Saturday, November 1, 2014

Disguising a Turnback Curve

Can you see the train?

Like many other model railroads, the CP Rail Manitoba & Minnesota Sub. features a turnback curve.

Turnback curves are a necessary evil when a layout utilizes a peninsula. In order for the tracks to get from one side of the peninsula to the other, an unprototypical 180 degree curve is required-.

This is something almost never seen in real life, unless you are modelling the Horseshoe Curve, a modern coal mine or some selected bits of mountain railroading. (Or an industrial scene, like this incredibly tight radius in Portland, Oregon.)

There it is!

People have tried a variety of ways to disguise turnback curves. One of the most radical is the Bellina Drop, named after the late Jerry Bellina.

The Bellina Drop deals with the challenge by hiding the curve altogether--the backdrop is on the outside of the curve, not the inside. In a Bellina Drop, the train disappears from view while making the trip from one side of the peninsula to the other. See a photo of a Bellina Drop in Model Railroad Hobbyist.

A view from the other side.

My way of disguising the turnback curve on the M & M Sub. is to use trees--lots of trees. It's not perfect, but it seems to do the job. The trees also make a view block between the two sides of the peninsula, where the tracks are just a few inches apart.

There's a train on the other side.


  1. Your solution to the loop problem looks fine. I'd never come across the Bellina Drop before; very interesting. John Armstrong in his Track Planning For Realistic Operations describes what he calls a "reverted loop" (not reverse loop). I've always thought it was a cool idea but would be more difficult to build.

  2. After reading this blog post I remembered seeing a video about prototype track layouts and it took me some time to find it. But here is it. If you go on google or Bing maps you see that in Reno NV. There are at least 3 turn back in 5 miles of track. Have a look.