Large Scale Central

Building the CR&N Deadline:July 2017

At the request of Sean I have started an article on my layout build

So I guess we can move the discussion about my layout here. Its as good a place as any to keep getting the great help I have been getting.

I have one issue before major construction can begin on the railroad. I have to re-side this end of the house; the t-1-11 is starting to check. Its not rotten anywhere I have found but it is cracking. This side of the house is a southern exposure and we get most of our weather from the Southwest so it takes ran and wind as well. Eventually the whole house will get done but we are going to tackle it one wall at a time. In addition my house is made with 2X4 walls with R-14 insulation and no vapor barrier. So I will make one inch furring strips and in between add 1" of foam board. House wrap it and then use a fiber cement product to reside it. So now is the time to take care of this problem. I am hoping I can talk the wife into going with Hardie’s vertical siding that looks like board and batten with a shingle on the gable ends. I think it will fit our over all house theme as well as look nice for the railroad.

One thing I can do before that is make the yard. After taking some physical measurement outside and getting a feel for how things will look I skootched the wye over so it is fully in line with the house. This leaves me a 12’X 30" area for the yard. It will give me a very nice 5 track yard with plenty of length. Using ideas here I think I will cover three of those.

The siding and yard will be the first orders of business after the grubbing is done. Then we will let out the contract for surveying the first phase for clearing and grading.

You will enter the layout from the left just below the yard. The bottom two tracks I will leave open for guests to build trains and for me to add cars and locos not already on the track. The top three I will build as a covered yard with a lift up top as others have done. This will house mainly my locomotives and nicer hand built cars that I don’t want to take on and off all the time. This will be weatherproof and have a charging wire so I can charge locos on the track.

I want to pour a cement slab for the yard and then build up a cabinet underneath with shelves to store extra cars. It will hold either custom built car trays or rubber made bins that will hold cars and have doors that will close and lock. Then the benchwork top for the yard. Top of rail height here is 28" My desk at work just so happens to be 27" high and 30" wide so that is all very accessible and a good height. The lower left area I will have a table where guest can bring in their stuff and set it down. All of this can be done before the siding.


Is the yard hindered by the house?

if not you Could build … say the top track in the pic below becomes the center … you could build the same on the other side

This is just to slow you down some more!(

Remember that 30 inches is about the limit of your reach. Its even less if you have to reach over a wall that is 12 inches away.

There’s always something, isn’t there?


to answer your question no the yard would not be constrained by the house. I could physically do what you suggest. I might even be able to talk the wife into it. Maybe not quite that big but I get your point.


I agree a reach of 30" is approaching the limit of reasonable. However this 30" yard would be accessible from both sides so effective reach is 15" to center. My thinking would to make the train shed the top two tracks and accessible from the patio outside the layout area. Then the working open yard would be the bottom three tracks accessible from the interior of the layout.

Now if I were to consider Sean’s idea I would still make the top two or three tracks the shed and then make sure the bottom tracks were all within reach say 24". So instead of Sean’s 10 track yard maybe say 6 or 7 tracks. 2 or 3 in the shed and 4 in the open yard.

Well in the article I showed what the area looked like yesterday. Well its been raining this weekend but today was beautiful. So after church it was out to clean the space up. I took down the play area burned all the wood except the beams being used as posts. These beams are actually quite interesting. They are 4X6 cedar beams. They have a 3/4 inch dado about 3/4 of an inch in on each face opposite each other on the 6" faces. These cedar beams were connected 6" face to 6" face with a spline board inserted into each dado. They made a 6" thick wall that was 16 feet tall. Can you guess what would need a wall like that? No? It was an old kiln for drying lumber that was built in 1920’s sometime. Amazing these timbers are still around and still being used at least by me. Now that they have rotted off at the ground I have about 12’ of usable timber left. I will be using them as fence posts for the entrance to the layout.

I digress, dismantling the play area, I weed whacked all the weeds and raked them up and disposed of them. I had some trash to get rid of as well and move some rocks. There were some scalloped bricks that need to be moved that were to be a part of the front flower bed than is now part of the fenced in area. I still have some work to do, if you can see them there are two RR ties that were fence posts that will need to be sawed off at ground level. Also we used a RR ties as borders around the play area that will need to be removed. Also a tractor tire. But for the most part I am ready to go.

First up will be to reside the house. We are going to fur out the walls with 1 X 2 strips and then apply 1" foam board for added installation and then add a house wrap. The wife an I decided to go with Hardie Vertical Panels

with the board and batten look. We will also use there shingle product on the gable end like these

So I got my way here. She argees everyone is doing the horizontal lap look and we want to be different. I think it will match the layout era well. Also before any construction on the layout can begin I have to find my zero elevation. We have an existing patio to the left of the above picture. We are going to extend that cement slab all the way to the layout and that will serve as the base for the cabinet and bench work that will make the yard. That will be my zero elevation from which the layout will be set at.

I just was given a 1/2 yard cement mixer for free. I guess I know where it will get used. I will likely do the fence posts at the same time. So that’s where I am.

Devon Sinsley said:

I still have some work to do, if you can see them there are two RR ties that were fence posts that will need to be sawed off at ground level.

Remove the old RR bases … they will come back to bite you … We all have been there!

I would love to remove them but I would need an excavator to do so they are two feet deep poured into a 12 to 14 inch round hole. I am aware of sink holes. But I think I will deal with it.

Devon Sinsley said:

Sean, to answer your question no the yard would not be constrained by the house. I could physically do what you suggest. I might even be able to talk the wife into it. Maybe not quite that big but I get your point.


