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Staging...an "AHA" moment

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Staging...an "AHA" moment
Posted by Motley on Thursday, May 6, 2010 12:04 PM

I think I just had an "Ahaaaaa" moment last night while running my trains. As you all know, I'm new to all this, and started with completely nothing just 6 months ago.

So.. now that my new layout is capable of running some trains, I have been accumulating new locos and rolling stock. And last night I successfully ran a two loco consist with 20 cars!! Dang that was awesome!

Anyways, my yard seems to be filling up pretty quickly, and I'm thinking, oh man I need a bigger yard. And then I was thinking about my two big industries (Ethanol & Coal), where can store the rolling stock, and now I have a full blown passenger train, where do I put that?

So now I'm starting to think about why you guys all preach about how important staging is. You don't fill up your yard, or industries in order to keep them functional, you keep the rolling stock in STAGING. Right?

I do not have staging on my layout right now, but my planned extension room does have 4 track staging yard. Boy I could use that right now. I probably will start building the benchwork for that room sooner rather than later.

So, let's discuss how you all use staging on your layout.

What capacity for staging?

How do you operate staging exactly?

I am also planning on using JMRI operations module for managing car lists, etc. How do I effectivly use staging with JMRI?

Are there any books on staging operations? Online resources?

Thanks,

Michael

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Posted by last mountain & eastern hogger on Thursday, May 6, 2010 12:50 PM

Whistling

Hi Michael,

I am just finishing up a four track staging yard in a storage area to the west of my layout room.

I would definately like to have more tracks in there but that is just not possible. Confused as I want one track for my MOW train, one for my circus train and a couple for passenger trains, AND GUESS WHAT>>>

The tracks are all used up ,no room for the actual staging process.(Fiddle yard work that should be in the same area)  What to do, what to do............  Well in the layout room under the lower level I have a horizontal filing cabinet where I keep rolling stock that goes on and off the layout and I think I will put in a special track there close to the edge and use it as the Fiddle track.

Keep in mind you will want the track centers to be approx. 2 1/2 inches apart so that you and I have room for our fumbly fingers to work with the cars and not knock ones off adjacent tracks. There is a good article in the June issue of MR (current) that shows how to get the most trackage out of your space and how to use various turnouts to accommodate that.

Johnboy out..........................for now.

 

from Saskatchewan, in the Great White North.. 

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

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Posted by bobhoban328 on Thursday, May 6, 2010 1:01 PM

Michael...We all are new or were to the hobby at one time or another. Learning is part of the fun of "getting there". An easy answer is a 'run off' staging track. Just take a length of 1x4 pine (could be hinged for drop down out of way storage), or mounted on wall and still be removable. It does not require cork or ballasting. Just drop in a turnout that would be in comfortable reach and run out from that.  Ther are multiple articles on how to do this in most all of the hobby mags, Plus, heres a link that will save me a bunch of typing.  As you asked, there are multiple resources both on and off the we to help and guide you.       http://macrodyn.com/ldsig/wiki/index.php?title=Staging_track_design

Hope this helps. Bob

 

 

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Posted by leighant on Thursday, May 6, 2010 1:04 PM

 My little East Texas layout had minimal staging and NO yard- just the tracks running through a small courthouse town.  Two through hidden staging tracks, I kept two trains back there, one pointed east, one west.  The dead-end track was for my local.

 

The through trains appeared, rawn through town and disappeared back into staging.  The local came in, delivered cars to the visible spurs, made pickups and then reversed direction to return to the dead end staging track.  A logging company train could run from Big Piney to deliver cars to the mainline at Johnston, make pickups and return.

Wish I had had more staging!!!

So many trains I wanted to run, and not enough place to keep them all on the layout.

The layout I am presently building has place for 3 HIDDEN staging tracks for passenger trains-- but one track will have to be kept open to allow through train access to Demara Yard.  (Or I will have to sequence trains to make an open space...)  I figure passenger trains are so conspicuous they need to be hidden if they are supposed to be somewhere else.

Demara Yard is OPEN staging, 5 dead-end tracks, stuck back behind the main yard and the port transfer yard so it is inconspicuous-- looks like part of ":another railroad's yard."

Trains run clockwise across Suter Bay causeway to enter town and terminate in the end-of-the-line island seaport.  Outbound trains run counterclockwise.  Very little mainline running.  Lots of terminal switching and REAL inerchange with the modeled port terminal switching railroad.

