Chapter One Basic yard functions by vjz16565


Introduction                                    4

Chapter One: Basic yard functions               7

Chapter Two: Track by track                    23

Chapter Three: Favorite model railroad yards   39

Chapter Four: Designing yards                  47

Chapter Five: Staging yards                    61

Chapter Six: Operating model railroad yards    71

References                                     88
Ten tips for freight yard
design and operation
  1. Cars don’t belong in    to let road trains in or     blocks and trains              10. Double-endedness
freight yards. Cars can’t    out. Also, operators         require less handling in     is a good thing. The
be loaded or unloaded        won’t have their             the yard between arrival     more through tracks a
in a yard (intermodal        plans interrupted.           and departure.               yard has, the more
yards being the main                                                                   flexible it will be for
exceptions), and cars          5. Use staging tracks        8. Model a yard            handling trains in both
standing in a yard           to provide off-layout        located at or near a         directions. And since
aren’t generating            destinations for trains      junction. Consolidating      the real railroads
transportation. The          and cars. Let staging be     traffic from and             overwhelmingly prefer
purpose of a freight yard    the “somewhere else”         separating traffic for       through yards, a
is to organize cars into     where cars in a yard are     different lines adds         double-ended model
trains, interchange          supposed to go, over         interest to the switching,   yard will look
transfers, or switch cuts    and above the industries     even if most trains just     more realistic.
so they can be taken         on your layout. Staging      pass through the yard.
somewhere else for           can represent any place      And the junction can be
loading or unloading.        not displayed on your        merely “notional” or
                             layout: a distant            “conceptual,” off the
  2. When space is tight,    terminal, a connection       modeled layout
use something other          with another railroad, or    in staging.
than a straight ladder.      an industrial district (or
Compound ladders,            large industry) just out       9. Assign multiple
pinwheel ladders, and        of sight.                    operators to help the
ladders on the angle of                                   yard keep up. A
the next smaller frog           6. Operate with           common complaint is
will allow longer body       paperwork that deals         that trains cross our
tracks in a given length.    with cars in the order       too-short main lines so
                             they stand on the track.     quickly that the yard
  3. Include a drill track   Whether you choose           inevitably falls behind.
as long as the longest       hand-written switch          But does it make sense
body track. Allowing a       lists, car cards with        to expect one
switcher to drag out an      waybills, or computer-       yardmaster to keep
entire track for sorting     generated lists, you’ll      ahead of six or eight
generally expedites          save time and confusion      road engineers?
classification switching.    if you can handle cars in    Additional yard
                             sequence as they come        operators can run a
  4. Allow trains to         in trains, blocks, and       second yard engine,
arrive and depart            switching cuts.              hostle engines at the
without interfering with                                  roundhouse, switch
yard switchers. More           7. Sort arriving cars      local industries and
can be accomplished          by where they go next.       interchanges, or
when switch engines          Cars classified as they      any combination of
don’t have to stop work      arrive into outbound         these tasks.


         e’re going to look at freight yards as sorting centers:      Woodsriver Yard on Paul
                                                                      Dolkos’s HO scale Boston &
         facilities with the main function of grouping individual     Maine layout is a sorting
                                                                      center that builds both
cars into blocks or trains going to the same destination and          originating trains and blocks
                                                                      of cars for pickup by through
dispatching them as trains, transfer runs to connecting
                                                                      trains. Paul J. Dolkos
railroads, or switching jobs serving local industries. Our basic

assumption is that most cars in a yard at any time are

supposed to be somewhere else. They’re just passing through,

and the work of the yard is to move them along to wherever it

is that they’re really going. We don’t want to think of yards as

places to store cars, except for certain special cases I’ll explain

later in the book.

   Let’s take a closer look at yard functions and their model

railroading potential.

The ideal model railroad yard
Here’s an example of an                to save space. A second                         be as long as the longest                          Interchange at this yard
“ideal” yard you can use               ladder at the far end of                        yard track. That lets the                          would be represented
as-is on your own model                the yard will add that                          switcher clear any track                           with transfer runs to
railroad. You can adapt                much more length,                               in one move, then sort                             and from a stub-ended
it from the track plan or              although if you have the                        those cars into any other                          staging track.
follow its schematic to                space for it it’s a great                       tracks in the yard.                                   This yard is shown as
fit a yard into a different            investment in flexibility.                        Crossovers allow                                 a complete layout in
shaped space.                          More tracks for sorting                         trains to come and go                              itself, with staging
   It includes double-                 and short-term storage                          from the arrival/depar-                            tracks behind the
ended arrival/departure                would also be welcome.                          ture tracks also without                           backdrop to provide
tracks so trains can                     The switching lead or                         interrupting switching                             trains for the yard to
come and go from either                drill track allows the                          on the lead and ladder.                            work. That’s not a bad
direction. This is a good              yard engine to keep                             The optional crossover                             concept for a compact
idea even if the yard will             working while other                             would let the switcher                             but action-packed
be at the end of the line              traffic, such as                                on the lead work a                                 layout, but either or
on your layout.                        passenger trains that                           through train stopped                              both ends of this yard
   Remember, a yard isn’t              won’t enter the freight                         on the main line.                                  could be connected to
a destination. If your                 yard, passes by on the                            There’s a roundhouse,                            the main line of a larger
road ends here it needs                main line. The drill                            a caboose track, a RIP                             layout. Since it can
connections to other                   track has to be on the                          track, a freight house,                            perform all the basic
systems, or to industrial              ladder end of any                               and a few small                                    yard functions, it could
complexes represented                  single-ended tracks.                            industries. There’s even                           function just as well as
by staging.                              Extending the drill                           a passenger station so                             part of a more complete
   The classification                  track through the back-                         this doesn’t have to be a                          system.
tracks are single-ended                drop in this case lets it                       freight-only railroad.

