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Switching yard layout

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Switching yard layout
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, November 13, 2007 2:22 PM

I am thinking of making a switching layout.  Probably about 2 to 3 feet wide and 4 to 5 feet long.  Does anyone have some good ideas/plans for a good operations based switching layout.  I could really use some help because I have no ideahow real yards work.  I mean as in putting freight consists together and moving around the yard in an organized manner.  Since I have no idea how yards work I obviously have no idea what my track plan will be.

I am making this little layout from all my code 100 track and TO's after I rip down my 4 X 8. 

Thanks in advance ,

Smitty

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Posted by fwright on Tuesday, November 13, 2007 5:31 PM

Smitty

I think you will find that a 4-5 ft length is quite limited as to what you can accomplish in HO (I inferred HO from your mention of code 100 track).  If you can come up with 6-8 ft of length, you can do much more.  http://www.carendt.com/ has some great ideas for very small layouts.  Another source worth checking out is the Small Layout Design group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/small-layout-design/.

Using 15" radius sectional track, the smallest oval with any switching at all would be about 3ft wide by 4ft long.  3ft by 5ft is a practical continuous run layout for 15" radius.  18" radius needs 40" of width, and it's hard to accomplish much of a continuous run layout in less than 4ft x 6ft using 18" radius.  Sectional track generally takes a little more space to achieve the same result than flex or handlaid track, whether for a continuous run or switching shelf.

Also, car and locomotive length plays a big role in what can be accomplished in a small space.  Car and locomotive length drive not only minimum radius, but also siding and spur capacity, length of runaround tracks, and tail tracks on switchbacks.

Iain Rice, a well-published designer of small layouts, states that the maximum practical length of a train on a shelf switcher is 1/3 the length of the layout, and 1/4 is better.

Just some thoughts to keep in mind.  I, for one, would very interested in what you finally come up with for a plan. 

Fred W

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, November 14, 2007 8:15 AM

Hi Fred,

Actually, this will basically be a module that can be added to my next layout, so I am not concerned with continuous run.  I want to make a nice operational yard where I can buiold consists of freight cars, and then they I will have a mainline that the freight trains will go to and head for the rest of the layout.  My problem is I don't know how yards put together trains in an efficient way so I don't know how to design a yard.  Do you suggest I just get a yard design layout from a book, so I know it will be operational, or should I try to make my own design?  I know this is a question only I can answer, but that is sort of what I am contamplating.  I will start looking at layout books for this kind of thing and maybe I'll get some ideas.

Smitty

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Wednesday, November 14, 2007 12:34 PM
 smitty311 wrote:

Hi Fred,

Actually, this will basically be a module that can be added to my next layout, so I am not concerned with continuous run.  I want to make a nice operational yard where I can buiold consists of freight cars, and then they I will have a mainline that the freight trains will go to and head for the rest of the layout.  My problem is I don't know how yards put together trains in an efficient way so I don't know how to design a yard.  Do you suggest I just get a yard design layout from a book, so I know it will be operational, or should I try to make my own design?  I know this is a question only I can answer, but that is sort of what I am contamplating.  I will start looking at layout books for this kind of thing and maybe I'll get some ideas.

Smitty

I think Fred got that. You don't have the space with 4 feet. Let's look at a 2 track yard and the space it takes to move cars from one track to another. We'll assume 6" cars and a small 9" engine.

Lets figure you have short tracks, the smaller of the two is two feet and will hold 4 cars. The turnout is 9" and the engine is 9". You want to move them to the next track over. So you pull your 31" train out past the turnout and so you need a total of about 65" just to clear the turnout. So a two track yard that holds 4 cars each takes 65"

Okay so you want a third track, because you want to sort a train or something. Add 9" to your  longest track that now will hold 5 cars. Your train is now 34" long and your track is 40", so just to clear the turnout you need about 80". 

So now you have a 3 track yard that can build a 5 car train on an 80" layout, but the train can't leave the yard. 


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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, November 14, 2007 1:16 PM

Obviously you see that I have no idea.  I can make it 8 feet,  I was just trying to keep it small, but that is not a necesary requirement.  Do you know of a good website where I can learn about yards and how they work.  I mean where do you guys learn all this stuff?

Thanks,

'Smitty

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Posted by steinjr on Wednesday, November 14, 2007 1:35 PM
 smitty311 wrote:

Obviously you see that I have no idea.  I can make it 8 feet,  I was just trying to keep it small, but that is not a necesary requirement.  Do you know of a good website where I can learn about yards and how they work.  I mean where do you guys learn all this stuff?

Thanks,

'Smitty

 Go read this book : "Track planning for Realistic Operations: Prototype Railroad Concepts for Your Model Railroad" by John Armstrong. It is a very good place to start. Will cost you about $15 on e.g. amazon.com.

