A recent thread about another layou got me to thinking about the design and usage of the yard on my small layout. I thought I'd share my design and operations with you here. There seems to be two extremes to yard design: those people who think you can toss five parallel tracks together and have a working yard, and those poeple who agonize over having a track dedicated for every concievable function. There is, thankfully, a middle ground available. I've always thought that a yard design can't be finalized (Not that anything on our layouts is ever final... ) until one has an idea of how the layout is going to be operated. Once one at least has a rudimentary idea of what layout ops are going to be like, then yard design can procede. And of course, a yard doesn't have to be a giant tangle of tracks and turnouts. Just so long as one has an idea of what track will be used for, and how many cars need to fit on it, the design can be worked out. My yard, imagineered to be located in Ironton, Ohio, is designed to serve the most basic of tasks. The yard classifies both inbound and outbound cars, services run-through trains, and provides a place for the storage of equipment on the layout. Easy enough, eh? Operations start in the morning, when cars left on the interchanges overnight are retrieved by the yard switcher and placed on Track 2 for classification. After these cars are classified, road jobs on the Ironton Terminal (to Ironton) and Ironton Northern (to Gallipolis) are dispatched to set out new cars and gather cars ready for interchange. The Ironton switcher classifies these new arrivals in the yard while the two daily Amtrak trains and the run-through coal train to the Grand Valley run. After this, a second round of road trains will take care of the switching in Ironton and Gallipolis. Upon their return to the yard, the switch crew will classify these new cars and make a run to the interchange tracks. ********** Now, I'll give a little more detail view of the yard operations. The yard switcher leaves the engine service track and pulls the cars from the DT&I and N&W interchanges onto Track 2 in the Arrival/Departure Yard. These cars are sorted in the Classification yard, with cars bound for Ironton going on Track 3 and cars bound for Gallipolis on Tracks 4 & 5. The yard job will pull the cars bound for Gallipolis to Track 2 where the Ironton Northern road power will tie on for the rest of the trip. After that, the yard engine will make pickups and setouts in Ironton itself. The yard job will then classify its own inbound cars, as well as those brought back by the Ironton Northern's road job, using the same tracks as previously mentioned. Amtrak's southbound passenger train will unload in Ironton, on Track 1, before continuing over the Ironton Terminal trackage into Kentucky. It will make a return trip northbound after a few hours, repeating its station stop in Ironton. While all this is going on, a northbound coal train will come off the Ironton Terminal, run around its train in the Arrival/Departure Yard, and go up the DT&I connection, bound for powerplants located on the Grand Valley Railroad in Michigan. Once the Ironton Terminal switcher is done with its classification work, the crew will spot the cars on Track 2, for pickup by the Ironton Northern road job. After this, the crew's final task is to set cars out on the DT&I and N&W interchanges before tying down for the night in the engine service area. ********** Any thoughts on this? I'll post photos of the layout soon, so you can see how it works out in real life (Or at least in N scale... ).