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So I started building my modular layout starting with the yard. I figured that’s a good starting point. Current size is 6x3 but was thinking of adding a 3rd to increase its size to 9x3. Is this excessive, not enough? Looking for some thoughts and opinions on good functional yard sizes in HO.
 

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.. Is this excessive, not enough? ...
Yes and Yes.
In real world, yards are LARGE.
Difficult to model accurately
20 cars, HO = about 10'
4 tracks wide, 8-10"

Google train yard !
 

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Yards come in all sizes, from just a few tracks for local set offs, to huge monster classification yards with multiple sub-yards and facilities and hundreds of tracks.

It really depends on how you intend to use the yard and/or what it represents.

Do trains just set off a few cars for local work or transfers to other trains?

Does it classify cars for multiple destinations? How many?

Do entire trains originate or terminate in the yard? How long are those trains?

Is it just a "train parking lot" for a show layout? How long are those trains?

Is it mostly cosmetic and a place to store extra cars?

As much length as you can handle is usually good though.
 

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Is it just a "train parking lot" for a show layout? How long are those trains?


That is why I built a five-track yard. I wanted someplace to park trains that were waiting to be ran. In addition, I got a two track engine service facility, one of which is a programming track.

It makes a nice area to park whole passenger trains.

 

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Thx for the responses. I’m thinking an xtra 3 feet won’t hurt. I have the space. Gives me room for expansion and ideas as they come!
 

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Also, do you want it to just be a straight away track or a bit of curve to the yard.

 

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As a fan of switching, I love yards. They have the
cars you want to build a train. They have the
car your sand and gravel company needs. They
have the Diner that the Desert Chief will add when
it goes through your town.
And that's where you drive head loco for refueling and
sanding.

Plus they are where you put all of those bargains that
you find at train shows.

I'm also a fan of handling the yard turnouts the
way the real railroads to: One button panel control
of your yard path thru turnouts. Go with twin coil
turnout motors and a Diode Matrix to throw the points.
Sounds complex. It isn't. Just a good terminal board
and a handful of small diodes and you are in business
cheap. Push a panel button in your destination track
and all of the points are set for a clear path. Takes
the work out of switching and puts the fun in.

Don
 

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What size are your sections?

So I started building my modular layout starting with the yard. I figured that’s a good starting point. Current size is 6x3 but was thinking of adding a 3rd to increase its size to 9x3. Is this excessive, not enough? Looking for some thoughts and opinions on good functional yard sizes in HO.
EJ&Keith;

From your post it sounds like each of your "sections" * is 3' by 3', is that correct? That's a pretty good size for your HO-scale layout.
You will be able to use these "building blocks" to construct any size, or shape, railroad you have space for. If you ever have to move, they will be easily transportable, so you will be able to save all the money, and effort, invested in your railroad, instead of scrapping it. Smart move! :appl: Who knows maybe someday you will be able to display your railroad at a train show. :) You are quite right to start with the yard. It's likely to be the most complex bit of trackwork on your layout, and it makes sense to work on it first, take your time to do it carefully, and test it thoroughly, before moving on.


(*technically they're not "modules", though that term is very commonly used, and we certainly know what you mean. It's no big deal, just a minor technical point. Interchanging the two terms is actually so common that you are likely to see the word "module" used more often, for what is technically a "section'" than the actual, technically-correct term, "section" is.)

Strictly speaking, a "module" is built to match all the physical, and electrical, standards of some modular organization, like N-Track. Any module of a given standard length, and shape, can be substituted for any other module of that same length, & shape. For instance, there are likely hundreds of N-Track 4' straight modules all over the world. Any one of them could fit in place of any other one, be quickly connected, and have trains run over it. This capability of modules is important when Murphy's Law asserts itself at a public show. The various modular organizations usually have spare modules available to substitute for any module that, "experiences technical difficulties!" :(
In short, modules are portable, standardized, interchangeable parts, of one (often huge) temporary display layout.

A "section" is a whole lot simpler. It's just a piece of one model railroad period.
Sections are typically not interchangeable, and may well be different sizes, and/or shapes. Sections usually can only be assembled in only one pattern, to make up the whole railroad. My own railroad is sectional, and I heavily promote sectional construction for all model railroads.

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
 

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Pardpn my unfamiliarity with foreign language spelling
but to cv-acr...au contraire...

Going way back in railroad history many yards had 'towers' where switchmen operated huge
levers that, using a system of rods, moved turnout points
in yards. I remember seeing an array of rods
running track side to reach the points.

Some 'towers' were 'interlocking' where two roads crossed
or merged, others were in yards.

https://www.pinterest.com/xbowler/switch-towerstowers-in-general/

Today computer digital systems control
turnouts in some yards and along the mainlines. Of course,
even today, switchmen walking the tracks must throw the points in many, if not most yards.

Don
 

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The building on the right would be one of those. The boxes and conduit on the outside of the wall ran in ground conduits to their respective turnout, and as you said, were controlled with a bank of levers on a large control box.

