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Small Classification Yard

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Small Classification Yard
Posted by jccourtney on Monday, December 12, 2011 6:39 PM

I'm in the process of designing/redesigning my layout, and I'm trying to incorporate a classification yard. My layout is a shelf layout that goes around the room. I'm trying to fit a small or medium yard without wasting a lot of space.

I've searched on the internet for classification yards and rail yards, and so far I've typically found club-sized layouts where the the yard is something like 2' x 20' or something to that extent. Does anybody have ideas or examples of a smaller and more practical classification yards?

Thanks,

Here's an image that describes my layout. Note the design for the layout was originally a dogbone with two reversing loops, and recently I've decided to instead go with a lift out bridge. I plan to remove the reversing loop in the bottom left corner and maybe redesign it. 

The area of the layout I'm interested in having a classification yard is the bottom right region. 

 

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Posted by wp8thsub on Monday, December 12, 2011 11:49 PM

Are you really looking to incorporate a "classification" yard, where whole trains are made up, broken down, or re-blocked, or something like an industry support yard or perhaps something else entirely?  Describe what you want the yard to do for you and it will be easier to direct you to some appropriate designs.  One resource you may want to locate is a copy of the Layout Design Special Interest Group (ldsig) journal publication that was a "special freight yards issue."  There was a lot of good info in there that could help in designing a yard.  Look at the ldsig site http://www.ldsig.org/publications/journal and scroll down for LDJ-7, June, 1992.

Rob Spangler

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Posted by Paulus Jas on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 12:56 AM

hi,

did you see this :http://www.housatonicrr.com/yard_des.html

Paul

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Posted by jccourtney on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 5:24 PM

Thanks for the reply, Rob.

When I mention a "classification" yard, I am looking for a yard where a train or two can be broken down and re-blocked into an additional train for delivery further down the line. I am looking for the yard to be double-ended at least for the A/D tracks. I want to avoid simply having an "open staging" type of yard, as I am wanting functionality and operational features.

Paul,

I have read those commandments, and I believe that was a helpful resource. I have tried to implement those features in the past, but the problem I'm finding is a lack of ideas to fit effectively fit a functional yard without consuming half of the layout. I've looked online for examples of smaller classification yards, but it seems the only examples I find are of mammoth-sized yards like 2'x20' or 4'x15' instead of smaller versions.

 I probably have the physical room to fit something in the ballpark of 10' to 15' long in my layout, but I don't want to consume half of the layout for just a yard. With my layout, the turns in each corner seem to really shrink available space, since the yard can't begin until after the turn. If you have ideas on how to better utilize the lost space in the corners, that would be great.

 

John

 

 

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Posted by cuyama on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 6:34 PM

Edit: Oops, I missed where you had already replied with what you wanted the yard to do. How long are your trains? How many cars will they add or remove in the yard? Do you expect to change engines when you swap cars in the yard? How many trains will run in a "session"? What is the purpose of the yard-like tracks on the left-hand side of your plan? 

If you only use the space between curves, then yes, the yard gets shorter fast, particularly once you consider the yard ladders.

But there are ways to curve a yard ladder to get longer yard tracks, such as a pinwheel ladder. Or the yard can bend with broad radius curves in the middle.

Byron

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Posted by jccourtney on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 8:10 PM

Bryon,

The longest train on my layout is 7', and that is a passenger consist. I prefer the yard to accommodate a 6' to 7' train, including the engine; however, if having the yard accommodate 5' trains yields a significant increase in functionality, then I'm fine with 5'.

I would expect between 1 and 3 trains per session with two being common and 3 being a little rare. I plan on using a dedicated switcher for the yard with the road engines changing trains or just simply dropping the train off.

The yard-like tracks on the left side of the plans are from a while back, and they are actually laid down. The plans for the layout recently expanded. Before it was basically a dog bone, but now I'm going to use a lift out bridge and eliminate the reversing loops from the plans. I still need to delete the reversing loop on the left side. The purpose of the tracks was supposed to model a warehousing facility and/or industry support, but I'm considering redoing that particular section.

