This will be an ongoing project for me. I would appreciate you giving me a chance to finish my thoughts before modifying it. Feel free to give feedback as I proceed.
Thanks and best, Andy Keeney
As in any layout design, there are benefits and drawbacks that an individual must consider before choosing the type of layout that they will build. I am in the process of building a multi-deck layout, three decks as a matter of fact. So it is pretty obvious that I feel that the benefit of this design far outweighs its drawbacks. With this in mind, I will list the benefits and drawbacks that I had to consider when I designed my layout.
Benefit: The only real benefit of a multi-deck layout as compared to a single-deck is simply that you can as much as double or even triple the length of your railroad in the same given space. However, for someone interested in operations, this is really the only benefit necessary.
Drawbacks: There are actually quite a few drawbacks to a multi-deck design. The individual has to decide if one or more of these drawbacks outweigh the benefit of a longer railroad. If not, then there is a good chance that this design will work for you.
1. The biggest drawback to many is the fact that at best, only one of the decks will be at the optimum height. A decision has to be made whether to have one deck is at the optimum height and the other above or below it, or to have one deck below the optimum height and the other above it, allowing both to be closer to the optimum height.
For a triple deck layout, the center deck can be placed at or near the optimum height and the other two levels placed appropriately above and below it.
Optimum deck height is determined by the builder. Some of the considerations are:
a. Height of the individual(s) (tall and/or short people)
b. What will be located on the optimum height level? An area with more depth and track further from the front edge such as with yards and some industries should be at a height to allow the operator to both see and reach back to the rear track. Shallower decks (less front to back distance) have more of a variable in their optimum height.
For the additional deck(s) the following should be considered.
a. The lower deck should be placed low enough to allow the operator to see the track and his train. If the deck is too close to the deck above it, the operator's view is blocked. It is possible to place the deck at a fairly low level. The operator should have the option to sit on a chair (preferably with rollers) if they are doing any switching on the lower level.
b. The lower limit of the upper level is set by the requirements for the level below it. The deeper the lower level and the further back the track is located on it, the higher the upper level should be to allow the operator an unobstructed view of the lower level.
A shallower upper level will allow that deck to be placed closer to the level below it before it will start obstructing the view of the lower level. Conversely, if the upper level is the same (or close to the same) depth as the level below it, the distance between levels must be greater to allow an unobstructed view of the lower level.
The upper height of the upper level is only limited by the capability of the operator to see their train and the track. This is especially important if there is any switching taking place or switch positions must be verified by the crews.
Actual deck heights will be discussed later.
2. The vision (or view) block was touched upon above.