Category Archives: Inglenook

Incorporating an Inglenook in the design

Thoughts on modelling the Montpelier, OH Elevator

Small layouts have to meet the needs, and desires, of their owners. Often that is not easy as we want it all, but in a small space.  In this post, we’ll look at how you can work with the track layout from the elevator at Montpellier, OH (see this post) to fit in a smaller space, even if you don’t want to model an elevator.

There is so much that you can do with a good track layout!

Disclaimer

So before I begin, I wanted to make this clear:

  • If you want to model the Eden Co-Op, in an as-is, where-is format, if in a somewhat smaller version, knock yourself out. I’ll go through that in the section below.
  • However, should you want to use the track plan and model something else, then I have a few ideas about that for you too.

Now, feel free to read on.

Site overview

Image 1: The Eden Farmers C-Op Ass’n in Montpelier, Ohio USA

After clicking the image above, which I hope you’ll find interesting, you’ll note that the track arrangement is basically a double-ended Inglenook (I call it a Supernook) providing:

  1. a run-around option for the locomotive,
  2. off-spot locations for cars not being spotted under the over-track auger(s), and
  3. somewhere to go off the layout at the end of the session.

The track plan
Image 2: The track plan

And that neighbours, is everything we need to make an operating layout (see my Ops 101 series starting here for more).

According to our friend Google, the branch line is just under a kilometre at 941 metres (or 3084 feet) from the toe of the switch on the left of the branch to the road on the right. To model it all you’d need 35 feet and four inches, give or take. We’re into small layouts so we’re not going to do that.

Site Operation

The elevator receives empty blocks of cars inbound, shipping loaded blocks of cars out. The elevator has its own switcher (an SW-1200 of 1955 vintage) to do all the in-plant moves.  From the video I pointed to in the previous post, I’m guessing that there might be multiple types of grain available for loading within the block, and this is why the centre track is used to store cars before they are loaded.  You’ll note in the video that the switcher is pulling trucks from the centre track.

Assuming that there are no cars waiting to be loaded, the general operation goes something like this:

  1. Class 1 railroad switches a block of empty cars for loading by the elevator (pushing cars in from the yard – left of the above image). They place these cars onto the branch line (top of the picture)
  2. The plant switcher fires up, after being shore powered (it looks like they have a mains plug to float the battery voltage at the right-most building) overnight
  3. The switcher then hooks up to the first block of the inbound cars, pulls forward to the switching lead, and pushes the cars back onto the loading track (bottom track on the image above)
  4. Where a car is not in the right loading order, the switcher sets this car out to the middle track
  5. The switcher then repeats step 3, and step 4, as necessary until the cars are all loaded
  6. Once switching is complete the switcher then goes back onto the switching lead, is powered down and then reattached to shore power.
  7. The class 1 railroad now switches out the loaded hoppers and the cycle starts again.

Modelling Opportunities

As-Is

Modelling a single industry provides you with focus. In this case, it is a single commodity and car type operation. On the positive side though you only need to buy one locomotive. And there is lots of switching. And if that’s your thing then you’re good to go.

While the original site is really big, a model of it doesn’t have to be. You can build a layout based on this industry, using the simple principles of the Inglenook and model it in a lot less space by determining the maximum number of cars that you want to switch in any given session. And

Freelancing Opportunities

The elevator at Montpellier as shown in the last post is big; really, really big. It handles unit grain trains with an empties in/loads out procedure. So I guess you’re wondering “what is Andrew thinking!

A smaller version elevator

But we don’t want to model this site full size. Instead, we want to model a smaller version of the site. And for that, we’re going to use the classic Inglenook design that is double-ended so you can run around the cuts at either end (see this page for an overview of the Inglenook) to shorten the length to something more manageable.

From the track plan above you’ll note that I’ve named the tracks as Branch Line, Overflow and Elevator track. The branch line is the longest track, with the other two being roughly the same size. That is why the Inglenook is the perfect solution to shrinking the track down to a manageable size. In the resources section below I’ve listed the very best calculators (some on this site, others off) to help you determine the length and number of cars you can fit in a given space.

Same track arrangement, different industry

I can think of several industries that you could model, that require constant switching, mainly in the food industry (refrigerator cars, and boxcars primarily) that will keep your single loco crew hopping for each session. By keeping the same track arrangement cars would be left on the overflow track by the Shortline or Class 1 railroad, and then taken by the company switcher and placed onto the loading track.

