Readers' comments about Staging

Words of wisdom from the men who own one...

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No ones knows how to describe the pros and cons of staging concepts better than those who have built and used them. Here then are some comments about different staging methods from Folks I know who have experience with these contraptions. If you have experience with staging you'd like to share, send an EMail to the Housatonic Valley RR with your thoughts on staging, and maybe it will end up here too!

From Jim Moir:

bulleta) KISS => no moving parts, especially where track alignment is involved, and doubly-especially where that arrangement is hidden from the operators view. This implies no staging turntables; if at _all_ possible.
bulletb) Trains get late => little or no serial staging. Even though you might have a "Line-up of Train Movements" that implies a fixed order of appearance, it is both interesting and valuable to be to vary the order of appearance from the initial (pre-session) plan.
bulletc) Serial staging implies all the trains must leave before any train arrives. This is - very - constraining.

b + c => "no serial staging".

...Another type of staging: "intermediate staging". At the St J end of the C&NE there is a return loop, normally used to turn complete staged-trains - between - sessions. However it is used - during - the session to turn trains CP 904/917 and CP 89/88. For instance, train 89 heads north from St J and rather than going into the Whitefield staging yard it goes into the return loop, which is designated "Newport, VT" (a staging track). The s/w* unloads the cars and reloads the cars in train 89. The s/w* also changes the symbol from "CP 89" to "CP 88". Sometime later in the session, CP 88 heads south through StJ yard, sets out and picks up a "second" time, and then heads "back" into a conventional staging "Wells River".

The advantage of this intermediate staging is that otherwise un-used trackage (the loop) gets used; and equipment (cars and engines) get "double" use. You do need real-time/interactive s/w to make use of this type of staging though.

Another form of intermediate staging is used by the high traffic-density passenger freaks. The staging is placed right in the mainline between terminals. A train just pauses in the hidden staging to eat up assumed travel time.


Editor's Note: Jim's company, Sable Dynamics Research, has just released a new Software package for model railroaders using command control called ProTrak, the Professional Railroad Operations System, which allows the modeler to operate his or her railroad in a highly prototypical fashion. ProTrak has to be seen to be believed! For more information, Send an EMail message to Jim at Sable Dynamics Research and say you saw it here on the Housatonic Valley RR Home page!

From Peter White:

My understanding is that there is a difference between a Fiddle yard and a Staging yard. The Fiddle is not a sub class of staging.

Fiddle yards originated in England years ago because space for a layout is much less available than what we are use to here in the US. Often, the fiddle yard was on a narrow shelf and consisted of several tracks in what we might refer to as a single ended yard. It was called a "Fiddle" because the operator would "fiddle" the cars and makeup trains of different consists prior to the trains appearance on the "stage".

Frequently, the yard may have been constructed in the matter you described; i.e. cars are switched in a fiddle yard. In a staging yard, cars are generally not switched or classified, if you prefer. Complete trains are stored in the staging yard awaiting their scheduled appearance.

You may wish to mention "layover" tracks in your article. We have used this term for many decades and I see no difference in the use of "layover" and "staging". Just two different words describing the same thing.

Often, I have seen in print the layover term used to describe a reversing loop in a point to point plan that contains multiple tracks to hold complete trains. Such reversing loops are a staging yard. No car switching is done.

Granted, different folks use the terms according to their understanding. The above is mine. To my knowledge, there is no cast in granite definitions.

Peter White

From Dick Beebe:

My current layout uses an 8-track sliding fiddle yard. Considering my space limitations it was really the only available option. So far (and as I'm still doing final tracklaying, so real operation hasn't begun) I see two major disadvantages:
bulletPerfect alignment is hard to obtain every time. I haven't yet come up with a suitable locking mechanism, to it's strictly eyeball. More than once, I've had major derailments on entering or exiting the fiddle yard.
bulletIt takes the big crane in the sky to move the locomotives from one end to the other. The advantage, though, is engines can be swapped or replaced entirely from the hidden (shelf) loco shed.

Remember my layout is still in construction. (Let people know I'm) an 'amateur' fiddle yarder. It seems to be most prevalent in British layouts (that's where I got the idea). So maybe a UK modeler who has lots of experience may jump in and add a whole lot of pros and cons that I haven't even encountered yet.

...I might add one more point. The fiddle yard seems ideally suited for a 'shelf' type layout, rather than most of the more extensive layouts in which trains can actually loop around and come back - or continue in a great circle.

In my own case, the fiddle yard is 5' long. This will hold a four-coach train with engine and tender. To replace this with a true 'yard' would require considerable additional length just to accommodate the turnout ladder leading to the eight tracks.

Dick Beebe

We'd like to hear your thoughts and experiences with staging. Please drop us a line via email (Use the link below for your convenience) and use the word "STAGING" in your title. Comments that pass on insights into using one method or another will be posted here for others to view, and compare to their own needs. Be a part of it -- tell us what you think!

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