PGRS Notes for New Children’s Hospital Layout
revised 02-03-2009

(Current Children's Hospital Layout)

Click here to see notes & some photos from our December 10th meeting at the new Children's Hospital

Group responsibilities: Animation, sound & lighting

Group Members:  Dave & Lois Bodnar, Bill & Jill Fallecker, Bill & Jean Baldwin, Clifton MunzPhelps, Jim Schwarz, Larry Marcinko


Animation devices that we may work with:

Note:  Whatever animations we develop must be robust and reliable enough to run without repair or adjustment for months at a time.  They must also be constructed in such a way that they can be removed and replaced or repaired without any major effort.  Where possible we should consider making duplicate units so that they can be swapped out should problems occur.
We may also want to start with just a few animations adding additional effects as the layout matures.

Sound devices that we may work with:

Lighting devices we may work with:

Starting the Trains:

The layout will not operate unless a visitor presses one or more buttons on the outside of the layout.  Pressing a button will start one or both of the trains for a programmed length of time.  At the current Children's layout the train runs for about 50 seconds each time the button is pressed.  This time will be adjustable by the hospital staff or PGRS operators.

Event Triggering:

Once trains are started we have a number of options for triggering events.

Animation / Sound / Lighting Ideas

Additional Ideas / Suggestions

I would like to suggest we include a few more people activities.  Things that the audience could associate with.  Perhaps a couple of moms pushing strollers, children laughing at the circus, or shouts of joy and enthusiasm as the circus train passes by.  Could we find models of people in wheel chairs or otherwise disabled who could be included in the display?  I realize this crosses over with the people who are planning the "what" part of the layout, but if you animate it, they will come!

The Plexiglas needs to go to the ceiling in the new display.  This will reduce dust and keep the coins off the track.
How about an amusement park.  Lots of possible animations.  The over all theme could be a "Entertainment Center" with a zoo, amusement park and maybe a circus.

An animated aerial act made up of two vertical posts with a thin line connecting them.  A performer on a bicycle or unicycle is on the wire.  One of the posts moves up and the performer rolls to the lower post.  It then moves down moving the performer to the other side.


Two Layout Suggestions

Jan put together two layout possibilities based on the proposed platform size and configuration.  Each layout supports a loop of track and a point-to-point for a trolley or similar small engine.

Layout 1

In this layout the point-to-point disappears into a tunnel for the middle part of its run.  The main line is elevated as it goes over the mountain in the upper right.


  1. The point-to-point could be extended at both ends with some curves.
  2. A terminus (another station?) is needed at the other end of the point-to-point
  3. The grade on the main line could easily be kept to 1 or 2 percent
  4. We both like track plan # 1 because it has more room for the other things you mentioned. Plus the grade for the train is less.
  5. On the point to point.  To run from lets say the zoo to the amusement part,. Also A station stop near the tunnel to pick up and drop off people.  maybe path to some houses there to explain the stop.
  6. The layout height should be so a child in a wheelchair can see the train and the rest of the layout.  There could also be a single step up with handrails for small children to hold on to so they can see the trains run as well.  Maybe the step up could be where it wouldn't get in the way of others looking at the layout.
  7. A button to operate each train and or trolley .  
  8. Also Buttons to operate sounds and animation.
  9. Example:  Train would set a dog barking and jumping up and down as the train goes by. (This might be triggered by the train instead of a button to be pushed.}
  10.  A button to operate the merry go round at the park with children on it. or maybe a sea saw.
  11. Layout  The corners need to be rounded for safety.  I agree the Plexiglas wall all the way to the ceiling to keep things from being thrown in the layout and to keep dust out of the layout.
  12. The second layout catches my eye. The one thing that I see in both of Jan's plans is a water feature. Is that a realistic option?


Layout 2

In this layout the point-to-point is rather short.  The main line is at its lowest elevation as it goes through the tunnel.  It is begins to climb immediately and crosses itself twice as it goes over the bridge that traverses the lake.

  1. The point-to-point is very short, about 12 feet long.
  2. The main loop may have too steep a grade as it climbs to cross itself.  This is likely to be hard on the locomotives.


On December 10th Bill Fallecker & Dave Bodnar had a very productive meeting with three staff members from Children's Hospital.  We visited the new hospital and spent some time in the area where the new railroad will be built.

This photo shows the location that has been selected for the new railroad.  If the dimensions are difficult to read they are (from left to right) 3 feet, 2 feet, 18 feet and 10.5 feet.

The folks at Children's are checking to see how much of that space can be used without violating any access or fire codes.  They will be getting back to us shortly with the layout size and shape that we can use.  At the least we should be able to use a rectangle that is 18 feet wide and a bit over 10 feet deep.  Hopefully there will be more area available.

Their staff will construct the table and the Plexiglas barrier.  We discussed having the Plexiglas go to the ceiling but there are restrictions that will not permit that.  One or two doors will be installed to give us easy access to the layout.

The entire layout platform may be constructed on wheels so that it can be slid out from the wall to perform maintenance on the lights and mechanical systems that run thorough the ceiling above this area.

The room in which the layout will be built is a very large waiting room for children who are awaiting treatment.  It should get a great deal more traffic than existing layout at the old hospital.

They would like the layout to be complete by March 31 as things are going to get very hectic after that as they prepare for the opening in early May.  They have asked that we leave the other layout in place until the children move to the new facility.  We should need little, if anything, from the original layout so that should not present a problem.

To give you an idea of the size of this area the railroad will be at the far end where you see the three lights washing the wall!


These shots are of the train location from various angles.



This is the latest track plan