Which comes first...Yard or Mainline
Recently, I was asked my input from a co-worker about model trains. He wanted to start building a "train layout" for his kids and needed to know where to start. He knew that I was a modeler and came to me for some advice. After doing his research (basically, asking the kids what they wanted) it was decided that he (they) wanted to run modern era trains in HO Scale. OK, great he said, lets get started with the design. It was during the design phase that we came upon the stumbling block. And it really made me wonder how many of us have had the same situation arise.
His kids wanted to run trains, but he liked the way I described and talked about yard operations. He needed to have both. He wanted a 2 track mainline to run trains (1 for each kid...they did not like to share), an a seperate yard for him, all connected together in the middle. Anyone modeling HO can tell you that modern era equipment, like auto racks and stack trains, takes up a whole bunch of real estate...err..benchwork.
The problem came when we tried to come up with a trackplan to fit this in. He has a decent size room (15' x 20') for a HO scale layout. He shares that room with his wife who has workout equipment in the center of the room. We decided that a "around the wall" concept would work best keeping out of each others way.
But how to start the design? Do we start with the yard and work our way out making dad happy? Or start with the mailine and see what's left for a yard, making the kids happy? He was not at all concerned with "prototype" operation so this made it easier to plan.
For the record, dad's idea was put in place...because, as he said, "he was paying for it" and you can't argue with that no matter how old you are. I can tell you that was a unique way starting a model railroad that I never really thought of before. It was so much easier working out from both ends of the yard, instead of trying to fit the yard in at the end. I know proper planning can solve this, but some of us just take the "let's see what happens" attitude and go with it. Face it, we can plan and plan and plan all we want, but all of us at some point just want to get started and work out the problems as we go along, right?
To us, in theory, it was easier to build the yard with all the tracks and switches first, then connect the mainline loops at each end. It's much easier to cut or move 1 piece of mainline track (flex track) that it would have been to move or cut switches. So we completed the yard and made sure everything worked before starting out to finish main #1. (I wonder if this was how the early railroad pioneers felt?)
Everything is progressing fine at this time. In addition, by completing the yard first, we also found that the kids had "fun" playing in the yard. They liked moving the locomotive between the different tracks. They even took turns ruuning the engine while the other brother "flipped" the buttons to switch the tracks. That kind of gives a whole new meaning to "playing in the yard".
I guess, in the end, everyone wins. Dad is spending time with his kids and sharing this hobby with them.
This made me wonder how many of us have had this same issue? It's a very basic question, which comes first the yard or the main? Let's see how many different answers we get for that.
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