Friday 5 October 2012

Building an N-Scale Layout - Staging Yard Design

The old layout & staging yard (on the right)
With the benchwork built for my new N-scale layout the next challenge was to decide on how I could add more staging to the new layout.  For those unfamiliar with the term, staging or a staging yard (schattenbahnhof in German) refers to a set of tracks (usually hidden) where trains can disappear off the visible areas of a layout. Depending on how you plan to run or operate your layout, staging can represent 'the rest of the world' - destinations for the trains that you do not have the space or scope to model, or it can simply be a place to store trains on the layout until you want to run them again.  In my case, staging will be a bit of everything - my rough plan was to have staging yards at each end of the main line, allowing trains to disappear off the layout and not immediately return running in the opposite direction, adding a sense of real railway operations when running trains.  My staging will also be a place to store a number of trains so I can have a wide variety of trains running and ensuring I am not always transferring rolling stock to and from my display shelves.

Track plan for the new staging yard
I had a rough plan in mind to reuse my old 8-track staging yard that ran along a wall of the train room and expand staging by building a new larger staging yard as the lowest level of the layout.  Taking into account the 10 foot length of the layout and that I wanted all staging to be able to handle a 48-54 inch train,  I estimated I would get approximately 8-10 staging tracks in a new yard.  I also wanted to be sure that I had good access to the staging yard in case of derailments or other trouble. This meant running the yard across the front of the layout and ensuring lots of overhead clearance so I could easily reach the rearmost tracks in needed. Some rough 'reach' tests demonstrated that I would want at least 6 inches of clearance above the trains to deal with disasters.  I had already decided that I was going to use a helix located on the short leg of the layout to move the trains to/from the visible parts of the layout so getting the clearance required was not going to be an issue.

I started planning the new staging yard by laying a 2x8 sheet of gatorboard onto the benchwork and just laying out turnouts to try some ideas. I had planned to re-use the Kato Unitrack from the old layout to build the staging so it was very easy to click the turnouts and track together to see what fit.  I wanted to use all the turnouts I already owned before buying new ones so this type of planning helped me ensure I was make best use of what I had. In the end I did most of the planning like this, only transferring the track plan into my WinTrack track planning software when I had it nearly figured out. I managed to fit ten 55 inch tracks into the new staging so I was happy with the plan.  I also had the full length of the layout at the back still available to add even more staging later on if I wanted to.

Testing ideas for the new staging yard
by laying out the track on sheets of
1/2 inch gatorboard
Two colors of track? Some Unitrack
was had been painted for use on
visible areas of the old layout

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