I am not a layout designer, but don’t we all dabble a little in it? Another in a short series of space saving designs with operations in mind…
I think a yard as a layout is overlooked as a model railroad option. Personally, I love the idea. It is a great way to provide for lots of operation. It is a “universal industry” that can accept any type of car. It is simple and quick to build and scenic. Those freight car aficionados who enjoy building detailed models can not only display their work in a natural setting, but can operate them realistically too. The time saved in constructing the layout can be put towards building more rolling stock and, of course, operating.
If someone had sixteen feet of wall, they might design and construct a nice shelf-style linear switching layout with a small yard. A natural inclination would be to use the whole sixteen feet for scenery, maybe leaving a little for a staging track at one end. But, staging provides operations…
For the operator, there is an alternative – one that allows for mainline trains to enter the scene from both ends and for them to switch the middle, all this, in a relatively compact space.
In this dynamic redeploying layout concept, the staging is portable and is moved during the operating session. However, what is most unique about this is that the layout, as an island on casters, also moves within the operating space.
This concept can be modified to fit shorter spaces, albeit with shorter trains. For example: a staging fiddle yard of 48″ length means the mainline train is shortened to a Light Mikado, five forty-foot cars, and a caboose and a corresponding layout length of 8 feet would fit in a 12-1/2 foot space. I think this would be satisfying too.
Here is a link for a downloadable PDF file for more detail and modeling ideas (DoubleEndedYardIn15Feet-Detailed).