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A small layout to feature Walthers N Scale structures

This design was inspired by another request on an Internet discussion list. A number of the Walthers N scale engine and car shops kits were on hand, but the owner had only space for a 2' X 4' layout. Could these be displayed somewhat realistically and still offer some of the elements of an operating layout?

Even on a layout this small, it can be interesting to combine a small yard with some spurs to be switched (see my article on Ops Fun for One for more on this concept). By choosing a small (but workable) minimum radius of 10", the design could be wrapped around the 2'X4' section to provide a place for all of the structure kits and some plausible operation.
(Note: some of the Walthers kits are no longer available as shown, but in some cases the same basic structure has been reissued with small changes and renamed).
click image for a larger view
We imagine a mainline connection at the upper left. Cars to be repaired or loaded with supplies or parts are set out in the "yardlet' to be switched into the various shops buildings. There is even some opportunity for intra-plant movement if we imagine the "Rebuilders" structure as the paintshop. Cars might be moved there after repairs take place elsewhere on the layout. And of course, after major repairs, each car must be taken to the track scale for re-weighing. Shoving cars one at a time onto this track could become a little tedious, so we reserve that movement for a few cars each "session".
Car movements might be driven by car cards and waybills or a hand-written switchlist. After repairs, cars are spotted back in the small yard and might be swapped for others between sessions to add variety. Given the tight curve around the right side of the layout, short cars and engines would be best.
Even with a layout design this compact, there can be interesting variations. Adding the Walthers Turntable would create an opportunity for interesting engine movements.
click image for a larger view

One other variation that seems like a natural would be to add some facing point spurs to the mix, along with a run-around to make it possible to switch them. As it turns out, while this adds some switching challenges for sure, it just doesn't work out as well with the fixed footprints of the Walthers structures. With a little more space or different structures (or even flats in place of some of the 3-dimensional structures), this might be interesting to explore further.

click image for a larger view
Realistic shops display or engaging switching operations in 2'X4' in N scale? Seems that you can have both! Contact me if you'd like help developing a fun operating layout of your own.
Copyright 2004 by Byron Henderson

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