It had to happen, really. The model railway under construction is at best a transient creation and until the track is firmly fixed down (and even sometimes afterwards) it is liable to change.
I sent in the original plan to Carl Arendt’s Micro Layouts for Model Railroads site, as it fitted in with the September update’s theme of shelf layouts. Carl’s site has been a source of inspiration while planning Fairlight, so it was great to hear back from him with a couple of suggestions for the design.
“What struck me initially was that you have an unnecessary runaround loop across the border of the two sections. That notion led me to remember the geometry of the classic Piano Line, and I realized that you can add a painless fiddle track with greatly improved operation by relocating the “mainline” as shown.”
I agreed that taking out the second loop across the board joints made sense, as it doesn’t really do much. In fact it only really came into being because I was working with the points I had the time and was trying to fit them all in. But bringing the mainline in halfway along the loop would seriously limit the length of trains I could run and I’m already compromising between the small space I have and the longer trains I’d like.
However this did get me thinking again, and led to a further evolution of the plan which is now the (current) final one.
In it, the spur from the loop curves immediately towards the back and now becomes the only access to the engine shed yard and sidings. The main line is still at the front, but the difference is that I’m aiming to cover it with an embankment to create that fiddle track. I might even be able to squeeze in two, or a traverser, or a cassette. The visual effect then can be that of a view looking down into the yard, maybe as if from a road, and access to the fiddle track is easy if slightly unconventional.
I was also curious about the “geometry of the classic Piano Line” that Carl mentioned, as it was something I hadn’t heard of before. Fortunately, he was happy to explain!
The “Starter Layout” in my Micro Layout Design Gallery is based on the Piano Line, at http://carendt.us/microplans/pages/starter/ . The original layout, c. 1955 […] was five feet long and just fit atop an upright piano, thus the name. The most salient layout feature is the fiddle-yard line joining in at the center of the runaround loop, rather than approaching from the end. Saves a lot of space!
So maybe that will be one for the next layout!