Coffee Table #3 Design


Note: The links on the left side of this page and the other Model CT-3 pages will take you to detailed information about the new coffee table's design and construction.

1960s Track Plan

The track plan originally conceived for Coffee Table #3 in the 1960s is shown below. The plan included three independent loops of track (shown in red, blue, & green), and an assortment of sidings, passing tracks, and reversing loops. The layout size was 28” by 58”, and minimum curve radius was 6”. It seemed like a good idea at the time; however, in retrospect, I think the sharp curves would have placed too many constraints on the rolling stock. Also, it is not clear that reliable operation would have been possible with such a layout.

New Track Plan

The new track plan, shown below, is less complicated than the old plan, and there are no reversing loops. Color coding in the diagram indicates track level, rather than loop number. Blue is first level (lowest), red is second level, and green is third level (highest). The layout size is 25” by 52”, and minimum track radius is approximately 8”.

New Track Plan Notes:

  • Although my original plan was to use the test track as part of the new coffee table, this idea was eventully abandoned. Instead, the test track was dismantled, and its electronic components salvaged for use in the new coffee table.

  • The coffee table includes two small towns. This allows for some meaningful rail operations (town-to-town traffic). Train stations are located in each town and in the tunnel.

  • The layout includes a trolley line that starts at the right end of the level-1 town. The trolley track runs down the town's main street to the left, crossing the main line track, where it disappears into a tunnel. There, the trolley track comes to an end, out of sight. The trolley, itself, runs through the town, and then disappear into the tunnel, allegedly on its way to some distant mythical city. Eventually, it returns to the town, where it stops at the end of the track. After an appropriate delay to allow passengers to get on or off, the trolley again runs through the town and disappear into the tunnel. This cycle repeats ad infinitum.

  • A passing-track/siding has been included near the level-2 town. This should be very useful for two-train operation, and it can be used as a siding to store a second train when only one train is running.

  • One item that I've included in the new design is a 3-level crossover. (I had the same thing in the original track plan.) There is one point in the layout where all three levels of track cross over/under each other. I thought this would provide an interesting visual effect, but it turned out (after the layout was finished) that you don't even notice it unless someone points it out to you.

Completed Trackage

The photo below shows the completed trackage before any scenery was added to the layout. The first level of track is glued directly to the ¼” plywood layout base. The elevated tracks are glued to 1”-wide strips of ¼” plywood. The strips are mounted on 1” x 2” support posts. To see how the trackage was constructed, click here.

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