A Fiddle Yard (aka Staging Yard) is a collection of model railway tracks that are usually invisible to a viewer and allow trains to be stored and manipulated. These tracks are required to allow most model railways to be operated in a realistic manner. Whilst it is possible to have a realistic shunting yard in view, its operation is generally unreliable with models.
Trains can be rearranged by lifting them off the track and replacing them.
There are many variants of fiddle yards, which being hidden from view may involve swinging tracks to minimise the use of crossings or may be a series of loop lines. Other variants may be designed for 'end to end' running layouts.
Single-ended (stub) yards
Double-ended (through) yards
- Pyramid-shaped: Main-line continues straight through. Storage tracks are connected via ladders at both ends. The sidings are of different lengths; the further a track is from the main, the shorter it is. The main advantage to this shape is that trains can pass through the base track without fouling a significant portion of a ladder.
- Diamond-(parallelogram)-shaped: Two ladders are parallel; all storage tracks are equal length. Main line travels along one of the ladders and exits on the track furthest from (speaking in parallel lines) the entrance track. The main advantage to this shape is that all tracks in the yard are the same length between ladders.
Although parallelogram-shaped yards are unlikely to be found in full-scale railways, they are advantageous for modelling purposes because the sidings are all approximately the same length.
Digital Command Control in Fiddle Yards
In a conventional DC layout, the turnouts, if power routing, provide isolation so that only one siding is live at any one time. The other sidings are disconnected electrically and therefore all locos remain stationary.
In DCC, this restriction is not necessary. It is possible to feed power to all the sidings all of the time (with the important proviso that insulating joints are used wherever the points require them, e.g. with Peco Electrofrog points). Because all the sidings are live, shunting can take place using any loco(s) in the yard.
- This has the important advantage that poor connections through points are not such a serious problem.
- It also means that it may be possible to drive a loco through a point that is set "wrong road", as on full scale railways. Operators must take the proper care to avoid accidents. Actually, with insulated fishplates and live-frog points, this is less of a problem for modellers because there is always a short section that is effectively dead.
- Fiddle Yard Description in Wikipedia
There are a number of books on track planning available as well. John Armstrong wrote Track Planning for Realistic Operation, available from Kalmbach and your local hobby shop.