 Smile,
 Stein

 

 

 

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, November 14, 2007 1:44 PM
 steinjr wrote:
 smitty311 wrote:

Obviously you see that I have no idea.  I can make it 8 feet,  I was just trying to keep it small, but that is not a necesary requirement.  Do you know of a good website where I can learn about yards and how they work.  I mean where do you guys learn all this stuff?

Thanks,

'Smitty

 Go read this book : "Track planning for Realistic Operations: Prototype Railroad Concepts for Your Model Railroad" by John Armstrong. It is a very good place to start. Will cost you about $15 on e.g. amazon.com.

 Smile,
 Stein

 

 

Thanks Stein, I'll check it out ASAP.  I really need to learn about operations.  I want to design a RR that keeps my interest, but I am having trouble learning how

Smitty

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Posted by fwright on Wednesday, November 14, 2007 2:03 PM

Smitty

Kalmbach published a book on freight yard design recently.  Another good book with the information you seek is John Armstrong's Track Planning for Realistic Operation.

The site on micro-layouts, http://www.carendt.com/, has many examples of successful small layouts built in less than 8ft of length, including shelf switchers.  Micro-layouts typically do not follow prototype yard design as closely as the other texts to maximize operation in available space.

Iain Rice's book on small layouts published by Kalmbach (I don't recall the title) is another gem of good information.  Iain Rice looks at practical and imaginative ways to make the most of limited spaces.

Craig Besgeier provides his thoughts on model railroad yard design at http://www.housatonicrr.com/yard_des.html.

Often, difficulties such as switchbacks, limited and awkward runarounds, and "switching puzzles" are deliberately introduced on  small layouts to make operations "more interesting".  Whether you want to stay with the more typical efficient prototype-like track layout (some consider boring on a small layout with limited possibilities), or add difficulties to increase operational interest is your decision, but one that needs to be made up front.  To be fair to both sides, the prototype followers hold that not only are the "features" rarely used on the prototype, but the operational difficulties introduced become boring and frustrating over time because they are imposed every time you operate.  Craig Bisgeier explains his take on switching puzzles (they are evil for prototype operations) here:  http://www.housatonicrr.com/timesaver.htm

In my particular case - a version of the famous Gum Stump & Snowshoe in HOn3 - I have added a turntable at the end of 2 tracks at the lower terminal.  The turntable completes a runaround when I want to have the runaround, but I can easily justify ruling it off limits when I want the switching puzzle nature of the original track arrangement.  I have also carefully calibrated the lower terminal tracks to have the 5:3:3 car length of an Inglenook switching puzzle for yet more operational variety over time, yet have not changed the functional use of these tracks.  Finally the upper terminal has both a facing and trailing point spur to service, which requires properly blocking cars before going up the hill.

In my first post, I mentioned Iain Rice's rule of thumb for train length on a shelf layout.  Please pay close attention to this.  A 40ft car is 6" in HO.  On an 8ft shelf, your train is limited to 4 40ft cars maximum, and fewer if you use longer, modern equipment.  Short switchers for locomotives are your friend on small layouts - and you only need 2 at most.  Chuck Yungurth (designer of the GS&S) lamented that he couldn't run his Bowser Pacific on the GS&S.

If you can possibly arrange for a train-length cassette attached to an end of the layout, do so.  The cassette(s) becomes your staging for your layout.

my thoughts, your choices

Fred W

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, November 14, 2007 2:47 PM
 fwright wrote:

If you can possibly arrange for a train-length cassette attached to an end of the layout, do so.  The cassette(s) becomes your staging for your layout.

my thoughts, your choices

Fred W

Can you explain what you mean by a train-length cassette?  I really appreciate you helping me with this.  Thank you for taking the time out to educate me on yards.  I have just started reading Craigs website.  It is very helpful.

Smitty

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Posted by fwright on Wednesday, November 14, 2007 3:54 PM
 smitty311 wrote:

Can you explain what you mean by a train-length cassette?  I really appreciate you helping me with this.  Thank you for taking the time out to educate me on yards.  I have just started reading Craigs website.  It is very helpful.

Smitty

Iain Rice's book I cited was my first introduction to cassettes for staging on small layouts.  Peco makes a relatively short commercial version to fit locomotives.  Think of a U-shaped "tube" with a piece of track mounted in the bottom of the U.  Handles - typically straps - are installed near each end for carrying.  The cassette is hooked to the end of a track at the edge of the table.  The other end of a train-length cassette is supported also - I use a bracket on the door to the room.  The train is run into the cassette, and the cassette removed from the layout and carried to a convenient place, or stored on a shelf.  The sides of the U prevent the train from falling off while carrying.  Often a foam block or coupler is mounted at the ends to prevent the train from rolling out the ends while carrying.