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Posted by Paulus Jas on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 1:44 AM

Hi JcC,

operating one train at a time, only re-blocking the consist, to get the cars in the right order for easier switching further down the line. If this is your aim you'll need one passing siding beside the main; one or two extra are nice . No other trains are running at the same time, so the main will be used as yard-lead. If i would call this a classification yard is something different.

If I remember well John Armstrong's smallest design had 4 bowl tracks: main east, main west, local east and local west. It had beside the main or thorough fare just one passing siding doubling as arrival and departure track. But even this small yard easily eats your 20 feet.

I use two rules of thumb: for a normal passing siding between the curves multiply the train-length by 2 and you find the required length of your table. With a more complicated yard multiply by 3.  The longest shelf is where the yard will be built was John Armstrong practice too.. Going around the corner, if space permits could save lots of length. The plan Byron Henderson provided is a great illustration.

Having realistic expectations about the possibilities of your space or knowing how much space is at least needed for your wishes is a nice starting point before going to a drawing-board. 

Paul

 

 

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Posted by jccourtney on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 6:43 AM

Paul,

I guess I misunderstood what was meant by re-blocking. I am interested in sorting cars, generating consists to deliver down the line. Ultimately, my goal is to have an operator work the yard while another operator picks up/delivers consists. I'm thinking at the minimum I could get away with just 1 track for a/d while two would be nice. The only part of the yard I'm wanting to be double ended is the a/d tracks, as I believe the sorting tracks can be stub ended. I'm not really looking to have huge amount of yard tracks like 15 or 30, etc. I'm happy with 4 to 5 tracks. I plan to include a small engine facility for maybe two or three engines.

I'm thinking now that going around the corner is the way to go. The only thing I'm worried about is the coupling/decoupling issue on curved radii tracks. Any suggestions?

 

John

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Posted by cuyama on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 10:12 AM

jccourtney
I'm thinking now that going around the corner is the way to go. The only thing I'm worried about is the coupling/decoupling issue on curved radii tracks. Any suggestions?

When I operate a model yard, I find that nearly all the coupling and uncoupling occurs right at the clearance points near the yard throat(s). If that track is straight for a short distance, the center of the yard can curve without causing problems (although the broadest possible curves ease the task of shoving cars, of course).

So one good approach is to "start" the yard before the curve, bend the yard in the middle, and "end" the yard beyond the curve.

Byron

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Posted by wp8thsub on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 5:35 PM

jccourtney

Paul,

I'm thinking at the minimum I could get away with just 1 track for a/d while two would be nice. The only part of the yard I'm wanting to be double ended is the a/d tracks, as I believe the sorting tracks can be stub ended. 

Here's where it's easy to get trapped by "model railroad thinking."  A yard this small only rarely will have dedicated arrival/departure tracks, if ever.  Trains will come and go from whatever track is convenient.  Not sure if this observation will help with your design yet, but I thought I'd mention it.

Rob Spangler

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Posted by Paulus Jas on Thursday, December 15, 2011 4:08 AM

hi,

IMHO you should be more specific about the tasks you want your yard to perform. Also about the function of the "bowl"-tracks and the number of cars to be blocked or classified.

It might be semantics; still proper use of words is important. I am not a native speaker, so feel free to comment on the way I use my words.

Classification is done when a train is entering a yard and his consist is divided for different destinations. Since more trains will enter this yard it will not take to much time before one of the bowl-tracks has sufficient cars for a train.

If the whole train is going to a next classification yard, no blocking is needed. However if blocks of cars have to be spotted along the way, usually these blocks are placed in a dedicated position in our train; this is called blocking. Blocking could be done in very same yard or somewhere else. For blocking two tracks are sufficient.

If your station is used for blocking only, the 2 tracks will do. Though having some additional tracks, for off-loads, parking of empties or even a thoroughfare for an occasional other train, is a bonus. 

Russel Schoof's Free Haven Terminal is a nice example of a very small classification yard. Though he has a very limited number of tracks,  his yard still is massive and almost overwhelming his plan. What is done is dividing incoming trains (transfer-cuts from a nearby yard) in a couple of locals, who will serve the various industries, warehouses and piers on his layout. His destinations might be: elevator, piers, freight-house and warehousing. So beside a thoroughfare (run-around), an arrival and a departure track he will need 4 bowl-tracks. Seven tracks in total, the row of switches needed will significantly add to length of the yard.

