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Old 09-06-2019, 03:30 PM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Northport NY 11768
Posts: 26
Scales Modeled: HO
USA switching layout

Hi Folks, I currently have a 9X13 HO around the walls layout and have an area about 16" x 60" available on one side that I would like to setup as a switching layout. This would be connected to the main layout so that I could run trains in and out. I am not asking how to join the two layouts but rather info on how to design the switcher and what elements it must include to work well. I tried searching switching layouts on the forum but I didn't see anything specific also on Google but only came up with some photos or closeup videos that didn't show the design or the overall operation. Also need an explanation of what is expected in the operation so that I can understand what is needed in the layout. Also could a GP38-2 be used as a switching engine or is it too big?Thanks for any help, Paul
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Old 09-06-2019, 04:33 PM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: Southern Illinois
Posts: 2,059
Scales Modeled: HO
GP-38's were used for everything from switching and local service to mainline operations. You can't go wrong with one of those.

I am referring to Illinois Central though. Other railroads may or may not have used the GP-38 for switching.
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Old 09-06-2019, 07:29 PM   #3
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Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: East Haddam, CT
Posts: 8,556
Scales Modeled: HO
There is no such thing as a standard switching layout. Switching simply refers to the process of rearranging cars in a train, or picking up and dropping off.

If you look at the stick thread called "A collection of track plans" you will find a few. The hobby press has numerous examples of them.

Basically, though, keep the following points in mind:
1) you need at least one area where the loco can run around the train, especially if you have a lot of dead-end spurs, because you CAN'T pull cars into those (unless you expect the loco to just sit there while the cars are loaded, something real railroads rarely do).
2) Have a couple of free tracks or sections of track where cars can be cut off temporarily so that you can drop the end of a train there, spot some empties out of the middle of the train, then pick up the rest of your train again.
3) If your trains include cabooses, where will you park them while you drop off or pick up cars.
4) If you have any switchback moves, make sure the tail track on your turnout is long enough for at least the loco and one car (it's tedious to spot several cars through a switchback that short, but it can be done).
5) be aware of your fouling points. If cars are left on a diverging leg of a turnout, you have to be able to be able to push them far enough past the frog that they won't interfere with cars passing on the other leg.
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Old 09-07-2019, 03:15 PM   #4
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Jacksonville, Fl
Posts: 8,103
To make your switching layout more fun be sure to
include various small freight users, and if possible,
small producers of products that use freight. That gives
'purpose' to your switching moves. Ideally, since you
have a full size layout that will be connected, having
a number spurs with freight users at points along it would also provide reasons for more switching moves.

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