Sunday, September 9, 2018

"Surround" or "Screened" Staging - Inspiration for CP staging

If you study the track plan in the link above you'll note the Staging and Feed mill, both of which represent the Canadian Pacific "side" of Richford, are somewhat underdeveloped. 
At the same time, the Central Vermont Richford branch, which originates in St. Albans, also needs to be factored in (those CV trains will end their run - actually they'll turn - in Richford - but the CV branchline trains need a place to go to/come from. 
I toyed with several arrangements - some of which started getting ever more complicated. 
Inspiration for how I'm planning to address all this is coming from an article in, of all places, the January 1987 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. While I shared several of my early influences HERE, in a post that is among the most read on this blog, I likely didn't encounter the January 1987 issue of RMC until several years after it was published (I was in Navy Main Propulsion school in January 1987 and up to my eyeballs learning the inner workings of ALCo diesels, so I didn't get do any model railroading or rail fanning at the time).  
But when I did see this issue one article did make an immediate impression on me. I was on the Model Railroader staff and looking for a design for a layout to fill a spare bedroom when Andy Sperandeo referred me to this article: 

This is a Christian Day design for a layout depicting the Grand Trunk's operations in and around South Paris, ME.  What was most intriguing about the design was the way he handled the staging. In fact, it was an early version of what has come to be called "Surround Staging" - rather than me typing a long description, a quick study of the track plan makes the concept pretty obvious. 
I actually used a slightly modified variant - with the staging tracks placed behind a low 2-D and some 3-D scenery in what I called "screened" staging in a previous layout - so I know the idea works and is quite effective - and is certainly a heck of lot easier than placing staging tracks below the scenicked level on a model railroad. 
"Screened Staging" on a prior railroad. 
I suspect if you tried to build Christian's plan in the size room he shows in this piece I think you'd be disappointed at the results. But I know I'm not the only one who's been inspired by the concepts demonstrated on this seemingly simple track plan. Andy once lamented to me that he couldn't get Christian to do any layout design articles for MR! 
In fact, combine the South Paris Switcher with Andy Sperandeo's San Jacinto branch, a design that was completely misinterpreted as underwhelming at the time it was published, and you have the acorn from which many of today's "achievable" layout designs have sprouted. 
I'm going to hold off sharing the specifics of how all this is (hopefully) going to work on the track plan until I have a chance to draw it out to scale. 


Matt Forcum said...

I'll be attempting a similar "surround staging" approach on my new layout. A big concern for me is access. I'll be looking into removable landscaping and backdrops for sure. Great thoughts! gives me a lot to consider!

CVSNE said...


I'd recommend forgoing vertical board type "backdrop" between your visible track and surround staging - for the expense of a couple of extra inches I found it much easier to use the "hill boards" as shown in the photo in this post. The gap between the "hills" was screened - partially -- with trees and foliage - operators could kind of see their train moving along the hidden track - which is a good thing - but unless you were actively looking to see what was back there you really didn't notice it.
For what that scene looked like when the scenery and some rock castings etc looked like see the following two blog posts:

I think you can make out the shape of the unfinished hillboard in those photos.

Hope this helps,


David Keith said...

I remember looking at the trackplan in RMC again and again. Wish I'd built something like that when I was younger, a small manageable track plan would have been great experience for me.

I agree with your comments about the hill screens. It's good for operators to be able to see there trains move in the trees. I one wants to take photos for a magazine, pull the trains from the staging area. The goal should be to 100% hide the track from photo angles.