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Hidden staging

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  • Member since
    September 2004
  • 121 posts
Hidden staging
Posted by abbieleibowitz on Sunday, May 1, 2022 1:02 AM

Hi,

I have 3 staging tracks hidden behind some background (narrow width) buildings. I am running NCE DCC in HO. How do you see which engines and trains are in a hidden staging yard? I've thought of mounting a mirror on the back wall or maybe using a video camera connected to a monitor or an iPad. You obviously not only need to know that there is a train in staging, but the cab number of the loco for DCC control of it. I'm sure others have faced this same problem. Ideas?

Lefty

  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: Morristown, NJ
  • 745 posts
Posted by nealknows on Sunday, May 1, 2022 1:29 AM

Hi Lefty,

I have a lot of staging tracks that are not as visible if there are other trains/engines in front of it. What I do is to keep a small index card and pen/pencil and I write the engine number and track number on the card to keep track. With 6 tracks not that visible, its important that I write them down, especially as I get older, the memory isn't what it used to be..

Hope this helps!

Neal

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • 121 posts
Posted by abbieleibowitz on Sunday, May 1, 2022 2:34 AM

Thanks. That's one solution.

Lefty

  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
  • 15,179 posts
Posted by gmpullman on Sunday, May 1, 2022 5:34 AM

I presently use video cameras in my staging however where I need to ID loco addresses and keep track of which one is where is in my roundhouse. Often all I can see is the back of the tender and sometimes the engine number is very tiny if it is there at all.

I made a diagram of the roundhouse stalls on a dry-mark erase board and I write the engine number down on that when I run it into that stall.

This would be a quick and easy solution for you. You could make a diagram on the board of the track arrangement then simply write the engine number down at which end of the staging yard it is at.

One step further —

For a while I was using magnetic labels with engines from my roster printed on them. I could arrange these to denote which engine was "lead" and which ones were trailing. 

 IMG_8484 by Edmund, on Flickr

One of the office supply joints sells these rubbery, magnetic card holders and they stick to some of the metal white boards out there.

 IMG_8481_fix by Edmund, on Flickr

 IMG_8480_fix by Edmund, on Flickr

You could make a simple diagram of your staging tracks and stick these tags at the locations of your locomotives.

 IMG_8478_fix by Edmund, on Flickr

 

Good Luck, Ed

  • Member since
    February 2001
  • From: Wyoming, where men are men, and sheep are nervous!
  • 3,254 posts
Posted by Pruitt on Sunday, May 1, 2022 11:28 AM

On an earlier version of my layout I used infrared detectors on my hidden staging, which gave me an indication on my control panel of which blocks were occupied.

Here's a few of the MicroMark IRDOTs I used installed under the layout (along with a couple of Tortoises):

What they look like from atop the roadbed (the two little black things in the tie gap):

And the indications on the control panel. I used two-color LEDs for the indicators; green indicates clear, and red/orange indicates an obstruction on the track - a train we hope!). The blue LEDs indicate the ladder track selected with the toggles.

Installing the IRDOTs took quite a bit of wiring. Adding in the Tortoise wiring and things got a bit hairy in the control panel. Here wiring is underway, but mostly not done yet. Note all the terminal strips. Every single one was to be used, and most of them were for the IRDOT wiring.

This time around I'll probably just use a video camera and display when I get around to constructing the hidden staging.

  • Member since
    January 2019
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Posted by John-NYBW on Sunday, May 1, 2022 1:07 PM

I have a video camera although it's an older analog one which hooks to an old analog TV. The picture isn't great. I might upgrade to digital although I haven't priced them recently. I use car cards and have a card for each loco which is the top card for any train. When a train goes into staging, I have pockets on the fascia for each staging track and I put the train's car cards in those pockets which tell me which loco is on each track. 

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Omaha, NE
  • 10,439 posts
Posted by dehusman on Sunday, May 1, 2022 9:34 PM

When I had hidden staging, since I use car forwarding, I had a train packet for each train that has the engine info and all the card info on it.  There was a pocket/hook for each track and the train packet was hung on the hook or put in the pocket face out.  When a train terminated in staging the train packet was put in the appropriate with the back facing out.  That way i knew exactly what train, engines and cars were in each track and whether it was occupied or not (using zero technology and at no extra cost (other than a couple cup hooks.)

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

  • Member since
    September 2011
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Posted by MidlandMike on Sunday, May 1, 2022 9:38 PM

If you can't see the hidden track, how do you know the train is not fouling a switch or maybe running off the end of track?

  • Member since
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Posted by John-NYBW on Sunday, May 1, 2022 10:04 PM

I used to use a whiteboard and eraseable pens to mark which loco was in each stall. I ended up creating card holders similar to what Micro-Mark sells for their car card system except these only need to be deep enough to hold the loco card. 

  • Member since
    March 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
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Posted by dknelson on Monday, May 2, 2022 10:21 AM

One layout I operated on used a system like Ed's, with the magnetic board.  That same layout had a computer generated system of car forwarding and train consists, and also assigned particular staging yard tracks.  Assuming the prior crews did their jobs right, you could safely assume that your computer generated paperwork (a sort of combination of wheel report, switch list, and Clearance card) would tell you what locomotive number (DCC address) was waiting in what track.   There was human error from time to time

Dave Nelson

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Omaha, NE
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Posted by dehusman on Monday, May 2, 2022 10:56 AM

MidlandMike
If you can't see the hidden track, how do you know the train is not fouling a switch or maybe running off the end of track?

Depends on how hidden your "hidden" staging is.  In mine it was under the layout main level but there was a gap in the fascia that would let you see the switches or if it was hidden behind scenery the switches and staging tracks to the clearance point were visible.

The train was hidden, not the switch.

As far as fitting, the train would hold X number of cars and the normal set of power.  The track would handle X + 3 cars.  As long as you obeyed the train size constraints the train would fit.

On the stub end tracks there was a styrofoam bumper on the end of the track.  You could run into it but not off the end of the track.  On stub end tracks that were sem-visible I would put 1/2 a boxcar with the knuckle removed from the coupler on the end of the track.  If you did lean over and look dow the track, you would see a boxcar.  The train or cars shoved into it would bump couplers but couldn't actually couple up.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

  • Member since
    June 2007
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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, May 3, 2022 11:30 AM

dehusman
Depends on how hidden your "hidden" staging is.  In mine it was under the layout main level but there was a gap in the fascia that would let you see the switches or if it was hidden behind scenery the switches and staging tracks to the clearance point were visible.

Right, who says hidden staging has to be hidden, or completely hidden?

 

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

  • Member since
    February 2019
  • 48 posts
Posted by Nevin Wilson on Monday, May 16, 2022 2:18 PM

I used a mirror on a previous layout and it worked fine for checking that the trains were not fouling the turnouts.

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