 

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huh. i never knew that yard should have specific size
Well, that's good, because it shouldn't. Every one is different, depending on the needs of the railroad.and the local traffic volume, as well as the terrain and available real estate.. The only real rule is that laying track is expensive, so you don't build more than you actually need, plus a little extra for contingencies.

Want a good example? Compare the New Haven's old Cedar Hill yard in New Haven CT with Norfolk Southern's Enola yard across the Susquehanna from Harrisburg PA with CSX's Selkirk yard just south of Albany NY. Three "major" yards, 3 very different sizes and configurations.
 

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Pardpn my unfamiliarity with foreign language spelling
but to cv-acr...au contraire...

Going way back in railroad history many yards had 'towers' where switchmen operated huge
levers that, using a system of rods, moved turnout points
in yards. I remember seeing an array of rods
running track side to reach the points.

Some 'towers' were 'interlocking' where two roads crossed
or merged, others were in yards.

https://www.pinterest.com/xbowler/switch-towerstowers-in-general/

Today computer digital systems control
turnouts in some yards and along the mainlines. Of course,
even today, switchmen walking the tracks must throw the points in many, if not most yards.

Don
I am VERY well familiar with interlocking and interlocking towers which control both signals and switches in a controlled interlocking in order to manage traffic on busier main lines or protect crossings of two different lines.

Yard switches in freight yards are generally not interlocked or remote controlled. The entrances to the yard from the main track might be, or some main arrival and thoroughfare tracks in a massive yard complex, but not the individual yard tracks themselves. There have to be guys on the ground anyway to couple and uncouple cars, so they're in position to hand-throw the switches. Communicating to someone else in a tower to throw those switches would be unnecessary and less efficient.

Every one of the example photos in the link you provided were this sort of interlocking tower controlling junctions, crossings, or sets of crossovers on busy multi-track main lines. The ones with huge multi-track control boards (like this one: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/429812358174663103/) are the throats to major passenger terminals, not freight switching yards.

It's *possible* that it occurred *somewhere* but it would definitely be an exception, not the rule.
 

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Here's my yard, it's 1' wide and 11' long total. the left track off the board is for making up trains. The four tracks in the lower center are storage, and currently hold 38 cars. The fifth track can't be fully used because the future engine house and crummy track in the upper part of the picture need to be accessible, so the fifth track is a rip track (that gondola needs body mounted couplers so it won't derail all the time). I have two problems, one is the make-up line can't be used without the engine going onto the mainline, if I had one of those crossing switches that would solve it. The other problem is the switches off the mainline are right off a curve and tend to derail engines, if I had about 5" of straight on each end I think they'd work much better. Most of it is made out of yard sale track.
 

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Kink between unmatched turnouts?

Here's my yard, it's 1' wide and 11' long total. the left track off the board is for making up trains. The four tracks in the lower center are storage, and currently hold 38 cars. The fifth track can't be fully used because the future engine house and crummy track in the upper part of the picture need to be accessible, so the fifth track is a rip track (that gondola needs body mounted couplers so it won't derail all the time). I have two problems, one is the make-up line can't be used without the engine going onto the mainline, if I had one of those crossing switches that would solve it. The other problem is the switches off the mainline are right off a curve and tend to derail engines, if I had about 5" of straight on each end I think they'd work much better. Most of it is made out of yard sale track.
Murv2;

It looks like there may be a kink between the Kato "turnout" (track switch) coming off the main line, and the first, (Atlas?) turnout at the entrance to the yard. Maybe it's the photo angle, but it looks like those two turnouts are sitting at different angles.
If your "yard sale track" included Atlas turnouts, then they may be the problem. Like most commercial turnouts, they have guardrail (and frog) flangeways that are too wide, and too deep. This can cause derailments. Fortunately it's a fairly easy fix, as are the other fixes for the Atlas "Snap Switch's" several problems. The attached file, "Improving Atlas turnouts" explains the problems, and fixes.

The item you call, "one of those crossing switches" is a double slip switch. They are one of the most complicated pieces of track made, and I don't recommend using them. However, if you decide you do want one, they are available commercially.

Body-mount couplers are good, if all your couplers are body mounted, and you don't have tight curves on your layout. The worst case scenario is a mix of some body-mounts and some truck-mounts. You will have better operation if you pick one or the other.
Also since your gondola derails often, have you checked the wheel gage on it? That car may have out-of-gage wheels which will cause it to derail, especially on turnouts. Does that one particular gondola derail in several different places, or just on turnouts? If it's multiple places the problem is likely to be in the car. Have you tried adding weight? You can also look at the wheels from "ground level" (get your eyeball as low as possible) while you slowly roll the car. Conversely, if the gondola derails only in one, or two, spots, the problem is likely the track at those spots. Check the track gage.

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:

View attachment Improving Atlas turnouts pdf version.pdf

View attachment All AboutTurnouts rev 5.pdf
 
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