Track Plan At A Glance
Layout Theme: Railroad yard
Layout Type: Module
Scale: HO Scale
Track: Code 83
Turnouts: No. 5
Min. Radius (Mainline): 36"
Min. Radius (Yard): 30"
Article by: Jim Spavins
Published: September 15, 2015
Through the years, my club has built three different staging yards for our modular layout. All of the designs were basically a T-shape where the staging yard was perpendicular to the mainlines. From a space perspective this is very efficient. However, three years ago, we switched our layout to DCC and began to have operators walk around with their trains. When our layout was operated on DC, operators simply stood at modules. The problem with a T-shaped staging yard is that it creates a big barrier to walk around. The latest version of our staging yard was 30' long creating a rather large detour for operators who were walking along with their trains.
With this challenge, we began to think about ways to re-design the staging yard to remedy this problem. The most obvious solution is to build an in-line staging yard. This means the staging tracks are simply parallel to the mainline. This allows operators to walk along with their train without a huge detour. The downside, is that more linear footage along the mainline is now used for a staging yard. This means less of the mainline would be available for personal modules and the overall capacity of the yard would most likely need to decrease.
We did an informal study of members who setup trains on the staging yard to see how many people actually used it during a show and how long the trains actually were. It turns out, we had substantial excess capacity built into our current yard and only one member had a train which would fill the complete 30' length of a single track. With this data in mind, we began to sketch some concepts for a linear staging yard.
One of the ideas I developed is shown here. In this case, the idea is build a seven piece staging yard which can be re-arranged in a number of different of arrangements to fit the situation for which the layout is going to be used. For example, below, five of the sections - two six foot yard leads, two six foot yard sections, and one four foot yard section - can be arranged in a linear fashion to make a staging yard. Up to four tracks are available for setting up and tearing down trains which swing towards the back of the module. The two mainline swing towards the front of the module. In between, scenic elements like hills, trees, or streams would break up the monotony of the yard.
Linear Staging Yard Arrangement. | Trackplan by Jim Spavins.
Building upon the five modules, adding a corner module allows for the the staging yard to be setup in an L-shape configuration. This helps add some linear capacity to the yard along with offering some more flexibility to how the module set can be used.
L-Shaped Staging Yard Arrangement. | Trackplan by Jim Spavins.
As a bonus, if another corner is added to the yard, it can be setup in a U-shape. Along with a lift bridge and two more corners, an entire self contained layout in the spirit of the Ultimate Club Modular Layout can be created. This way, all of the modules which need to be owned by the club can be setup as a separate layout if any privately owned modules aren't available for a show.
In addition, a few sidings can be added on the six foot modules to create some switching possibilities to the layout (these aren't shown). If the layout is setup to run solo, two trains can be set to run around in circles on the mainlines to entertain the crowds, while a train is built by switching industries in the yard. When the train is ready to go, it can be set out on the main and one of the other trains can be brought in and switched apart. In theory an operation scheme could be created to last for the duration of a show. If the operators ever need a break from switching, at least some trains will still be running on the layout.
Complete Layout using Staging Yard. | Trackplan by Jim Spavins.
For Track Plan Tuesday's, I am digitizing all of my old track planning notebooks and sharing the designs here on the website. To see all the plans, visit the track plan home page at: jimspavins.com/jimstrackplans.