Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Fort Frances Yard

East end of the Fort Frances yard, with the Peace River
paper mill in the background.

People sometimes ask where I came up with my layout design. Did I use a book? It came out of my head, is the answer. But not fully-formed: The original design went through several changes—the helix moved from one place to another, and I “daylighted” a tunnel. But nothing went through more changes than the yard.

Looking west from the engine facility,

I must have laid and relaid the yard tracks a dozen times before I came up with a design that worked. I started with the mainline in the front and the yard tracks in the back, then moved the mainline to the back and the yard in front. The yard tracks began stub-ended, but ended up with switches at either end.

The Fort Frances yard, looking east.

The engine facility was on the left side, then moved to the right. Industrial spurs came and went, and I even added a fourth passing track before all was said and done.

It was almost the last section of the layout to be ballasted; I didn’t want to glue anything down until I was totally satisfied with the design.

Looking west, with the yard lead wrapping around on
the left, the intermodal facility on the right.
The way the yard works is this: Fort Frances is a junction between two mainlines—one headed east to Thunder Bay, the other south to Duluth/Superior. Trains arriving at Fort Frances drop off and pick up cars destined for other places. The yard switcher picks off the cars that are to be dropped off from the end of the train, and adds the cars that are headed out. Crews also change here, although power isn’t changed.

At the end of it all, I have a yard that works pretty well. It took a while to arrive at a design that fit the bill, but the wait was worth it.

Go to to see a video of switching action in the Fort Frances yard.

The yard trackplan, from Railroad Model Craftsman.
It's pretty close to reality.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoy seeing your layout pictures.