 

 

 

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Posted by IVRW on Thursday, May 6, 2010 1:07 PM
Yea, you pretty much have it. Staging is a hidden yard to represent the unmodeled portion of the railroad. Lets say you only model to the left of your yard, but the mainline continues right. How do you get trains to prototypically go to the right? Well, you put a staging yard behind the scenes, drive trains off the layout, park them in the staging yard, and pretend they carry on to the rest of the railroad. Most often, staging yards are a way to get cars off the layout. You put cars which dont need to go anywhere anytime soon into a train, send them to the staging yard, keep the train there until the cars are needed, and send them back, while at the same time sending another train into the yard. This cycle most often happens once every 2 operating sessions, because seeing the exact same train twice in the same session ruins the illusion. For you, I think that 6 tracks would be better for a 50s railroad or a shortline or branchline, and then 8 for anything bigger. I hope this helped.

~G4

19 Years old, modeling the Cowlitz, Chehalis, and Cascade Railroad of Western Washington in 1927 in 6X6 feet.

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Thursday, May 6, 2010 1:47 PM

Howdy, Michael,

I've edited your OP to concentrate on the questions.  Here's hoping my answers will be helpful. 

Motley

So now I'm starting to think about why you guys all preach about how important staging is. You don't fill up your yard, or industries.  In order to keep them functional, you keep the rolling stock in STAGING. Right?

Precisely.  Staging is 'the rest of the country,' which is where the trains come from and go to (and spend most of their time)

So, let's discuss how you all use staging on your layout.
What capacity for staging?

According to Tony Koester, you need staging for 2N + 1 trains, N being the number you thought you'd need.

On my own layout, I can hide eight through freights (20 cars plus motive power,) seven local freights (12 cars plus motive power,) two (short) unit coal trains and the eight (plus or minus) trains that run my entire passenger schedule.  In addition, I have a cassette dock attached to one staging lead and can store up to seven additional locals in cassettes off the layout proper.

How do you operate staging exactly?

Some people just run complete trains into staging and leave them.  Others 'fiddle' staged trains (swap cars, load or unload open-tops...)  On my layout, freights in staging are just held waiting assignment.  Freights in cassettes may be 'fiddled' (especially open top cars.  Live coal loads get emptied in a special cassette designed for the purpose.)  EMU trains get coupled or uncoupled in their specially-designed staging facility (five total cars may be run in 2, 3 or 4-car sets.)  Four DMU cars may run as a 4 car set or two 2 car sets.  Another DMU train may or may not carry a diner, so there's a setoff spur where the diner usually resides.  That's the only non-powered car that gets switched in fixed-track staging.

I am also planning on using JMRI operations module for managing car lists, etc. How do I effectivly use staging with JMRI?

I'm not familiar with JMRI, but I do use car cards and waybills.  When a train is sent to staging all of the waybills are 'adjusted' as necessary, to reflect the new destinations of the cars.  Some simply shuttle from one staging site to the other.  Others carry loads to modeled unloading spots, are delivered empty to modeled loading spots or are cut out of through trains to be forwarded by locals.  Locals all terminate at the one visible yard, and their cars are classified and forwarded accordingly.

In my scheme, when a train leaves staging it has an entirely different identity from the one that went to staging (scale) hours or days before.

I'm not aware of any books that relate specifically to staging operations.  Others will have to chime in with online resources.

Are there any books on staging operations? Online resources?

Thanks,

Michael

You're welcome,

Chuck (Modeling Central Japan in September, 1964 - with LOTS of staging)

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Posted by tbdanny on Thursday, May 6, 2010 2:54 PM

Hi,

Staging is one of the essentials of a model railroad, and the common wisdom is that you can never have too much of it.  I've been know to experiment with a couple of staging methods that allow me to fit more staging into the one space - such as this one.  There would be a bit of construction involved, but you'd save money on points for your staging yard, and be able to fit a bit more in.  After all, you can never have too much staging.

Another option - and one I'm examining for my current layout - is cassette staging.  Each train is stored on a separate 'cassette', which is then inserted into the layout & the train run off it.  Need more staging?  Build another cassette.

Hope this helps,

tbdanny

The Location: Forests of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon
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Posted by Packers#1 on Thursday, May 6, 2010 3:22 PM
Michael, my staging is the 0-5-0 switcher (one's hand). there isn't really any staging, other than what I put on and off the layout. however, I can use the flip side of my layout as a place to at least stage trains, then run them through the yard. I would have loved to add staging, but didn't want to build any extra benchwork. looking back now I have an idea how I could change my plan around so the mainline comes from at least a fiddle track. but note taken for the next layout. and since my basic operation is switching in the yard and running freights to the town on the flip side of the layout the 0-5-0 method works. man I wish I had staging, and for sure that's going to be a feature on my next layout, no matter how much space it requires.

