There’s much to be said for compact layouts. Even more so for narrow shelf type switching layouts. One reason for saying this is the fact you have to lay out your track plan well. You have to accommodate enough industry and switching possibilities to make things interesting in a small amount of space, much like the prototype did in small confined city and dock areas where space was at a premium.
With that being said, when I laid out my track plan for the left hand side of my extension onto my layout, I had to determine what industries I wanted, then draw the dimensions out onto the layout, then figure how to work the tracks needed around these buildings. What I came up with I believe is workable, and actually prototypical for some areas. When testing the layout track work afterwards, I found the track plan also added more time to a session as well as more interest.
For example, just this morning I ran an operating session on JUST the left hand side of my layout, with the particular locomotive and caboose simply switching the left side, and running to and from Spring Street yard, which is a short distance away to drop off and pick up cars. The session took three hours just switching and spotting cars. Again, you have to enjoy a switching type layout for this to work!
In running the session, I had to run up to Spring Street yard from the yard office in Nitro to pick up my inbound cars dropped off previously by the day turn coming up from Dickinson yard downriver. I also had to bring up my loaded tank cars from Allied Chemical to be taken over and reclassified for train NT-5 up to Buckeye yard in Columbus. Ohio.
In between I also had to switch out Davis Wholesale, picking up two empty refrigerator cars and dropping off an empty boxcar to load with scrap wood and cardboard. The following photos show the sequence required to complete this..
First, I’m on the passing track/siding with the empty boxcar coupled behind as I pull the two reefers out of Davis Wholesale as shown above
As shown above, I’ve now pulled through the crossover onto the main, thrown the switch, and am now pulling the reefers down the main to clear
After uncoupling from the reefers, I now pulled down the other end of the passing track, and am now coupled up to the boxcar shoving it into Davis
Pulling back through the crossover and back onto the main, I backed down and coupled up to the two refrigerator cars and head for Spring Street, then spotting these cars in the yard for later pickup.
A little bit of complexity and a lot of interest….