To boost operations you could work as follows:

  1. The session starts with the loco on the right end tail track
  2. Empty cars are pulled from the overflow track and pushed onto the loading dock or to the loading doors
  3. As cars are loaded they are pushed to the end of the loading track
  4. More cars are pulled from the overflow track, and the cycle continues
  5. As space is freed up on the overflow track those loaded cars can be switched back to the overflow track using the branch line as the run-around
  6. Rinse and repeat until your loads are completed and a train of loads is assembled on the overflow track
  7. The session ends when the loco is parked up on the right end tail track

Here are my thoughts on what your food-based industries could be:

A frozen foods manufacturer (meat, vegetables, fish, you name it) – empties in, loads out with a slab-sided warehouse and environmental dock door arrangement.  A modern facility (from the 1980s onward) would be a better option. The doors would need to line up with boxcars of the era. Mostly 50 or 60 footer mechanical refrigerators. Luckily, there are plenty of those on the market at the moment.

Other industries off the top of my head are a breakfast cereal factory, or Snack cake bakery (think Hostess), plywood factory, auto part (castings) manufacturer, a food-service warehouse (a mix of dry and frozen doors would work here similar to the old Austin, TX SYSCO/US Foodservice warehouse, using doors rather than docks.

The list of ideas is almost limitless. If they ship a lot of stuff to other factories you could use the track plan and scale it down as needed for your site. Making it a stand-alone layout means you could have a small, high-quality operations based layout up and running quickly, and prototypically in just a couple of weekends. Then spend a couple of years adding detail you go. 1 locomotive, especially an older SW, rusty GP9 or a patched GP20 would do. Try a leased unit.

I hope this has given you an idea or two, and that you’ve found the post useful. In the meantime don’t forget to check out the resources below. Like, comment and subscribe if you find my content useful. I hope to hear from you soon.

Resources

Staying in Contact

Interested in keeping in touch or discussing posts, pages and ideas?  You can do that in several ways:

Site Update – 26/03/2021

There’s a new section (Layout Design Basics) under the Articles menu. The first article there focuses on Inglenooks.


Layout design basics

I’ve added a new section on layout design basics under the ‘Articles’ menu. In the first page I’ve looked at the Inglenook. Bought about by the recent posts on the Montpelier, OH grain facility. Which is a double-ended Inglenook.

Inglenooks are a fascinating subject of study on there own, and really handy to come to terms with as a small layout designer since they can be used as a game, or in normal operating usage when switching your layout. All with the change of the number of cars on the layout.

There’s a lot of information on the page, and I’ve added links to the ultimate source of Inglenook knowledge too. Head on over to the page and check it out when you get a moment.


Resources

Staying in Contact

Interested in keeping in touch or discussing posts, pages and ideas?  You can do that in several ways:

First mile, last mile railroading – what is it?

So what is it?

First-mile/last-mile railroading, what modellers refer to as customer switching, is the customer end of railroading. That is the setting out and picking up cars from a customer’s premises on the railroad. This can be directly from a customer’s spur, a ramp at the local yard or a team track, off the local mainline.

It is the point at which the customer and the railroad meet. All railroad economics relies on it and always has.  While in the modern era the customer has gotten bigger to take advantage of intermodel and block trains, the underlying forces remain the same. Customer shipping goods. Railroads picking up goods and moving them to their destination. Destination (consignee) receiving and accepting goods.

So why is this important to me?

For you, the small layout builder/operator, the first-mile/last-mile end of the operation is the:

  • simplest to model,
  • easiest to operate, and
  • most interesting to work with for the longer term

Whether you use a ‘tuning fork’, inglenook, supernook, or another layout design element you enjoy, by focusing on the customer end of the operation you make the layout simpler to build, which means getting going faster. You can operate for 10 minutes, 30 minutes or for as long or short as you have the time for. And over the life of the layout (whether that is a few months, or a decade or more), operation varies day to day, session by session, from a well-designed customer operation so that no two sessions are ever the same.

If you’ve been following the blog for a while you’ll know that I enjoy watching Railfan Danny on Youtube. Danny has just released another video, this time a Q&A session. One of those questions was about first-mile/last-mile railroading. I hope you’ll watch the entire video, for those without the time, I’ve linked to the 7:11 mark to watch the section specific to today’s post.

Resources

  • Railfan Danny’s “Railroad Questions Winter 2021”

There are more switching videos over at Danny’s YouTube channel, just follow the link below to go to all the videos with ‘switching’ in the description:

Staying in Contact

Interested in keeping in touch or discussing posts, pages and ideas?  You can do that in several ways:

Insight – Why am I modelling the way I do?

