Many visitors to the blog have asked to see an overview of the layout. The room size is 11'x13' and I've managed to squeeze a great deal of realistic railroading in such a small space.
Study the image carefully and you'll see the ingenious staging concept my good buddy Trevor Marshall and I coined "surround staging". (Double-click on the image to enlarge.) A special thanks to Rick Johnson at Model Railroader Magazine for his efforts in bringing my layout diagram to life in such a professional manner.
The town has two sidings, the north and south siding where drops and lifts can be spotted or where meets and passes can occur. They also offer "runaround" capabilities for the local North Dover crew. In the photo to the right you see a train arriving North Dover inbound on the main with the two sidings noticeable. That's the Holy Spirits Distillery in red brick and the Phillips Furniture Factory in brown brick. The inclusion of both "trailing" and "facing" spurs adds to the operational interest when switching out these and other industries in town.
Take note that all turnouts in staging are located at the duckunder entrance to the room and at the angled access areas in the two far corners. This was purposefully done for switch maintenance purposes. All other tracks in staging are "straight and true" and to this day, since 1997 when I began running trains there has yet to be a concern with trains in staging!
The image above is taken at the duckunder entrance to the room. This area is considered staging and you can see the turnouts for some of the other staging tracks here. GP7 #1566 leads three brethren on train PM2, a hotshot freight from Portland to Mechanicville. Notice the latest subtle weathering on the newly installed interlocking tower.
Indeed, the length of track in staging is longer than on the visible portion of the layout, but fully half the fun of railfanning is the anticipation of the trains that are to come!
Check out my other weblog which details my train operating round robin group at www.fridaynightgroup.blogspot.com