Or to put it another way, how am I going to add the fiddle yard (UK usage) or staging (USA) to the short line? I thought I had this all worked out, but once again reasoning through the options came up with a different solution, as shown below.
Option 1 in the sketch was my additional thought. I could add another N-club 800 x 400mm module at right angles to the main boards. This could hold a fiddle yard, or form the basis on an N-club single track branch. However, it does stick out into my loft room a long way, and is less than ideal as far as home use is concerned.
There is also quite a sharp curve into the fiddle yard – I was considering using PECO Set-track radius 4.
Option 2 is another approach. Here, the fiddle yard lies at an angle to the main boards. It solves the curve problem, and takes up less space, but it is still less than ideal. Somehow, it just doesn’t look right.
So we end up with option 3. Why not put the fiddle yard behind the main lines on the first 800mm board? There is room for a road switcher, 4 x 40 ft cars and a caboose – a reasonable short line branch train. This option can hug the wall and is better from a household point of view. It is less prototypical, as the branch doesn’t curve away through 90 degrees, but I am not trying to exactly model Roselle Park. Overall, this seemed to be the best option.
There are a couple of issues, though. If I put points into the fiddle yard, I can only really have two storage tracks. It would be nice to have three or even four, but even a two track yard will provide two trains for switching, and a pleasant hour’s operations. If the model goes to a show, a little hand shunting will be in any case be needed after the two trains have returned to the yard to reverse the loco and caboose, and stock could be changed.
Alternatively, using cassettes for storage could both allow trains to be moved onto or off the layout and also allow them to be reversed. However, I do have unpleasant memories of cassettes at an ESNG show, and an Atlas locomotive hitting the floor. Perhaps it’s time to give them another go?
The other issue is how to hide the fiddle yard. A standard USA trick is using large industrial buildings. This would work well enough, but I wanted to give the layout a more rural appearance. A high steep hillside or cliffs will look out of place, though I have some good pictures of the Lehigh Valley running next to a set of low bluffs. It is also difficult to blend the hillside into the module end and a connecting module. I think the best option is a low bank about the height of N-gauge stock plus a bit – perhaps only 50mm high. This will be densely wooded, hiding the tracks behind.
I’ll post some pictures when final decisions are made and the track’s all in place.