A recent conversation with a fellow modeller has bought me back to thinking about why I’m modelling, and what my modelling should represent. Let me explain.


I have a lot less modelling time now than I ever did before, due to my work commitment, which is driving the nature of my modelling in different (if interesting new) directions.

Among the changes I’ve had to make is in the scope of the work. Because it takes longer to complete larger and more complex projects I’m focusing on smaller easier to complete in a day projects as my primary goal. I have some large projects that remain on the table. These will be for items I cannot buy, kitbash or otherwise make out of something else.

Will this change the nature of posts that appear here on the Andrew’s Trains blog? No, I don’t believe so. This blog has always been about small layouts with lots of operational potential, and that is in line with what I am moving to in my modelling.

Weathering will continue to play a large part in my modelling, upgrading blue-box style kits to better reflect the prototype is where I found real joy in modelling as a young man. And I’m going back to that in a big way this year. There’ll be more posts along these lines to come over the next few months as I get my modelling life back in order.

With a demanding and hectic work life simplicity is my goal. Modelling simplicity likewise has to be the case. Simple projects that can be done with:

  1. tools I already have,
  2. resources I already have, and
  3. that can be completed in the time I have to give them.

This is the focus of my modelling going forward. Likewise to layout building. I have a couple of projects that I want to complete, one of which is a Supernook, a new design I’m working on now that will begin with the baseboards build before we left the USA 13 years ago. I’ll be continuing on with the US-based shunting layouts, but I’m interested in building a Australian/UK-based Minories layout soon as well.


Takeaway

I’ve made modelling a complex and often difficult endeavour. I’ve lost my love of producing models that I enjoyed building and that I am proud of. Life is short, and more so as I near my mid 50s. Time with my family and enjoying what I do is not limitless. So the time is now to make the changes that keep me happy, healed and enjoying what I do. I hope that you will stay along for the ride. With almost 100,000 unique views over the last 3 years I’m hopeful that you will stick around and see what is coming.

Site seeing – the Second Hand Inglenook edition – September 20, 2018

I admire modellers who can get to the meat of a project, quickly and with vigour. Gazmanjack (Gary) on RMWeb used second-hand track, wood and other parts from his modelling left-overs to create a stunningly good small layout for operations. Read on for more.


Linden Ford – the second-hand layout

Gazmanjack (his handle on RMWeb) back in 2014 built an outstanding layout from left over bits and pieces, as an adjunct to his current layout, to give himself something to operate on during the other layout’s longer build. I’ve only just found it and wanted to share the forum post with you.

And what a cracker this layout is. I won’t go into too much detail here, as I think the adage of a picture telling a thousand words is true on this occasion. There is plenty of information in the post too on the build including scenery, tree armatures, and so on.

Image 1: Linden Ford – an outstanding small Inglenook layout

I hope that you find inspiration in the post. So much with so little that turned out so well. Well done Gary!


Resources

Site Seeing – March 18 – The ‘other’ Glendale freight layout edition

It’s been a while since my last post and that is thankfully due to being fully employed for the first time in two and a half years. A full-time job is a very satisfying thing. But I digress.

As I wrote in my March 6th post I’ve worked up another idea for the Glendale Freight layout. Let me say from the outset, that this is not one of my better ideas; especially after seeing Bruce Petty’s original layout. There’s merit in the ideas expressed in the design certainly – it just doesn’t have that vibe going on as Bruce’s layout does in spades. Before I go on to tear my work apart let’s take a look at a 1/12th scale model and why I find them so useful for designing a layout.

So what’s wrong with this layout idea?

  • Firstly the central theme of the design is not the freight station, it is the entrance from staging onto the layout.
  • I wanted to have the train enter through a portal of buildings, cross the street and then go about its business. It’s a pretty skimpy idea right? There’s no meat on the bones though.
  • Why this means to enter onto the layout instead of some other way? Is there some missing story about this means of entrance; did the city grow up around the freight station for example? But isn’t this supposed to be Glendale CA, right? Well, is it?

The layout is overall 8 feet long (2400mm) and each square is 12 x 12 inches (300 x 300 mm). It is 2 feet (600mm) wide. And it’s very linear.

So what would I do different now that I’ve built this mini layout?

  1. Angle the entrance onto the layout,
  2. Angle the buildings and the street to the long axis of the layout,
  3. Cluster the switches near the end of the run around, and finally
  4. I’d make a transition between the industrial area on ‘main street’ at the entrance end and the other end of the layout – making it more suburban

And having had a while to think on how I’d make those changes here’s a rough drawing of the layout that ‘could’ spring from this thought experiment.

