TrainPlayer-TrackLayer 5.3 Feature Documentation

Version,  May 2013   

Welcome to Version 5.3

This page served as documentation for 5.3 during testing.  It is now serving as the feature page.  All the information below is now included in the 5.3 manual and online help.  Instructions for upgrading to the new version are in preparation.

In the last version we introduced the Chris Pedersen Cars sets of detailed car model images, but made them visible only in certain dialog windows.  In 5.3, we bring them out in the open -- several antiquated toolbars are replaced by modern dockable bars designed to accommodate CP cars in complete trains and full detail.  Also in 5.3: better method for ties and roadbed, double track, and plenty more.

This document describes the new features and provides instructions.  This information is not yet included in the online help.

Control bars Train Control Bar docking window for operating and viewing train
  Control Panel stylish, compact, configurable train controls
Train Window resizable window showing small or large train images
  Car Inventory Bar docking gallery of cars for drag-and-drop creation of trains
Track Features Built-in Ties & Roadbed new styles of drawing replace old arrays of scenery objects
Double Track single to parallel double track with one click
Pedersen Car Features Pedersen Default Set new default set of cars with CP color scheme
  Pedersen Car Loads realistic full-size loads and containers for CP cars
Other 5.3 Features Zoom Controls easy layout zooming in and out
  Split Track Here one-click track chop
  Scenery Flip new transforms for scenery objects
  Menu Changes updates to menus

Control Bars

In Version 5.3, two old toolbars for building and running trains are gone, replaced by a pair of stylish new bars with advanced capabilities.  One is the Train Control Bar, a combination control panel and train window for running and viewing the selected train; the other is the Car Inventory Bar, a gallery of cars you can choose from when building trains.  Both are docking windows which can be moved, undocked, or configured to auto-hide. 

Train side views are scrollable and resizable in both directions, so if you have Chris Pedersen cars, you can enlarge the bar to see them in full size, or make it smaller and they will scale to fit.  The control panel wraps its buttons in multiple rows to improve fit.

The control panel has everything you need to run and interact with trains.  There is no longer any need to bring up the old rotary-dial panel  though it is still available if you want it. 

Train Control Bar

The Train Control Bar (TCB) comes up by default docked across the top of the application window.  It is meant to be displayed at all times, so has no Close (X) box.  You can take it down or bring it back using View > Windows > Train Control Bar on the main menu. 

To undock or dock elsewhere, press and drag the header.  To auto-hide, click the push-pin icon at upper right; the bar will then collapse to a button when not in use; hovering over the button will bring it back.

The bar is in two inseparable parts: control panel on the left, train window on the right.  You can change their relative sizes by dragging the divider in the middle.  You cannot reduce the control panel below its minimum size, but you can reduce the minimum by removing buttons or enlarging the panel vertically.

Control Panel

The control panel consists of a set of buttons and controls on a wood-panel background.  They are arranged in one row, unless the control bar is resized tall enough so they can wrap to two or three. 

Right-click on the wood to bring up the context menu. This allows you to hide certain buttons whose functions can be performed other ways.  It also allows enabling Yard Mode, a way to set both speed and direction with a single gesture.  In Yard Mode, the speed range is divided in half, with zero in the middle (as shown above); moving the slider away from zero increases speed, crossing zero changes direction.

Default controls in the panel are:

Forward/reverse (rocker switch): click to change the direction of train movement.

Speed display: shows current train speed, green if forward, yellow if reverse, in current units (MPH or kp/h). To set the speed: double-click the display so it converts to an edit box; enter a value, then press Enter.  To change units, use the Metric checkbox in Preferences > General.

Speed controls on resizable plate:

Red light: glows yellow when train is moving in reverse; glows red briefly while pressed. Click to stop train.

Green light: glows green when train is moving forward. If train is not moving, click to start.

Slower (-) button: click or press and hold to reduce speed.*

Faster (+) button: click or press and hold to increase speed.*

Slider: drag right for faster, left for slower.* Click a point on the scale to go to that setting.

* Applies to panel in normal mode, or in yard mode when speed slider is right of center. In yard mode with slider left of center, moving it further left or clicking (-) increases speed in reverse.

