Archie’s Yard started out as a quick test bed and shunting puzzle, as work on my main layout was suspended, pending a move to a new house.
The layout is 36” by 10”. It has two hidden sidings at the rear, linked with the front viewing section by a swivelling sector plate and tunnel entrance.
The photograph on the right shows it in it’s original unadorned form.
After the move, as relaxation from renovating an old property, and before the main layout could be installed in it’s room, Archie’s Yard gradually acquired bits of scenery and then buildings, until it has become a finished model.
This transition was aided by it conveniently fitting inside the roll-top desk which is my work bench in the living room.
The track is Peco Code-55. The points are operated manually, from the rear, by rod-in-tube with micro-switches to change frog polarity. All the points are the short radius except for the double-slip at the centre of the layout which was a key component of the track design for such a short space.
The standard couplings on the rolling stock have been replaced with DG magnetically operated couplings, magnets being buried at various locations under the track; shown by blue dots in the track plan above. The two magnets at the sector plate end of the hidden sidings are on a slide, so that they can be positioned to not uncouple the train whilst being pushed onto the sector plate.
The length of the sector plate only allows a short goods train comprising loco, three wagons and a guards van. Despite it’s small size, Archie’s Yard provides interesting shunting challenges and demonstrates that, with N Gauge, you do not need a large space for an enjoyable layout.
The slide show below shows views of Archie’s Yard; The buildings are shown in more detail on the Buildings page. The low relief buildings along the back will eventually be used on the main Rowandale layout. The trees have heather twigs for their trunks and branches, with foliage from Woodland Scenics.
What’s a Shunting Puzzle?
A set of small cards depicts the wagons to be used and their destinations. These are drawn at random to make up a train which must be marshaled in the hidden sidings and brought to the visible section via the sector plate.
There are a few rules though. When it enters the visible section the loco must be in front and a guards van must be at the rear of the train. Wagon movements within the yard do not need to have a guards van, and the sector plate track in the tunnel entrance will need to be used. When the loco has delivered the wagons to their destinations it must visit the engine shed for a quick check-over and top-up with coal & water before getting the wagons back to the hidden sidings. Again the loco must lead the exit from the visible area and a goods van must bring up the rear - sounds simple.
However there are a few snags; the loco has to get the guards van out of the way before it can deliver the wagons. Wagons have to be pushed into their destination siding, otherwise the loco will be trapped in the spur, and there is only room for the loco and two wagons on the spur leading to the coal yard.