Jump to content

* * * * * 1 votes

Shunting Puzzle

Posted by Mikkel , in The Depot 09 December 2009 · 4,430 views

trackplans Depot
Posted Image
I've been working on the trackplan for the next Farthing layout, which will show part of a large GWR goods depot.

In order to improve the operating interest, I've decided to incorporate a shunting puzzle in the track plan. For anyone interested in shunting puzzles, I can recommend the excellent Model Railway Shunting Puzzles site, plus of course Carl Arendt's site. The simple plan above (not to scale) is an initial design, and may be revised. Any ideas for improvement would be very much appreciated. I'll explain the visual side of things in a separate blog entry.

The trackplan is similar to the famous "Inglenook" design, but the objective of operation is different: In the Inglenook concept, the aim is to assemble a goods train for departure. Here the aim is to distribute wagons from a reception siding by moving them into the goods depot in a particular order, while at the same time removing empty stock from within the depot.

This was inspired by the practice at larger goods depots on the GWR (and I expect elsewhere), where incoming vans and wagons were met by a superintendent in the reception roads outside the depot, who then assigned them to particular sections of platforms (or "decks" as they were called) inside the depot.

Posted Image

The diagram above shows an example of the challenge. This is the basic procedure:

  • Prepare the puzzle by arranging the wagons as illustrated, ie with five inbound wagons in the reception road, and five outbound (ie empty) wagons in random locations inside the depot.
  • Allocate each of the inbound wagons to a particular location on the two tracks within the goods depot. This is done by eg drawing the wagon numbers out of a hat.
  • Shunt the incoming wagons to their respective destinations within the depot, while also removing empty wagons from the shed. The reception siding may be used to set down wagons temporarily during the shunting. The challenge is completed when all the incoming wagons are in their predefined location, and the outgoing/empty wagons are in the headshunt (any order).
The puzzle has two difficulty levels: In Simple mode, any maneuver is allowed. In Advanced mode, two rules apply:
  • The loco is not allowed to enter the depot (as was often the case in reality due to the fire hazard). A wagon that is destined for the far end of a platform inside the depot must therefore be propelled using other intermediate wagons.
  • Wagons must not be left temporarily inside the depot during shunting operations, only outside.
Posted Image
  • Like x 2

Dec 11 2009 01:33
Amazing that the Ikea Snackbox is 55 cms inside - as if Ikea designed it for the challenge Posted Image
Just re-measured it and found that it is strictly speaking closer to 54cms - depends how tight you make the fit of the sides! Oh well, it was a nice try Posted Image

Maybe we should start lobbying Ikea for a custom RMweb layout box (or maybe I should just stop all this laziness and build the stuff myself Posted Image ).
Interesting plan. Can't wait for construction to get underway!
Well I hope it will be interesting to operate, but it's always hard to tell until you've spent some time actually operating it, isn't it. I made another shunting puzzle some years ago that turned out to be too difficult, and almost immediately lost interest. This one has been tested out a bit more though, with dominoes acting as vans!

I'm concerne though that you are expecting me to actually build the bloody thing? I thought we were past that in this cyber-age.Posted Image Posted Image

I thought we were past that in this cyber-age.Posted Image Posted Image

so when are you going to automate it like this one (IE Only)? ;)
Well there goes the model railway market! Posted Image Only kidding of course, what a great little game. I wonder how complex it was to programme?

Actually, is there anything in the 2010 Challenge rules to prevent someone from submitting a virtual layout like that? It would fit the size requirements easily Posted Image

Welcome to Farthing!

Attached Image: farthing2.jpg


This blog chronicles the building of "The Farthing layouts", a series of small OO layouts that portray different sections of a GWR junction station in Edwardian days.


Intro and concept
How to eat an elephant
Design principles
State of play


Gallery (1900-1904)
Four o'clock blues, ca. 1902
What really happened in the Cuban...
The honourable slipper boy (Part 1)
The honourable slipper boy (Part 2)
The honourable slipper boy (Part 3)


Gallery (1904-08)
The trials of Mr Bull
A most implausible arrival
A parcel for Mr Ahern
Blue skies and horse traffic
The Remains of the Day
Motley crew

Edwardian daydreams


Gallery (1914)
All in a day's work, Part 1
All in a day's work, Part 2
All in a day's work, Part 3
All in a day's work, Part 4


Out of period
Undecided sky (1867)
The sleeping giant (1887)
Bunker first (1927)
Fitted fish and piles (1947)


Once Upon a Time in the West
Summer silliness
The unbearable lightness...
Across the years
The Sidelight Job
Painting coach panels

Traverser testing


Low-tech pre-grouping stock

Short trains for short layouts
Short trains with a twist
Hand-me-down coaches
Low-tech coach restoration (1)
Low-tech coach restoration (2)
Low-tech coach restoration (3)
Low-tech coach restoration (4)
Low-tech coach restoration (5)


Sprat & Winkle couplings
3 plank Open in GWR red
Outside Framed 8 Ton Van

In the red: GWR 1900s wagon liveries
In loving memory...
Scratchbuilt GWR one-plank wagon (1)
Scratchbuilt GWR one-plank wagon (2)
MSWJR 3-plank dropside
LSWR 10 ton sliding door van
SDJR Road Van
LSWR stone wagon
Fake news and wagon sheets
Same but different: 1900s wagons


GWR 1854 Saddle Tank (1)
GWR 1854 Saddle Tank (2)
Shiny domes and safety valve covers
Backdating the Oxford Dean Goods (1)


GWR large flat dray
Ratkin & Son horse-drawn wagon
Kit-bashed GWR light dray
GWR horse-drawn trolley
GWR 5-ton horse-drawn wagon
Parcels van and coal trolley


Fun with crates
Barrels, baskets, bales
Small crates and tea chests


Porters and Barrows
Andrew Stadden 4mm figures
Backdated Monty's figures
Footplate crew
HO figures for an OO layout
Lesser known whitemetal figures


C+L underlay and Carr's ballast
Experiments with C+L track
Comparing track
Messing about with track panels
Laying track on "The depot"


Constructing the Branch Bay
First bite: "The bay"
Simple structures for "The bay"
Platform trolleys and barrows
Signs, posters and adverts
Six lessons learnt


Constructing the Goods Depot
Second bite: "The depot"
Shunting Puzzle
Sketches of The depot
Soft body, hard shell
Kit-bashed roof structure
Dry Run
Dusting off the cobwebs
Playing with mirrors
Mezzanine floor
Progress on "The depot"
4mm slate roofing
The treachery of images

A roof for "The depot"

A tall bird from Paddington
Cranes for the depot
Shoulders of giants
Flight of the bumblebee


Constructing the Old Yard
Third bite: "The sidings"
Wagon propulsion
Progress on "The sidings"
Rising from slumber
The Biscuit Shed
A shed and a lock-up
Agricultural merchant's warehouse
Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall
Stops, levers, plates, gauge, wall
Lamps and Lamplighters


Constructing the Stables
GWR Park Royal stable block
GWR stables - an overview


Railway modelling and Art
Moving Pictures
Season's greetings


Layout ideas
A flexible layout
Kicking back in Gloucester


Pre-grouping livery clippings
Journey to Didcot
Detail hunting at Didcot
Here's looking at you
The mists of time (and all that)
My friend the operating chair
Ready-to-plonk freight
GWR Modelling website


RMweb Workbench
Flickr photostream

Recent Comments