San Antonio de Bexar Railroad Company - SABRR

Discussion in 'General' started by SAFN SAAP, Oct 7, 2010.

  1. slsfrr (Jerome Lutzenberger RIP 9/1/2018)

    slsfrr (Jerome Lutzenberger RIP 9/1/2018) Engineer Staff Member Supporter

  2. FriscoFriend (Bob Hoover RIP 4/12/2018)

    FriscoFriend (Bob Hoover RIP 4/12/2018) Passed Away April 12, 2018 Supporter


    You have made a great start and both Steve and Jerome have given you some good suggestions. The people on the Yahoo Groups are very knowledgeable and should be able to give some great suggestions. My only concern is that they will be so plentiful and diverse that hopefully they won't confuse you, but please try anyway. Steve mentioned operating on many layouts and that is one thing to consider. Do you want to make this an operating type layout? If the answer is yes I would like to make a suggestion. Most layouts today that are designed for operation take on what is called the "linear" approach. In my case I followed the concept of one of your fellow Texans David Barrow who coined the term "domino". Go into the albums and look at both mine and Rick McClellan's layouts and try and visaulize them as a series of 2' X 4' blocks. You can probably see the concept more clearly on mine that on Rick's because his is scenicked. Now I suggest that you try and develop a design using the following basic guidelines.

    (1) A single track main with pasing sidings
    (2) Modules of dominos no wider than 24" with some possibly only 12" wide.
    (3) A long linear main maybe going into the middle of the room of a peninsula
    (4) If you want contineous running try and design it such that it is not so noticeable. This can be accomplished using a lift out section where the door is, etc.
    (4) A minimum of 24" radius curves and #6 turnouts except in industrail areas.
    (5) Establish a maximum train length for your era and design the yards and passing sidings just a little longer that that. You are modeling an era with very short cars and short trains. Thye objective here should be more mainline running and more towns, thus more interesting operations.

    This is a fairly radical departure fom the plan that you have, but my suggetion is to at least give it a try, post it, and let some of the rest of us give you some feedback.

    SAFN SAAP Member

    Hey Bob,

    I appreciate all the feedback. I really do!

    The radius in my layout are 30", 28" and 24". No less. So I'm covered there. Only the yard at Yoakum has larger. Outside starts at 44" radii and reduces by 2 inches for each smaller curve.

    The maximum train length will be:

    5-7 cars for the 0-6-0, 4-4-0, 2-6-0, 2-6-2 and 4-6-2 crowd
    7-10 cars for the 2-8-0's
    10-15 max for the 2-8-2, 2-10-0, 2-10-2, 2-12-0 and 2-6-6-0 crowd

    Trains will be realistically run. Double heading may be done for a bit longer but the average size train on the SA&AP during its hay day was 10 cars.

    I agree on the continuous run not being so obvious. With the larger radii being used, it is difficult since I only have 11' to work with.

    Single main I will try. I will be working on some revamps today. Due to my size I'm good with up to 36" wide. I intend on using Sievers bench work.

    I'm a disabled vet and I cannot do the heavy construction work for the bench so this will make it easier.

    If I can cut down on the width, I may be able to create an island in the middle. It would either be a tear drop design or straight through, but that would cut the layout in half and create a constant duck under for both sides.

    I will be submitting to the yahoo groups this morning. I'm curious as to what they would say. I really am trying to get a flow effect with the layout. I like San Antonio the way it is. I could narrow it down if I eliminate the 30 and 28 radii and go to 24. I just don't know how a Mantua 2-10-2 frame with Cary boiler on it would look. I'm concerned it may be goofy. I won't give up on having some large engines. They are just too cool.

    Thanks. I appreciate it. I really am trying to listen to y'all. I want everyone here to be a part of my railroad and watch how the Frisco shapes up in San Antone.

  4. FriscoFriend (Bob Hoover RIP 4/12/2018)

    FriscoFriend (Bob Hoover RIP 4/12/2018) Passed Away April 12, 2018 Supporter


    I am also disabled and my condition played a major role in my layout decision making, mainly layout height (40") and maximum depth (24"). Now that you have said you will be utilizing Seivers benchwork, that is really based upon the "domino" principle. If you already haven't, I would strongly suggest that you download and print a set of their templates and try them. I printed mine on some heavy cardstock and then made a scale drawing of my train room and for lack of a better description, played dominos by laying them ene to end in various configurations. You will then get a better idea of some different ways to utilize your space.

