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When I designed my current layout I made some of the benchwork 3 feet deep and put track towards the back of that space. I believed that since I was taller than most and had a decent reach, violating the 30 inch max depth rule would not be a problem. Well it is. Reaching and working on the track in the back of 36 inch benchwork requires that I stand on a stool to increase my reach. It's do-able but awkward. Subsequently, I've rearranged newer trackage to bring the track to within 30 inches of the front of the benchwork. You might want to consider this in your design.

I second the statement regarding the tail tracks and reach across. Lack of tail track space will become very frustrating as will the reach across beyond 30 inches. I would limit the width to 36 inches and use the space to the rear for scenery or buildings.

One thing to consider is coupling on a curve will be somewhat difficult. While I like the concept of fewer tangents, try out your arrangements on a table before a final build just to see if your operational concepts match the mind's eye.
I've designed and built several switching layouts in various scales. Each time I've tried to maximize use of space for switching I've ended up disappointed. Each new one I design seems to get simpler and less complicated with more focus on scenery and less on absolute amount of switching. I'm not a fan of switching "puzzles" unless they are being used as a game like the original Timesaver was. It was never intended to be a standalone switching layout. I do think a runaround can add some nice interest but I don't want a switchback on a siding that required me to pull cars from an industry just so I can use that track as a switching lead for another track. Many people do this and try to justify it by saying it gives them more to do. I find that after a while I don't try to switch that other industry anymore. It gets old.

One thing that you can do is have 3 or 4 car spots at an industry. You could also try 2 industries on the same siding but have a lone spot for one of them. This does happen occasionally in the real world. I like having at least 3 spots serving at least 1 industry and perhaps 2 at another. An occasional lone spot at one here and there is fine but on a smaller layout I'd rather have more spots and fewer industries. It sounds weird I know. I'd rather do it this way than have 5 industry locations with 1 car spot each. With multiple spots each loading dock door may require a certain car though so make it into more than just shoving 3 cars on the siding and being done with it. Perhaps they need to be spotted in a certain order. Perhaps you need to pull a car or 2 out, re-spot another one to a different door and then leave another car or 2 at the other doors. One industry can keep you busy for quite a while. If you have a couple that are like this things can get very busy. Maybe you need to move a car from one industry spot to another one. You could have a storage or holding track where you drop off a car to the track and then move one from that track to an industry spot.

You can quickly see how even a simple layout with a small number of sidings can actually be a lot of work to run even without any switchbacks or puzzle like features. It leaves more room for scenery as well and if done right could actually be made to feel quite large.
Dave, it seems a well concieved plan for the space you have. You've allowed room for RR customers and perhaps some scenic elements, both important features often overlooked by "lets jam as much as we can" designers.

As far as coupling/uncoupling on curve is concerned...I believe many operators expect to be running their switching operation much to fast. Real switching is painfully slow in comparison to the way model railtroads often peform it. Lance Mandheim has written much about this very subject and as such it's a good read. The point being...take your time and fuss with each step of your switching operation and if that means uncoupling at less that warp speed you will be very prototypical.

At least the furthest switch is only 2.5' away from the edge.


I don't think reaching the switches will be a problem, but if you need to couple/uncouple cars at the 2 facilities at the "0"-"0" point in the upper lefthand corner, that's going to be almost a 6 foot reach. Uncoupling can be done by using the delaying action of the Kadees, but coupling may be a chore if even one of the couplers isn't centered.

Can you put a Wye (it would replace the piece of disconnected curved track in the plan) in at the lower end of the crossover going to the flatcar loading facility and use the Wye as the feed for the covered hopper facility? that would possibly get the covered hopper facility closer to the edge and within reach.

Then you could make the boxcar facility come straight left. By removing the Wye that connects the boxcar and covered hopper facilities and making the boxcar track straight, it may get things within reach or at least on a straight piece of track.
My violation suggestion is similar to where Matt added the finger. I have built HO and 0 gause layouts where s narrow strip of benchwork ran behing entertainment centers or chest of drawers. Just move the furniture away from the wall 4" for a single tangent track.

Extending tail tracks could allow additional footprint for the runaround.

The law of diminishing returns says:

When you have nothing anything is better. The longer you may have had nothing it can seem like any improvement will be a permanant solution. However, once you have that "any improvemenmt" someting more is desired in direct proportion to the level of frustration of the latest advancement. tt

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