Bottom line is a yard has to be functional. By describing what you want your yard to do, will lead to making steps forward.  

Paul

 

 

 

 

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Posted by gandydancer19 on Thursday, December 15, 2011 10:38 AM

Here is how I think a yard should operate, and this is also the way that the yard on my layout operates:

An arriving train comes in on the A/D track. The loco is cut loose and heads for the engine service area. The yard switcher come out and takes the caboose to it's service track. Then the switcher grabs the train and classifies the cars.

I have one track for each train. If you are going to run three trains, then ideally there should be three yard tracks. The tracks should long enough to hold all the cars for one train. If your trains are 5 foot long, then I am going to assume one foot of length for the engine and caboose. The remaining fout feet will be for cars. The average 40 foot car is about 6 inches long, so you should be able to get 8 cars on each yard track. The switching lead should be about 5 feet long so you can pull the whole track plus the switcher and move it to the A/D track for departure.

This plan would serve you well.

You can reduce the number of yard tracks to three, and the caboose track could either be another yard track or made as a parallel track to the entrance track to the lead. The length of the tracks can be adjusted to fit the space that you have.

Here is a minimum plan for a yard that may work:

Elmer.

The above is my opinion, from an active and experienced Model Railroader in N scale and HO since 1961.

(Modeling Freelance, Eastern US, HO scale, in 1962, with NCE DCC for locomotive control and a stand alone LocoNet for block detection and signals.) http://waynes-trains.com/ at home, and N scale at the Club.

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Posted by cuyama on Thursday, December 15, 2011 10:50 AM

In a small yard, having a separate A/D track accessed by a different path or the complexity of a double slip switch might be more than is needed. Just make a couple of the body tracks double-ended, and then you can use them for arriving and departing trains and classification as needed.

The concept of "swinging" yard tracks from one purpose to another at various times is typical of small real-life railroad yards and well-designed model railroads.

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Posted by wp8thsub on Thursday, December 15, 2011 1:11 PM

gandydancer19

Here is how I think a yard should operate, and this is also the way that the yard on my layout operates:

An arriving train comes in on the A/D track. The loco is cut loose and heads for the engine service area. The yard switcher come out and takes the caboose to it's service track. Then the switcher grabs the train and classifies the cars.

That scenario may work for what you're trying to do in your particular yard.  Trains enter yards for many reasons other than to terminate however, so the same operating scheme and track design won't necessarily function in other circumstances.  For example, the prototype generally will try to give all of the yard body tracks direct access to the main wherever possible, which facilitates such moves as a block swap, often as not made using the road power instead of the yard's.

I have one track for each train. If you are going to run three trains, then ideally there should be three yard tracks. ... The switching lead should be about 5 feet long so you can pull the whole track plus the switcher and move it to the A/D track for departure.

A typical practice is to block by destination.  A particular train may get its own track for a time, such as a local bound for one specific destination, although this can vary too if the local has numerous blocks that must be classified separately.  For model purposes we usually can't spare multiple tracks to maintain block integrity for locals.

To give an example, my main division point yard has more than a dozen trains to deal with in a session, most of which deal with only three of the eight class tracks because of the blocks involved.  Through trains do their own setouts, leaving the string for the yard crew to classify.  Trains originating or terminating use whatever track is convenient for the yardmaster, and there are no dedicated a/d tracks.  Access to and from the main is therefore important, while the number of tracks is less so.  Yards with different priorities would require different designs of course.

This plan would serve you well.

http://www.housatonicrr.com/images/YardDesignPics/YD_SAMPL.GIF

There are some potential issues here, primarily that none of the body tracks are readily accessible from the main.  Re-orienting the ladder so it comes off the "a/d track" could help, as in the second diagram you posted.  Eliminate the double slip from that one and it becomes a reasonably functional small model yard.

 

Rob Spangler

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Posted by erosebud on Tuesday, December 20, 2011 7:31 AM

First:  thanks for bringing this up.  I'm dealing with the same issue as I begin planning.  Second:  thanks to all who have given thoughtful and practical responses.

