Happy New Year, and a belated Merry Christmas

This year

It’s the last day of 2014 and time to change the site theme to make better use of the available screen real estate. I’ve also updated the site logo, and referenced the site back to my well known and sadly still offline site “andrews-trains.fotopic.net”. This I hope will help those still looking for the old fotopic.net site.

Next year

During 2015, with a lot of time on my hands due to being laid-off, down-sized, or right-sized (choose your poison), my aim is to publish a lot more detail on my layout designs, along with suggested operating plans. In addition I expect to be able to complete my Industrial switching layout (ISL) during the year, at least to the point where I can operate the layout, even if all of the scenery and buildings are not complete.

A New Year’s wish

To those of you who read along with my writings, I hope that you had a merry Christmas, and wish you and your families’ a safe, happy and prosperous New Year in 2015.


Brett – a great small layout you can model


When you travel for business, you can spend a lot of time staring at the walls of your hotel room. While travelling in June of 2014 I came across Martin Hogg’s YouTube channel and his switching layout – Brett. Martin has built one of the best operating layouts for a small space. 8 feet long and 1 foot wide it packs in plenty of switching while allowing short, focused operating sessions that you can set up and run any evening without a lot of effort.

Martin’s Videos

Here’s Martin’s first Video:

In November 2014 Martin posted another video:

In November I was lucky enough to catch up with Martin; I wanted to find out what had been his inspiration and focus for designing Brett.

Designing Brett

Previously known as Dreary, Martin’s layout has been renamed to Brett after a recent revamp. Still set in Idaho in the early 80s the layout is at the end of a branch line, now under the ownership the Yellow Pine Railroad (YPRR). Essentially a run-around loop, with industries off each end of the loop and an interchange track, trains enter from front right and loads are spotted at industries according to the crew’s switch list for that day.

Martin says that his attention has wandered recently and that the railway had taken a backseat to other modelling interests. “I decided to re-vamp the shelf layout. I have various plans brewing for another American one, but I decided to try to get some more out of this and I have to say, so far it is working.” The layout is essentially a loop with sidings.

Martin says that “there was no room to have a traditional staging or fiddle yard”.

“The track at the front right acts as the ‘interchange’ or in/out track.”

Operating Brett

Early on in the design Martin decided that “there was little point in creating an illusion of ‘somewhere else’ as this layout wasn’t going to be leaving my spare room. So the front track acts as the on-scene staging and provides the start and end point for the game play.”

The loop in front of Smith & Hogg’s track can contain a maximum of three 50 foot cars, Northwest Lumber can  handle 2 cars, and Farmers Co-Op can handle up to three 50 foot cars, while the team track and Smith and Hogg can manage a single car each.

The aim of the game Martin says is not to overload the layout with too many cars. Martin prefers to switch a couple of cars for 30 minutes at day’s end, rather than spend a couple of hours once every now and then. Additionally only having to setup a couple of cars means it is faster to set up and tear down an operating session at the end of the working day.

“I planned to allow 1 loco+2 cars (or 3 cars) as an ideal length for each spur to allow switching moves. The ‘interchange’ or fiddle track at front is the same.”


There are four industry spots on the layout. From Left to right they are:

  1. Team track
  2. Northwest Lumber
  3. Smith & Hogg Hardware, and
  4. Brett Elevator (Farmer’s Co-Op)

More information

Would you like to learn more about Brett and Martin Hogg? You can download a full article by clicking here: Small Layouts: Brett – A switching layout design