Beginner topic: What is staging and why do I need it?

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SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
Another question that comes up and is not easy to answer in just a few sentences. You can tell what it is, but why is a little tougher. I believe that the majority of beginners don't allow for staging when they design a layout because, they don't know what it is and if they do, don't realize the significance. I certainly didn't, but fortunately, I was able to add it without much difficulty.

Click on the link.

http://www.chipengelmann.com/Trains/beginner/staging.html

The topic was not easy to explain, so if I have left out anything of significance, or if anything is not clear, please feel free to let me know.
 

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
Very well done. Thinking of the modeled portion as the center with "points beyond" to either side is a great mental image to get started on realistic RR operation.

Staging is, in my view, one of THE most important factors of model railroad design. It's the key to realistic operations. Nothing says "going around in circles" more than seeing the same train over and over again, even on a large model railroad. In fact, the larger the RR, the more staging is warranted.
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
grande man said:
Very well done. Thinking of the modeled portion as the center with "points beyond" to either side is a great mental image to get started on realistic RR operation.

Staging is, in my view, one of THE most important factors of model railroad design. It's the key to realistic operations. Nothing says "going around in circles" more than seeing the same train over and over again, even on a large model railroad. In fact, the larger the RR, the more staging is warranted.
I would argue that the smaller the layout, the more staging is vital.
 

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
SpaceMouse said:
I would argue that the smaller the layout, the more staging is vital.
I agree, but what I was getting at is that a larger layout has more capacity to run trains at a given time, hence it needs many staging tracks. Many larger layouts I've seen have little or no staging, and that's a mistake, IMHO. It's almost like the designer believes that due to the layout's size, staging isn't necessary.

With a small layout, staging is critical to "pull off" the illusion of trains actually traveling between destinations.
 

Cjcrescent

Master Mechanic
grande man said:
Very well done. Thinking of the modeled portion as the center with "points beyond" to either side is a great mental image to get started on realistic RR operation.

Staging is, in my view, one of THE most important factors of model railroad design. It's the key to realistic operations. Nothing says "going around in circles" more than seeing the same train over and over again, even on a large model railroad. In fact, the larger the RR, the more staging is warranted.
I agree here Chip! Very well done!

In my mind, staging is THE MOST important factor in a successful trackplan, not just one. It represents that "live" connection, as Chip says, with the outside world. Otherwise, how did that UP boxcar get on the spur of your lumber mill located in East Slapout, AL?

I think the way you have stated it, in very simple terms will do much to dispell the confusion many relatively new modelers seem to have about the staging concept. Staging CAN be as simple as a spur that is used as a "fiddle yard" on a small 4x8, exchanging just cars on and off the layout, all the way to the multi-track double ended yards of a club sized layout.

Good job Chip!
 

Brakie

Member
There is a difference between open stagging and hidden stagging as far as believability.A train ARRIVING at the yard from City A just looks better if it ACTUALLY ARRIVES during operation and either terminates in the yard or drops off and pickup a cut of cars.Now trains bound for hidden stagging or another yard located on the layout doesn't look unbelievable if staged in a open yard awaiting crews.
To have EVERY train staged in the open IMHO looses believability for your operators.
On the other hand a layout doesn't need stagging unless heavy traffic is panned during a ops session or perhaps a "railfan" type layout where a certain railfan location is modeled and serves as center stage for your trains..
Guys we are in a deep discussion that has many possibilities and a lot of correct answers and ideas.
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
Brakie,

For the sake of arguement, what would you call staging that exits a room and returns to the room with the layout. It is behind the operator while he is operating.

basementdraft2.gif


Please ignore the actual plan, it's not even a draft yet--more like an exploration.
 

rhoward

S.L.O.&W. Trainman
While trying to figure out how to add staging to the SLO&W, I ended up with a whole new room added to the layout........ :D I did manage to add some staging in the process, however. The front of the staging will be covered with an "End of the line" terminal (loosely based on Naples, NY back in 1925) with the staging underneath. Staging will be accessable from behind the layout and access underneath as well as a drop fascia on the front side.