        Railroad Avenue
                                                                                             Optional transfer   Staging tracks
            City buildings                                                                   staging track
            along backdrop
            face away
            from railroad
                                                  24" minimum
                                                                   Access to staging                               Ozark Lines
                                                                                                                   Division point at Oldburg                      Drill
                                                                                                                   (With apologies to E. S. Dellinger)            track
                             Backdrop just higher
                             than eye level                                                                       N scale (1:160)
                                               Alley                                   Passenger station          6 x 12 feet with 2 x 3-foot extension
                                                                                       and division offices       15" minimum radius (visible tracks)
                                                                Express                                           No. 6 turnouts
                                                                                                    walkway       Scale: 3⁄4" = 1'-0"
                                                                                                                  12" grid                                    RIP track
                                                                                                                                          Backs of
                                                                                                                                          city buildings             Backs of
                                                                                                                                        Hubbard            Freight buildings
                                                                                                                                        Street             house

                                                                              crossover      Caboose
                                                                                             track      Team track

                                                                                                          Engine supply track
                                                                                                                                                                                  Car shop
                                                                                              120-foot turntable                Coal
                                                                                              (Walthers 933-32030)                      Ashes

                                                                                                                      Crew room and
                                                                                                                      roundhouse office


Right: Track scales allow railroads to charge
   for shipments by weight, and can be used
  for a wide variety of commodities and car
  types. Balance-beam scales typically could
     not handle the weight of locomotives, so
gantlet tracks were used to allow engines to
 bypass the scale’s live rails. As shown here
     at the Milwaukee Road’s Chestnut Street
 Yard in Milwaukee, the scale’s live rails are
        usually offset toward the scale house.
                             Gordon Odegard

     Below: The RIP (repair-in-place) track is
     on the left in this view down the ladder
      at the Chicago & North Western yard
           in Boone, Iowa. Henry J. McCord

                                                                                           • Car repair and cleaning:
                                                                                        Almost any yard will have a
                                                                                        simple repair-in-place (RIP) track,
                                                                                        and at larger yards there may be
                                                                                        more extensive car shops. Since
                                                                                        any actual repairs will be done on
                                                                                        our workbenches this may not
                                                                                        seem much of an operational
                                                                                        opportunity, but we can use card
                                                                                        decks or some other random
                                                                                        selection to simulate the need to
                                                                                        repair cars arriving in our yard or
                                                                                        found defective in a terminal air
                                                                                        test (see Chapter 6.) That can
                                                                                        make for interesting if unexpected
                                                                                        switching to get bad-order cars to
                                                                                        the RIP track, and later to pull
                                                                                        them out and reclassify them.
                                                                                        Empty cars may need to be
                                                                                        cleaned or otherwise prepared for
   • Adjacent industries and                     around a yard. The engine termi-       loading, and a clean-out track can
interchanges: Whether yards are                  nal will need deliveries of fuel       add another switching spot to
in urban or rural areas, they’re                 (coal, fuel oil, or diesel fuel) and   maneuver cars to and from.
often adjacent to industrial                     sand, and ash from coal burners           • Weighing cars: Most real
property that attracts businesses                has to be hauled away. Shops and       yards include a track scale for
needing rail access. These may be                storehouses will receive ship-         weighing cars, as this is often the
served by a yard switcher during                 ments of materials, and items like     basis for billing shippers. Almost
breaks in classification, or if there            wheelsets and traction motors          any kind of car can be weighed if
is sufficient work an industrial                 may be shipped to another shop         necessary, but yards that handle a
switching job may be established.                for heavy work. If another rail-       lot of bulk traffic, like coal, grain,
The yard switcher would classify                 road crosses or passes adjacent to     minerals, or cement, will need to
cars for the industry switcher to                your yard, there can be an inter-      weigh many cars. Even with
deliver, but as a yard job the                   change track right at that spot.       dummy track scales, this can be
industry crew might help in                      Interchanges are rightly called        an extra switching move that can
assembling its own cars. Always                  “universal industries” for a layout    add interest to the process of
keep in mind the railroad itself                 because any kind of car might          getting cars on their way. Older
when you’re looking for industries               move through such a connection.        scales required each car to be


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