"heritage operations" - running standard gauge to its limits

I don't post often because this community enjoys discourse far ranging enough that I usually can find answers from past threads. However, this time I'm reaching out into the community for an answer:

Too often, I see videos of layouts that have been "wired for ease of operations." One train per track, just going around in circles. This seems to be the wrote fate of too many originally spec'd Standard Gauge trains. 

My question is, who indulges in something more? Standard gauge layouts with multiple trains competing for blocks on the same track? Daring crossovers? Asymmetrical operations? Bonus points for using original accessories (semaphores, etc) to achieve more complicated operations than simple loops. 

 My trains run on the holidays, using oriental carpet as ballast. Things haven't gotten as interesting as I might like them too... yet. Baby steps. At York last year I bought a pair of American Flyer wide gauge switches in good operational condition, in their original boxes. This year I'd like to wire them to be self correcting without ruining them, so I can at least get my Ives Tiger set reversing directions around the room, peeking in and out from behind the furniture like a kinetic sculpture, treating the chairs and sofa like skyscrapers around it. 


Original Post
I think the shear size of standard gauge keeps many folks from running more complexed layouts; especially once a table comes into play. Of course wives may be a factor as well An anti collision/anti derail system wouldn't be hard though. Isolated rails as triggers (or the Marx O isolated rail cover/wrap..Robert Grossman Co. of Ohio... a thin metal strip with two sided tape to insulate it. I think it may be big enough), or lionel pressure triggers under ties, or even modern infrared detectors, could all be used to achieve what you ask. I did a whole room once with a reverse loop, stop blocks, and automatic switching to vary routes somewhat. It was O, but I don't see how size really matters here; the focus being on operations. I also have a C&F plan saved I liked for the wildness of it. I'll try to post pictures soon. I can't yet as the attachment tool is failing to show up again. It might show after I post this; it might not...???

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"


"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.


Not...and I didn't type that as a solid block of text either.

..ok, there it is....finally.

And this is a smaller version by former(?) member Ace. I think less switches get used on this. I'll have to look for the original.


This is what I used to have in the living room. The auto turnouts orientation could be switched to normal by toggle, but here they oppose each other. If one switch is thrown by anti derail, the other switch follows suit. E.g. it comes into B on the deviation, the A switches to straight. The train takes A and circles to A's deviation, A anti derail changes to the deviation AND switches B to straight.   The result was an alternating  path. (The manual turnouts we're for when keeping the engine away from seating was wanted for guests.... except for MY swivel seat (think of Archie  Bunker on that seat, lol)


"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"


"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.



Photos (2)

Sure you can do it all, though "daring crossovers" and the like generate angst for the operator... You really dont want to "Gomez Adams" standard gauge after all. I have a big loop with no switches for the "suspect" trains with large gears, or for drama free highball operations... A second loop that uses Ross switches in two reversing loops, and a 3rd loop with a double crossover for some diamond banging fun.  I would caution you that when standard gauge picks a point it gets ugly REAL fast.  I had a Shelley 4-4-4 pick a switch point and took the entire train 42" to the floor....Rendering it ALL to the scrap/project pile.  If you HAVE to have switches, use Ross. Best design yet.

Prewar Tin...Any maker, any gauge, anytime!

Adriatic, those are some interesting plans.  Ace had some really creative track ideas, I miss seeing his posts. 

This track configuration has been shared on the forum a few times.  It certainly offers opportunities for block control and needing to keep your hand on the throttle, switch controllers, and block power switches.  It's roughly 10' by 6' in O31, I'm not sure how large of a space it would need for standard gauge.


O Gauge system requiring a dispatcher 1

Hello all ....loops for carefree operations ....switches and cross overs for the spice of life . 


here is a link to see the C&F layout mention above in action 





ok so if you still fell up to more than looping ..Bill Walthers  ( yes he was all about standard gauge before O).. please see posting at 





also he wrote a whole book about it in 1932.... "Signal and Control Manual for Miniature Railaways"   by W K Walthers ...electricity stills works the same way  so go for it 

cheers Carey 



   I miss him too. He is doing other things lately, but still kicking strongly this last spring from what I could tell  

  Stop blocks set to protect from mistakes might be prudent. "Train A must cross point A for train B to continue" etc, etc. Lots of wiring, but better safe than sorry; eh?

  I thought of a drop off of a layout and preference for the floor, but didn't want to jinx or even mildly horrify with that thought in print

  At some point a shelf queen is a good thing historically.  But I can't be a hipocrate.  Personally, if you gave me a mint Model-T,  I'd likely enter it in the Baja to see for myself how tough they were.

  If it runs and belongs to me, I'll run it hard till it protests in some way. 

But I'd still downshift and brake early near the drop offs

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"


"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.



In addition to all the sage and helpful comments above, if you plan to run your trains on an elevated layout I recommend you consider adding a fascia to the edge of your layout, similar to the concept used by SGMA.  It will eliminate any concerns you might have about your trains falling to the floor.

Bob Nelson

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