Turntable versus a Wye

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Bob Collins, Mar 1, 2006.

  1. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

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    I would be very interested in what others think about the best use of a fairly limited space for turning engines around, a turntable with roundhouse, or a wye. I see an advantage to a wye as I think I can sort of work it into the scheme of things by putting something along each leg of it, while a turntable and roundhouse (probably a 3 stall) seems to take up more space??

    What do others of you think?

    Bob
  2. jetrock

    jetrock Member

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    While both turntables and wyes turn things around, they serve different purposes. A turntable doesn't have to have a roundhouse if its only job is to turn locomotives at the end of a run--this was common in the days of steam, but is less common in the diesel era when you don't have to worry about pushing a tender in front and many locomotives are bi-directional. Roundhouses were used for locomotive storage and maintenance, and often used in places that didn't have turntables--either an enginehouse with several parallel tracks was used, or a more traditional "round" roundhouse was accessed by turnouts in front of the roundhouse area. If you're only using this turntable to turn locomotives, it doesn't need a roundhouse. Be sure, though, to use two lead tracks to the turntable--that way, the turntable can double as a passing track, and the turned locomotive can run back up to the other end of the train to depart in the opposite direction from which it came.

    A wye is well-suited for a corner--depending on how sharp your curves are, a wye can fit in a fairly small space. However, the utility of a wye depends on how long its shortest leg is--a compact wye is mainly used just to reverse an engine, but by adding a tunnel or other hidden "off-stage" exit (real or suggested) you can imply that the wye is actually an interchange or the beginning of a branch line set up to take two-way traffic. If you have the room, though, you can use a wye to turn an entire train at once, instead of using the passing track/turntable method mentioned above to turn trains at the end of a line.
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

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    As Jetrock asked - what is the purpose of turning? And are you trying to turn a whole train? (If yes to that last question, then there is one other option - a balloon track, which is essentially a reverse loop.)

    Andrew
  4. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

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    No, my only real need is to turn an engine. I had given some thought to the baloon loop, but it just doesn't fit the rest of the scheme of things.
  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

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    Yes, the balloon track is probably the biggest space eater of them all - at least if it is dedicated only to turning the train. If it is a functional part of the layout (like a loop to loop style plan) then you can plan it into the layout of course.

    Unless you are modelling the current era of big diesels, then a turntable is a viable option. Just a simple one, only big enough for your biggest engine. Many of these steam era relics survived long after the rest of the infrastructure (roundhouse, water and coal towers, etc) were gone. Most of the first generation of diesels were directional, and even the second generation like GPs were run as such (CN liked to run long hood forward for quite some time).

    Andrew
  6. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

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    I guess I have also come to the conclusion that a turntable is the right answer for my layout. The availability of space is a prime consideration and I think I can get the turntable into the minimum amount without taking away from the overall scheme of things.

    Thanks very much. It is always nice to be able to come to The Gauge, knowing there are folks out there in cyberspace who are willing to help think through the problem.

    Bob