    If you want to, I would also suggest that you consider driving or flying to Tulsa, OK the weekend of March 18-20, 2011 and attend the Layout Design and Operations Meet that the local NMRA Divison holds. This is NOT a swap meet or train show but an intense seminar focusing on designing and operating a model railroad. The keynote presenter this year is Tony Koester and our own Keith Robinson (klrwhizkid) will also be one. For more information, go to:

    Also, it might benefit you to look at the powerpoint presentation that Keith did for the recent Frisco Convention which is located under the convention files tab on the forum.

    SAFN SAAP Member

    Hey Bob,

    Yes, I am planning on attending the event you spoke of. As for the Seivers, I'm right there with you.

    I intend on doing the 40" in height as well. I am working on my revamp in accordance with your suggestions. I'll have it posted up shortly. I will check out the link you gave me.

    I really appreciate your help Bob. I really do!

    Thank you!


    SAFN SAAP Member

    Hey Bob,

    Using your ideas, here is the revamp.

    1. Yoakum Yard has been shortened. A caboose track has been added. A switching stub has been added. The roundhouse has been reduced to 4 stalls.
    Yoakum outside radii on the NW and NE corner are 30 inches. The yard works down to 24. I added a passing siding to the NE corner per your suggestion.

    2. Mainline has been reduced to single track. Much more realistic for the SA&AP.

    3. San Antonio has been revamped in that another passing siding and run around has been added. Double crossover has been eliminated. Minimum radii for SA is 24".

    4. All switches are No. 6 Fast Tracks.

    5. I tried to create a peninsula. It just doesn't seem to work with 11' width unless I totally scrap San Antonio and start over.

    What do you think?


    Attached Files:

  7. gstout

    gstout Member Supporter

    Let me offer a few other suggestions. You do not mention the nature of your disability, so this may be something that you cannot comfortably do, but I would think about building this layout on two levels, so that you do not have the two yards directly opposite one another. I am guessing from your era that you will not be running 100-car unit trains, so a 3% grade will be tolerable and would give you sufficient clearances without resorting to a helix. This will also give you a chance to vary the scenery and separate your two end-points.

    My other thought would be to round up two or three friends whom you feel know what they are doing, sit them down at the table and talk them through your operating plan. This will force you to explain with some degree of clarity what you are trying to accomplish visually and operationally. I have been involved with model railroads for 50 years (!), and I know the tendency is to want to get started screwing wood together, but if you do not have a sound operating rationale, you will become bored rather quickly.


    SAFN SAAP Member

    Hey GS,

    In addition to what Bob said, I have heard you loud and clear. It is funny that you should mention a double deck layout, because I was thinking about that very thing over this weekend. I even went to Hobbytown USA to check on some freight cars, when I saw the book that Kalmbach puts out on how to build double deckers.

    I have always loved Helix layouts. I would enclose the Helix as if it were a tunnel. I would use either a 2-3% grade, and 24 or 26 radii, double track so one can go up the other down and then back to single track outside of the tunnel portals.

    All this being said, I am limited as to what I can do because I do not own the house that I will be living in. I will be renting. This means that I will need to build a self supporting sub frame from the walls. I'm not sure yet if I can do that.

    Believe me, I need to pay as much attention to y'all as possible. The only acquaintance I have here in SA is Frisco4305. We haven't met, just talked. There is a club here in SA that I can join and I've been thinking about it.

    I do know that you are right concerning double layers and yards at different ends. I'd love that set-up. We shall see. Lord willing and the creek don't rise.

