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Posted in Layout Designs by Rob Chant. (Last activity on Thursday, February 27, 2020 at 15:58:44 AST.)

HO SCALE: Burnside Industrial Park (ISL)

Back in October of 2019, a client asked if I could design a modern switching layout for him in his very limited space. He then proceeded to say that he wanted a layout to fit in his 2x4-foot space, and he was wondering what I could do with it.

Now, if you know me, I am always up for a challenge, but I also knew that such a space was going to be very limiting for modern railroading. I was also taken back by the rest of my client's wish list for the layout: he wanted to include a small yard, a few big online customers, and a passing track. He was also hoping to use #6s turnouts, and he wanted the layout to be self-contained without any additional add-ons for staging.

Knowing all of this just wasn't going to be possible in such a small foot print, I had to break the news to him. However, I also asked if I could make a suggestion that might give him most of what he wanted, but still be contained within 8-square feet.

I decided that instead of a rectangular shaped layout, I would used two wedge shaped layout sections that were hinged together. When not in use, the sections would be folded together, and have the 2x4-footprint that my client wanted.

I had first thought of hinging two 1x4-foot section, but that just didn't give me the room I needed for a yard, so I went with the wedges. I included a diagram with the dimensions of the wedges in my attachments, if you want to use the idea.

The end result shown here is a small industrial park with two good size industries, plus a short team track, and a small 3-track yard. The layout can be operated without the need for a staging cassette or fiddle track, and it also uses #6 turnouts.

The hinge is placed in front of the layout at the 4-foot mark near the road crossing, and the side of the road hides the section break. I kept track to a minimum and straight across the break, just to make the connection as reliable as possible.

Although my client wasn't completely happy with the hinged sections, there was just no way to get all he wanted unless I altered the configuration of the available space while keeping the same square footage. If you're having trouble fitting everything in your space, you might consider a similar approach.

Track Plan:

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Overall 3D Renderings:

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Close-Up 3D Renderings:

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Cutting diagram for the 2x4-foot sheet of plywood:

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TAGS: Design Feature: Folding Designs, Theme: Industrial Park / District, Layout Size: Mini Layouts, Theme: Switching Operations

User Comments:

Posted by Rob Hupfield on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 at 2:31:45 PM.

Rob, this is a gem of a small switching layout. I can imagine a pulp mill or car plant or almost any other large industries on, or at, the end of a short branch.

The industry spurs as drawn would support numerous spots for specific loading and unloading destinations (Lance Mindheim style), complicating the switching requirements considerably, and the compact yard provides nicely for off-spots and train arrival and departure sorting needs. The arrangement seems prototypical and efficient, which doesn’t make it much easier for the operator, but it breathes authenticity rather than becoming a forced switching puzzle. Reach and accessibility for turnouts and uncoupling and car visibility is excellent. The compact yard to the front helps here.

A single staging track could easily be hinged (vertically or horizontally) to either end if an additional 3 or 4 feet of length are temporarily available, providing a fiddle track to prepare arrivals and allow a train to enter and exit the scene. Actual train arrival and departure can add a great deal of fun to the layout, and help bookend an operating session.

The hinge idea is particularly clever. Scissors benchwork! And no need to clear the layout of equipment in order to fold it up vertically. I’m astonished your client wasn’t ecstatic with the solution.

The design does beg for Iain Rice style boxed benchwork with an upper fascia to hide lighting. The addition of a second hinge on the upper fascia would also make the hinge arrangement much stronger.

Personally, I would probably not place a level crossing through the middle of the run-around. While the avenue visually centres the overall scene nicely, the constant traffic flagging (or signals and gates) for every switching move could drive both crews and drivers to distraction. Level crossings are, and should be, scarce. A more modern underpass or overpass might add visual interest and still provide a visual focus. The team track is almost redundant, and sometimes less can be more. Perhaps the foreground yard track could also be a team track.

With best regards,

Posted by Robert Chant on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 at 3:40:02 PM.

Wow Rob excellent in-depth critique of the design! Thanks very much for your feedback. I think you hit the mark on all points and your analysis is spot on. The only thing I will address is my client's reaction to the hinge and the reason behind it.

From the get go he was quite explicit that the footprint had to be 2x4-feet, and he was disappointed that I didn't come up with something to fit that space. While I thought it was a good solution, he insisted that he didn't have an 8-foot long space to use for the layout, and therefore my design was never considered as a option for him. (And as far as I know, he still hasn't built a layout.)

After designing layouts for others for over 20 years, I came to the realization a long time ago that I cannot make everyone happy. All I can do is listen to a client's G&D and then offer my ideas how best to accomplish them in the available square footage. Sometimes I get it right, but not this time. However, I am sure someone can see the potential with this hinge design.

Posted by James Taylor on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 at 6:48:11 PM.

Rob, Considering the challenge of creating anything past a new Inglenook design in 2x4 feet, this is really impressive. The hinged idea, with a tapered layout for storage space etc. is really outstanding. Like Rob above I see this as 1 large industry were I to build it, with a weed covered yard at that! I have a 18" by 8'-10' layout area and I am constantly reviewing ideas (too many) like this for fun. Very creative answer, too bad it didn't work out for your client but I imagine this will be built by another before too long.
Thanks for posting your designs,

Posted by Robert Chant on Thursday, February 27, 2020 at 3:58:44 PM.

Thanks James for the feedback. If an add-on staging cassette could be added, the yard could be transformed into another part of am industrial complex, adding even to the space. And I have no doubt that someone will use the hinge idea for layout as well.

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