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


I have a passing interest for the trackage found along the Buffalo waterfront.  There, great grain elevators tower over a myriad of rails.  Many still silently stand today.  But this is just window dressing for a rough concept, which would, at least in North American terms, occupy a small space (6 feet x 8 feet).  The aim is to maximize the visible layout and minimize the staging.

At the end of this posting there is a link to a downloadable CAD drawing of the design.

The track plan does not specifically match (to my knowledge) any particular place.  The operating intent is to have the locomotive stay on the layout at all times.  It can be hidden behind the grain elevator silos right near staging for off-scene purposes.  Strings of box cars, in grain service, are stored in a staging elevator.  This device makes for a very compact staging area.

The elevator is four-level with 6” spacing.  Some of that spacing is consumed by 1×2 framework under each 11mm birch plywood sheet.  This leaves about a 4” high window for access to the tracks.  Each level is double-tracked and has a capacity of eight forty foot cars, four per track.  Total elevator capacity is 32 cars.  The run-around just ahead of it allows locomotive access to both level tracks.  The staging elevator is hidden behind grain elevator silos and accessible via a door.

A pair of ball bearing drawer sliders are used in the vertical direction, in this case 20” types to provide the 18” vertical stroke required.  The extra stroke is handy for some over-travel in both directions.  The sliders are attached to vertical 1×2’s and they in turn are screwed into the room wall with anchors.

CAUTION: The elevator is subject to gravity: when in the up position if the operator loses his grip, the whole thing will come crashing down.  A handle is provided for lifting and lowering in a controlled manner.  A simple sliding locking bar holds the elevator to the desired level.  Pulling it out provides clearance for the vertical motion.  Employing an automotive jack as done on the Fillmore staging elevator is not possible due to the much greater stroke needed, the proximity of the wall, and the narrow shelfs.

The following pictures show the design details…








A view of the locking bar arrangement:


I think some adjustability will be of benefit.  With the feature shown below, each level rail height can be fine tuned.



To secure a string of cars so that they will not roll off the open end of a level, couplers can be mounted on blocks as I did for the Fillmore staging fiddle yard (below).  They can be swung out of the way if so desired.


Click here for the downloadable layout plan (StagingElevator_BuffaloWaterfront).  There is an error – the Buffalo Creek road was jointly owned by the Erie Railroad and Lehigh Valley Railroad (not B&O as noted).