The staging tracks for my B&M/MEC model railroad surround the layout within the four walls of the room. There are three openings where staged trains enter the visible portion of the layout. Much has been written about effectively masking these openings to staging, and, if done properly, visitors will hardly notice that staging tracks exist! Alongside each picture I will explain in detail how I masked the entrances to staging on my layout.
The first image showcases the northerly access area for inbound trains. This portal area to staging is effectively hidden behind a long rock cut and a large stand of trees. The trains enter the layout through Haney Cut and immediately traverse the New England River Bridge in the state of Maine. Today we see a B&M rail diesel car exiting the cut.
B&M tracks traverse the entire layout where they exit at the southerly portal, a tunnel located underneath the upper main street of North Dover. I call my town North Dover to give me artistic license to bring some of my favourite scenes from around New England to the layout, one of them being the famous tunnel at Bellows Falls. This scene is masked by a tall cliff, some buildings and a creamery located in the town. On this day we spot a Maine Central unit tank train exiting the tunnel in town. The MEC is granted trackage rights for a short portion of the B&M line through North Dover for interchange purposes.
The Maine Central's sole independent access from staging takes place halfway around the layout at the Howard Street Overpass where a tower guards the interlocking. A combination of elements work here to mask the Maine Central's portal including the tower, the overpass and some groupings of trees.
The image we see here is of B&M RS2 #1503 pulling a short local into town. The highway overpass certainly appears crowded today!
The last image demonstrates just how effectively the tower, overpass and trees work to mask the portal to staging at this location. That Maine Central train #391 "The Oil Can" await clearance to enter B&M trackage.
Yes, if done properly, visitors will never know what's coming next onto your layout. Indeed, each train will be a surprise!
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