Besides the Armstrong Bible, I've found it helpful to look at Paul Dolkos's piece on his Woodsriver Yard in the special How to Build Realistic Layouts:  Freight Yards publication.  (I'd like to see an actual diagram of that, but the photos and descriptions are adequate; I'm just dense.)

Special thanks to posters who actually describe what happens in a yard (or elsewhere)--a train arrives on the A/D track, the engine goes for service, the switcher moves the caboose, etc.  As many of the suggestions make clear, if you know what is supposed to happen in some detail, the design needed becomes pretty apparent.

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Posted by J.Rob on Tuesday, December 20, 2011 9:15 PM

There are several good examples in the track plan data base on this web site. A look at the store on this site will also provide you with a few examples of small yards via some books on the subject. One that maybe particularly useful was one of the project railroads, the beer line. It would seem to me that you would need something to be used for supporting your switching operations and interchange with through trains much like the beer line or the recent update to the Model Railroader Employee layout Bay Junction. That yard has curves at both ends and could likely be shortened to fit your space and also incorporate some industry as well.

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Posted by steinjr on Wednesday, December 21, 2011 12:31 AM

jccourtney

I guess I misunderstood what was meant by re-blocking. I am interested in sorting cars, generating consists to deliver down the line. Ultimately, my goal is to have an operator work the yard while another operator picks up/delivers consists. I'm thinking at the minimum I could get away with just 1 track for a/d while two would be nice. The only part of the yard I'm wanting to be double ended is the a/d tracks, as I believe the sorting tracks can be stub ended. I'm not really looking to have huge amount of yard tracks like 15 or 30, etc. I'm happy with 4 to 5 tracks. I plan to include a small engine facility for maybe two or three engines.

 Hi John --

 One issue that really hasn't been explored enough is exactly how you plan to use this yard.

 You seem to say that you want your yard to accommodate having two up to six foot trains arrive and drop off cars, the cars being sorted and a third up to six foot train depart. Six feet in H0 scale means that we are talking an engine, a caboose and about ten 40' cars.

 What destinations and origins does your trains have?

 Will you have staging (a track - visible or hidden, that represents "places further east/west/north/southwards"), so trains will be arriving from places further away or departing for places further away during your operating session, or will you be representing the connection to the rest of the world by starting a session with a train "having just arrived" or with cars that "arrived last night" in your yard and end the session with a train "about to depart" or with cars that "will be picked up tonight" in your yard ?

 If you imagine a session - what trains will be coming into your yard? 

 Will some of the trains just stop to set out a block (group) of cars and/or pick up a block of cars, and then move on towards other places (i.e. staging), or will the trains always terminate in your yard?

 How many trains will originate in your yard? Where will they be headed for? Will they originate from the yard, go out to some area, switch industries and then come back with cars picked up at the industries? Or will they take cars and just depart with them - i.e. go into staging?

 How many different groups of cars will it be necessary for your yard to hold on to at the same time - e.g. "cars for the eastbound local", "cars for eastern destinations beyond the layout", "cars for westbound destinations beyond the layout", "cars for railroad Y" etc ? That tells you how many tracks you should have in your yard.

 How many cars do you reckon will go into each block/group? Will each block go out on a separate train, or will one train take two or three blocks - e.g. will both cars for local industries and cars for an interchange track (for another railroad) go out on the same train?

  It is not a given that you will need to have each block be 10 cars - running more short trains may be more fun than running a few longer trains.

 Anyways - thinking about how traffic will move on your railroad will help you decide what functionality you will need for your yard.

 Smile,
 Stein

 

 

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Posted by 80ktsClamp on Wednesday, December 21, 2011 2:39 AM

Here is an example of a small classification yard that I have on my layout in progress-  it incorporates local servicing as well as engine/car mx as well as intermodal:  

 

Hold my beer... ya'll watch this!

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Posted by erosebud on Thursday, December 22, 2011 8:05 AM

Rob,

  Please forgive an ignorant question, but in your very helpful diagram I find myself on the verge of real comprehension and would like to take another step.  I can see, thanks to your labels, that there are tracks leading to engine service and auxiliary (MOW storage, etc., I suppose).  Then you have a yard lead that also terminates in the diagram with an arrow.  Am I right in thinking that this arrow doesn't point to anything other than the end of the lead (rather than some object like a freight house)?  As far as operation's concerned, I think the lead serves the same function as a switcher pocket, except that it will hold a number of cars  along with the switcher; is that right?