The staging is in blue (top of page) and shows the terminal at Naples superimposed on it. I have revised the terminal since this was done and it is now on an L shape along the sides facing the rest of the layout.

Great job on the website, Chip!
 

rhoward

S.L.O.&W. Trainman
SpaceMouse said:
Brakie,

For the sake of arguement, what would you call staging that exits a room and returns to the room with the layout. It is behind the operator while he is operating.
I don't know what Brakie would call it, but I call a darned good idea!:D
 

Brakie

Member
Chip,The club that I was a member of had that design with the St.Louis/Detroit stagging-it was double ended and enter the layout at the Cincinnati yard and the Toledo yard-it runs along the wall of the meeting room-so it is hidden stagging..However,we had a stagging yard operator that ran the trains into or from one of the yards.The main line engineer would run a ST.Louis train from Toledo to Cincinnati and the train would stop on a through track "change" crews and would continue its "trip" to St.Louis.In other words the main line engineer unplugged his throttle the DS would cut the power to that through track..Later the stagging yard operator would run the train into stagging.Later a Detroit train would "arrive" on a through track at Cincinnati, change"crews" and continue its trip across the layout to Detroit changing "crews" at Toledo.
Now add this to the trains that terminated or departed Cincinnati or Toledo and you will get the idea how busy our yard areas is..Of course the layout is point to point single track with passing sidings with a sub division that will add another 7-10 trains into the fry.
Its not uncommon to see one train leaving the yard while another enters while another waits its turn to enter or leave the yard..Yes a inexperience yardmaster can cause a melt down if he/she doesn't stay ahead of the game.You bet we had melt downs from time to time.:eek:
All this operation is done by DC..:D
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
Our club bit the bullet and went DCC a couple years ago. They went to great expense to preserve the CAB system because they felt that some of the members would want to run their DC locos.

What we found was that no one ever has wanted to run DC--I repeat, ever. What we found was that people in advertantly would bump or otherwise trip the cab controls and mess the running up. Now we are systematiclly eliminating the DC wiring as improvements are made.

So while I salute you guys for the juggling act you continue to do with the cab controls and how well you can get it to work. I have enough on my hands with holding the radio, controller, and coupler pick to keep me busy during high powered op sessions.
 

Brunton

Wyoming native
Here is my own staging:

The three tracks in the reversing loop at the top left corner is Lusk staging, representing the C&NW eastbound from Wendover (Orin on the layout) through Lusk and on to points east.


This shows the big staging yards. It represents primarily the NP transcontinental, but also the continuation of the CB&Q line from Orin Junction to points east. The heavier-line trackage at Laurel is all that is (or all that will be, maybe I should say) visible on the layout. Trains will come into Laurel from east and west staging areas. Most will simply pass through Laurel without stopping, but some will drop cars bound down into Wyoming and points east through Nebraska (out through CB&Q East from Orin Junction - meaning around the Wyoming Main and back out the Frannie cutoff through Laurel, at this point representing Scottsbluff Nebraska), and other trains will come off the Frannie Cutoff, with cars bound for east and west destinations.

This staging arrangement is key to the functioning of the entire layout. Over half the projected traffic on the layout will come from or go to staging, most from the two NP yards. Without staging, my planned operating scheme would not have nearly the flexibility it has, nor be nearly as realistic as I think it will be. For example, the Husky refinery in Cody made mostly asphalt, and some heavy oils. On the layout, it gets its incoming commodities (mostly chemicals used in the refining processes) exclusively from staging. Likewise, all of its heavy oils, and nearly all of its asphalt goes to staging, with just a little bit of asphalt going to Greybull Roads. This allows the refinery to produce a relatively large number of tank car loads, while the only on-layout user, Greybull Roads, can use only a few loads at a time. Realistic, and it generates interesting traffic patterns. The excess tank cars (complete trains, actually) will go mostly to Frannie/Orin and down to Laurel, where they will await pickup by an NP freight. But some trains must go to Casper to be reclassified into new trains, as some cars will go east through Orin/Frannie to Scottsbluff, (though the physical destination on the layout is the same as for the cars heading to Laurel and the NP - the big staging yards, the route over the layout is different), some cars will go east on the C&NW to its three-track staging loop at Lusk, and a few will be sorted into local trains that will drop the cars at Greybull Roads. This sort of operational flexibility would be impossible without staging, and it's found for several of the industries on my layout.

