St. Louis Terminal Turnout Sizes

Discussion in 'General' started by RK24, Mar 17, 2024.

  1. RK24

    RK24 Member

    I am looking at concepting an apartment switching layout based on the St Louis Terminal.

    I am working with 13ft of length and up to 30" in depth, with a focus on operations and car cards similar to how Bruce Chubb runs the Sunset Valley Oregon System.

    I have the PDF scans of the track charts for the St Louis area, and I am specifically looking at Zone 3 and 4.

    Part of my immediate problem is I am not sure what size switch anything is based on the drawings I do have.

    Where or what do I need to look for to find that information?


    The first idea I had involved the encircled area in zone 4, with the east end of zone 3 as a stand-in fiddle yard, but I think this might be too ambitious, even if I crushed everything to #4 switches.


    I then thought that all of zone 3 might be more practical, but I'm suspecting I might eat up all my length.

    Maybe I can just do the middle section and a small fiddle yard to cover most of it.


    Zone 2 might be feasible, but there is a big lack of industries.

    I can run this setup with any of my regular switchers, but I would like to be able to pull in my SDs and swap out cars of nearly any era to keep my roster in circulation.

    The inspiration for this came from running my SLSF 12 70 tonner on the freshly redesigned LP&N interchange at the SVOS.


    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2024
  2. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    I like the idea you have got going. I have not looked through the St. Louis Terminal diagrams yet, so I do not know off the top of my head what all industries are in these zones.

    My recommendation is don't worry too much about what size of switch the prototype actually used. If you are restricted to 13' of length, I would strongly consider smaller switches.

    Do you have a particular brand of prebuilt turnouts you are looking at using, or are you thinking scratch built?

    Also, do you have track planning software downloaded yet?

    If not, I use Anyrail and really like it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2024
    Ozarktraveler and RK24 like this.
  3. RK24

    RK24 Member

    My original plan was to build a timesaver on a 30" x 60" bench, but doing more operations and research has pushed me towards something more realistic.

    I do also have the pages listing the industries in the area. I am sure I could shuffle those around the track plan that fits.

    I currently have a handful of Atlas 9" snap switches, but I am not a huge fan of them on my club's layout.

    I am not opposed to acquiring jigs to make switches, as we are building a new layout using only Fast Tracks hand built switches, and I really like how nice they run.

    I do have AnyRail6, and I generally like it for most things, though I do need to get better with setting flex.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2024
    Ozarktraveler likes this.
  4. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    The time saver puzzle is a good starting point operators, but prototype will probably be more interesting over time.

    I would definitely pass on the snap switches, they will actually take up the most room.

    With a layout the size you are talking, hand building your switches could be worth while.

    Number 4s from Atlas would get you up and running faster though.

    In case you do not have the entire printout for St. Louis, there is a PDF of it at this link.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2024
    Ozarktraveler, gmankc and RK24 like this.
  5. RK24

    RK24 Member

    That version of the document looks much cleaner than the copy I have, thanks!

    It would not hurt me to start practicing making switches, anyway.

    The guy making switches for the club I am in has been building them all on his own, save for the occasional time he can hand off part manufacturing to another member.

    I have been bugging him for months about getting me in on that, since I have already repaired some switches.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2024
    Ozarktraveler likes this.
  6. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Supporter

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2024
    Ozarktraveler and RK24 like this.
  7. RK24

    RK24 Member

    I was aiming for something in the east side of the railroad, mainly because my big layout goal involves linking to a few Illinois roads (ITS, C&EI) out of St. Louis, MO.

    But, there is no guarantee this setup will be able to fit in the space I eventually get without heavy modification.

    I will play around with the Hill and Alley designs.

    The only thing I think I will need to add is some small staging area for inbound and outbound traffic.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2024
  8. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter


    If you will need more that 10 switches, I would highly recommend buying the Fast Tracks jigs and tools.

    Hand built Fast Tracks switches are far superior to manufactured ones and you will like them much more.

    Do not scrimp on track work; it just is not worth it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 21, 2024
    Ozarktraveler and RK24 like this.
  9. RK24

    RK24 Member

    Absolutely. My club is building a new layout using only Fast Tracks #6 and #8 switches.

    They are magnificent once they are adjusted.

    I may take the opportunity to learn hand lay for this project, as well.