   While I'm asking:  would it not be useful to have a crossover between a couple of the classification tracks to allow the switcher to escape, or is that a duplication of the yard lead and its runaround?

    Thanks.

Michael Penn Moore

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Posted by Paulus Jas on Thursday, December 22, 2011 9:11 AM

hi,

I am not sure if this yard is a classification yard. I am not sure too  if the tracks at the far right are used for staging only or if they double as arrival and departure tracks.

Anyway, to facilitate switching the lower lead is pretty long. The crossover labeled A makes it possible for main line trains to leave or enter staging without interfering with switching. The same is done at the upper part with crossover B.

A runaround is drawn in the yard, so it is possible for the engine of an incoming train to escape. While an engine pocket is used to park an engine for a rather short time, its length is pretty short. A (switch) lead is longer, it should be able to hold at least half a train or a whole train, but is used for back and forth movements to divide an incoming train in different parts (blocks). A time consuming job, so it could best be done without interference from other train movements. the "new blocks" have different destinations, whether for far away division points or way freights or locals.

Paul

 

 

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Posted by steinjr on Thursday, December 22, 2011 9:19 AM

erosebud

Rob,

  Please forgive an ignorant question, but in your very helpful diagram I find myself on the verge of real comprehension and would like to take another step.  I can see, thanks to your labels, that there are tracks leading to engine service and auxiliary (MOW storage, etc., I suppose).  Then you have a yard lead that also terminates in the diagram with an arrow.  Am I right in thinking that this arrow doesn't point to anything other than the end of the lead (rather than some object like a freight house)?  As far as operation's concerned, I think the lead serves the same function as a switcher pocket, except that it will hold a number of cars  along with the switcher; is that right?

   While I'm asking:  would it not be useful to have a crossover between a couple of the classification tracks to allow the switcher to escape, or is that a duplication of the yard lead and its runaround?

    Thanks.

Michael Penn Moore

 Michael --

 Are you talking about the diagram Elmer posted (which Rob quoted) - i.e this one:

 If so, it is not clear rom the diagram whether the arrow on the yard lead just signifies "lead continues for one train length to the right", or whether it signifies "lead connects back to main somewhere off to the right", but I expect that the first interpretation would be the right one.

 The significance of the length of the lead track is that it limits how many cars can be moved between the mainline/AD track and the yard body tracks.

 There is no particular point in having an engine escape track in the body tracks at lower left, as any road engine at the left end of the train will (or should be) be cut off from the left end of the train in the A/D track, and a switcher - coming from the right, will pull the cars down into the lead, and shove them back into the body tracks.

 Smile,
 Stein

 

 

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Posted by erosebud on Thursday, December 22, 2011 3:45 PM

Stein,

    Thanks so much; it's much clearer to me now.

Michael

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Posted by steinjr on Thursday, December 22, 2011 5:38 PM

 Some other yards:

 Inspired by a yard on Jack Gutsch's MSt&L layout:

 This yard has two double ended tracks and two single ended tracks, plus some local industries.

  An approximation of Woodsriver Yard on Paul Dolkos' old layout:

 

The yard on Robert Beaty (Arjay1969 on these forums) layout:

 

 A yard inspired by a small town yard in Shiner, TX in the 1920s:

 

 River Avenue yard on my layout:

A yard on a Linda Sand design from Model Railroad Planning:

 

An approximation to Thomas Scarbelotti (Scarpia)'s track plan:

 There are many ways of making small yards that still are reasonably functional :-)

 Smile,
 Stein

 

 

 

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Posted by Fredderf on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 10:43 PM

Hi.

I have been studying this yard for awhile trying to put it inside an elongated o-27 oval. 

I have figured out how to do the simplified version that you show including the caboose service but not sure if it will function. 

What I can not figure out is how the switcher can grab the caboose as you recommend from the a/d track before grabbing the train without going on the main line. Am I missing something here. 

Wouldnt it make sense to put the caboose service at the end of one of the yard tracks and build the train in front of it?  