This design has gravitas. It is the last bastion of railroading in the inner city, and the edge of the suburbs. Sure there are some strange curves, and I’d rework the industry lead and the industry back wall too. But it is much more interesting and tells much more of a story than the first layout.

This layout could be setup as is with the industries, it could be modified for a single industry layout (say an industrial workplace such as a foundry), or it could be something that I’ve not considered and that you already have swimming around in that pool of ideas in your head. As an aside, I videoed the first layout build process. If interested in seeing that video let me know in the comments and I’ll post it here over the next week or so.

Site seeing – March 06 – Bruce Petty’s Glendale Freight house Module Redux edition

In a post on January 18, 2017 I made mention of Bruce Petty’s excellent module of the end of the Union Pacific’s Glendale Branch and the freight station located there. Bruce’s Module is 5 feet (1500mm) x 18 inches (450mm) but to my eye looks much bigger because of the great use of the space he has made. There is no crowding, no feeling of busyness, only the feeling of a warm summers afternoon in Los Angeles sometime during the 1960s or 1970s. This small scene is evocative and places you immediately in the place and time, even if that is coloured by your chosen time period.

The majority of my layout designs fit into an 8 foot space Bruce’s layout module with the addition of a 3 foot fiddle yard fits right in the space available and would make an excellent display or exhibition layout. More importantly it would fit with any time period from the late 1940s – early 1950s (when I believe that the freight house was built) through to the mid to late 1980s when I believe the freight house fell out of use.

As I said in the previous post I’ve pondered over how to use Bruce’s track plan in other ways. I’ve even worked the design up into a 1/12th scale model to see how it might work. I’ll come back to the alternative in my next post; for now let’s revisit Bruce’s excellent module.

A closer look at Bruce’s module

While this module is a part of Bruce’s larger railroad forming the end of the UP’s Glendale branch it can also stand alone as a layout in its own right. At its heart it is an Inglenook layout. Each of the freight house roads can take two 40 foot boxcars against the dock. For those of you interested in modelling this layout at a later stage it is highly likely that the Freight station never hosted more than 2 x 50 foot boxcars at any one time. If it did so then they would be placed on the right most track with the second car either unloaded directly into trucks as shown in Photo 1 above or set off spot on the left most track and switched out once a suitable space was available at the dock. Lots of switching possibilities here.

Of particular note in the photo above is the connecting piece to the rest of the layout. I like this little yet important touch. The wooden insert which allows the module to join the layout has been disguised as a typical UP/SP bridge. Very smart and ensures that the layout and the module appear to be a single whole and not something that Bruce built later on.

Operation

Operations on this layout would be pretty good too. As we’ve discussed before on the blog Inglenooks are completely prototypical and often used by railroads in tight places. Operating with a locomotive pushing in – pulling out switching focuses on the industry or industries served. The longest track on Bruce’s layout I would use as my switching storage and sorting track. The incoming train pulling outbound cars before spotting them on the long track. Cars would then be switched according to requirement on the remaining two car tracks at the docks. Any cars from those pulled needing to be spotted back at the dock could then be spotted before the locomotive crew pick up the remaining outbound cars and head back across the bridge and back to the yard. And here endeth the session.

Short, clear, easy to achieve, enjoyable and within the 30 minutes to 1 hour per day play time that a small layout should give you. Whether you use a single person (driver/engineer only) or two person (driver/engineer and conductor) crew to do the work the time taken will remain roughly the same. I prefer a two person crew simply because it makes the play time more fun when family or friends get involved.

Hope that this revisit has been of some use. If you like the blog don’t forget to Like and Subscribe. PLease comment if you are looking for more information on layout designs or on the designs I’ve previously posted. And of course take the time to visit the “further reading and resources” links below.

Further Reading and Resources

Site seeing – January 18 – the ‘Perfect Storm’ but in a good way edition

I’ve had an idea for a small layout, running around the mouse wheel that I use for a brain, for a while now. What kicked the idea off was a 2013 plan published in the Model Railroader for the Glendale Freight House that Union Pacific built there during what I ‘believe’ was the early 1950s. Bruce Petty has already built a layout based on the real location and using the UP freight house in Glendale. Let’s take a look at that first to see where we start from.

Site 1: The Union Pacific freight station drawings

Step one of this plan is to get a copy of the plans. They are available for logged in users on the MR site by clicking the link above.

