Sunday, March 12, 2006

Mike's Layout Schematic - With "Surround Staging"

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!

Cheers, Mike

Check out my other weblog which details my train operating round robin group at


Anonymous said...

Hey Mike,

Just wanted to say that your railroad is THE inspiration I needed for my future layout.

Because of a lack of time at the moment, I can only enjoy the hobby via internet and magazine but even though I'm still a few years from starting construction on my layout, I take every opportunity to study and learn more about the hobby.

Your B&M is my ultimate reference as I found everything I was looking for in it (my future train room is about the same size as yours).

Anyway, just keep up the good work and thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with us. Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to visit the B&M one of these days.

Chris Lyon said...

Nice diagram Mike. Hope to see more on your scenery techniques

Anonymous said...

What an ingenious way to incorporate the staging tracks into a model railroad when there is a limited amount of space available. Since I do my modeling in v-scale, I don't have the same space constraints. Congratulations on a smart solution. The next time I'm in Ottawa, it would be interesting to see it live.


Mike Hamer said...

Thanks Joel, Chris and Martin for your kind sentiments. Martin, you are more than welcome to come by to see the layout. Simply contact me at and we could set up a visit. Chris and Joel visit the layout on a regular basis!