Monday, February 24, 2014

Lengthening the Lead

The rather short length of my lead track had been really bugging me lately.  I use this lead to move cars from the mainline to the yard, as well as to and from the cement factory. This track was only long enough to accommodate approximately 4 cars plus a locomotive which meant that a lot of running back and forth was needed to complete even the simplest maneuvers. (see track plan for clarification) All of this back and forth artificially lengthened the operating sessions but not in a good way.

For example. I was unable to replace a string of 5 or 6 loaded cement hoppers at the factory with empties in an efficient manner.  This move would require that I run the locomotive out of the yard to pull the loaded hoppers out of the factory first, spot them on the main, then run back to the yard, grab the empties, pull them out of the yard, then back them into the factory, then return to the main, collect the loaded cars, and back them into the yard again. (if there were 6 loaded cars, I would have to grab them out of the factory or off of the main in two strings because an engine and 6 cars was too long for the lead)

As you can see, it became rather tedious rather quickly.

So, I cut a hole in my backdrop and extended the lead track about 7 feet into the adjacent closet.  This now allows me work the yard and cement factory in a much more relaxed and prototypical manner. I can maneuver a string of 12 hoppers with ease and no longer am I constantly checking clearances and hoping that I can squeeze just one more car onto the lead so I don't have to waste more time running back and forth.  As an added benefit, I can now run full length trains completely through my scenes and really enjoy watching as trains pass me by.

As far as scenery goes around the hole, I've thought about adding a tunnel and re-working the land forms a bit.  This admittedly looks a bit awkward considering the sheer drop off to the left of the track and the tunnel's close proximity to the bridge, but I've got a few ideas that might make this work.  Stay tuned!


  1. Not awkward at all, and, if one looks in the right places, actually prototypical:

  2. I remember visiting Harpers Ferry as a kid and watching Chessie System engines blast out of that tunnel and over the bridges. Very dramatic.

    My bigger worry is the sheer drop on the left side of the tunnel. I am not sure of any railroad engineer that would build a tunnel in that spot when they could simply blast away the mountainside to make room. In fact, I think that is what they did at the real box canyon bridge.