  9. FriscoFriend (Bob Hoover RIP 4/12/2018)

    FriscoFriend (Bob Hoover RIP 4/12/2018) Passed Away April 12, 2018 Supporter


    Greg makes some very good suggestions. I'm not a fan of double height layouts, but they do offer a chance for more trackage. As far as your revised plan is concerned, to me it still seems that you may have way too much yard track and not enough industial sidings to send cars back and forth to. Also your engine terminal seems a bit to busy and large for a layout this size. Go look at the pictures of Neodesha on my layout and see what can be done in 24" wide X 16' long. I plan 10 car trains (1980's era).

    My next suggestion is to make a list of all of the industries that you intend to serve and the length of siding each one will require. Make switching them somewhat of a challenge
    so that operators will need to think out their moves.
  10. SteveM

    SteveM Member Supporter

    Manny, you made some real progress by reducing the big yard. If your longest train is 15 cars, then you only need a couple of tracks that long. Others can be shorter. The biggest problem left, which Greg was trying to address, is having the train enter one city as soon as it leaves the other. No time to run without messing with the guy in the other town.
    Your maximum train length divided into optimum mainline length may kind of foretell how long it stays satifying, again like what Greg said.
    A helix eats up a lot of space and creates its own problems, especially if enclosed. I took one out of my original plan (I had to eliminate Springdale and Fayetteville) but I certainly don't regret it.
    I think a reasonable solution is around a couple more corners. I might have to check out your Sievers stuff to see what the limits are for beveling corners, etc.
    I don't remember you saying what program you are using for your plans. Will it add text or numbers so you can identify functions. Also, if the main traffic is southbound to San Antonio, is that clockwise or counterclockwise? Might affect the location of some stuff, since you aren't following any specific track charts.
    And you say you can walk past the layout, so the room is bigger (but has a dotted line on the floor?)
  11. steinjr

    steinjr Member

    Hi Guys --

    I am new around here (and don't really model the Frisco - I just followed a link and decided to have a look around, figuring that we all can learn from each other no matter what railroad we model).

    Anyways - Manny has also received some suggestions over at, and there are some links to prototype information and such things there. Here is the link to Manny's thread in the other forum:

    This is a very nice forum btw. Hadn't it been such a long flight from where I live (Sorumsand, east of Oslo in Norway - i.e. in Scandinavia), I would have loved to be able to go attend some of your meets, and see with my own eyes the great stuff you guys do.

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 28, 2010

    SAFN SAAP Member


    Last night and some time today, I finished up a layout based upon your ideas and drawings. The minimum radii is 26" for the entire layout with the exception of the tear drop whose inner is 24". The scale remains the same in the drawing at 1:20 and 4" square to each square on the board.

    The layout as pictured stands at 17' x 14'. To stay within the 17' x 11' and maintain 26" radii, I would run out of room. That is without San Antonio Yard added. I would have only a 4" wide strip to lay a single track. So I opened it up a little.

    Now, having said that, I may be able to handle the growth of 11' to 14'. I have to double check. But is the final result something more of what you were looking for? I do like the route as it gives me much more track and room for smaller industries and scenery.

    What do you think?

    Thank you again for your help!


    Total track length (main): 255 9/32 '

    Attached Files:

  13. gstout

    gstout Member Supporter

    Well, this is certainly better, and the view-block in the middle of the peninsula will help make the railroad "feel" bigger. However, I think there are still a couple things you should consider:

    1. The yard at (let's call it) the south end seems bigger than it needs to be for the type of railroad I understand you to be planning. You might want to skinny that down and add some kind of industry that offers an opportunity to switch with a purpose, e.g., a sawmill, brewery or some such. Also, there is no provision to turn the locomotive at this end unless the turntable in the northwest corner is doing double duty for both ends of the railroad.

    2. The yard on the north end appears to be oriented backward. Your primary main line run is through the center peninsula, but when you build your train using the ladder, your power will be on the west end of the train, which will take you over the short leg of the main line. There is a run-around track, but the train will need to be really short in order to use it, and if you are running trains that short, again, you have a lot of yard.

    I do believe form follows function. You already know where this railroad goes, but do you know for sure what it does for a living? When you are completely clear on that, you will have a better idea of what industries it serves, how to represent interchanges, etc. Otherwise you have a "track plan," but not really a railroad. There is a difference and it is much easier to work out before you start than after all the track is spiked down.

    Good luck!


