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New Member

I'm planning, and soon will be constructing a branch of the South Pacific Coast RR that runs from Santa Cruz to Boulder Creek, CA. The laugher is I'm going to do this in an 8' X 11'6" bedroom. The layout will be in HOn3.

In my previous plan, Santa Cruz was going to be represented by hidden staging. I've added a third level and Santa Cruz is getting a 2'4" X 11'6" piece of real estate.

My fallback position is to use the town as visible staging but I would prefer to include some operational potential. I'm not satisfied with what I have come up with so I come seeking some guidance.

I'll explain what I have and some of the options that I'm contemplating. Monterey Bay is on the far right and faces south. The top spur services Gharkey's Wharf. Would a second track on the wharf add much operationally? Another option is to extend siding to the north and add an industry.

The structure centered at the top is the Santa Cruz depot. To it's right towards the end of the siding, I will add a produce or freight shed.

The structure below the turntable is car shop/repair shed. This could be removed to make room for some other arrangement.

The spur on the left services Salz Tannery. I'm pretty sure I'll be moving the tannery a little farther north of town and replace it with part of the town or a grove of redwoods.

I would love to add a cannery but I can't find the room. I'd gladly sacrifice one of the yard tracks for a nice cannery.

Comments? Suggestions?

Thanks for help,


Fun Lover

First of all, by changing your staging yard to add operations, you are decreasing your layout's operational ability and spending a lot more money. You can always convert it later if you find this not to be true.

How is it being done in the prototype? Have you looked at satellite photos?

I can't tell from your drawing, but do you have a yard lead or are you planning on switching on the main line? Here's a link that helped me with yard design.

Ten Commandments of Yard Design


New Member
Yard lead

The inside curve acts as a yard lead, the other curve is the A/D track, and where they merge is the start of the main line. This is the end of the line.

I have only found a few photos of the yard. Most focus on the depot:

The only non-depot shot showed a turntable and three stall roundhouse on the north end of the yard. I'm clueless to the actual configuration of the yard trackage.



New Member
Modified plan

I'm getting closer. I added a cross over to the yard lead on the left side of the depot. I also changed track centers from 2 1/3" to 2".

The produce shed is adding a warehouse and moving to the upper left. The tiny spur to the right of the depot will be used to park a couple of passenger cars. The tannery is getting moved along the adjacent wall.

I found some more photos of the yard. There was a long warehouse along the side of the yard so I've added that feature.

I'm not thrilled with the lead to the turntable. I tried moving it elsewhere but it consumed too much real estate.


Master Mechanic

The second plan you came up with looks better than the first in my mind. The tracks are closer together, look less spread apart, etc....

I do have a couple of suggestions and its up to you whether or not they work for you.

First, move the crossover nearest the station closer to the end. If this is to function as a loco escape track, the tail only need to be as long as one or two locomotives.

Second, since it seems that given the location, era, loco type, etc , the roundhouse more than likely was built out of wood. This would mean, to keep the locos that came into the roundhouse from dropping an ember and burning it down, there would be an ashpit on the track, to drop the fires in. Also when the locos were fired back up after servicing, outside of the roundhouse, there would be some type of fuel/water facility. This would be something as simple as a wood pile for the wood burners, or a bucket coaling dock. Either way there would be a service track to have a gon parked by the ashpit for removal of the ash, and another for the fuel dock. The ashpit would be emptied by men with shovels, who also would then fill the gon, the same way.

Third, property, even in those days, was not a cheap expense for the RR as they needed a lot of it. So they would put in as much track as possible to get the max amount of use out of the available space. I would then extend the yard tracks down further toward the edge of the layout. (You may be intending to do this, just didn't draw it.)

Not knowing what program you used to draw the plan with, looks like XTC, I made a few suggestions in paint. I hope that I have assisted you some.
Good Luck with the layout!

Hmmmmm, for some reason the .gif wouldn't keep the track lines black. I converted it to a .jpeg, and it appears to work now.
Last edited by a moderator:


New Member
Cord wood

Thanks Chip and Carey,

With the service track, it almost feels complete. I have another destination for my cars loaded with cord wood.

Speaking of cord wood, what type of branch or weed to you use to simulate cord wood? What techniques do you use so it keeps that fresh cut look?



Master Mechanic

Here, (Central Al), I've seen modelers use split/painted dowels of appropriate size, Azalea twigs, Nandena, even Privett Hedge cuttings. I don't think it would matter as long as it looks right!


Master Mechanic
Meant to add that as long as the split twigs were sealed with a dullcoat, that should preserve that fresh cut look.

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