    So far, a ply, homasote, and cork base has been reliable and easy to adjust for my club's build, so I will stick to that, too.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 23, 2024
    Ozarktraveler likes this.
  10. RK24

    RK24 Member

    Managed to slap together a basic design for the Alley district in Kansas City.

    It fills the entire 30 inch x 13 feet, but I had to both cut some spots and bend the entire section twice to fit. It uses all Fast Tracks #4 turnouts, with a minimum curve radius of 16.5" and code 83 rail.

    I think this is workable, but it does not have a good way to incorporate a staging yard, and I am not a big fan of the massive empty space in the middle. I could cut it out, but I would like to try using the space under the layout for storage of bins, due to limited space in my apartment. I am not entirely sure I could push an enjoyable volume of rolling stock around this setup.

    I switched to code 83 because I talked to my friend who builds switches for our club, and he said the older, pre 2013, code 100 I have lying around may not fit in the Fast Tracks jigs.

    This is a good enough excuse to switch to the more realistic code 83 rail.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2024
    Ozarktraveler and Iantha_Branch like this.
  11. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    The Code 100 rail will not fit the Fast Tracks Code 83 jigs.

    I do like your thoughts of modeling the Alley district, Kansas City Zone 4.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 2, 2024
    Ozarktraveler, Iantha_Branch and RK24 like this.
  12. geep07

    geep07 Member

    Cut the curve out, straighten out, run the track diagonally upper left to lower right.

    Maybe put in 2 small holding yard on opposite sides of diagonal.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 2, 2024
  13. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    While it may not include the eastern roads you are after, the Alley is a good choice for this size of layout. I had considered including some form of it on my layout at one point.

    In general, I would cut out a couple industries to make room for some sort of staging area. If you really want to add some depth-in-detail, I would consider adding a building for Paper Supply Co as the tracks tail off into staging.

    Paper Supply Co is listed as a Zone 3 industry, but the building is sandwiched between the Zone 3 main and the lead into zone 4. If you go to the thread with the schematic pdf, and open the google earth file that is underneath it, you will have a map of zones 3 and 4 combined to work with.

    If I have some free time I may knock together a plan to help get the ball rolling for you.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 2, 2024
    Ozarktraveler and RK24 like this.
  14. RK24

    RK24 Member


    I think I would like to have it the other direction for accessibility.

    That leaves the west side out towards the open space, and puts the east end where I can walk around the end. The only issue being the Gate City Petroleum spur makes that impossible unless I decide to cut it for space.

    The idea works and looks decent, though. Could probably run parallel "mainlines" in the open space for test tracks if I opt to scrap or repurpose the table I currently have set up.



    This is approximately how I am interpreting at the chart.

    The red tracks are ones I have already cut. The blue lines are where I think I could cut to shorten it a bit, and the green lines are where I think I could cut to allow me to use the opposite diagonal from above, as the lead across 29th street just ends up being super long.

    I would like to keep the west end with the runaround, since it is the one spot with the runaround, and it has a strong variety of industries for swapping out rolling stock.

    I do like the idea to add in the Paper Supply runaround from Zone 3. It is just a matter of cutting out enough to have the space. I could probably have it parallel the edge of the table if I am clever with the angles, too. Just need to have room on the end for setting up, probably by representing up to 31st street.

    I would have to run top-left to bottom-right to do that, but it is a compromise. I think I can keep the lead across 29th Street if I cut the spurs for 404 and 402. Looking again, I should not even have 404 at all, it is open.

    That entire industrial area between Southwest Boulevard and 31st Street would probably be a solid setup on its own.

    That is where my brain is going with your suggestions.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 2, 2024
    Ozarktraveler and Rob R like this.
  15. kenmc

    kenmc KenMc Supporter

    From my own experience and consistent with John Armstrong's Track Planning for Realistic Operation, I recommend the following.

    First, there are three places where two sequential spurs could be combined into one longer spur serving two industries. This would make the switching in-and-out operation more interesting. It also enables three turnouts to be removed, lowering the maintenance required.

    Second, doing this would enable you to use number 5 turnouts except in one or two especially "tight" places. This also produces more enjoyable prototype sense, with more reliable coupler operation and fewer derailments of marginal equipment. An example is 50 foot freight cars.

    The most important place to use number 5 turnouts is the runaround track, where the cuts sometimes are long in backing operation through the S curves. Then you can use a few number 4 turnouts to emphasize the really "tight" industry geometries, again, making the whole scene more interesting.

