Sunday, 3 June 2012

Micro Layout Operation Part 2 Creating Continuous Run

An N gauge minimum space micro layout model railway
Micro layouts are often very small shunting puzzles such as this N gauge example.  This model measures only 60cm x 30cm, but it is packed with features.

A large scenic model railway layout baseboard with long curves of track which flow through vast swathes of well modelled countryside, can offer the perfect environment in which to enjoy the sight of long goods trains trundling by, or twelve coach passenger services speeding along.  In reality, many model railway enthusiasts simply do not have the space or budget for such a model.  A micro layout or shunting puzzle, if well designed, can be a viable alternative to larger model railway layout baseboards.

Many micro layouts are created as a simple fan of short sidings, sometimes with a passing loop.  Operating is usually confined to running short trains in and out of the scenic area from small fiddle yards positioned at one or both ends.  One limitation with this operating method is that the person controlling the trains must always be active, otherwise trains will hit the buffers etc.  This is a shame as a model railway with continuous run can allow the operator chance to relax with a cup of tea, sit back and simply watch the trains go round and round.
N gauge micro layout with removable fiddle yard
With a little creative thinking, continuous run can be enabled without creating a large model railway layout baseboard.  By creating a separate fiddle yard which is very much larger than the scenic portion, this small model railway layout has continuous run enabled.  The scenic part of the model can sit on a chest of drawers with a cover over it when not in use and the fiddle yard can be stored out of the way behind a wardrobe or under a bed.
Front of a model railway layout sky backscene
Rear of a model railway layout sky backscene
A very simple backscene can easily be created and stored behind the scenic model railway.  This creates a 'theatre' effect with the scenic area the 'onstage' part and the fiddle yard the 'offstage' area.  The operator can now choose to sit back and watch the trains repeatedly pass through the scenic area.  The model can still be used as a shunting puzzle, but from choice rather than this being the only option.  This backscene was created with the left hand side 'open' to allow photographs close to track level to be taken more easily.  A U-shaped backscene could be created if desired to encapsulate the scenic area and screen off more of the fiddle yard.
N gauge Jubilee 45699 Galatea with a train of ventilated vans
Jubilee 45699 Galatea passes through a small rural station with a long train of ventilated vans.
N gauge class 47 D1500 with a train of MGR wagons
Class 47 D1500 trundles along a scenic country branch line with a train of MGR's.

An added benefit is that the rear of a large continuous run fiddle yard can be developed with storage sidings.  This allows long trains to be assembled which pass through the scenic area without stopping.  This means that the operator is no longer restricted to the very short trains associated with micro layouts.  It is often the case in real life that the observer does not see the whole length of a train due to visual obstructions such as bridges, tunnels or simply the curve of the track disappearing behind buildings or the landscape.  Running very long trains through a very small model railway layout is therefore completely acceptable.

To see more photographs of trains on micro layouts I have built visit and look at the locomotive galleries in the Just Pictures section.

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