at Albany Junction there is a connection to Albany and Toledo.

The mainline is about 5 miles from the time a train emerges from staging at Browning to when it enters staging after South Jackson. The Deschutes line is about 2 miles not including the run through South Jackson and Mill Bend.

This design appeared in MRP (Model Railroad Planning) 2004 under "Fine Tuning a Layout for Operation"


  • Era/locale - 1952, Oregon
  • Theme - division point operation
  • Traffic - 40% bridge 60% passes through Bear Creek yard
  • Crew - 4 to 20 depending on number of trains run
  • 40" minimum mainline radius (36" on Albany/Toledo branch)
  • Max mainline grade - 2.8%
  • Min mainline turnout - #8
  • Min yard turnout - #8 where road locos may travel
  • Min turnout - #5 in industrial areas
  • Staging - 16 double ended tracks
  • Mainline length - 5 miles
  • Deschutes line length - 3 miles
  • Max height - 65" (at Oakhill)
  • Min height - 36" (staging)
  • Typical aisle width - 36"
  • Construction cost - I don't really want to know this...

Trackplans: April 2015

Track Schematic: Pink=Yard, Pale-Green=Modeled Town, Gray=Staging

Main deck trackage (click on image for full resolution .pdf format)

Main staging (lower deck) trackage (click on image for full resolution .pdf format)

Trackplans: 2003

Main deck trackage - version 18 N5c

Lower deck trackage - version 18 N5c

This page and images Copyright © 2002-2005 by Charlie Comstock.