What I’m envisioning for your yard was 9 tracks, 4 outer tracks (2 each side) with a 5 tracked building in the center. Giving you 4 set up tracks and 5 storage/charging tracks. If you build the building to look some what like

without the widows and meter ( same shape and color , but smaller) mini house for train storage. She might like it. (

I was already going to match the cabinet under the yard to the house with the board and batten look and match the color. But I hadn’t considered the train shed matching, thats a great idea. Its even area correct.

Now your yard idea has me a bit intrigued. I think if the covered shed were in the the center it would not be a good thing you just never would be able to reach it. Remember I am putting this yard 28" give or take into the air. If your having to reach in that far and over a wall to boot I don’t think that would be so great. I think for sure the engine shed should sit to one side. the house side. Then make the yard itself on the layout side. Its hard for others to see my vision but two tracks on one side and two on the other would not be user friendly as an operations yard. It would require one to actually leave the layout and go to the patio to operate on the one side of the yard. But with that said I could very easily make the shed on the north say 4 tacks (they would each be 8-10 feet long) and then have five on the south side open. Then the covered four would be just storage and serve as an engine house for charging. And the south five for active operations.

Your costing me money Sean. I thought you were supposed to be encouraging me to build not plan. I will blow the budget on track and turnouts just in the yard.

The building … Think of it as a hatch back … hinge in the front and lift up from the back giving full access to all 5 tracks …(

A true napkin drawing.

I get your drawing and that is a good plan no matter where the shed goes. But what’s your thinking of having the shed in the middle of the yard and having a set of two tracks on either side? Why would I want to split the working portion of the yard into two separate sections? Especially when accessing one set on what you have labeled the back side of the shed only being accessible by leaving the layout and walking around the yard to the other side. Visually it would be interesting for sure. But from an operations practicality standpoint it seems I would want the working yard all on one side within reach of one place. Then to store trains and locos in the shed one could walk around the yard to the other side to put things to bed.

Now one configuration that I could see doing that uses your idea is to put 2 tracks open on the back side, 4 in the shed, and 3 on the front side. Then the two tracks could be for staging trains by guests before entering the layout. This leaves the 3 in the yard for active operations without the interference of staging trains. Of course the four covered would then still be reserved for my permanent storage. I really don’t think I will need five tracks covered.

I like this idea for a couple reasons. It will free up the area I was going to use for a table for people to set stuff on in the lower right hand side of the layout for more track and the terminal mining area. Also since the key is operations when people are “working” in the layout they won’t be hindered by people “staging”. The people staging can set their stuff up and keep it parked on the back side while operations are taking place on the front side. There will be a nice shady patio area on the back side where the picnic table and chairs and socializing will take place, so that is a good place to set up and visit while waiting for your turn to play.

These are the sorts of things I am trying to work through; the ergonomics of the layout. I realize my confined space; and I want to maximize the amount of room to play and get people in and around efficiently. Right now that is as important to me as any other part of the design. I very much want this to be a shared layout and not my island empire. So I think over all I like your plan.

Even if it means I need 100 more turnouts to make it happen. . .( I better get some rail and frogs coming from llagas.

One thing is for sure Sean, with your inspiration the yard I wanted originally is taking shape. I was beginning to think this would have to be an area of compromise. But with your ideas a very nice useful yard is becoming a reality without jeopardizing other elements. So i do appreciate the advice and suggestions.

So taking Sean’s idea and running with it I made a 2D rendering and a 3D rendering of the yard. Over all width of the yard is 54" and length is 150"

It includes the 9 tracks. The top two will be against a patio and will be used by guest to build and stage trains to enter the layout. The middle four are in the shed which is the grey area. It is 20" wide and 72" long. The bottom three tracts will be the operations yard. The light green is bench work, dark green will be hte beginning of the wye which will likely be ladder, and the house corner is in brown.

The 3D rendering shows the elevation of the shed which has 12 inch walls and another 5" to the peak. That is all negotiable. The open area underneath will all be storage for cars and will house the charger and other electrical stuff and what nots.

Devon Sinsley said:

But what’s your thinking of having the shed in the middle of the yard and having a set of two tracks on either side?

My original thought was So two visiting operators can set up with out getting in each others way. They leave your 5 tracks for your trains

I did think you had more than two friends…

Devon Sinsley said:

Is this were the dorm size fridge is going?

I am cornfused. I thought this was a little, backwoods, shoestring type operation…


Not really. The real CR&N was not what I would necessarily call a backwoods mom and pop type operation. I would call it large or even medium either. It never had a facility like the yard that is being designed that’s for sure but it did have a yard, it had a small engine shed and it actually had three wye tracks. It had two water tanks. And several shop buildings.

So while the this is a bit elaborate for the theme it does serve a purpose in having a functional and fun operations layout.

I promise to make the rest backwoods and and low budget

This will be an operations centered layout as much as I can pack in my space and not get to crazy but have the feel of the prototype

OK I have a question. Sean who has been one of the major supporters of this project suggested i update the actual article frequently. I was shying away from this as I didn’t want it to become overwhelming and figured the small gains in progress could be shown here and then major gain in the article. But if people want more of the smaller progressions in the article I would be glad to do it. For one thing many of the different aspects are getting tossed around in differnt threads and its hard to follow so consolidating them in the article isn’t a bad idea for my loyal fans ( follow.

Also it helps motivate me and keep my ADHD brain focused. So if people want more I will give them more.