The locomotive staging level has a manual turntable to allow inbound engines to be turned so that they are oriented in the right direction for operations on the layout.  The turntable track is powered and has a reversing feature for the track polarity.  It is rotated by hand and aligned with a brass key.  Building such a turntable is relatively easy, especially for wiring. The turntable on my staging elevator is built up from polystyrene sheets and boxed shapes.  This offers the advantage in building it to a customized height.  This method of construction is time consuming though. Alternatively, I … Continue reading MANUAL TURNTABLE


I recently completed a rebuild of my Staging Elevator.  I did this to improve operations and to correct some things that were bugging me. The most obvious change is the switching of the levels (above).  The locomotive staging level is now on top, with the terminal service trains on the lower level.  I did this so that the elevator is normally in the lowered position for ops.  When we run a service train, the elevator is raised, then lowered when no longer needed in the up position.  This change involved replacing the four 1×3 wood uprights that hold the levels … Continue reading STAGING ELEVATOR PT7


Here are some of the details of the design… Here we see the coupling made from the standard house door hinge.  The sliding bolt to the lower left locks the swing bar in the cleared position.  The swinging bar is a bit above that; I have a portion of it protruding out so that it can be used as a handle for operating.  Plexiglas helps keep engines where they belong. The hoops are made of brass wire and support the fitted cloth cover for Staging elevator storage.  They are removed and stored on hooks inside the chassis.  The toggle switches … Continue reading STAGING ELEVATOR PT6


To maintain the rail height for both levels, I built two swinging bars. The 1×2 beam (the swinging bar) shown supporting the upper level maintains the rail height when either level is at the bar height.  To move the levels, these beams are hinged out of the way.  Procedure:  First, the elevator is raised about 3/4″.  Then the two hinged bars are swung to clear for the vertical movement of the elevator… …the picture above shows the right bar being swung… …until cleared.  They are held in this position with a sliding bolt at the hinge end.  The elevator is is … Continue reading STAGING ELEVATOR PT5


The lateral motion is guided with the use of ball bearing drawer sliders found at the home improvement store.  These are available in a number of strokes, so a suitable one was easily found (16″). In the picture above, there are two drawer sliders mounted to the layout.  The upper one is for the Staging Elevator, the lower is for my Staging Fiddle Yard (for the passenger/express side).  The Staging Elevator is coupled to its slider.  The other slider shows a 1×2 beam with half of the coupling attached on either end.  Between the Staging Elevator and layout, I have … Continue reading STAGING ELEVATOR PT4


The reason why the two casters at the layout end do not need locks is because they are lifted off the floor by about 1/4″.  This is done to ensure an accurate staging track height to layout track height when the Staging Elevator is in operation. In the picture above, there is a horizontal beam made of 2×2 and 1×3 poplar.  The Staging Elevator (on the right) rides on this.  The beam is carefully doweled and bolted to the layout so that it is parallel to the top of the layout (not necessarily parallel to the floor).  Therefore, when the … Continue reading STAGING ELEVATOR PT3


As mentioned in part 1, my staging elevator is portable.  There are four 2-1/2″ diameter casters with which it is very easy to roll away for storage.  These casters, however, are a liability when it comes to having a nice lateral transfer-table like motion because the wheels are free to swivel. In the picture above, I show the way I can lock the wheels for lateral motion.  The u-bolt is for chain-link fencing (I think) and the snubbers are cut from rubber hose, retained with nuts on the ends.  A hex screw holds the u-bolt up to allow swivelling (left … Continue reading STAGING ELEVATOR PT2


In my Model Railroad Planning 2015 article, there wasn’t much text or pictures devoted to the one device on my railroad model that is the most important for operations.  Without it, I have a rather large and expensive diorama.  This device is my portable Staging Elevator, which feeds the operations on the engine terminal side. Why an elevator?  Well, I’m in an apartment condominium and I feel fortunate that I have the linear space for a 12′ layout.  But, I only had 4′ remaining for staging (or I could have built a removable bridge, tunnelled into a kitchen cupboard and … Continue reading STAGING ELEVATOR PT1