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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.






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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.





Edited by Mikkel

  • Like 4


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  • RMweb Gold

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 rolleyes.gif



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 wink.gif ).

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  • RMweb Gold

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.laugh.gif laugh.gif



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  • RMweb Gold

Well there goes the model railway market! blink.gif 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 biggrin.gif



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