Note: it is possible to resize the control panel such that the slider shrinks to zero and disappears.  In this case, you control speed and direction using buttons and lights alone.

Uncouple button: click to uncouple at the position indicated by the orange pin in the train window. Dimmed if pin is not between two cars. To reposition the pin, click the desired spot in the train window.

Horn button: press and hold to sound train's horn. Dimmed if train has no engine. Right-click the button to select a different horn for the train, or to toggle running sounds on and off.

Load button: click to load or unload the selected car. Dimmed if no car is selected or car is unloadable; otherwise click once to toggle the status. Right-click for more options: ability to load or unload the entire cut or train; access to Load Chooser or list of load names.

Train Window

The train window in the TCB shows a side view of the selected train.  The same type of window is used to display car collections in the Car Inventory Bar (CIB), so this section will describe behavior common to both.

Image sizes: Car images are small and fixed in size unless all cars of the train or collection are from Chris Pedersen sets (or otherwise have large images) -- in that case, the entire train is displayed with large images, all scaled to fit within the window.  To see the images in full size, enlarge the window vertically until the images stop expanding.

Tooltips, menus: hover over a car image to see information about it; right-click to view and edit properties.

Selection (TCB):  click a car to select it.  Its image becomes underlined, the uncoupling pin moves to the clicked point.  The car becomes selected on the layout.  (CIB): click a car type to select it in the Car Types listbox.  Double-click to add car type to train.

Scrolling: a standard scrollbar appears beneath the train or collection when it is too long to fit in the window.  Scrolling to the right moves toward the front of the train.

Menu: a down-arrow button at the right end of the scrollbar  brings up a menu.  In the TCB, this is the Train Menu -- a pictorial list of trains on the layout, used to select a train.  In the CIB, the down-arrow brings up the Car Inventory Menu, described below.

Car Inventory Bar

The Car Inventory Bar (CIB) replaces the old twelve-button car toolbar with a new docking, resizable, scrollable window where you choose rolling stock to populate your layout. The window is a source of cars -- it shows a complete car collection, from which you can drag any car type onto the track or into the train window. Initially, the collection shown in the CIB is the default set associated with the layout, but you can choose any other set.

To view the CIB:

(a) toggle using View > Windows > Car Inventory Bar from the main menu. OR:

(b) in a track or train context menu, choose Add Car > By Name (or Add Car Here > By Name). This brings up the CIB at the bottom of the screen, along with a floating window called Car Types showing the same collection as a list of names.

The header of the CIB window shows the name of the collection on display. The order in which cars are displayed in the CIB is by car type. Engines are shown first, at the left, then passenger cars, then freight. You can hover over an image to see information about it -- in a tooltip if those are enabled, otherwise on the status bar -- or right-click and choose Properties to get the full details. Clicking a car type selects it -- gives it a pink underline, and highlights it in the Car Types window if visible.

Like the TCB, the Car Inventory Bar can be dragged by its header to undock or dock elsewhere, or it can be set up for auto-hide. It has a horizontal scrollbar for viewing long trains. It can be resized vertically, and can show large-image (Chris Pedersen) collections at any size up to full.

To add a car to the layout from the CIB:

(a) right-click a car image and choose Add Car; or double-click an image. This adds a car of the selected type to the current train at the insert position -- the place where you see the orange pin in the train window. To change the insert position, click a different spot in the train window.

(b) select the name in the Car Types list and click Add.

(c) press the image and drag. You can drag to:

(1) any point along any track, where the cursor changes to an arrow -- let go and a new car is created at that position. OR:

(2) the top of an existing train on the layout -- point to an end car or to a space between cars, where you see one or two red highlights around the cars -- let go and a new car is created, attached to the indicated car(s). OR:

(3) a position in the train window. The orange pin moves as you drag -- let go and a new car is added at the pin position.

To display a different collection in the CIB:

Click the down arrow at the right end of the scrollbar. This brings up the CIB menu, with these choices:

(a) a list of all installed default collections -- choose one by name and it will fill the CIB window.

(b) Choose By Name -- brings up the Car Types list, so you can choose a car type by name.

(c) Car Chooser -- brings up the Car Chooser, where you can select an individual car type in the usual way, or you can select a different collection to be displayed in the CIB. To select a collection, select its folder in the tree, then click OK to dismiss the chooser.