Sawyer Berry

Clemson University c/o 2018

Building a protolanced industrial park layout

 

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Posted by steinjr on Thursday, May 6, 2010 3:28 PM

Motley
You don't fill up your yard, or industries in order to keep them functional, you keep the rolling stock in STAGING. Right?

 

 Depends on what you mean by "keep the rolling stock in staging".

 Staging usually is a place (or several places) where you hold whole trains while they wait to make their appearance on the modeled part of the layout, or after they have left the modeled part of the layout.

 It is not a given that you will have enough staging space available to hold all your cars and all your engines at any time.

 Hopefully, you will have enough space available for the trains you plan to have arrive during an operating session (an operating session can represent anything from a couple of hours of traffic to a full day of traffic or more).

 If you don't have enough space for all the trains you want to run during a session, you can "fiddle" trains in staging during the operating session.

 I.e. manually take cars off the train or put cars on the train, or swap the position of the engine and the caboose so the train that ran out of your layout eastbound a little while ago later can return as another train, now westbound.

 Or you can start your session with some trains "on the way" across your layout, or "having just arrived" or some such thing.

 The key to figuring out your staging needs is to figure out how many trains you want to run during a session, in what order you want to run those trains, and how long those trains will be.

 How does staging interact with car routing - ie waybills and carcards - either on paper or using that part of JMRI?

 It allows you to define more sources and destinations for cars than what you have room for on your layout.

 Say you have an ethanol plant on your layout. You may decide that you will have covered hopper cars loaded with grain coming from Iowa and Nebraska (to pick two random examples), tank cars of chemical additives coming from Galveston, TX, empty ethanol cars coming from California, New Mexico and Utah to be loaded at your ethanol plant, and occasionally a flatcar or gondola of machinery coming from Chicago.

 So you create waybills for loaded covered hoppers from Iowa to your ethanol plant, with the empty hoppers destined to be returned to Iowa after they are unloaded.

 And then you decide which train cars from Iowa will arrive on, and make sure you put some covered hoppers in the train waiting (in the staging area that represents "to the east") pretending to be "the freight train from the midwest".

 Or you can define a waybill for a carload that will be arriving from a source in California, and continue in the direction of a destination in Utah. The car will appear on your layout inbound (from staging) on a train from California, and leave your layout outbound (to staging) on a train heading towards Utah.

 As for my layout - my staging isn't operational yet. My layout is a small urban shelf switching layout.

 But my plan is to run four inbound trains and four outbound trains during a operating session (before I have to reset staging and fiddle cars to set things up again for a new session).

 One train will start on the layout "having just arrived". One train will be on the modeled layout "about to arrive". And two trains (two small transfer runs of no more than an engine and 7 or 8 cars) will start the session in hidden staging.

 The first train will start having just arrived from the east to switch local industries in the warehouse district, bringing out outbound cars to a small yard area.

 The second train will arrive from the south, and start switching industries in the Milling district, pulling outbound cars and spotting inbound cars.

 The third train will arrive from the east (from staging) to drop off a block of inbound cars for the warehouse district, picking up outbound cars left in the yard by the local switcher, run around the cars and depart eastbound again (back into staging, now facing in the other direction on the staging track).

 The fourth train will arrive from the east (from staging), pick up any cars bound for the barge terminal from the local yard and work it's way down to the barge terminal, picking up outbounds and setting out inbounds at the barge terminal, before heading back past the local yard towards the east.

 The second train will depart southwards with the outbound trains from the milling district, and end the session on the layout near the barge terminal, about to leave the area.

 Finally the first train will end up at the local yard, about to depart for wherever it came from originally.

 What staging do I need to support that scheme? Two tracks, capacity one engine and 7 40-foot cars each.

 Am I planning to "operate staging" ? No. I am planning to run trains. Staging is just a mechanism that allows me to model that some of those trains will come from somewhere beyond the modeled layout, and that some of those trains will depart for somewhere beyond the modeled layout.

 Smile,
 Stein

 

 

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Posted by Motley on Thursday, May 6, 2010 3:47 PM

Wow! Alot of great responses. I really appreciate all the suggestions and explanation of staging.

I might have to modify my extension room layout plan to include more staging tracks.

Also, great ideas for the fiddle staging on storing un-used rolling stock. I need get some sort of rolling storage/desk for this.

btw, is this a good book to get? here

Thanks!

