I am not a layout designer, but don’t we all dabble a little in it?  One of a small series of my hypotheticals……..


Does operating between two towns require a mainline?

If a very limited space precludes a mainline run, one can still switch between two places – Compact 2-Place Switching (C2PS).  Presented as a bi-level shadow-box using a staging traverser with an elevating feature –  this type of operation is possible in a very small space.  For example, the upper level could have a small interchange yard and perhaps an industry and the lower level a destination industry or industries.  Or it could be two different towns.  Or some other configuration.

In the view below, the shadow-box fascia has been removed.  The staging traverser is as-described in my last post (CATEGORY: TECH – LAYOUT CONCEPTS “STAGING TRAVERSER”), however an additional pair of vertically-oriented ball bearing drawer sliders creates the elevating motion to change layout levels.


“Mouse-holes” in the sidewall allow access into the level.  The traverser aligns to trackage in any horizontal pitch.  Of course our usual trickery (tunnel portal, highway overpass, etc) can hide the opening in the modelled scene.


This very rough concept is missing some fine details:

  1. A means to easily couple/uncouple the traverser to further reduce the layout width. However, this may not be needed.  The design can be semi-permanently assembled to the vertical slider arms with screws.
  2. Stops for the traverser in the down position.
  3. A feature to hold the traverser in the elevated position.  I envision a pair of blocks that each swing on a hinge -> swung out to make clearance for the vertical motion to pass and swung in to sit under the traverser.
  4. I would make a fine adjustment for rail height as I have on the Fillmore staging elevator (CATEGORY: DESIGN, STAGING ELEVATOR “STAGING ELEVATOR PT7”).  This could be retro-fitted if needed.


The upper “mouse-hole” is wider to show that the upper level yard need not end in single track.  The same idea applies as shown in S4F, and a compact run-around feature is attainable.


Here is some data about the model illustrated:

  • Length: 48″ [122cm]
  • Model Space: 46-1/2″ [118cm]
  • Height: 40″ [101.6cm]
  • Depth: 14″ [35.6cm]
  • Length with Traverser: 66″ [167.6cm]
  • Traverser length: 18″ [45.7cm]  –  1x small diesel switcher & 2x forty foot cars
  • 3/4″ sidewalls and shelfs
  • 1/2″ back board
  • 1/8″ hardboard fascia
  • 16″ [40.6cm] shelf spacing
  • 14″ [35.6cm] traverser stroke
  • 18″ [45.7cm] elevator stroke

Some more views…..



For those who are fussy about having their locomotive leading the train out of and into the scenes, an optional staging turntable can be incorporated, as seen below.


The space below the lower shelf is handy for the DCC command station, throttle, waybills/switch lists, tools, whatever.