Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Staging renovation

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...


  1. That's a huge change Allen. I didn't know that you had such a big staging facility. I don't remember seeing a photo of it before this.
    I can understand the desire to downsize, but I'm thinking that two tracks will be too few. I like to have extra tracks to hold trains that don't get run during ops sessions, such as my track-cleaning train, and my "spare cars" trains that I run when I'm just playing, and I don't want to muck up my staged trains.

    1. Hi Rod, yeah I had made several posts on this yard in the past and yes, it will be a huge change from before.
      As of right now Ron, I'm only planning for three trains to be run on the layout: The local and two through freights. The two through freights will reside on the two sidings and will only be run if there is anyone who shows up to play and doesn't want to Op. These can be changed out anytime or just swap the power. So you can figure these will be like your "spare cars" trains.
      Originally I drew only 4 yard tracks, but I may install 5 so I have an extra open track just incase.
      The first two tracks will hold the cars for the local, the third might be used for cars to use in the industrial section, if I get that far? and the fourth will be used as a way to get to other end of the yard, so yeah, a 5th track might be nice? We'll see how it goes.

  2. That's a good idea, Allen, to still have the crews add their power and cabs to the trains -- beginning the day's work just like at any other small terminal.

    1. Hopefully it won't feel like work and give just enough of a feeling to keep interest.