I got the first stretch of new track laid down in the main yard tonight.
No wires yet so I just used a couple of jumpers.
And a quick video.
The design keeps evolving, hopefully for the better.
The first design was simple and clean.
The second design seen the addition of a separate car storage track for the industries which was double ended. This would allow the switcher to get on the other end of a car so I could have spurs on the blue industry track that would face both directions.
I retained the two green tracks for the two through freights.
One of the yard tracks would now hold pre-consisted locomotives that could be rotated through for each additional operating session. After each session, the current consist would be placed on the left end of that track and the consist on the right would then be shuffled to the engine facility. This would give me the chance to use a different set of power for each session and add variety.
It would also give a timeline where I could service the consists. After every rotation or every other rotation, I could service and clean the consists, or even change out the consists with a new batch if so desired, thus giving me even more variety. In a future post I'll explain more why I'm using pre-consisted power sets.
This next design had a few more refinements. From suggestions of a friend, I added two shorter car storage tracks, the idea here was that it might resemble a smaller interchange yard within the main yard.
The consist storage track became the running track and the consist storage track was moved to the rear track. Moving it to the rear was done as he said having the consist on the third track might make it look like a dead line But then again, what would modeling The Rock Island be without dead power?
I wanted a simpler yard design to go along with the simple operations that I came up with awhile back. So time will tell if the yard goes through another design evolution. But for right now this is the one I'm planning on.
The only bit of track that remains on the yard is the outer loop along the backdrop and the two staging tracks. I just need to tie the three tracks together to form the two siding and I can start relaying things.
I'm planning to tie the three tracks together in the curved area with large curved turnouts so they'll be easy to reach.
Along with the reduction of my operations, the staging yard will also be reduced. Not in physical size, but in the amount track that will be needed.
As mentioned several posts back, I plan to reduce the amount of trains that run during a session from as many as 22 down to 4. This will include one local that runs out and back over the entire layout and only two through freights.
The new staging will still function the same as the old staging, but will have much less track and be less complicated to operate. The trains will enter and exit the staging as before as an extension of the layout, but will only have 4-5 tracks that make up the bulk of the yard. A small basic engine facility and at least two tracks at the rear where a couple of through freights can sit out of the way.
In time, if things pan out my plans are to add a small industrial area between the yard and the rear two staging tracks, hopefully giving the illusion of a downtown scene. This should also give me another mini switching layout within the overall layout to play on without having to run the entire layout.
A little history of the staging.
back in 1986 when we first came up with our BendTrack modular plans we wanted a staging yard where we could make and break trains without fouling the mainlines. The first one was 8' long and 9 tracks wide. After the first few public shows it was obvious that it was going to have be expanded. The first expansion was to lengthen it from 8' to 16', the second expansion came a few years later. I added a bubble on the end and looped the track 180° and wound up with 8 staging tracks and one return track. This worked until 1997 when I doubled the width of the yard from one yard with 8 tracks to two parallel yards of 8 tracks each. I also included two By-Pass tracks that ran between both yards. I also added a bunch of ready tracks where the members could store their extra power if need.
In 2008 when I decided to build the current layout in the basement, I included the yard module for the staging of the new layout since we weren't setting up the modules any longer. Over the years I've made several minor modifications to it so it would function better in this new role.
As of tonight I took the time to clear it off so that I can start the renovation process.
Here is a rough drawing of what it will become when I'm finished.
The local is planned to originate and terminate in this yard. The cars will be pre-staged into a SB and a NB group on two of the tracks. The locomotives and caboose will be stored on the tracks within the loop on the right. The two through freights will be staged on the green tracks in the rear (in opposite directions). The industrial section is in blue if and when it gets added. Disregard the red X's for now.
The session will begin with the crew pulling the locomotives from the engine facility and placing them and the caboose on the SB group of cars. They will leave the yard (Biddle yard) SB, traverse the layout and wind up back on the same track (now in Alexandria, LA) from where they left. Next they will drop their train and tie onto the NB string of cars and place their caboose on that train and traverse the layout NB and wind up on the same track from where they left originally in Alexandria. Lastly they will park the locomotives and caboose back in the engine facility to end the session.
As things progress, I'm sure some things will change, but this is what I have planned as of now. That's right, there will be no complicated classification switching either. I want the bulk of the switching focused on the layout, not in the yard. But by having the crew add their locomotives and caboose to their trains, it should give the feeling of doing some yard work without all the work.
We'll see how this goes...