I normally am not a big fan of double deck layouts. I was reading the 2019 MRP and was impressed by Michael George's P48 layout double deck layout. His space is a bit smaller than mine, but the double deck let him achieve a a nice long run. It is also very nicely done. He relied on a narrow upper shelf to make it work. It doesn't have a cluttered look that many other double deck railroads have.
I wondered, could I do a double deck railroad in my basement? I knew the answer was a yes, as I have drawn a few HO and O scale double deck designs in the past. But they were clean slate designs with a different prototype. How could I modify the Aquia Line to a double deck?
If you read my 10 Year After Action Review a couple posts back. you know that some the things I'd like to change on my layout. One is more distance between towns and longer sidings in each town.
However, there are couple other druthers I'd like to have if I could.
- More distance between Aquia Landing and Burnside's Wharf. They were actually a mile apart. On a 13 mile line, that is a significant distance.
- Potomac Creek was a double ended siding on the prototype. It would be nice to have that on the layout as it sets up more places to meet.
- I'd like to have room for more ships including the Passaic ironclad, and if possible a large side wheel steamer with masts.
- The bridge at Potomac Creek is about 56% percent of actual size. It would nice to model it full scale.
So I started rough sketching. The same restrictions kept rearing their ugly head. The low ceiling over Brooke and the 54 inch clearance at the stairs. The eureka moment came when I decided to try a design where the double deck portion travels above the stair landing, instead of under. My wife freaked out when I mentioned this. However, this is not that big a deal as I would hide the track by modifying the wainscoting that is there is now. I would just move the wainscoting about 4 inches from the wall, and attach it with magnets so it would removable for maintenance.
The stair landing is actually two steps with the higher part at 62 inches off the floor. If I started a 2.7% grade at the end of Brooke, the track would be at 62 inches by the time it reaches the stairwell. I know my engines can handle a 1.5% grade as the line from Brooke to Aquia Landing actually is an up hill climb of 1.5%. I have run my tender drive locos with 14 cars up that grade and they can handle that. Can they handle 10 cars up 2.7%? That will require some testing.
This is a rough plan of how a double deck might work. The double deck section is only in the lower room. The upper room, the room with the low ceilings, remains single deck. I would rebuild the 40 feet of the railroad along the upper wall. The rebuild area would be on a 2.7% grade, including the bridge at Potomac, which would be at the full prototype length of about 400 feet.
Potomac Creek Siding would be a full sized, double ended. The total main line run from Burnsides Wharf to Falmouth is now about 215 feet, almost 2 scale miles in O scale. The upper deck at 62 inches is the limit for what I can comfortably reach to switch. Shorter operators will need step stools.
The aisles would be wider in the front room. A key concern is that the switching activity at Falmouth would be above the storage yard at Aquia Landing. That would get congested with operators if there were two trains working that area at once. However, Burnside Wharf is further away from Aquia Landing in this design, so the crews building outbound trains are not near Aquia Landing as much as before. If we ran extras to Falmouth, they would have to take turns doing their work.
The double deck section is generally an 18 inch wide shelf, that matches the width of the layout below, except over Burnside Wharf. That would allow me to have ships with tall masts on the lower deck in that area. Lighting the 18 inch wide sections would be simple.
The rebuild would allow me to get rid of the remaining florescent lights, another objective of my ten year review. The new sections would have minimum radius of 36 inches. The turn back curve at the current Falmouth would be eliminated.
|Alicia demonstrates a swing gate from a previous layout.|
The plan sticks to the prototype and omits the Fredericksburg expansion. So the purists will like that.
One of the concerns I have is that I would lose the nice sky backdrop at Aquia Landing. However this isn't that much a loss to me, as that corner is proving hard to photograph anyway. So photoshopping out a double deck section would not be a hard when I want to take photos.
This plan still has a generous crew lounge. The dispatcher's area is unchanged, except that the door way there would need removable sections. They could be attached to the existing door as swing pieces. I've built one of those before and it worked fine.