    SAFN SAAP Member

    Hello Greg,

    First, thank you so much for the encouragement. I've never done a layout this size so it's a little daunting. Lets see if I can address your points.

    1) The yard on the south side of the layout is San Antonio. The west side is the shifting yard, while on the east side, industries are serviced. In real life, the SA&AP only had a turntable documented at Yoakum, which is in the north. I will look into this. That being said, I have no problem running freights tender first. However, this should be an exception, not the norm. So maybe I need to revisit the SA yard and incorporate a turntable. I would have loved to have a Wye. But as you can see, room for a Wye is not there.

    2) I understand your point concerning the North Yard. I won't say it is backwards, but I do acknowledge that I need a switching lead so not to block up the main. I'll make some adjustments. EDIT: YEP, IT WAS BACKWARDS. MY BAD.

    Please give me some time to make some changes and I'll post the new revisions for some critique and review.

    Thanks again!

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 28, 2010

    SAFN SAAP Member


    I made some serious changes to Yoakum Yard which is on the North side of the map. Here are the changes:

    1. Removal of the team track sidings just SE of the turn table

    2. Removal of one of the switches and run leading to the engine shop tracks.

    3. Added an additional line from the turntable which parallels the engine shop track. The coaling towers will be located on those tracks.

    4. Added a siding along the roundhouse to park a locomotive. I may add more depending on the room left by the roundhouse.

    5. I reversed the yard and created a lead that couples to the main where the old team track lead was located.

    6. I added a caboose track to the switching yard lead.

    7. The siding off the yard lead, below the yard will hold all M.O.W. equipment.

    I hope that this addresses the yard issues and makes things flow a little better.


    Attached Files:

  16. SteveM

    SteveM Member Supporter

    Making progress, Manny!
    I printed off the previous one and did some sketching. I think you can adapt my ideas to the newer plan if you like them. Here's a list in order I think they do the most for the layout.
    1. Create turnaround/passing area at Oakley for operators.
    2. Hide the continuous run connection between SA and Oakley.
    3. Add wye with interlocker.
    4. Add T&P staging.
    5. Add SP staging.
    6. Add Branch line staging (could go either direction.)
    7. T&P main as reason for tower, different signs, signals, ballast, etc. Some really neat trackwork if you're up to it.
    Of course you can flip the SP and T&P if that's your preference or more logical for San Antonio.
    I might want to mess with San Antonio just a bit, in order to establish where the Depot would be. Not a very big one, but a logical location.
    Operations: train enters Oakley from (slightly) hidden trackage, later exits. Maybe the SP staging is a second track that lets you receive/send both a freight and a passenger train to the north. Up to three extra short trains that can come to the yards and go back. Could be the SP coming with cars or the Frisco returning with interchanged cars, then making another run at end of session. Lots of activity to turn engines, maybe even rearrange the passenger trains before heading back out.
    Happy new year and best wishes on the planning.

    Attached Files:


    SAFN SAAP Member

    Wow Steve,

    I really like the changes you made. I never thought about all that. Now, I have some questions for you so I can properly interpret your sketch:

    1) Turn around space: I think I understand that you want a little more room for an individual to turn around to exit that area. You drew dotted lines so you want that cut out a little more just in case two people are in the area.

    Am I correct? If so, that's a go!

    2) Branch Line Staging: Where the lines are heavy, does that mean you want those tracks hidden as to imply that there is a hidden railroad? Also I see that you are angling the deflection to open up space for the Wye at SA Junction.

    Am I correct? If so, that's a go!

    3) T&P Staging: Is that the same as the BLS in (2)?

    Am I correct? If so, that's a go!

    4) Adjusting SA Yard, East End: That's a go!

    5) I need a little understanding for SA Yard, W, Interlocking w/Frisco and SP Lines.

    I love all this. That is awesome! Thank you so much for your contributions! I'll get to work on it right away, pending confirmations/explanations.

    Too cool!

    All Aboard Rocks!


    Am I correct? If so, that's a go!
  18. steinjr

    steinjr Member

    Hi Manny --

    Have a look at what Steve says - this is the same kind of stuff I have been saying over in - you need an overall concept for your layout.

