My first layout...operations possible is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.


Lazy Daydreamer
I finished rebuilding my layout ~18 months ago. Other than one industrial peninsula that survived intact, I have not yet put down any ballast, scenery or structures on it. I want to have a number of op sessions to identify any weak points in track work or operational design; those will be much easier to fix before the ballast and scenery have been applied.


HO Operator

Here is what I'll try...better? Right side picture in next post.



  • IMG_20140826_204207.jpg
    203.3 KB · Views: 127
  • IMG_20140826_204439.jpg
    222.8 KB · Views: 128
  • IMG_20140826_204405.jpg
    220.8 KB · Views: 131
  • IMG_20140826_204342.jpg
    223.4 KB · Views: 129


HO Operator
right side

Here is the right side...small yard...and industries



  • IMG_20140826_204251.jpg
    208.5 KB · Views: 122


Active Member
The yard could have greater capacity and less waste if you ran the tracks parallel to the "yard lead" that branches off the main line.

And then work in the industry tracks around it.

Something along these lines.


  • Yard.png
    11.3 KB · Views: 147


HO Operator
Thanks! I'll have to invest in a few more turnouts to adjust it. I was trying to go with a "vintage" atlas 3 turnout section I came across for cheap....trying to save some pennies. Lol



Active Member
In the long run too many compromises can lead to later regret.

Save up the needed funds - you will be happy you did.


Master Mechanic
I'm surprised that this hasn't been brought up, and if it has, I apologize for mentioning it again. But you must GET THIS BOOK, before you do another thing, John Armstrong's "Track Planning for Realistic Operation". Its available for Kalmbach, MR's publisher. For many, this is THE track planning Bible. Even though I've been in the hobby for over 50 years, and have custom designed about 200 layouts for others, (And NO, I'm not looking for business!) I'm on my 5th copy of the book. I have put so many notes in margins and etc on the others, they are almost unreadable, but I have kept them because of that. Get it, Read it, and especially Study it.


HO Operator
Thanks...I've got the book and been studying. Here is a new pic:


  • IMG_20140827_192537.jpg
    275.9 KB · Views: 126


HO Operator

Here are new pics...I think I willrun with this one. What does everyone think? Left side industry. Right side scenic mountain where those trees are laying...interchange on the other side of the mountain.

Thanks in advance for any comments.



  • IMG_20140906_094711.jpg
    247.9 KB · Views: 124
  • IMG_20140906_094717.jpg
    212.7 KB · Views: 123
  • IMG_20140906_094749.jpg
    233.4 KB · Views: 119


Well-Known Member
Hey Dennis, I am by no means an expert, but it looks great to me!

Very nice work, thanks for sharing it with us.


Active Member
It looks like you have a very good selection of industry locations.

In the "yard" on the right hand side it looks like you have a cross-over. If so, what is it's purpose?

My only other comment is that railroads lay track to serve a purpose whereas on model layouts we sometimes break that "rule".

So on the right hand side you have a second "loop" which appears to be a very long passing siding - is that correct?

If so, while passing sidings are a great feature if you are modeling a single track main line and you wish to run two trains, you normally would want at least two, otherwise you cannot really do anything more then alternately run one train or the other as they only have the one passing siding in which to pass one another.

But perhaps it is not intended to be a passing siding.

Have fun!


HO Operator
Thanks for the comments and help!

This is my first layout so I think I've been using track because I have

The long loop was my attempt to get to the yard without fouling the main...didn't know if it would make sense.

I kept seeing crossovers in the different books so I thought I have the track so...

Recommendations are greatly appreciated... As I really am a newbie to trains...I can definitely use any and all assistance.

There is so much train info on the net it can be overwhelming.




Active Member
Hi Dennis,

Well avoiding fouling the main while performing switching operations is a good thing in the real world - but in the model world you might (repeat might) see it as something that adds interest to train operations.

Anyway moving on...

You normally need a yard lead at the "foot" of the yard ladder (the point end of the first turnout) because that is where the switcher backs into when it pulls a car or block of cars from the yard tracks.

The switcher also needs a place to "assemble" the train - in your case that can be the "looping" track at the other end of the yard ladder.

When the train is complete then the road engine can hook up to the desired end of the train and off it goes.

But it's a little hard to tell how much yard lead you have at the foot of the yard ladder. You at least need room for the switcher and one car.

Now as to the cross-over - while an interesting bit of track work it needs to serve a purpose. In your case it is taking up valuable yard space (since you don't have much to begin with) and it really serves no vital purpose.

Now a question or two:

In the middle photo on the right side I can see 5 tracks. Let's number them from front to back, 1 through 5.

Where does track 3 go?

Where does track 2 go?

The answers to those question might lead to further suggestions.



HO Operator

I really appreciate your help.

1 is the Main
2 is the beginning of long inner loop that goes to the yard
3 is the other end of the long inner loop coming from the yard
4 is a "run around"
5 is the main



Active Member
OK it looks like you have plenty of length in both of your yard leads.

So at this point I would:

- Remove the cross-over in the yard.
- Check all your clearances - remember cars going around a curve are going to require more clearance then on a straight - if in doubt take two of your longest cars (passenger cars are good) and see.
- Check that any "flex track" curves meet or exceed you minimum radius standards - its easy when trying to get something to fit to bend that flex track just a little too much - it might look OK but it can be too tight.
- Check all of your joints for kinks - any abrupt change in curvature (straight-to-curve or curve-to-curve) can cause real problems.

I wanted to be sure that on my current layout that I was doing the best I could so I took the time to order some of these to help me.

Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.