Staging Yard

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by platypus1217, Sep 16, 2007.

  1. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

    I have decided to add a separate staging yard to my layout. I recently acquired some new engines, so now I want to be able to be able to run different trains without having to move them on and off the tracks every time by hand. :)

    It will be 5 ft. long. The tracks will be spaced 2.25 inches apart so that I can place/remove cars from the tracks manually. I also have space to add 2 more tracks on the outside if I need to expand it.

    Is it worth the space to include a run around (as shown) so that I can switch the direction of the train (I run diesels) or should I use that space to just extend the track?

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  2. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Platpus, If those tracks dead end you will need a runaround or your engine will be trapped.

  3. eburchell

    eburchell New Member

    A runaround at the end of a staging yard is an awesome idea...just make sure the trailing end of it is long enough to allow the full consists of locos you run(ie: enough room for 3 diesels or 2 diesels, or whatever)...If those ended without the runaround, your train would enter staging and you'd have to pick the locos up to stage for another train.
  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Another option is to use a "cassette" which is really a piece of track with sides that is big enough to hold the locos and can be moved from the end of one track to another. A variation is the sector plate which is a cassette with one end bolted to the table so that it can be swung from one siding to another.
  5. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

    The alternative to the run around is manually picking up the engines and turning them. Not the best but moving one or two engines beats moving an engine plus cars. I was wondering how other people handled it in their staging yards.

    I am worried about derailing the cars as I move the cassette around. Any suggestions to help them stay on the track?
  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Depending on the era of trains you run, 5 feet can be awfully short. If you run the 36' to 40' boxcars of the 1900-1940 time period, you are looking at a train length of 6 to 8 cars plus engine at most. If you run modern stuff with intermodal cars, you might only get one or two of those in there, or 4 89' boxes.

    To maximize the space, you might want to go for a three-way switch or even a pivoting sector plate (like this one built by my friend John - to get the most out of the space.

    If your space is 1 foot wide as shown in the diagram, you should be able to get a few more staging tracks in there and keep your 2.25" spacing. I agree that the engine escape tracks are a good idea - try having the outer tracks both connect to the inner tracks.

    Alternatively, you can use the cassette idea, or you can even mount the whole thing on drawer slides and simply line up the desired track with the inbound lead by moving the drawer in or out as appropriate. MR has tackled this concept a few times over the years. Check the index of magazines at Model Railroader Magazine - Model Railroading, Trains, Track Plans.

    Hope that helps.

  7. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Whether or not you need the escape track can also depend on how you plan to use the staging yard. For me, the only time the locos come off the layout is for maintenance or if I'm changing my operating era. However, most of my staging represents interchange, so when the train enters staging, the cars are removed from the layout manually, and put back in their proper boxes under the layout.

    The loco is then run a short distance to a wye, turned, then backed to the staging area to pick up a newly placed train. The area above the staging area shown will eventually have a similar yard to serve the as-yet-unbuilt second level of the layout, with a turntable nearby to turn the locos.
    The lowest track, with the loaded coal train, is also an interchange, but the loaded/empty hoppers will be manually restaged by unloading at their destination, then reloaded when they return here as empties. The locos will "escape" while the cars are off-layout for loading/unloading.
    The two mid-level tracks with the reefers are also staging, but these tracks represent an industrial area of a nearby town, so all cars here are pushed into place and dropped-off, with another loco coming later to pull them away.
    When the second level is built, my plan is to do all of the physical removal and replacement of cars between operating sessions, as I have enough locos to keep the trains moving without having to re-use the same loco during a session.

  8. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

    I have a small layout so I don't expect to run trains longer than 10 or more cars (40 or 50 ft ones). I was playing around with the "Run Trains" button in Xtrkcad and I can fit those in a 5 ft. yard.

    I was even considering cutting it down to 4 ft even since the modeled yard on my layout only fits about 5 cars on the passing track.

    Andrew, I like the idea of a sector plate. I think I will go back and see how well it fits in.
  9. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah


    The cassette and the board it rides on need to be quite flat and smooth. Most of the ones I've seen use baby powder (talcum) to ease sliding. Some use aluminum angle spaced track gauge apart to make the tracks .
    At one layout I operate on, the gaffer made cassettes out of metal wall studs, 8 feet long. He claims he can move one out and another in without spilling the trains -- nobody else is willing to try! :cry:
  10. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    If you do go with a cassette or something else that moves an engine or entire train at once, mount a coupler height gauge permanently so that the consist or engine can couple to that while moving.

  11. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Note the 6" long turnout. Despite the 2-1/4" track centers that might make you think HO, this is N!
  12. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

    Yes it is N. The wide centers are for extra finger room. I want to be able to place cars/locos on the track even if the adjacent tracks are occupied.
  13. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

    Thanks for everyone's comments so far. I decided a plain run around wasn't worth the track space. I would still need to turn the engines if I wanted them facing the right way even if I did get them on the right end of the train. I am still considering using a turntable/run around combination as show in the image. That way I can change direction and turn without having to pick up the engine.

    My next question is about wiring. I use DC and would need to be able to control which tracks get power. Ideally it would be neat to have it set up with 5 push buttons (one for each track). Pushing the button would fire the snap switches on the turnouts to correctly align route for that track, as well as trip a relay to turn on power to only that track. Has anyone ever done something like that? Is it worth all the effort or should I just stick with on/off switches for each track and align the route manually?

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  14. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    You could use power routing turnouts to control the power to the tracks. Also, your turntable will need to be treated as a reverse loop.


    PS - Sorry for the HO-scale bias. Not seeing any info to the contrary, I assumed... hamr
  15. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Yes it can be done. Are you planning on using the commercial switches with the machines already mounted at the side (as your drawing suggests)? You could use a snap relay or other sticking relay in parallel with the switch machine to give the required contacts. The trick is to find one that has about the same electrical characteristics as the switch machine. From experience I know that different brands of machines (even different runs) may not work together -- one will absorb all the current, even with a CDU, and the others don't throw.
    You should be able to construct a diode matrix to let you set up a whole route with one push button. You can then wire through the relays so that each siding is powered only when the switches are set for it.
    An alternative: a bunch of DPDT relays (like switch machines)- one per siding - wired with a diode matrix so that each push button turns one on and the others off. (you could even go down to SPST relays). Lostock Junction uses this arrangement reversed to select cabs to control blocks.
  16. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I would not bother with a run around track. Just leave one track open and make a single track sector plate slightly longer than your longest locomotive consist. You could even mount it on rails underneath to allow it to roll smoothly from track to track. Use a couple of tracks perpendicular to the staging tracks one at each end of the sector plate. I think ho track for the sector plate would be more stable than using n scale. Buy a couple of ho scale freight trucks and mount them with screws to the bottom of the sector plate. You pull a train into the staging yard, uncouple the locomotives and move them completely onto the sector plate. Then you just roll the sector plate to align with the vacant track to allow the engines to escape. If the sector plate base is wider than the track, you could drill alignment holes along side the tracks and use "shelf pins" from the hardware store to align the sector plate with each track. You would need to put a second peice of plywood under the main staging yard that the scetor plate would pass over that the alignment holes would go through.

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