The biggest advantage of all this staging is that operating sessions will vary greatly from one to the next. Greybull Roads may get a delivery in one session and no deliveries for three more. Some sessions may see the main classification yard at Casper frantic with activity, while others will see it just moderately busy. Every local through Greybull won't switch the same industries every time. Some sessions may see several bulk trains arrive in Casper for re-sorting and dispatching, and others may see only one or two. There will be a very prototypical ebb and flow to the traffic, and repetitious patterns will be avoided.

Staging, at least on my own layout, is the only way it will be an operational success.
 
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SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
Mark,

I'd love to see the rest of the plan. I agree about staging. I can't even imagine running ops without it.--well I could imagine it. Just why would I want to.
 

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
One thing that probably should be covered here in regard to staging is proper planning to ensure adequate capacity for the type operations planned. For instance, our RR ops schedule is centered around trains running between staging thru the only town modeled. They come and go from staging yards representing points north, south and west of that town. Schedules have to take into account destination yard capacity during various parts of the operations session to prevent "overloading" a yard at some point. Anything over two identical yards on opposite ends of the layout complicates things. We run 2 hour sessions with 9 to 11 thru trains that drop/pick up cars in town and points along their route. A 3:1 fast clock works for us. Staging capacity needs to be such that traffic density is adequate for the planned ops sessions. As model railroaders, we practice "selective compression" in our track plans and scenery. We also need it for our schedules to keep things interesting during operations. Our staging need to be adequate to support that compressed schedule.

As for the yards themselves, consider max train lengths. This should take into account that trains may pick up cars on their run thru the layout and end up longer than when they started out.

Here's a few related links we've done in the past...
http://www.modelrailroadforums.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3175&highlight=staging

http://www.modelrailroadforums.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2518&highlight=staging

The attachments show some schedule info that the staging has to support. I've included it solely as an example for someone new to all this. Also consider extras that might be run at some point.

The moral of the story is, go with as much staging space as possible!
 
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SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
I agree that would be nice. I'm not sure it fits into the goal of what I was attempting to do in this article.

Perhaps I'll get to it someday--like when I grok it a little better.
 

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
SpaceMouse said:
I agree that would be nice. I'm not sure it fits into the goal of what I was attempting to do in this article.

Perhaps I'll get to it someday--like when I grok it a little better.
I see your point.

I was thinking of someone with little MR experience reading this post though, and felt like it's going to take more info to actually pull off a staged layout. There are things that need to be taken into account that may not be readily apparent. If their experience with model railroading can be improved thru the forum, that's a plus.

As with anything, there's more than one way to skin a cat. Varying opinions on the subject presented here could be valuable to someone in cyberland that needs the info.
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
Eric,

I did provide a link to the Layout Design SIG's tutorial on staging and it is more comprehensive on the how.
 

Brunton

Wyoming native
SpaceMouse said:
Mark,

I'd love to see the rest of the plan. I agree about staging. I can't even imagine running ops without it.--well I could imagine it. Just why would I want to.
Probably the best thing to do is visit my website. There are pretty comprehensive explanations of the track plan there. This link will take you right to the track plan page:
http://www.thecbandqinwyoming.com/track%20plan.htm

Here's the overall plan, minus some changes that place Cody to the left of the helix and bring Lander out of the realm of staging, putting the town where Cody is shown on the plan. Thin track lines are hidden trackage; thick track lines are visible. The thick pink lines are benchwork edges. There is no upper deck over the Wind Rive Canyon peninsula because the canyon wall will extend from benchwork to ceiling. Except for Laurel and most of Casper, the towns are only roughed in as far as industrial trackage goes. I have a list of industries (in the "Operation" section of the site), and as I reach the varoius towns in construction, I'll flesh out the plan locally.

This is the lower deck:


And here's the upper deck:


This is the basic scenery plan - lower deck:


And the upper:

There are much larger versions of the scenery plan here:
http://www.thecbandqinwyoming.com/track%20plan%20big.htm
 




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