A Short Look At Yards

Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by brakie, Feb 1, 2007.

  1. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    We have discuss short lines,train symbols and numbers,etc now let's look at yard tracks and what they are use for.
    Why a yard?
    Well a railroad needs a place to sort,store cars and build trains.A yard doesn't have to be a massive size yard can be as small as one track just enough to put a train in working order.In fact I know of a short line that uses a old passing siding for a yard.
    Now let's look at the average yard tracks and what they are use for.For ease of this discussion I am going to give each track a number from front of the yard to back of the yard.

    Track one could be used for Eastbound cars destine for off layout divisions/destinations (stagging yard).

    Track Two could be use for Westbound cars destine for off layout divisions/destinations (stagging yard).

    Track three can be the cars for the industries located in our division and inter division transfer

    Track four can be for holding home road empties till needed by the industries for loading.

    Track five can be the interchange cars for (say) NS

    Track six can be interchange cars for (say) CSX

    Track seven is the "kick" track.This is where we keep "overflow" cars for any industry.

    To complete our yard we should have a arrival/departure track.This track should be double ended as we need a engine escape track.

    It is my opinion that the yard lead should be as long as the longest yard track plus two locomotive lengths.That should give us lots of head room to work our yard with.Of course don't be above using the main for a switch lead if needed..You see railroads will do that on a has needed bases such as a small outlaying yard in a small town or city that is used as a overflow holding track for several industries.You see this small yard may have a small lead between the main and yard ladder but,not enough head room to work the yard without fouling the main.

    A nice touch would be a "runner" track that is as long as the yard.That track is use mostly for locomotives heading to or from the engine service area and by the yard crew if we have a double ended yard.

    Of course IF cabooses are use then a short caboose track is needed.IMHO this track should be doubled ended so we can work both ends.
    Short line yards
    Again a short line may have a single track "yard" where a train can be put in working order which may include the interchange track or a old passing siding..
    A bigger short line may have a 3 or 4 track yard.
    As far as holding "overflow" cars for industries any track will do including other industries switch leads or part of the main line that is no longer used! A former passing siding can be use as well.
  2. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Brakie, thank you for the easy to understand tutorial. Most of what I found on the net was way over my head.
    A couple of questions though. What do you mean by "overflow" cars? And, in forty foot car lengths, is there a average length for a yard track?

  3. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Loren, Thank you..I try to keep these topics simple and easy to understand.
    Overflow cars are those cars being held for industries..Let's say Patterson Plastic has a 4 car capacity rail siding and they received 6 cars of plastic pellets.2 cars will be held as overflow cars for Patterson's.After Patterson's calls their freight agent and reports 2 of the covered hoppers are empty and ready for pickup the agent will report the empty cars for pickup and the 2 overflow cars as set outs to the yard office which will have the 2 overflow cars switched into the next day's local and will add the 2 empty cars as pickups to the local's conductor's switch list..
  4. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Larry, that is really interesting and would add a lot of switching possibilities. Do you know how that could be modeled with carcards and waybills? Maybe a hold box for the yard until the emptys are returned to the yard?

  5. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I want to put in my "thank you" for brakie too. Since the thing about model railroading that interests me the most is operation, I appreciate the tutoring and the reflection from someone familiar with the prototype.
  6. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Technically, you can take the average of anything, but in this case, it's meaningless. It's like asking "What's the average modeller's train length?"
  7. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Loren,First I will answer your question that I overlooked about average yard track length for 40 foot cars.
    This is a tough question and the only true answer lays in the length of our yard..For me and on my past loop and branch line layouts I like to average 8-10 cars per track IF possible if not then 6-7 per track..However I like my yard to be at 70-80% capacity that way it doesn't look "Wabash" by having to many cars in the yard.

    As far as over flow car with car cards/waybills this is easy to do..Just like you said..Put them in the yard "hold" box till you decide its time to pickup the empties and deliver the hold cars..
  8. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Thanks Larry, Triplex, for the information.

  9. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    Thanks for the info Brakie...

    Tell me. How would you switch this yard for a shelf layout I'll be putting together in the near future?


