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I am finishing a section of my layout where i have a mainline and a siding spur to an engine shed.  I am trying to decide whether to place water tower facing the spur or toward the mainline.

OPTION 1: service spur


My initial thought was to place it facing (servicing) the spur, but that would mean that the water tower could only easily service trains pulling consists headed head-first into the spur with rest of consist sticking out on the mainline. In the other direction, there's insufficient track length beyond the engine shed entrance to allow for anything other than an engine to back into the spur, so trains headed toward the camera on the mainline (left of the water tower in the above pic) would need to decouple from their cars leaving them on the mainline, then back into the spur, fill tank with water, and then go back and retrieve the previously abandoned train cars.

OPTION 2: service mainline


My second thought was to have the water tower service the mainline. It's a quicker stop, since no disconnects are required. At first, I thought this option would be worse, since there's a double crossover right there, but thinking it through, cross-over traffic is adversely affected regardless of service choice.

I'm leaning toward the 2nd choice at the moment.  Any thoughts/opinions?


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In the heyday of steam one would see water towers in the yard so the engines could fill up before departing and all along the main line (every 60-80 miles) to replenish the supply. I believe the engines loaded up in the yard (as they would coal or oil) before hooking up to a consist. On the main line they would naturally pull up to the tank load water and keep going. So if you face your tank to the yard spur you are ok moving a single locomotive under it. You can also position the tower anywhere you want on the main line. If you have a small rural station somewhere you can place the tower a little before the station.

I second the notion of using a water crane (which I think is just a spout that sprouts out of the ground).  It represents an underground connection to your water tank, doesn't take up as much room as a second water tank, and looks more realistic than a second spout on the same water tank.  MTH used to sell them as an accessory for about $20, and real railroads normally used them in multi-track locations like entering or leaving a roundhouse.  Plus, you don't have to worry about "location" issues like you would with a two-spout tank.


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