Michael

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Posted by doctorwayne on Thursday, May 6, 2010 3:48 PM

 Here's part of my staging tracks.  The upper level, five tracks approximately 12 to 15 cars in length, is the south-end staging, with trains entering the layout to the right,  To the left, the tracks dead-end at the wall.  A similar yard, probably six tracks, will be built above, and will serve as north staging.  Trains will enter and leave to the left, crossing the aisle on a lift-out.  The right end of this yard will be dead-ended.

Immediately below the five tracks shown is a two track "industrial area" (there are some reefers spotted on one of the tracks just to the right of the support post). These dead-ended tracks represent unmodelled industries belonging to the town beyond the staging area.  Cars here are treated the same as cars at any modelled industry on the layout, switched in and out as necessary.  These tracks aren't true staging, but do increase the number of cars which the layout can support for operations.

The level below that, with a single track along the aisle (occupied by a coal train), represents an interchange at the western end of one of the layout's branches.  This track is treated as a staging track, and enters the layout via a lift-out across the aisle.

Trains coming into any of the staging areas will generally have their cars removed and placed in the appropriate boxes on the shelves beneath.  New cars will then be selected (probably using a car card system) and suitable trains made up for return onto the layout. 

It'll likely take several operating sessions to work through all of the trains available, as I operate solo.  I won't know for sure how well this will work, though, until I get the second level of the layout built and the upper staging yard in place.

Wayne

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Posted by steinjr on Thursday, May 6, 2010 3:53 PM

Motley
btw, is this a good book to get? here

 

In my opinion it is. I certainly have enjoyed Tony Koester's introductory book on operations. It covers a lot of things, and starts out real nice and slow introducing the concept of operations on a small example layout.

Smile,
Stein

 

 

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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, May 6, 2010 4:22 PM

I can fit four trains in my two track staging yard with crossover in the middle, BUT two of my trains run around their trains and run back the other way, and I have three trainsets that use the staging yard so I have to orchestrate the timing perfectly so there's room for the power to runaround their train. I may have to make a diagram for the fascia for where my operators should park their train because it's very specific!

And yes, I do wish my staging yard was bigger but that's all I can fit. I will likely extend the yard another two-three feet so each staging track will be longer.

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Posted by Texas Zepher on Thursday, May 6, 2010 4:48 PM

Motley
So, let's discuss how you all use staging on your layout.

My first staging tracks were on a 2x8 N-scale layout in 1979.  Originally I had a train just circulating on a loop that the local switcher had to keep the main clear for.   Several issues soon materialized. First the looping train arrived entierly to quickly and second for people watching it was obviously the same train running on a loop.   So enter staging.   I added a timed delay so the train would just not loop but go out of sight and stay there for a while.  Multiple tracks allowed differnet trains to emerge each time instead of just one.  It also allowed trains to emerge from either direction.  I only had four tracks (well three tracks plus the main) and that allowed six staged trains.  One long and two short in each direction.  Plenty of variety to entertain guests for an hour or so which just happened to be how long it took to work the local industires.

Opposite of that is my club layout.  It is operated as a point to point where the two points just happen to be immediately adjacent to one another.  Trains originate in one or the other of the yards.   Cars with  "off layout" destinations get sorted on tracks for those destinations but then aren't "sent" anywhere.  In the next session they "arrive" in the other yard.  Sort of like a empties-in-loads out or active interchange scenario.    The club has a large staging yard (10? tracks x 30' long) that is no longer used.  Originally all trains were to originate and terminate there.  It is designed as a normal yard that can be worked with arrival/departure, lead, caboose tracks, loco storeage, RIP etc.; however, because the staging area is physically not centered operations from one side to the main yard (mentioned above) was a very time consuming and boaring.   One would spend 15-40 minutes making up a train, but then a crew would be assigned.  Take the train out and one minute later immediately terminate the train.  No one wanted to draw that assignment.   So now the staging area is not used for operations at all.   It is used when there is an open house and we want a zillion different trains parading by the guests.  They get all loaded up into the staging area and are brought out as guest volume dictates.

On the other hand at the museum I volunteer at, staging is the source for all through trains and two of the locals.  Staging is a double yard (east & west) double ended.  Through trains are taken out run through the layout and then back onto their own track.  I believe there are 8 tracks so 16 staged trains.  Trains are 40-80 cars long.  The museum could not keep enough traffic out on the layout for the public if it were not for the stagged trains.

What capacity for staging?

as large as possible.

How do you operate staging exactly? ... Are there any books on staging operations? Online resources?

