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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone constructed a fiddle yard under the main layout boards?

To save room, I would like to construct a fiddle yard directly under the layout. Perhaps have a branch line leaving the layout running down an incline to the fiddle yard, leaving the other end of the fiddle yard and re-joining the layout again at another part of the layout, again running up an incline.

My layout will be a tail-chaser, a 15 feet by 10 feet rectangle.

Any ideas guys?

What is the ideal length the incline should be and minimum drop from the layout?

Or is this a bad idea?

Cheers
 

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You need enough clearance to get your hand in comfortably underneath the framing of the upper level to sort out derailments and other problems. You also need some way of removing the top level completely in case you need to do some work on the bottom level. I have a similiar arrangement in N, most of the yard will have about 12cm between the top of the trains and the bottom of the framing. In the area of the pointwork there is less clearance than this, but these sections are designed to hinge up for access.

Maximum gradient depends on your traction type and train length, and it may be worth you setting up a sloping test track - but remember that a gradient on a curve will be more difficult to climb than a straight one. Unless you trains are very short it's probably wise to stick with 1:50 for diesels and less than that for steam. Most likely the gradient will have to go round quite a lot of your layout.

Alternatively consider a spiral - there have been threads about them on here in the past.
 

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Hi,
I'm assuming you are modelling in OO!

I would second what Edwin says about the incline no less than 1:50 although 1:70 would be even better. I have made an incline on my smallish layout and that is only 1:40 and even the new powerful diesels tend to slow quite a bit when on it.

You would need at least 6 to 8 inches clearence for the stock and your hand.

Hope this helps

Kind regards

Paul
 

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In OO I have got away with 5 inch clearance but it depends on whether you can get to both sides of the storage sidings.

You also need a system to keep track of what is in each siding-particularly if using DCC when you need to know the address.

Finally a system to stop the train automatically-I use IRDOT's and relays.

I agree on gradients so to drop 5 inches you need 20 feet!
 

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Dogsbody
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The wisdom of the experts is acknowledged, however I have a small 3m x 1m layout which is out and back because the lower level has a reverse loop. The incline between the levels is actually 1:20 and has a 180 degree curve of first radius.

Since I only have short trains pulled by all axle drive diesel outline locomotives, there is no problem getting things pulled up the incline but on the way down the Bachmann Mk II coaches (3 of them) and the short wheel base wagons (also Bachmann) initially overran and ended up either derailing because of buffer lock or simply uncoupled and got left behind at the bottom of the slope. Avoiding the downward problems was fairly easy, I fitted brakes by wedging a piece of foam rubber between the axles and the body or bogie. Only one brake per vehicle was required.

I don't think my layout would work with steam trains though !
 

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I would so some tests with typical train formations to see what the maximum gradient is viable, not forgetting that most of the rise is likely to be on a curve. You need a minimum of 3 inches clearance but that's assuming there's no upper baseboard framing to clear: 4 inches would be a better minimum, especially if the upper board has points with motors below the baseboard, and there'll be wires too. And the upper section needs to be removable not just to access the lower tracks, but also to deal with any upper board problems such as wiring and point motors.

Now rising 4 inches at 1-in-50, for example, needs a 200-inch slope - or nearly 17 feet. And you need this both down and up. On my layout I have a scenic section on one side above a storage yard, and although I have more space (28ft x 8 ft) it was still a struggle. I needed no steeper than 1-in-70 for my 8-coach steam-hauled trains. In the end I had to split the difference: the scenic section rises and the yard sections falls in equal measure - about 2 inches each. Diesels tend to be better than steam in load-hauling terms. My Bachmann 08 diesel shunter easily out-performed my King Arthur, for example. I have 4 inches clearance which allows for 1-inch cross-bracing and just room for PL10 point motors with PL13 accessory switches. My first test came to grief when the train cleared motors and framing but was lassooed by a dropper wire that was hanging too low! Now I've fixed them all up.

Also removing weights from coaches can help reduce the load. My King Arthur would only take 6 Bachmann Mk1s up the gradient, but once the weights were removed from the coaches it takes the regulation 8. Another point to bear in mind is whether you need to start the load on the gradient or whether trains will already be moving well by the time they hit the slope. Signal checks at the top of the slope are to be avoided.


Next problem is working out how to track what's in the yards, especially with DCC. You not only need to set the points correctly but also need to know which loco is any given road. As I have computer control I'm thinking of using a webcam - you can get them with LED lights for around £10. Alternatively I may assign certain trains to specific roads in the yard. I only finished the upper section yesterday so it's still work-in-progress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Many thanks lads, great advice. Its getting me thinking and its definitely not going to be easy fitting all the desired lengths and heights in. Its just getting a bit complex, but I'm positive this is what I need.
Always looking for more advice and images of existing layouts, many thanks Mumbles.
 

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Bog Snorkeller
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I've tried..... and failed. Well not failed exactly, but the end result was not what I wanted so I scrapped the idea. I now use the megaspace between top and bottom levels for my wiring etc. Mine is OO steam with a couple of diesels and 10' x 10' around the walls.

The problems I encountered not to my liking were, in no particular order, I couldn't see anything so it was nearly all guess work, especially when the train being operated wasn't nearest the edge of the layout; Derailments were a nightmare again if not nearest the edge; my engines had difficulty on the inclines with more than 6 coaches - diesels were ok; Over-running of stock as described above: track cleaning was difficult, maintenance - impossible.

My advice before you get too far down the line (excuse pun) is to use your spare 28 feet of space, although only 8" in width you'll have plenty of room for a couple of fiddle yards.

Your choice at the end of the day and, whatever you decide, good luck with it.

Mike
 
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