Track Features

Built-in Ties & Roadbed

Not long ago we introduced the ability to decorate track with ties and roadbed.  This has proved popular with layout designers, but problematic in its implementation as large collections of scenery objects.  Now, in 5.3, ties and roadbed are no longer objects on the layout, but track drawing styles, like special paint brushes.  You just turn them on or off, and they take effect when the layout is drawn, printed, or exported.

plain track =>      with ties and solid roadbed =>

To display ties and roadbed:

In File > Preferences go to the Road tab.  Use check boxes to indicate whether you want ties and/or roadbed displayed on the current active layout. Set dimensions and display properties as desired.  Click OK.

The checks indicating what to hide and show are view settings -- they are saved with the layout.  Other choices are global, and apply to all displays of ties and roadbed in all layouts.  Thus you can have one layout showing ties only, another showing ties and roadbed, but both use the same tie length and spacing settings.

To exclude ties and roadbed from some track:

By default, every track on the layout is affected by the settings.  You can override this by setting a new "No Ties or Roadbed" flag on desired track sections.  Right-click a track section and the new flag appears:

Check this option to prevent ties and roadbed from being displayed on the given section.  Note that there is no option to exclude either ties or roadbed -- if you exclude one, you exclude the other too.

Deleting old tie and roadbed scenery objects:

Because you are sure to like the new scheme, we provide a way to get rid of all traces of the old.  If you have a layout on which you have created ties and/or roadbed using an earlier version, you can modernize it by deleting those scenery objects and using the new style instead. Here's how.

With a layout you suspect contains old tie or roadbed scenery objects, Bring up File > Preferences (General tab) , and you see a button "Delete Old...."  This button only appears if the layout contains old tie or roadbed objects.

Click the button and you are offered the chance to delete them all with one click, or cancel.  If you agree, click Yes, and the objects are deleted.  You can then Save As to save the modified layout without affecting the old.

Exported backgrounds:  What many users have been doing is adding ties and roadbed to their layouts, then exporting the image -- thus capturing those objects as part of the background -- then deleting the objects.  If you are in this category, then the method described above won't work.  What you need to do is to change the background to one without ties or roadbed.  If you thought ahead and saved the original background, then you can swap it in using Layout Properties > Advanced > Background Image.  If not, improvise.  Or leave it as is -- the new ties and roadbed will hide the old. 

Double Track

If you've ever tried to create a length of parallel double track --say for a passing track or a double-track section of main line -- you know it's not easy, especially if curves are involved. Now TrackLayer 5.3 does the engineering for you. Here's how to use it:

1. Use the Track Edit tool. Click or shift-click to select one or more track segments, defining the stretch you want to double.

2. Right-click any selected track and choose Make Double Track.

The entire selection splits in two, joined at the ends by Y switches:


While doubling works over an arbitrary selection, for best results you should be careful to select a contiguous set of tracks between two well-chosen endpoints, with no switches in the selection. If you try it and don't like the results, use Edit > Undo.

The distance between parallel tracks is taken from the global roadbed width set in File > Preferences > Road tab > Roadbed > Width.

Note: Make Double Track is dimmed unless you have already selected some track, i.e., turned it blue.  It won't work just to point at a track and press the right mouse button.

Pedersen Car Features

Several of the new features in 5.3 are aimed at users who purchase Chris Pedersen car sets.  When these wonderful car pictures were released in version 5.2, they were only visible in certain dialogs, one car at a time.  Now they can be seen while you operate -- as scalable, scrollable images of full trains in the new control bars.

Note: most trains show up in this window in the usual small, fixed-size images.  Large images show up only if all the cars in the selected train have them.  Suppose you have a train of Pedersen cars, showing large images, then you add a caboose from some standard collection -- the entire train image goes to small.  Delete the caboose and it becomes large again.

Pedersen Default Set

Whether or not you have a CP license, there is an excellent new set of default cars available for your use in 5.3.  The new set contains 18 cars especially designed by Chris to show a unified, representative sampling of car types, with his own stylish green-black CP color scheme.  Look for this set among the choices on your Car Inventory menu:

The Pedersen default set of cars is provided with all 5.3 installers, including the demo.