    The yard is obviously in the middle towards the front of the bench worrk. I was thinking that the track almost dead center on the shelf could act as a main or perhaps interchange would be a better designation for it? I don't know, I'm still learning. I was going to use the stub ends at the far right for maintenance facilities, however the idea of additional capacity has also entered my mind as well. Industries will be mostly grain and grain processing. The one track in the bottom right corner will be a team track (Thanks for the idea DocWayne) and another track will be for a Brewery. I like beer...a lot. :D

    Russ was a big help in giving me ideas on how to set up the track properly and gave me some ideas for switching, however I'm always looking for additional input.

    Sorry if I'm being a bud-in-ski. I'm learning so much from you guys.

    Oh and hey. I just noticed something on the members list at the bottom.

  10. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    tetters,First that yard should be redesign.The idea is sound but,there is a lot of wasted area that can be used to improve the yard and as it is now it would be hard to work.
    With your permission I will copy your yard and let you see how I would design it for easier yard operation.
  11. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    I was afraid you'd say that. sign1

    By all means. I'd love to see what you have in mind. If it helps I'm also modelling around the late 50's to early 60's. Using GP 7's & 9's to do the switching.

    I'm trying to keep that big radius in the corner to roughly 24" inches as well. Hence why I curved the yard into the turn. I'd like to keep it that "size" of foot-print on the benchwork as well. Otherwise it will end up taking up all of the layout.

    I'm going to try my hand at hand laying ALL of the track work. So I've stuck to simple turnouts for the switching and kept them all the same size. I've got over twenty of the them there so far and want to start cranking them out in a couple of weeks.
    (Hopefully, LHS says my #83 track won't be here for a few more weeks :curse:)

    So no slip switches, please. Besides I've heard fellows here say to avoid them as they would only give me grief. Even the premade ones.

    Even the guys at the LHS looked at me like I had two heads when I told them my plans.

    Brave, stupid, crazy, or all three rolled into one. I don't really know at this point. :D
  12. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    As I stated the design was sound but,I notice some easy fixes..The second track going to the brewery is for unloading coveredhoppers of barley and hops.I also added a switch lead,a runner track and caboose track.I am not to good a making curves but,I think you will see my thoughts.

  13. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    How's this look? It's the best I could come up with and keep my radi in check as well in XtrkCAD.

    I think I followed your sketch pretty well. Ignore the Legend I included.

  14. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    That my general idea..I also like the crossover you added.
  15. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    Thanks. I like the idea of a caboose track. Give me an excuse to buy a couple. LOL!!!
  16. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

    hey brakie do you think you could help me and the guys design the rest of my layout on my post 'im stuck on my layout' im going to have a big descent yard and you look like you have some expertise like pgandw to help me out thanks!
  17. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Here is an extremely accurate depiction of the CPR yard that existed (and still does today) in Orangeville, ON. http://www.mcswiz.com/MyLayout/Homepage.asp Scroll down and click "Orangeville" on the left side for a diagram of the yard as modelled, some text, and also pictures of the models.

  18. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    That is a good article to study but,some what dated and limited to CPR operations.Every yard is operated differently and according to a operation plan to include serving local industries needs such as CPR's former Parkdale Yard in Toronto that served 2 industrial districts.Ahh the things you learn in chat from Val..:D

    The yard scenario I use is a basic look at yards and what the tracks are used for.

    We can go into deeper discussion of yards covering all types from division yards to small outlaying yards..:D
  19. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

    my yard is for a steel mill,so it will hold coal cars,sinter cars,ore cars,torpedo cars,slag cars,and ingot cars.thats pretty uch it since that is the only thing a steel mill needed from the rails!:)
  20. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    I just put it up as an example of a real yard that has been modelled successfully. Most model yards are going to compromise and/or use much more selective compression.

    For the record, I believe that this would have been a "division yard", since just north of Orangeville is Fraxa Jct where tracks go either to Owen Sound or Teeswater. It also had a number of industries clustered around the yard. Interestingly, it did not have a dedicated yard switcher, so all road engines not only had to make and break trains, but also switch those industries directly.


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