Inglethinking – how many ore cars in one box car?

Further to my earlier post about Inglenook-based layouts I am fascinated with the question of extending the design instead of the typical question of trying to reduce it’s length. Naturally, proportionately increasing the size of the layout does rob it of some of it’s elegance but it does feed my American need to run longer trains. The question centers around equivalent car lengths. For example, we can fit two of those Model Die Casting ore cars into the same length of space that one fifty foot boxcar would take. Since the Inglenook is designed around fixed lengths of cars I thought I could simply put together some tables to illustrate how many cars fit in each other’s footprints.

So, to start, here’s our control: One car length of each type fits into the exact length of one of the other cars.

1 car 20′-0” 22′-0” 24′-0” 30′-0” 36′-0” 40′-0” 50′-0”
20′-0” 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.5 1.8 2.0 2.5
22′-0” 0.9 1.0 1.1 1.4 1.6 1.8 2.3
24′-0” 0.8 0.9 1.0 1.3 1.5 1.7 2.1
30′-0” 0.7 0.7 0.8 1.0 1.2 1.3 1.7
36′-0” 0.6 0.6 0.7 0.8 1.0 1.1 1.4
40′-0” 0.5 0.6 0.6 0.8 0.9 1.0 1.3
50′-0” 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 1.0

Tracing down the column for forty foot cars we see that, as we would expect, that two twenty foot cars fit into the space of one forty foot car. Not exactly tugging at the edges of string theory here for mathematical prowess. Sorry.

Let’s extend the idea outward though with the question of: “If I had a siding long enough for two fifty foot cars, how many twenty foot ones could I fit?” Again, the answer is obvious but I’ve reproduced the table for this ratio. Since Inglenook layouts work in multiples of two, three, four, and five car lengths I thought I’d carry that idea forward so here are the tables for two cars through five cars:

2 car 20′-0” 22′-0” 24′-0” 30′-0” 36′-0” 40′-0” 50′-0”
20′-0” 2.0 2.2 2.4 3.0 3.6 4.0 5.0
22′-0” 1.8 2.0 2.2 2.7 3.3 3.6 4.5
24′-0” 1.7 1.8 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.3 4.2
30′-0” 1.3 1.5 1.6 2.0 2.4 2.7 3.3
36′-0” 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.7 2.0 2.2 2.8
40′-0” 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.5 1.8 2.0 2.5
50′-0” 0.8 0.9 1.0 1.2 1.4 1.6 2.0

Three cars

3 car 20′-0” 22′-0” 24′-0” 30′-0” 36′-0” 40′-0” 50′-0”
20′-0” 3.0 3.3 3.6 4.5 5.4 6.0 7.5
22′-0” 2.7 3.0 3.3 4.1 4.9 5.5 6.8
24′-0” 2.5 2.8 3.0 3.8 4.5 5.0 6.3
30′-0” 2.0 2.2 2.4 3.0 3.6 4.0 5.0
36′-0” 1.7 1.8 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.3 4.2
40′-0” 1.5 1.7 1.8 2.3 2.7 3.0 3.8
50′-0” 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.8 2.2 2.4 3.0

Four cars

4 car 20′-0” 22′-0” 24′-0” 30′-0” 36′-0” 40′-0” 50′-0”
20′-0” 4.0 4.4 4.8 6.0 7.2 8.0 10.0
22′-0” 3.6 4.0 4.4 5.5 6.5 7.3 9.1
24′-0” 3.3 3.7 4.0 5.0 6.0 6.7 8.3
30′-0” 2.7 2.9 3.2 4.0 4.8 5.3 6.7
36′-0” 2.2 2.4 2.7 3.3 4.0 4.4 5.6
40′-0” 2.0 2.2 2.4 3.0 3.6 4.0 5.0
50′-0” 1.6 1.8 1.9 2.4 2.9 3.2 4.0

Five cars

5 car 20′-0” 22′-0” 24′-0” 30′-0” 36′-0” 40′-0” 50′-0”
20′-0” 5.0 5.5 6.0 7.5 9.0 10.0 12.5
22′-0” 4.5 5.0 5.5 6.8 8.2 9.1 11.4
24′-0” 4.2 4.6 5.0 6.3 7.5 8.3 10.4
30′-0” 3.3 3.7 4.0 5.0 6.0 6.7 8.3
36′-0” 2.8 3.1 3.3 4.2 5.0 5.6 6.9
40′-0” 2.5 2.8 3.0 3.8 4.5 5.0 6.3
50′-0” 2.0 2.2 2.4 3.0 3.6 4.0 5.0

Twenty foot cars are rare in American railroading, but it’s neat to think that if you had space for an Inglenook-style layout designed around the premise of fifty foot cars you could be moving blocks of twelve cars instead. One prototype that might actually work quite well here would be to draw on the Bessemer and Lake Erie who permanently coupled together blocks of four ore cars into what they called: “Mini-Quads”. So, on the layout you’d still be moving cars in blocks of three and five car groups but each of those blocks would be comprised of four cars and on your shelf layout you could actually be modelling railroading from the Iron Range. Watching those strings of ore cars might make for some interesting railroading. The longer train lengths might also further distract from the layout appearing like the little switching puzzle it is designed around and to the casual observer be a lot more prototypical than it could appear. Getting even further carried away, instead of the layout being set on a piece of blank land you could really carry forward the idea of Iron Range railroading and place the entire layout on an ore dock instead. Typical ore dock trackage is arranged in a similar plan to the Inglenook design and it sure would make a neat conversation topic.

It’s fun to think about such a stark contrast in design compared to the more typical interpretation of this plan using 44 ton GE diesels and a bunch of generic box cars. Think about strings of ore cars being shuffled around by B&LE SD9’s or LTV Mining’s F9’s.

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