How to use a switching layout ?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Biased turkey, Dec 7, 2006.

  1. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    Due to space restriction I want to build a switching layout . It's better than no layout at all ( that's what my wife told me ).
    So I'm looking at something like a "timesaver" , but I don't know how to operate a switching layout.
    Is there any website or other info with switching problems ,their solution and all the required moves to get to the solution ?
    tia for any info
  2. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I don't think there's anyplace that has required moves or solutions.
    There are two types of switching layouts. One involves having industries and the appropriate cars and moving the cars to the right industry and taking them away again later. All sorts of ways of doing this.
    The other is the timesaver game. This was designed as a game; a timed competition to see who could move the 3 or 4 cars into position the fastest. John Allen's original specs called for the locomotive to run at a constant speed and the only control was the reversing switch. I think the cars and industries were also colour coded. An expansion of the games was 2 times savers back-to-back and the operators had to exchange a car over the single connecting track.
    There is a British version called Inglenook Sidings which is a very small board with 2 or 3 switches and 4 or 5 cars.
    I think a version of the Inglenook might be for you. Model a rail line along the back of some factories/warehouses/mysterious brick buildings with a siding into each building. Use a set of cards to tell you where each car goes, how long it stays, and where it goes next.
  3. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    How much space do you have for a switching layout? A realistic industrial layout is much more satisfying in my opinion than a switching puzzle.
  4. shortliner

    shortliner Member

  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    That site has lots of great info about small switching layouts.

    You might also google "Carl Arendt" for some other ideas.

  6. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    Thanks to both of you who took some of their time to reply.
    Maybe my question was not clear enough. My problem is not about building a switching layout, but it'as about how to operate it once it's finished.
    By the way, the size will be 30"X 80" and for sure it will deserve a brewery ( I'm Belgian ) + some other industries or communities.
    Once the cars are dropped on the interchange line, how do I switch them to the appropriate industry ?.
    What does the railroad company says to an new engineer on his first day of work in a switchyard ?
    Among the various suggested links, maybe the most interesting for me is:
  7. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    As mentioned, the available space is a 80'' x 30'' and the scale is N scale
    For me the difference is not clear, Isn't a switching puzzle a "compressed" realistic industrial layout ? Doesn,t the timesaver serves 4 industries ?
  8. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    I assume it is supposed to be 80" x 30" right? Not 80' x 30' (that would be a HUGE layout LOL)
  9. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    A switching puzzle will intentionally have trackage that restricts the number of cars that can be moved at any one time, and will also have some sort of challenge - e.g. least number of moves, fastest time.

    A real railroad will not build sidings this way unless it absolutely has to. It does not get any more revenue from a customer whose sidings take 1 hour to switch versus one who takes only 15 minutes. That being said, some "standard" sidings can still take a fair amount of time to switch, especially if more than one industry occupies the same track.

    A switching puzzle like The TimeSaver can be done up as a very nice diorama or module type layout. The local chapter of the NMRA has such a layout in a 2x6 form that they take to shows. While it is not yet complete, it can be operated. The challenge is to take cars from an incoming train, drop them to the appropriate industries, and lift the ones that are there, allowing the train to continue. Least number of moves required is usually the measure of success. Timing it just makes people run the switcher at 70 mph ;) :rolleyes:

    In operation for example, the covered hopper has to be spotted at the grain elevator, the box car at the freight house, and the coal car at the coal dealer. The reefer has to go to the ice house, and the tank car has to be left at the fuel dealer. Click to see the St Lawrence Division Switching Module (Warning - geocities site with pop-ups and ads!)

    The problem with this can be that it becomes quite repetitive, and predictable. It can be mixed up a bit by varying the order of the cars within the arriving train, or leaving more or less cars on the layout to take up space in the sidings. You may add other rules of your own, like the main must be clear after a certain number of moves to allow a passenger train through, or something like that.

    Regular operations can also be challenging. I have a small town (Marlpost) with three sidings - one single ended, one double ended (run around) with another single ended siding off that. (See below).

    It takes about 15 to 25 minutes to switch a 4-5 car train. I have also instituted rules that were in force on CN in the 1920s and 30s, such as stock cars must be blocked immediately behind the engine for ease of handling at the end of the job (cattle had to be fed and watered on a regular basis while in transit). And any cars at the grain elevator must be returned to their original spot if moved. This adds to the complexity and realism of operations in Marlpost.

    Hope that helps.


    Attached Files:

  10. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    If I had a 30' x 80 ' space I ,for sure , wouldn't be into N scale ( I hate cleaning tracks ).
    My N scale is a loop micro layout ( 36" x 25" ) on a desk in the bedroom
    My 80" x 30" layout will be the HO Marklin switching layout in the living room.

    In case you didn't guess it, I'm living in an apartment :)
  11. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Operating a switching layout isn't really much different from doing switching on any other sort of layout. Exactly how one is operated depends on what sort of layout you have. The "Timesaver," as mentioned above, is a puzzle (the original was simply mounted on a board) and not a model railroad layout. The "Inglenook" is also built as a puzzle, not a layout, and operation is based on an arbitrary set of rules that have little to do with the real operation of trains.

    So the first question is, what sort of switching layout are you building? You mentioned a brewery so I assume it will be the sort that serves industries, rather than one based around car-shuffling in a yard or interchange traffic. 80"x30" is a pretty hefty space for a switching layout, so you could theoretically model a whole industrial district, but in a smaller space you could just model a large brewery (using the Heljan brewery kit and a couple of smaller kits as outbuildings) and base operation around the spotting and removal of the various sorts of cars needed at a brewery (cars filled with grain and hops, cars with materials for bottles and cans, and cars to ship the finished product to market, etc.)

    With multiple industries, you can use various types of operation schemes: switch lists or wheel reports or car cards or CCT (Color-Coded Tacks) etcetera. You even have enough room for a fiddle yard of sorts at one end and industries at the other.

    Don't think of it as a "switching layout." Any layout that has switches is technically a switching layout!

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