CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Planning the Staging Yard

So, the fourth side of my small layout will be a staging yard. I have waffled over the past year on what to model here, and I still don't know. However, a couple of things have become a bit clearer in my mind. Since the entire section is 2' x 4.5', which is shorter than my other three sides. I cannot pack a lot of stuff onto it. And, this section might only last until I get a larger house down the road, so I don't want to make it something that will be hard to integrate into a future layout.

But, I need to include certain things for my NMRA MMR Electrical certificate which will include: a powered turntable; a three-track yard with a switching lead and simple ladder arrangement; an engine terminal that includes 3 stall tracks, and an additional 2 storage tracks or sections with power-kill capability. That is quite a lot to jam onto roughly nine square feet. In fact, it is too much. I plan to honor the spirit of the rules, so I won't build a yard that contains three tracks that are only a foot long. But, I will definitely need to spill over onto the corner section leading into this.

I don't want to use cheap brass track (I have 40 sections of flextrack I bought on a whim years ago) and used switches for this "temporary" section, but I also am not sure I want to buy expensive M.E. #6 switches. Likewise, I will thinking of using ground throws instead of Tortoise switch machines, and perhaps the frogs won't be powered. I am still going to have to buy stuff, like a curved turnout to get into the yard and an Atlas turntable and motor, knowing full well that but-for the NMRA requirements I wouldn't have to. Sigh.

This yard might actually serve a purpose to store unused train equipment that isn't running on the mainline, so I must make sure the trackwork is still laid carefully. In other words, it might serve as a staging yard. There were many yards that were being torn up by Guilford in 1984 (North Albany Yard, "Breaker Yard" in Menands) and so I might be able to model this section as it looked run down and still be evocative of a real yard even though the track arrangements won't match. I laid out some lines using M.E. #5 switches but I don't know yet if I want the tracks to parallel the mainline in the back or cross the section at an angle. Too much parallel track might look bad, but it would be prototypical in this case.

I bought a curved Walthers/Shinohara turnout to bring the yard lead off of the mainline on the corner section, which will allow me to have longer yard tracks. Peco and Atlas also make curved turnouts, but they were either too sharp or too broad. Walthers unfortunately doesn't label their Shinohara turnouts with the correct radius per various online forums (see here and here), but their #6.5 has 24"R on the outside and 18"R on the inside, preserving my 24"R mainline. How much simpler it would be if Walthers actually stepped up and revised their catalogs to accurately state what the turnouts actually are?

That notwithstanding, the curved switch is really cool. It is much more robust than the M.E. ones, even though the point rail hinges are a little larger. I spent a lot of time just playing with it and moving it back and forth. And, it let me keep my 24" mainline radius. As an aside, I am always amused when I read in magazines of a layout that has "Minimum mainline radius of ___, except for ___." Huh? That doesn't make sense. Do they not understand what the "minimum" in "minimum radius" means? Anyways...

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