I am a novice but am coming up to speed quickly.  But a few things  still do not yet make sense to me. 

Thanks

 

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Posted by Paulus Jas on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 10:54 AM

hi,

using the main for a few run-around moves is not a problem. Chances are the switcher has to wait till the main is cleared. Parking a train for quite some time is not allowed however.

Placing a caboose on the end of a track could be done in theory. But cabooses need service too, so they were placed on a dedicated track. It would also mean they had to wait a day or so before the yard track was filled and the cars pulled. Just before a train was about to depart, the caboose and engines were added to the consist.

Paul

 

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Posted by Doug from Michigan on Thursday, February 23, 2012 5:02 PM

steinjr

 Some other yards:

 The yard on Robert Beaty (Arjay1969 on these forums) layout:
http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg252/Arjay1127/Train%20Stuff/RBhomelayoutrevised.jpg

Stein,

I've tried duplicating this yard ladder using the Atlas RTS and just can't get it down to the length shown here.  Do you have anymore info on this design?  Are those turnouts handlaid?  Would that explain why I can't get it done with the Atlas templates in their library?

It's frustrating me, because this is almost exactly what I've been trying to design, in the same area.  And here it is, but I can't prove it out with the software I'm using.

Thanks!

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Posted by EMD#1 on Thursday, February 23, 2012 6:58 PM

Hi jccourtney!

My suggestion would be to have your yard begin about two car lengths past your lift out bridge starting with one long siding that curved around the corner which would also serve as a switching lead on that end of the yard.  You could have three to five yard tracks coming off your siding with the last track closest to the isle including a switch to reverse back to a couple of shop tracks.  One could be an engine track and the other could be a rip/material track.  

Having your yard set up in this fashion you could run a mainline train around the layout on "auto-pilot" while you switch the yard with your switch engine.  The mainline train could stop and drop a few cars off while picking up outbounds.  Then the switcher could go back to work classifying the new inbounds.  You could even build a local served by an extra engine parked at your engine terminal to serve your industies on line.

With the yard set up in this fashion, one to two operators can have hours of enjoyment.

Have fun!

Tim

 

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Posted by steinjr on Thursday, February 23, 2012 7:49 PM

Doug from Michigan

 

 steinjr:

 

 Some other yards:

 The yard on Robert Beaty (Arjay1969 on these forums) layout:
http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg252/Arjay1127/Train%20Stuff/RBhomelayoutrevised.jpg

 

 

Stein,

I've tried duplicating this yard ladder using the Atlas RTS and just can't get it down to the length shown here.  Do you have anymore info on this design?  Are those turnouts handlaid?  Would that explain why I can't get it done with the Atlas templates in their library?

It's frustrating me, because this is almost exactly what I've been trying to design, in the same area.  And here it is, but I can't prove it out with the software I'm using.

Thanks!

 I don't know what actual turnouts Robert used on his layout.

 I just used Peco code 70 tracks when I drew my version of his plan in XtrkCad. All turnouts (except the curved one at the entrance to the yard) are Peco Medium turnouts (SL-195 RH and SL-196 LH). The curved turnout is a Peco SL-187 Curved LH).

 Smile,
 Stein

 

 

 

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Posted by Doc in CT on Thursday, February 23, 2012 8:48 PM

Doug from Michigan
I've tried duplicating this yard ladder using the Atlas RTS and just can't get it down to the length shown here.  Do you have anymore info on this design?  Are those turnouts handlaid?  Would that explain why I can't get it done with the Atlas templates in their library?

It's frustrating me, because this is almost exactly what I've been trying to design, in the same area.  And here it is, but I can't prove it out with the software I'm using.

Thanks!

The Peco No 5 turnouts are physically shorter than the Atlas No 4 (or 4.5) and have a slightly broader effective curvature.  Probably just enough to make duplication of the design harder (used WinRail for the comparison, RTS is previous generation WinRail, limited to Atlas track).

Co-owner of the proposed CT River Valley RR (HO scale) http://home.comcast.net/~docinct/CTRiverValleyRR/

  • Member since
    October, 2010
  • From: Chesterfield, MI
  • 152 posts
Posted by Doug from Michigan on Friday, February 24, 2012 5:59 AM

I thought so.  Thanks guys.

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