If you have multiple cassettes you can swap one train for another - trains that are already in cassettes and ready to go.  Train-length cassettes are quite practical in the sizes we are talking about - 32" or shorter for an 8ft layout.

Some other practical considerations that should impact planning for your proposed layout:

- height of yard.  If the yard is near eye level, cars on the first track may obstruct identification of cars on tracks that are further back.  For this reason, many layouts are built with yards at the lowest point of the layout.

- spacing of yard tracks.  In HO, you can go as close as 1.75 inches center-to-center on straight tracks.  However, you can't get fingers in between for 0-5-0 switching, nor can you see the sides of cars very easily for identification.  You can easily mock this up to determine the track spacing that best suits you.  Just set some cars on parallel straight tracks at various spacing until you find what you want to do.

- coupling/uncoupling.  I assume you are using automatic couplers (Sergent are the one exception to automatic coupling in today's HO world), so we are really talking about what uncoupling method are you going to use.  If you use skewers or other manual methods, do you have convenient vertical (or horizontal) access to every point at which you might want to uncouple cars?  Can you do this without a shirt sleeve or elbow catching or striking other cars and/or scenery?  Are you going to use Kadee delayed action uncoupling to minimize uncoupling magnets?  If so, are you prepared to spend the extra time in adjusting locomotives, couplers, wheels, and car weights to the tighter tolerances required for consistent delayed action?  If you are going to use under-the-tie uncoupling magnets/electro-magnets, you need to identify the locations before laying track (or face re-laying track in all the key places).

- locomotives.  I mentioned small switchers.  They need to run very smoothly at very slow speeds, or you won't have much fun.  Ordinarily, I would recommend all turnouts in the yard or switching areas have powered frogs to help prevent stalls.  But you implied using some Atlas or similar code 100 turnouts, which generally have insulated frogs.  Small 4 wheel diesels and steam tank engines are probably going to stall occasionally on these, especially at switching speeds.  In your case, I would recommend 8 wheel diesel switchers, geared steam, or steam switchers with tenders.  These will take more space, but won't stall nearly as much.

- throwing turnouts.  Just like uncoupling, there are many different opinions and ways to do this.  My comment is that whatever method you use to throw turnouts, be sure you leave room for the mechanisms and fingers at the appropriate places to throw all the turnouts.  If you use ground throws, make sure you leave enough room to install the throw and manipulate the throw without disturbing scenery and/or trains.  If you use under-the-table switch machines, make sure there is room between your frames to install the machines.

- structure and scenery placement.  Will structure placement affect your ability to reach all of your trackwork?  Even if you use remote uncoupling and turnout throwing, can you see where needed to spot cars and line turnouts for the correct route?

These practical planning considerations will inevitably limit the amount of track you can fully utilize on your layout.  They will also limit scenic features and placement.  But if not planned in advance, you will most assuredly find track that cannot be used due to one or more of the above issues.  And on small layouts, losing track utilization due to lack of planning often results in tearing up the layout and starting over.

A final suggestion:  Once you have a track plan you think you like, mock it up either full size with track on hand, or cut out some train shapes to the scale of your printed plan, and "operate" it.  This is your check for length of tail tracks, runarounds, and clearances at turnouts.  See whether it is possible or practical to perform the switching moves you will want to do.

my thoughts, your choices

Fred W

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Posted by ereimer on Wednesday, November 14, 2007 11:39 PM
 fwright wrote:

Iain Rice's book on small layouts published by Kalmbach (I don't recall the title) is another gem of good information.  Iain Rice looks at practical and imaginative ways to make the most of limited spaces.

Fred W

i tried to find this book in the shopping section of this website but i couldn't . i did find it on amazon.com but the pricing leads me to believe it's out of print , or people think it's rare

http://www.amazon.com/Small-Smart-Practical-Track-Railroading/dp/0890244162

$149 for this book ?  LOL maybe i should put mine up for sale 

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Thursday, November 15, 2007 1:16 AM

Hi, Smitty

I have a module, roughly 15x96 (built on two 8 foot lengths of 1x8 pine,) on which I have a fairly complex 'end of the railroad' terminal, including a three track yard, local switching, engine service facilities and even a passenger station.  All in HOj, which is slightly larger than HO (1:80 vs 1:87.1.)

I get away with it by using small tank locomotives, four wheel cars and hand-laid track and, especially, turnouts.  I could never duplicate it with commercial products.  OTOH, just for grins I once put a US prototype HO 2-8-0 and four standard AAR freight cars on it.  Instant meltdown!  The train was too long for the runaround and the individual cars were too big for the available spots.  (A three car train of standard JNR 20 meter DMUs gave the same result, as did a train consisting of a JNR mainline diesel-hydraulic and a couple of long JNR cars - auto rack and 5-container flat.)

