Proper Yard modeling 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.

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
Your point being?
I think we all know how to design a good yard. There have been tens of threads on that subject and as your post pointed out whole web sites and discussion groups, and books dedicated to that subject. That is not the purpose of this thread as that would be a redundant waste of time. This thread was to discuss how does one decided what a proper yard for a given layout and situation would look like.

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
Iron Horseman, how can a well designed yard, that does what the owner wants, not be a properly designed yard?
I didn't think we were talking about people who knew what they wanted, but for a layout where the owner doesn't know what they want or if someone was designing a new layout from scratch.

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
Carey,would it be safe to say that one yard is perfect for one layout,but may not work for another layout? Even if it is or isn't modified?
I say yes. An exact copy of a yard could be too large, too small, too complicated, or to simple or too any of those other variables listed before for the "other" layout.


Well-Known Member
I tend to agree that if a yard does not perform the function that its owner wants, then its 'poorly designed,' or a poorly executed yard.


BN Modeller
So... the million dollar question is (insert drum roll) did you find out what you wanted to know?


Always Improvising
4)Is a yard required on a model railroad?

I don't know about required, but if you don't have a yard on the main somewhere in plain view, you should atleast have some kind of staging yard. Where would you assemble the trains otherwise?


junk collector on the back end of a good're usually gonna have a make-believe character named Scruffy. Now the story goes that the railroad tried to condemn scruffy's property and kick him out of the yard. But he hired an ace attorney who saved the day. So scruffy got to keep his funky old house, garage, assorted junk and a vegetable garden back there. He's a diehard railfan he doesn't mind the noise of diesels and railcars banging together at all hours. He looks like an old hippy too and he walks with a limp. :)
Last edited by a moderator:


Master Mechanic
Frank Ellison, one of the great pioneers of realistic operations on a layout, in a series of articles in Model Railroader magazines starting in the late 1940's, (IIRC), or the early 50's felt that the layout itself was like a stage, with the trains as actors. They had actions to perform while they were "on stage", either switching industries, entering the yard at Fillmore on his layout, where the trains were broke back down and remade, the power was serviced etc, entering from stage right, or stage left, and exiting off stage to either side after they had "performed". He called this area where the trains got ready to go as staging.

My personal layout is designed on these principles Frank Ellison developed. So I tend to believe that some kind of yard, staging or otherwise is needed. A one track, visible, yard can be a requirement on a small layout as I said earlier, but to help simulate more varied traffic, a staging area or as the British call it a "fiddle" yard, is needed as well. This can be just a siding on the back of the layout, or even just a straight part of the main back there. But it provides a place to rearrange or to break down trains that provides a more realistic variety of traffic on the main "stage".


Fun Lover
I'm a late comer to this discussion, but I like working a yard. So any layout I design for me will be basically be two staging yards with a classification yard in the middle. After that it is my job to find a way to provide scenery, industries, and continuous running--because I think better about how I want my layout to look if a train is running around the track.

So any layout I have will have a tracks for: west bound freight; east bound freight; placing cars while sorting; local traffic--as well as an A/D track and yard lead. The larger space I get, the more the tracks will multiply.

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member on the back end of a good're usually gonna have a make-believe character named Scruffy.
OHHHH! That is what I've been doing wrong. I modeled Scruffy to be the man in charge of cleaning the locomotive ash pit. He has been concerned about his job since all these diesels have come along that don't have ashes.

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.