Pedersen Loads

Another enhancement for CP users is the addition of a set of realistic freight loads, designed and rendered by Chris.  Here for example are some familiar double-stack containers, looking good on top of Husky Stack flatcars:

You can find these loads in the Load Chooser in a new folder called, naturally, pedersen loads:

These come with both large and small images, so if you don't have CP cars, you can still use them like any other loads.

If you do have CP cars, be aware that Chris designed certain loads to be used in certain cars.  Apart from containers, load names indicate the car types, as follows:

CP Car Type CP Load
mill gondola cp-mill-gondola-coils, cp-mill-gondola-scrap
bulkhead flatcar cp-bulkhead-lumber, cp-bulkhead-pipe
flatcar cp-flatcar-bulldozer, cp-flatcar-tractor, cp-flatcar-trucks
bethgon coalporter bethgon coalporter coal
husky stack all containers

The program does not enforce these associations.  If you want to be Pedersen-compliant, it's up to you to choose one of the loadable CP car types, and load only with a matching load type.

Here's a little tutorial for exploring the CP loads:

  1. Bring up the Car Inventory Bar.  Using the menu, choose Default Pedersen to display that set.
  2. Right-click a gondola or flatcar and choose Properties.
  3. Check the Show Load box so you can see the load on top of the car image. 
  4. Click the Default Load box to see the drop-down list of load choices.  The ones with large images have names starting with cp-.  Try a few of these and behold the nice images.
  5. Click arrows < > to go through the collection.  Look for car types having a default load starting with cp-.

If you are intrigued by all this but do not yet have a license for Chris Pedersen cars, you should get one: on the main menu, choose Help > Purchase Upgrade.

Other 5.3 Features

Zoom Control

Zooming the document image is a feature of many Windows programs, to the extent that there is now a common control available for this purpose, located on the status bar. TrainPlayer 5.3 incorporates this control in place of the old zooming commands on the View menu.  AnyRail users should feel right at home with it.

To zoom:

1. If the zoom control is not visible at the lower right of your app window, use View > Status Bar to display it.

2. Click + or - button to zoom in or out by one tick. Press and hold button to auto-repeat.

3. Press and drag the thumb: right to zoom in, left to zoom out. Or click a spot along the slider bar to zoom to that point.

On the left of the slider is the magnification ratio, where 1:1 means the image is the same size as the model.  For example, at 1:1, a 60-foot HO boxcar would measure 8.3" on the screen, the same as the model in the Walthers box. Maximum magnification is 2:1.

Note: other ways to zoom still include

Split Track Here

For various reasons, the TrackLayer user sometimes needs to introduce a junction into a straight or curved section of track. In the past this was done by creating, then deleting, a temporary section of track. In 5.3 it can be done directly, like this:

1. Use the Track Edit tool.

2. Right-click a point along a track where you want to create a junction, and choose Split Track Here.

The track is split and a junction created at the indicated point. There is no immediate visible evidence of this, but you'll see the new junction if you hover over it. The operation is undoable. Works on both straights and curves.

Scenery Flip

Scenery artists have pointed out that if you find a right-handed widget in the scenery catalog, but you need a left-handed one, you're out of luck. TrackLayer 5.3 fixes this.

1. Use the Scenery Edit tool.

2. Right-click an object and choose Flip Horizontal or Flip Vertical.

The object is inverted across the appropriate axis. If multiple objects are selected, each flips on its own individual axis, but if they are grouped, the flip is on the group's axis. Flipping an object with a non-zero angle of rotation will change its rotation angle. The operation is reversible with Edit > Undo/Redo. If the object has a bitmap image, the image is flipped in memory, without modifying the image file.

Menu Changes

The View menu has been reorganized.  Two new submenus are Features and Windows, containing toggles for show/hide.

The Add Car menu has three ways of choosing a car: (a) By Name, which brings up the Car Inventory Bar and the Car Types name list; (b) Car Chooser, the familar dialog for choosing any car from any collection; or (c) from a standard list of types on the menu.  Each of these selects a suitable match from the current default car collection, if there is one; if not, no car is added.  If the default set has more than one of the indicated type, you get an arbitrary one.