FWIW, the usual train is a teakettle and five 4-wheel cars, about 2 feet in total length.  That's 1/4 the length of the module, well within the 'Rice limit.'  The usual passenger 'train' is a double-ended 4-wheel railbus about 4 inches long.

Chuck (modeling Central Japan in September, 1964)

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Thursday, November 15, 2007 2:34 AM
 ereimer wrote:
[

i tried to find this book in the shopping section of this website but i couldn't . i did find it on amazon.com but the pricing leads me to believe it's out of print , or people think it's rare

http://www.amazon.com/Small-Smart-Practical-Track-Railroading/dp/0890244162

$149 for this book ?  LOL maybe i should put mine up for sale 

Yep, out of print. I borrowed a copy. Something people don't do much is use interlibrary loan. It sometimes takes a week or so to get the book, but you can at least read it.


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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, November 15, 2007 9:28 AM

I have a plan sketched out and scanned to adobe pdf, but I don't know how to post it.  Can anyone let me know if it is possible to post an adobe .pdf?  That way I can submit my trackplan for comment.

Smitty

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Thursday, November 15, 2007 9:52 AM
 smitty311 wrote:

I have a plan sketched out and scanned to adobe pdf, but I don't know how to post it.  Can anyone let me know if it is possible to post an adobe .pdf?  That way I can submit my trackplan for comment.

Smitty

Just like a photo you have to put it up on the web somewhere. Then refer to it with [url] instead of [img]


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Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, November 17, 2007 8:25 AM

Smitty,

Everyone missed one excellent source of switching layout information.  Switching layouts are called "Shunting" layouts in England.  In England (and most places outside of the U.S.) the space available for a model railroad hobbyist is at a premium so small switching or shunting layouts are very popular.

A good source to start with is "The Model Railways Shunting Puzzle Website":

http://www.wymann.info/ShuntingPuzzles/index.html

This website also goes into great detail about the most famous switching layout of all time - John Allen's Timesaver layout.   

Even if you don't elect to build a "puzzle" configuration, the information on this website and how John Allen's Timesaver operated will give you a lot of background information on creating and operating small swithcing configurations that will keep you interested over time.

Good Luck,
-John

 

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Posted by Autobus Prime on Saturday, November 17, 2007 2:29 PM
S:

You can operate the Timesaver (mentioned above) and an equally famous plan called Inglenook Sidings online:

Timesaver:

http://www.precisionlabels.com/shunt/jpage320.html

Inglenook sidings (very simple and very very fun):

http://www.precisionlabels.com/shunt/jpage330.html
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Posted by camaro on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 8:18 PM

I wouldn't go any shorter that 8 feet.  I think 16 feet would even be better.  As the one post may have commented, if your normal rolling stock is 40 feet long, you are going to chew up 6 inches with one car.  Six or eight cars are going to take at least four feet, not including the locomotive. 

 

Larry

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Posted by BRJN on Friday, November 23, 2007 7:04 PM

You will want to look at a book, The Model Railroader's Guide to Yards.  The author (Andy Sperandeo, I think) obviously enjoyed writing it and running the yard beforehand so he knew what to say.

 I have a 6 foot (72 inch) long switching module.  You are going to want something longer than that if you want to have a whole mainline train in it.  I use cuts of 4 cars coming in (usually 36' boxcars - 6" long in HO) and however many happen to be going out.  My runaround track and interchange spur are almost always crowded.  Sometimes I happen to get a cut of tank cars (closer to 30' long each) and things are less tight.  My 'goliath car' is a 50' high-cube boxcar.  This car serves a piano factory - nothing else looks like it will hold more than 1 piano at a time Smile [:)] .  It and the 0-4-0T are ALL that will fit on some switch leads.

A 30+" depth is not much of an advantage on a short length unless you want to have many slanted parallel tracks moving towards the backdrop (1950s piggyback loading ramps?)  Be aware that you have to reach over whatever is in front to put hands on the stuff in back - say, to uncouple two cars.

If you are still deciding about eras, look at 1900 or Civil War if you cannot possibly get any more length; the cars are shorter.  If you are doing WW2 or later, I think you are going to be really unhappy.

Modeling 1900 (more or less)
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Posted by last mountain & eastern hogger on Saturday, November 24, 2007 12:59 PM

Whistling [:-^]

Hi Smitty,

For some real fun Google "John Allen's Timesaver"  you will really enjoy this site and may want to incorporate the puzzle into your switching layout.Or there is another site called "Shunting puzzles" as well with some different variations.

Johnboy out.......

James:1 Verse:5

The "Wobbly wobbles on in the Great White North.

from Saskatchewan, in the Great White North..

A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station. Tongue Tied  

We have met the enemy,  and he is us............ (Pogo)

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