Model Railroading Ideas

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When you plan a small model train layout, it’s important that you know the limitations the small space imposes on you and your model train set.

Although the space you have available for your RR layout might limit your choice of scales, the major limitation is usually in the choice of themes you can model. In most cases main line model train themes wouldn’t fit. Whereas, given that you only have a limited space available for your layout; industrial, branch line and tramway themes are possibly the best model train layout options to consider. If you must have a mainline theme, but don’t have space for it, then you’ll probably have to scale your model train layout down.

If don’t want to compromise, then don’t start a small model train layout.

There are a number of differences that you will need to accept or adapt yourself to when choosing a small layout: the curves may be too sharp, the angles of the switches may be too steep, and the sidings too short. With a small layout everything is compressed to the max. But when you think about it, although a small layout may not be your first choice, it is better than no train set at all!

Most model railroaders have far more cars (rolling stock) and locomotives than they can possibly operate at once. One option is to simply store excess rolling stock and locomotives in boxes or on display shelves or cabinets. It is possible, however, to store all of your extra equipment and trains on tracks in a yard that may or may not be part of the visible operating portion of your model train layout.

However, design mistakes are a common feature of model railroad yard layouts. Yards don’t always work out as well as they should. A major cause is the lack of available information on how to design a good model railroad yard layout. Without the resources, model railroaders are forced into a lot of guesswork.

Model Train Yard Layout Compression

Apart from the lack of available information on model railroad yards, another cause for less than satisfactory model railroad yard designs, is the need to compress a model railroad layout into the space available. ‘Compression’ is the model railroaders enemy, but in most cases, necessary.

Let’s start by looking at the make up of real classification yards. Generally, they are huge. They often consist of many smaller special-purpose rail yards, that collectively, add up to a complex array of train track.

It is commonplace for there to be three separate double-ended rail yards strung one after the other. These are designed to move train traffic efficiently and usually comprise: an arrival yard, a classification yard, and a departure yard.

The Arrival Yard On Model Train Layouts

The arrival yard is where arriving trains drop off the cars of their train. The cars are then moved to the classification yard, being switched back and forth as necessary to get the right cars onto the right trains. The trains are then built out and moved to the departure yard. After getting a new caboose and locomotive, they then proceed to their next destination