Flip up, flip around…

These are not expressions one normally associates with “staging”, but my friend Chris Abbott and I decided a flip up shelf was just the (train) ticket for providing the space required for the few minutes needed to turn locomotives via a flip-around cassette. Chris visited after work last night and installed the shelf while I glued down ties on the sector plate.

Here’s the shelf in the down position – ready for use. The locomotive cassette has a piece of green tape over its ties. (You can also see my ties on the sector plate.)

Staging Extension - Shelf Down.

And here’s how it works:

When a train arrives, the crew will connect the cassette to the end of their arrival track, uncouple from their train, and then drive the locomotive onto the cassette:

Engine Turning - 01.

The cassette is disconnected from the sector plate and turned end for end by sliding it on the shelf:

Engine Turning - 02.

The cassette – now with turned locomotive – is then connected to a clear track and the crew drives back onto the sector plate:

Engine Turning - 03.

When not in use, the cassette sits next to the sector plate, while the shelf is stored upright:

Engine Turning - 04.

This will prevent equipment from being driven off the end of the staging area.

Flipping the shelf up exposes its cabinet hinges and a brace that contacts the end of the staging benchwork to provide support for the shelf:

Staging Extension - Shelf Up.

Chris plans to install some hardware on the brace to provide for fine adjustment, so the shelf is flat and properly aligned with the staging area’s base.

Using a flip-up shelf also provides unimpeded access to a chest freezer in the layout room – helping to maintain a healthy domestic situation:

Staging Extension - Freezer Access.

The shelf can even be unclipped and removed:

Staging Extension - Shelf Removed.

This will be handy when working on track in the staging area: It will allow me to sight down the rails, and will prevent me from using the shelf as a resting place for tools and materials during work sessions.

We’re still working out the details of connecting the cassette to the sector plate, and powering the rails on the cassette. But we’ll get there. Meantime, I’ve stopped adding ties about an inch from the ends while we ponder the problem.

7 thoughts on “Flip up, flip around…

  1. That’s a really neat way to turn engines in staging. You don’t have to handle them at all, and that’s a good thing.

    I’m beginning to model a Central of Georgia stub ended branchline terminal in south Alabama, and your blog has provided many useful ideas for my layout.

    I’m also a locomotive engineer in real life, and I just want to tell you how nice your layout looks. Some model railroads look “railroady” (for lack of a better term) and yours is one of them. You’ve captured the branchline look very well.

    I look forward to more blog installments. You’ve provided me with a great deal of inspiration.

    • Hi Tom:

      Thanks for the kind words. “Railroady” is what I’m going for, so it’s great to hear from someone who works on a real railroad who feels I’m achieving it.

      “Railroady” is an easier goal to obtain when one simply follows what the prototype did – providing one doesn’t try to pack too much into the space.

      Packing too much in isn’t a problem with Port Rowan, since there were only five switches in the terminal. But I’ve left lots of space for scenery around the track – and I find that my decision to use #7, #9 and even a #10 track switch also helps. Those are still on the tight side for a lot of prototype situations, but they’re huge compared to the #6 switches that people often use (never mind the #4!). And they’re pretty generous for a layout that features small steam and really short trains, operating at a scale 15 mph. So they contribute to the “railroady” appearance of the layout.

      The trade-off is that they eat a lot of space – but as I say, I picked a prototype that’s so simple it hasn’t proven to be a problem. I could’ve have modelled Port Rowan in less length with tighter switches – but I didn’t want to do that.

      If I had the space, I’d lay even larger radius curves than I did. They look tight under the passenger cars. But I don’t have the space, so I’ll just have to live with tighter curves and try to disguise their tightness with trees and other scenic elements.

      I’m glad you’re finding the blog useful. Thanks for writing!

  2. Trevor,

    That is a great way to turn engines. Also, with a longer cassette cars could be added or taken off of the layout without handling them. I’m getting a lot out of your posts, so keep them coming.


    • Hi Mike:

      Thanks for the comments. Yes, you’re right: the cassettes can be used to move equipment on and off the layout.

      This is quite common on layouts built by British modellers.

      For it to work, add a metal strap at each end looping over the track. These then become handles so you can lift the cassette safely.

      It might also be a good idea to add low side walls. Some modellers also make a couple of little drop-in gates to go across each end to keep equipment from rolling off when moving the cassettes.



  3. Trevor,

    Great idea. Did you and Chris think about using the metal cassette like some us in UK. Would also protect the engine from folks’ hands.


    • Hi Matt:
      It’s a good suggestion.
      We wanted to use MDF for the base of the cassette because it’s the same height as the MDF on the sector plate. That said, we are looking at sides to keep paws off the models – and equally importantly, top keep a model from tipping over if the cassette gets bumped.
      – Trevor

  4. Trevor,
    I’m really glad you didn’t have room for larger radii. If you had, as you’ve explained before, you’d have been in O scale :o)

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