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Shunting plank / shunting puzzle

4103 Views 7 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Raider
I am in the process of designing a shunting plank / puzzle for use by my 2 sons (1 is 7, the other is 4). The idea that we have come up with so far (with my prompting) is to have a collection of wagons which will be made in to different loads depending on a set of train consists which will be selected at random.

We were originally going to go with 1 loco, 4 wagons and a brake van, but due to space the wagons have been reduced down to 3.

We had a go at designing a track plan using some old track and points and came up with the track plan below (reproduced in XtrkCad). The 2 lines on the left are the destinations and the lines on the right are where the wagons will be stored and sorted.

Any comments on the track plan appreciated.


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Is the crossing in the middle a simple diamond or a slip? It makes a huge difference if it is a double slip..

Hi Columbo

It's a simple diamond crossing in the plan. As all the points are to be hand operated, would a double slip work OK?
QUOTE (Raider @ 12 May 2007, 20:48) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Any comments on the track plan appreciated.
If you're designing it for youngish children to enjoy playing with then perhaps the ends should join up? I suppose that a puzzle could be fun but are they likely to get bored - some children like to watch the trains run round and round? Obviously this won't fit in the space you have there and N scale probably isn't suitable for the youngest of modellers.

If it is just a diamond is there any special reason for having the siding positioned to the left hand side since the crossing will just cause congestion? Could the whole layout be shifted upwards and the first turn-out/point be a right handed one? I haven't got a clue what is prototypical in the UK though so maybe there was no point in me posting - sorry if this post is superfluous!

We have a layout in the loft that covers the sit back and watch the trains run, so no worries about boredom really. This layout will also be useful to get them involved with the modelling side of the hobby - the eldest made his first Metcalfe kit today (with a bit of help from me for the really fiddly bits).

The cross over was the kids idea really - they found a few in the spare track box and fitted it in. I guess the bottom left hand platform could be moved up and the sidings fanned out from there - I wanted to keep it simple (ish) for them to operate but also have a bit of a challenge as well - getting to the top platform would be a bit of a challenge at the moment.

I'll have a play and see what it looks like without the crossing tho

Hi Chris,

If you and your kids are into shunting puzzles try this:

or if thats simple try this:

or a very good site on shunting puzzles:

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is about the best of the simple 'shunting puzzle' designs.....''timesaver''.......devised by a famous american modeller.

'Inglnook sidings'' is another simple design...but I prefer 'timesaver'........

The 'key ' to 'shunting puzzles' isn't so much in the actual design...but in the carefully-calculated lengths of the sidings and any run-round loop.

In timesaver's case, the actual size of the layout is entirely dependant on what size of 'stock'..or wagons, one wishes to use.

Also, bear in mind, US freight stock is longer than UK stock......thus for a UK equivalent, more individual pieces of stock can be used.

The size of the shunting loco also is important, as it dictates lengths of headshunt, etc.

I used to have a fully-scenic, US- prototype(?) timesaver........done properly , which also involves a large amount of 'admin', it provided hours of amusement.
Mind, I also used Athearn switchers (SW7) so slow speed running was perfection....especially when compared to UK prototype small shunters of the time (80's/90's)?

The admin involves, clearly 'labelling' each wagon...I used a small, stick-on coloured dot on the roof...quite unobtrusive...but actual wagon numbers were also used.....a bit of a pain if the car was weathered!

one also needs to 'identify' each siding, or placement goods shed, cattle dock, warehouse, factory, etc.

On timesaver, each siding [spur] might have more than one 'location' on two factories, or 'customers'...[let's get our prototype priorities right?]....which might involve the temporary 'removal' of a piece of stock, to get another past it?

space-wise, a UK prototype will need less room than a US one.....but if I remember right, I still used less than 6 foot by 1 foot!

In addition, with the 'timesaver' plan, it is also possible to involve it in a much larger scheme.

For example, consider a simple 'oval' layout?

a 'timesaver' plan can be inserted into the oval, in a huge number of combinations.

All one needed to do was enter and exit the timesaver plan on two ends with a direct through route?

ie, for example, enter/exit either end of the loop?
or 'one end of loop, through to the end of a spur'?

I noted many uK branchline station plans (in model form) used the timesaver scheme...but lost out because of our fascination with passenger facilities.......a timesaver ought to be a 'goods only' plan...although provision CAN be made for the likes of a 'nuisance value' visit from an autocoach/DMU/ doodlebug, to a halt platform located inconveniently?

sorry, were you only keeping a plank?
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Thanks for the advice guys - I showed the eldest the wymann layout and he liked it so we laid it out 1:1 and it is a goer.

Overall size we are going with is 4'6" by 1'6" which gives us enough room to get the track in and also have some suitable scenery, which so far consists of the Metcalfe half relief mill kit made mainly by the eldest (with help from me on the tricky bits).

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