  I think you might have jumped off the deep end there and might be making this a lot harder than it is.  There are as many ways to "operate" staging as there are ways to "operate" a layout or design a yard and operate a yard.  It depends totally on what is trying to be accomplished.  I've given three examples above.  In the raw simple form staging is simply a track where a train begins and/or ends it's journey.   It can be no different from any other station or industry track except it is a whole train that terminates there instead of just a few cars.  On the other end of scenarios it can be a full working yard that is operated as any other yard on the layout, just being out of "view" or off "stage" from the spectators.

 

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Posted by Motley on Thursday, May 6, 2010 4:55 PM

OK.. I just did a little change on the extension layout plan, and I created another staging track along the right side wall. So now there is a total of 5 tracks.

Here is my plan, let me know what you think? Any suggestions or help is much appreciated.

 

Michael


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Posted by steinjr on Thursday, May 6, 2010 5:22 PM

Motley

Here is my plan, let me know what you think? Any suggestions or help is much appreciated.


 

 You have a lot of crossovers/engine escape tracks in your staging area.But to actually use these crossovers/engine escape tracks to run engines around trains, you would need to leave half your staging tracks empty (to provide the engine escape/runaround capability).

  Not sure you need any crossovers at all in staging.

 I would start with a plan of your operating session - what trains you want to arrive at your layout from staging, and what trains you want to depart from your layout into staging, and then see if you can do that without fiddling or switching in staging during an operating session.

 The goal for staging is "fire and forget". You select what track your inbound train comes from when it enters the modeled layout, and what track you want your outbound (from the layout) train to go into when it leaves the modeled layout.

 If at all possible, leave the fiddling for between-session work. Then you can move cars by hand, back the whole train out on the modeled layout to run around the engine elsewhere before backing into staging again or whatever. It doesn't count - it is not operating - it is just preparing for a new operating session.

 I'd suggest thinking about your staging (during operations) as "down that way somewhere", rather than "in this yard".

 

 Smile,
 Stein

 

 

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Posted by doctorwayne on Thursday, May 6, 2010 5:54 PM

 Stein makes a good point: as drawn, your staging capacity is limited if you want to utilise those crossovers/escape tracks during an operating session.  Better to do so afterwards, and use those turnouts elsewhere.

For my dead-ended staging tracks, arriving trains will be left until after the session ends, then have their cars removed and returned to their boxes.  The locos and cabooses will then be backed to either a nearby wye or turntable for turning and returned to staging where newly assembled trains will be waiting.  Depending on the operating schedule, at least one track at each end of the layout should be empty at the start of an operating session, ready to receive an arriving train.  As long as traffic is balanced (equal number of northbounds and southbounds), this should work, provided the trains are run sequentially.

Wayne

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Posted by steinjr on Friday, May 7, 2010 12:13 AM

 Motley -- 

 Your back room staging could even be as simple as one single long track around three walls in the back room, behind a low backdrop - starting a session with three trains nose to tail on that track - with the engines on the end facing towards your other room.

 Train no 1 (say a passenger train) enters your layout first. You do some switching or running or whatever with that train, and leaves it somewhere on the visible layout for now.

 Then train no 2 enters your layout. You do some stuff with train no 2 and leaves it on your layout somewhere for now. 

 Then train no 3 enters your layout.

 Your single staging track is now available for the first outbound train - which can be train no 1, train no 2 or train no 4 (made up on your layout).

 There is no rule saying that you need to turn trains in staging during an operating session. Likewise, there is no rule saying that you need to have one train on each track in staging.

 Staging is just a mechanism to generate traffic for your layout.

 Having two or three long tracks around along the wall of tour back room would give you more flexibility. Say two tracks of inbound trains and one empty track to hold for outbound trains, with some occupancy detectors showing you how far down your staging track your train can go before running into something already there.

 Having that one empty single ended track to hold trains outbound from the layout allows you to start sending trains out from the layout before enough trains has come into the layout to free up a full staging track for trains outbound from the layout (without blocking other trains inbound for the layout).

 Just a handful of thoughts.  Time for me to go fix breakfast for my youngest son and take him to school on my way to work.

 Smile,
 Stein

 

 

 

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Posted by Motley on Friday, May 7, 2010 9:51 AM

Thanks again for all awesome suggestions!

 I agee, no need for all the cross-overs, but I do need at least one cross-over on the inside stage track, because of how my steel mill will be operated, I want to pull the cars from the rolling mill, into the first staging track and run around the loco before entering the rest of the layout.

btw, I already have a wye on the main layout also.

Michael


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