    In the long term, reliable operation and watching the movements through longer turnouts will produce greater satisfaction with the layout than what you have planned at present.

    Ken McElreath
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 2, 2024
    Ozarktraveler, Iantha_Branch and RK24 like this.
  16. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    I like the direction you are heading in. Ken has some good advice above.

    I would like to add it is helpful to include industry names and or numbers on the layout plan to make it easier to follow.

    Something I have said over on my layout thread that "layouts are the art of compromise". I think a compromise worth making here is removing a few industries to make way for 2 staging or interchange tracks. You' will need some way to simulate cars entering and leaving zone 4.

    I took a bit of time tonight to put together my take on zone 4 based on your parameters. I used fast tracks #5 turnouts for the entire plan.

    13x30 RK24.jpg
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 2, 2024
    Ozarktraveler likes this.
  17. RK24

    RK24 Member


    I like where you have gone with that. Though based on what I can put together, it looks like it does not use the full space, which is fine if I can make it more compact, I just might be fitting it into the space differently.

    What are the final dimensions on your total space?

    I should probably clarify I am working in HO scale. I threw together a design based on yours and managed to work a full runaround siding from Zone 3, which could also serve as my test track when I finish a new decoder install. It does take up about 30" x 12 feet.

    That does result in some dead space, but I think that can be filled in with a backdrop. I cannot attach anything to my apartment wall, so the backdrop would have to be attached to the tabletop.

    It does cause an odd point between 26th Street and the (306) Paper Supply Co, but I can either add another backdrop, or cut the Paper Co out and use a building to block 26th Street while still allowing me full view of (461) Roberts Furniture. I'm leaning towards cutting out the Paper Co.

    Per Ken's suggestion, I did change everything to #5, as I am not entirely sure where the tight spots would be, but it still fits. It also saves on costs for jigs to use only one type. I would be using powered uncouplers at each industry point and Tortoise or similar switch machines, so reaching should be reduced, even though my arms can cover a 30" bench.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 2, 2024
  18. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    I like your version better.

    I did not think far enough through the design to come up with that trackage for zone 3. I think earlier in the thread you mentioned having 13' of space, so I drew on a 13' x 30" canvas.

    One other option for the Paper Supply building is to move it to the right below the 410 series industries.

    Just eyeballing it, the distance between your zone 3 main and passing track seems large. If you condense it down to 2" on center, it will save some space, and make that curve on the right side a lot smoother.

    I would also consider changing your zone 4 lead turnout a bit. If you flip it and have it right on the zone 3 passing turnout, it should pull both turnouts to the left a bit. This gives you a longer tail track to make your reversing moves between main, passing and zone 4.

    I used fast tracks #5s for that drawing, there is a piece of flex track that is 2.9" between the turnouts to get the 2" on center spacing I mentioned earlier.

    RK24 switches.JPG
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2024
    Ozarktraveler and RK24 like this.
  19. RK24

    RK24 Member

    I completely forgot the general rules of thumb for diverging switches.

    Making the siding the diverging instead of the lead into zone 4 makes way more sense in this space, even though the chart shows the zone 4 lead as the diverging. But, I am operating the zone 4 lead as the "main", so it makes more sense to run the siding as diverging.

    I thought I had a 2" spacing, but I find AnyRail to sometimes be vague on that. I set it up using your measurements, and it fits nicely. The new length cuts the total down to 140", with an approximately 18" lead off the right side.

    I could go for the entire 13 feet, but I do not think it is necessary. Plus it is a nice, even number to break the setup into sections.

    I also shortened and shifted the Paper Co to the right, so it ends in front of 26th Street. I think the scene break there can be short enough to not block visibility for both the switch and 461. I think that is what you were getting at, but I could be wrong.

    I do not expect to be shuffling any of my automobile racks or 89 feet boxcars into the switching portion, but this should allow me to test them enough on the zone 3 siding. If they make those #5s, they will make the #6s at my club easily.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2024
  20. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    What I meant by moving Paper Supply Co to the right is flip the turnout and move it all the way to the right end of the layout.

    It technically belongs there next to the 410 series buildings, and it would make way for 26th Street to run the full depth of the layout.

    Rosedale Z3-4.JPG
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2024
    RK24 likes this.

Share This Page