    Steve is suggesting focusing on San Antonio, and interchange with other railroads (Texas and Pacific, Southern Pacific, Frisco) there, using staging to represents the rest of those railroads.

    I have suggested two other possible themes, since I (mis?)interpreted you as really wanting to focus on Yoakum and the SA&AP :

    Alternative A: focusing on Yoakum yard, and modeling various destinations (towards Kenedy and beyond that San Antonio and Corpus Christie, towards Houston and towards Shiner/Waco) as staging.

    Alternative B: focusing on running over a piece of the line, say modeling Runge, Cuero and part of Yoakum, with staging beyond Runge representing Kenedy, San Antonio and Corpus Christie, a passive interchange with the GH&SA at Cuero and your trains turning in Yoakum (perhaps changing identities there - the cars of a northbound passenger train which originally was heading towards Waco can a little bit later represent a southbound passenger train for Corpus Christi).

    But the point both Steve and I am making is the same - you need an overall vision of what it is you want to model.

    Is it several railroads meeting in San Antonio? Running through small towns, perhaps with an interchange along the way? Engine service and yard switching at Yoakum?

    At the moment you have two clusters of track - you call the one along the top Yoakum, and the one in the lower left hand corner San Antonio. In addition you have two longish spurs - one along the top of the peninsula, and one down along the left wall.

    But what do you want to model? Trains leaving San Antonio, running for a little bit and then arriving in Yoakum? If so - what does the spur along the left wall represent?

    Instead of trying to have your layout represent a large area, I would suggest focusing on representing a smaller area - either a larger town surrounded by staging (if your main focus is representing yard work and engine service), or several small towns along a line, with larger towns "up the line" and "down the line" being represented by staging, if you want to focus on running trains and handling meets and switching along the way.

    It doesn't really matter type of plan and what town or towns you choose - whatever appeals to you. But the overall concept should be in place before you try to locate each and every spur.

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2010

    SAFN SAAP Member

    I guess why I'm having a little bit of difficulty is because I have never done a layout this size before. My vision was to capture San Antonio, because I live here, and the trip up to Yoakum which is only about 35 miles away, because it was the SA&AP's main engine facility and yard. Historically it is rather strange that Uriah Lott, the SA&AP's owner and President would chose to locate these facilities in Yoakum since the SA&AP was star cluster railroad with all branches coming out of San Antonio.

    Although Corpus Christi would have been nice to model, the facilities that the SA&AP built down there are too big to adequately represent in the room I have for my layout. Not only did they build a railroad causeway over the bay, but also a roadway along side. They also had ferry services for rail, and that would have been cool to model. Room just wouldn't allow it.

    That being said, the vision of the trip from SA to Yoakum has been evolving as I have been listening to you and others trying to make this as realistic as possible.

    As for sidings, until roller bearings came out, railroad cars and locomotives used wedge bearings on the trucks. Each journal needed to be greased. Fires started because of an overheating journal were not uncommon in the first half of railroads. To deal with this, sidings were established to set cars out who had bad bearings. Car knockers would be sent out to inspect and change the wedges and get the car back in service. That is one reason for the sidings.

    Another is simply that I have industries planned there. The software I use does not really have a library of buildings so they are absent. I have simply accounted for their size in designing the layout.

    I appreciate everyone's patience in dealing with this project and the help that has been given. Y'all are helping make a basic design into something very special. I am very grateful. Thank you!

  20. FriscoFriend (Bob Hoover RIP 4/12/2018)

    FriscoFriend (Bob Hoover RIP 4/12/2018) Passed Away April 12, 2018 Supporter


    First and foremost, you are willing to listen to suggestions. With the suggestions that you have received and implemented to date, in my opinion you have made significant improvements to the original design.

    Are you able to have clear unobstructed access to the room you will be using? If so I would suggest that the next then you do is go 1:1 and download the right tracks turnout templates, copy them in bunches, cut them out and lay everything out on the layout room floor. You will be amazed at some of the glitches you will find and be able to correct. Below is a photo from my original designing of my Neodesha yard to show you what I mean.

    Attached Files:

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