Modellers in HO scale will need to enlarge the drawing substantially (which is doable at a local copy store)to be able to build directly off the drawing.

Big thanks to my next site owner for the idea about doing that. He uses the protective sleeves (clear plastic ones) to build on.

The model once completed using liquid polystyrene cement does not stick to these plastic sleeves and Bruce simply lifts the completed side of the model off the sleeve. Plan protected, model free, what’s not to like about that? I just wish I’d thought of that all these many years later. I did mention that I have a mouse driving the wheel that powers the mental machinery, right?

Site 2: Bruce Petty’s LA River Railroads site

Bruce’s website is a trove of information on the railroads of LA. His layout looks fantastic too. Of most interest to me was his article on the Glendale freight house build which you access from the link above. Well worth reading the entire page and taking in the method of building it. Clever, clever man!

This building rests on his Glendale module. When speaking to him via email earlier this week he told me: “… the modules for my layout are 18 inches wide and 5 feet long. If I ever move the layout goes with me easily taken down. All structures
and small detail parts come off the layout. On the Glendale module only the loading dock stays as it is concrete. No big deal to take this module down off the shelf brackets, it’s the end of the UP Glendale Branch.

Essentially the layout is an Inglenook (and exactly as the original). Bruce says that just like the original “… it gets switching crews from Southern Pacific and Union pacific. It’s a fun module to switch on and I can take it to shows.” What more do you need?

In the next post I’ll be taking a look at how I’d like to model this location as a stand alone layout. I’ll be taking a slightly different tack to Bruce’s excellent representation. I’ve been thinking about using an interesting technique to cover off the gaping hole in the wall exit to the fiddle yard that ought to work perfectly for this design; and all in 8 feet.

Additional resources:

Bruce has kindly provided me with images of the layout module. My thanks to Bruce for his kindness in being so willing in talking to a stranger and being willing to take photos of his layout especially for me to share with you.

All included images above are copyright of the creator and author: Bruce Petty. Used with permission on Andrew’s Trains.

Site seeing – November 4 – The ‘I got track plans coming out my ears’ edition

Small layouts are my thing. Like most modellers in Australia space here is at a premium. So a small space layout, offering lots of operating potential, is the way to go.

Recently a long time model railroad friend Shortliner Jack shot me several links over to look at. We’ll be coming back to look closely at those this month. For right now though let’s take a look at a downloadable and one of Shortliner’s links.

Site 1: Designing small shelf Layouts for operating fun

Presented back in 2015 at the NMRA’s Thoroughbred Limited 2015 MCR Convention in Kentucky I felt that this download (in PDF format) provides a great overview of small layouts and a bit of learning about the why and how along the way.

small-layout-handout

The details shown on the Inglenook drawing on page 4 are wrong (you can find out more about Inglenooks in this post); besides that however there are some exceptional small layout designs that should inspire the modeller in you to get out there and make something.

Site 2: Railroad Line Forum – Layout Design Ideas

This is the site that Shortliner Jack pointed me to as a source for his next layout inspiration. Being in the far north of Scotland, buried in snow for 9/10ths of the year, and surrounded by only boxes of Whisky for company he has a lot of time to work on layouts. One layout in Proto48 caught his eye specifically:

There are so many more designs in this thread large and small that you’ll spend several hours looking through and pondering them all. Great ideas and thanks to Robert Chant for sharing his design on the forum.

 

Site seeing – 10 September – All you ever wanted (or needed) to know about Inglenooks

Since we’re on somewhat of a roll with the Inglenook this week and it’s uses in small layout design let’s go to the source of all things Inglenook.

Site 1: Adrian Wymann’s “The Model Railways Shunting Puzzles website”

If you’ve not heard of Adrian’s site before then you are in a for a treat. This site has everything that you ever wanted to know about shunting puzzles, including the Timesaver and the Inglenook.

Image courtesy of Adrian Wymann
Image courtesy of Adrian Wymann

Of interest for those of us thinking of building a layout using the Inglenook design is the discussion on the design of operation and movement for the layout. Additionally there is the mechanics of designing and building the layout also. Very well worth the look.

Site 2: Adrian Wymann’s layout “Little Bazeley-By-The-Sea

Putting the Inglenook to work Adrian’s great little layout deserves a look. Well designed, well executed and well presented Adrian walks you through the design and build process and provides a lot of insight into the process.

Image courtesy of Adrian Wymann
Image courtesy of Adrian Wymann

Head on over to the websites and do a bit of reading – you’ll not be disappointed.