Planning a micro or further thoughts from the Inglenook.

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Hello all

This is about how I came to be making micro layouts and the why and wherefore of the trackplans. 

If like me you enjoy operating and shunting please then please read on, a micro layout can be a joy to operate especially if you cannot see in your mind the full extent of the possible movements.

I'll start with something appalling, I often see layouts at shows where the fiddle yard has been added almost as an after thought, with thin bits of wood poking out of boards 4 ft from the floor. In order to turn a train around wobbly turntables and even worse picking up stock and loco's to re-position them. 

I've seen people drop loco's and stock and one of those cassette things emptied out onto the floor. Going to shows especially for the first few times is fraught with nerves and uncertainty and can easily lead to mistakes happening.

Having seen the above happen over the years and considering making a micro layout in 2011 I had several criteria to adhere to;

No constant handling of stock
Interesting operation
Operating area to be as close to 4 sq ft as I could get 
(Carl Arendt's challenge regardless of scale)
A reason for existence
Faultless slow running
To make as much as I could myself

This was my first trackplan after much doodling.


It is based on an Inglenook but with one point, a traverser with a fixed loco release beyond it. The top and bottom traverser roads can be used for stock, with a loco on the fixed release it can get to the rear of the stock roads to commence shunting. The centre traverser road switches between the upper and lower sidings. It can take over an hour to swap around two lots of stock more than that if the sidings are crowded. The moves get quite complex so there is no need to use a card system. And last but not least there is no need to move anything off the board, all the stock is safely within the environs of the layout itself.

This is a pic of the whole layout;


The second plan is similar but with a left hand fiddle yard traverser/loco release.


This plan brings in a single slip and a reverse siding, using the run round facility the traverser/loco release offers it is possible to pull stock into the siding area and deliver it to the siding off the single slip. If the sidings are crowded doing this requires quite a lot of forethought and makes the operating of the layout that much more interesting.

This is a pic of part of the siding area


This third plan is the one I am making at the moment.


The loco release has been moved to another small traverser at the other end of the layout from the stock traverser and the reverse siding is fed from a Barry slip, two points in opposite directions on top of each other. The operation is more akin to a normal terminus station with the loco able to shunt from both front and rear of a train of wagons. Once again the operating will be quite complex and enjoyable. Placing the loco release where it is also give more operating space.

I still find new ways of doing things with the first layout, have not been able to repeat much with the second one and will probably need a couple of years with the third one to appreciate some of what it will allow me to do.

Cheers - Jim

Edited by JimRead

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Simple yet complicated Jim, I like it ! :thumbsup:  Great attention to detail in what you have built already as well Sir. I particularly like the Dirty, scruffy , weathered look of that building front :) (:



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Hello Matt,

Thanks for the nice comment good of you, once I'd thought of the loco release the whole project took on a whole new impetus. The building you mention is actually a photograph, one I must admit that I didn't take it's from Marcel Vijfwinkel's site textures.com http://www.textures.com/browse/industrial/12390 scroll down this page to see it. Joining the site allows one to download 15mb's of images per day up to a certain size. The images can be used for any purpose other than resale, one has to pay a per annum for the larger images. The site is used by those who make computer games.

I turn the buildings into low relief models, insetting the windows and addings stuff like doors using Photoshop. I have also got lots lots of images I took in the Don Valley and Neepsend areas of Sheffield and I used these on the first micro layout I made here's a pic;


It's a very effective way for a modeller like me whose not in the least interested in making buildings to make something reasonably realistic. I did try with brick paper and transparent film for the windows but the results looked ridiculous, each to their own!

Hello Chris,

When I got this first one as a doodle I started to work out the movements in my mind and soon realised that my feeble brain could not see past the first few. I knew then that I was onto something that I would not get bored with.

I should have said this before and this applies to anyone reading this, please feel free to copy or use the ideas above for your own use and if you do come across me at a show then I will be delighted to offer you a go.

Cheers both - Jim

Edited by JimRead

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Hello Matt,

Thanks for your nice comment, I must admit though that the wagons you see on the layout, the bodies are made from card and paper with blobs of Seccotine for the bolt heads. The undercarriage bits were from CCW Models now sadly closed, recently having need of some more wagons I've made the W irons, the springs and the brake gear from card and paper as well. From a few inches away they are mistaken for kits and people ask where I got them from. It does mean that I can make a wagon for about £12.00.

Anyway onto traversers; once I realised that I would need one and not a sector plate, I Googled for them and was frightened by the complexity of the ones I saw. So I thought well I'll just make one as simply as I can and see what happens, I only need a two position movement so it wasn't going to be that difficult.


I used two pieces of wood right across the board making sure that they are at 90 degrees and using blocks at each end as spacers. Another piece of the same wood under the plywood traverser base, line it up clamp it and drill and screw it on. At each end there is a tongue and groove to keep the heights right.

I lined up the track on the traverser with the track either side when I laid it and had fortunatly left some wobble in the groove and I was able to use the two cut down and grooved bolts you can see as adjusters. These things never line up perfectly so the bolts being adjustable coupled with the wobble means that I can get exact alignment of the tracks in both   directions. The act of pulling or pushing the traverser makes sure that the bolts come to rest against the stops.

I used graphite on all the mating parts and after a few hours shunting the traverser moves like ice upon ice. I always think that the simplest solutions are the most effective and so it turned out in this case, I'm pleased to say.

Cheers - Jim

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Hello Tom,

I guess it's like everything else, it depends how you do it, the more complex a thing is the more likely it is to fail.

Is that Murphy's law or someone else can't remember, ah well, such is life etc etc :-)

Cheers - Jim

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