I’ve gotten into a little round-robin group with some fellow narrow-gaugers — Chris McChesney, Gary White, my old friend Matt Matthews, and myself. Of the four of us, three are Maine modelers. We get together on Tuesday nights for dinner, and then work on each others’ layouts, shoot the breeze, or just plain play trains. Last night, we were at Matt’s house, and the evening was spent talking about future plans, and a little impromptu operating session on a nifty little switching layout Matt had built for his son.
The layout is similar to the classic Inglenook Sidings arrangement that’s a whole 1 foot by 4 feet in N-scale. (Yes, last night was old farts switching in N-scale. Man, those couplers are small! And the MicroTrains coupler clones made by Atlas and Bachmann are horrible!).
On Matt’s variation of Inglenook, the main line (where the train “comes in” and “goes out” is the long track curving off to the far right. It’s long enough for a single locomotive, seven hoppers and a caboose. The “track-to-be” in the foreground is the lead, and holds the engine and two cars. The remaining two tracks are coal tipple tracks, and each can just hold seven cars.
It took us about a half hour to run the scenario — our train was to bring in three empty cars and take out seven loads from the tipple. At the beginning of the operating session, one of the tipple tracks had three loaded cars, the other had four. The “rules” dictate that time must be allowed for the brakeman to walk between the switches and cars, and also to set the brakes as needed.
On the way home, it occurred to me to build something along these lines, most likely in a larger scale like HO or On30, for a little operating fun, and as a display layout to show off the dead rail gear in the On30 Guy’s train show booths.