Southern New England Yard Plan

Marty McGuirk's picture


Here's the track plan Frank Hodina and I have been working on (with input from my "layout design committee" of Paul Dolkos, Craig Bisgeier, Bernie Kempinski, Andy Sperandeo, Keith Jordan, and Tony Koester - thanks guys!) for the Southern New England's "Thames Street" classification yard.    
The basic yard layout is based pretty faithfully on New London, Connecticut on the Central Vermont - although this plan shows the two piers "flipped" relative to their prototype location.  The engine terminal on this drawing is based on the CV's White River Junction, Vt., terminal - so it's still a CV "LDE" although it's been moved south.
Curved track running into the wall on the bottom of the page (over the section marked "Salt Marsh") will be connecting track to New Haven RR staging in storage room.
The hash marks are pretty faint on this drawing - to give you some frame of reference, the vertical wall is about 15'-6" long, the wall the piers are located against (the bottom wall, on this drawing) is 18'-7". 
Paul, Bernie, and John Paganoni (a fellow CV modeler who lives down the road from me -- yes, you read that right, there are TWO CV modelers in Manassas, Virginia!!) came over Sunday and we got a running start at the benchwork. We got the benchwork for the two walls to the open grid stage (it took longer to go to Lowe's and Home Depot to get the special screws we needed for Bernie's fancy drilling jig -- and, of course, eat lunch!! - than anything else!!) With the basic benchwork for the yard completed, it's time to play around with the yard trackage arrangements "Full size" and see what will fit and work the best - but this plan is a decent starting point.
I'll add some pictures of the benchwork building "crew" later, in the meantime here's a look at the track plan for the yard.
For a detailed, if somewhat rambling, discussion of the yard, listen to ModelRailCast Show No. 42 -



skiloff's picture


That sounds like quite the "dream team" for a design!  I first thought, if I had that kind of input on my design, I'd be doing pretty well, but then I thought, with all those on here, including you, I think I'd have a pretty good set of eyes looking at it.


HO Scale '70s/80s era

ChrisNH's picture

Looks good

Looks good Marty. I am a little behind in my railcasts, should be caught up this week, so did not hear your discussion.

Is the right hand track in the upper right corner your drill track? If so, will it be long enough for that yard?

I like how you fit the engine house in. Nice way to hide a corner and get a big round house into a small space.. I am really looking forward to seeing that scene develop!


“If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.”           My modest progress Blog

Marty McGuirk's picture

Don't associate experience with flawlessness!

Besides, that "team" is nothing more to me than a group of my friends who's input and advice I value.  There are similar "pockets" of model railroaders everywhere you look. You'll find "talking through" a design - be it in person or virtually via the internet will often help solidify a design or will at the very least let you know the (sometimes tough) decision points.




Marty McGuirk, Manassas, VA


Marty McGuirk's picture

Yes, the drill track is the one that stubs by the main

as the main rounds the upper left hand corner of the drawing.

Looking at the yard - or at least the benchwork for the yard - full size indicates a shift of the yard ladder and the entire "class yard" portion of the plan to the left is in order.  Don't think I'll lengthen the yard lead, since there's no reason to.  New London had (still has, in fact) a very short lead since the mainline only has a single track easement through the Academy (USCG) campus.

Besides, I've come to believe the "yard lead should be as long as the longest yard track/longest cut of cars" is really one of those dreaded "model railroad thoughts." 

Steam era engineers I've talked to have disabused me of that notion. They handled no more than 10 to 15 cars in yards - not because of the switchers pulling ability but because that's as far as they could safely see as they switched in the pre-radio days.

Funny you mention the roundhouse in the corner - Ryan was really confused by it and asked if I was really going to cut the wall of the roundhouse.  I told him it was something I'd seen done plenty of times - I don't think he believed me because when Craig came on the show Ryan asked him the exact question!



Marty McGuirk, Manassas, VA


ChrisNH's picture


LOL.. good stuff.. you need a picture of yourself with a circular saw and a roundhouse..

The yard I am looking at in St.Johnsbury does not have a very long lead either.. really its just an extension of the arrival/departure track. It makes sense in the the light of only working a short cut of cars at a time. It makes sense to match the length on a shorter yard.. but I guess the real question is "how long is the longest cut you will pull" rather then the "longest yard track".

Anyway, thanks for the insight.



“If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.”           My modest progress Blog

c-and-s-fan's picture

I like it, Marty

My first thought was also about the yard lead.  Your answer makes sense.  Did you mention at one time what your typical train length would be?  If in that 15-20 car range, and your clock doesn't run so fast as to overwhelm the yardmaster, then that seems fine.

I was also wondering how the piers would be switched.  Is there a separate crew to handle that end?

Hurry up and finish while air fares are low.

Dave Zamzow
Fort Collins, CO
The C&S lives!


Marty McGuirk's picture

I'm figuring train length in the 15-20 car range for the longer

 through trains - heck, on the prototype CV Southern Division it wasn't unusual to see 3-4 car wayfreights!


Construction has started - here's a look at progress as of tonight - by the way, y'all will be meeting the lone car on the plywood - - a CV hopper --  in the first issue of MRH:

















Paul Dolkos, Bernie Kempinski and my fellow CV modeler John Paganoni (who lives in the same town - who'd figure there would be TWO CV modelers in Virginia???) came by on Sunday and we got a running start at the benchwork - once we stopped eating and looking for tools!



















That's John to the left, Paul with his back to the camera, and Bernie, coking and joking (as usual!),  on the right . . .

That cardboard circle was supposed to demonstrate what the peninsula minimum radius would be like - somehow it ended up being a workbench - cardboard is not recommended as  work surface!


Stafford Mills, to be based on Montville, will be to the right of Bernie in the above shot. Stafford Mills, as you may recall, is based on Montville, Conn.  John grew up in Montville - in fact his house shows up in some of the pictures in the other thread - it was just up the hill from the station!

To show Paul's best (better??) side - here he is facing the camera  - John seems deep in thought - not sure what about, but I'm sure it was significant!


Marty McGuirk, Manassas, VA


bear creek's picture

Scale track


Nice plan.

I was looking over your yard plan and was wondering about the placement of the scale track. How will movements to the scales occur and from where? Will the scale be featured as part of normal yard ops or is it intended as a scenic element? Jim Ferenc wrote about an operating HO scale track in MR about 8 years ago. Have you thought of actually weighing the cars?



 Contributing Editor, Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine

Jurgen Kleylein's picture

Where's the station?

 Is there/was there passenger service?  If so, where is the station?  And what are those four short tracks beside the roundhouse?




HO Deutsche Bundesbahn circa 1970

Visit the HO Sudbury Division at

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Marty McGuirk's picture

I plan to use the scale track in operations

but have to admit I haven't gotten it figured out completely. I was reading a very interesting article on scale tracks in Railway Prototype Cyc by Pat Wider last night in fact.

The scale track was right smack dab in the middle of New London yard, so I put it in the same place on my model. Andy Sperandeo had a suggestion on moving one end of the scale track to allow us to "weigh" longer cuts of cars.


I doubt I'll make it actually weigh the cars like the MR article you referenced - at least for now.




Marty McGuirk, Manassas, VA


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