Monday, 5 March 2018

Fiddle yard length

Fiddle yards: Is there an acceptable (or unacceptable) length for a single fiddle yard? That is in ratio to the length of the layout. i.e. if the main scenic board was 45" long would a FY of a similar length look wrong? I've always tended to head for a lesser length before, but...


  1. I think it only needs to be as long as the longest train the station can take.

  2. I agree with the first reply. Unless a train can enter a station and reverse onto a siding to drop a proportion of the rake, I suggest that an appropriate formula would be the Effective Length of the Loop + Length of the Longest Locomotive + Margin of Safety = Required Length of Fiddle Yard.


    ELL+LLL+MS = RLFY, which in inches might be:


    Yes I am truly that sad ;-/

  3. There are a few things to take into account, but, one of the more fundamental factors is that the FY must be able to handle the longest train you may wish to run.

    I have tried various types of FY over the years ranging from a single piece of fixed track, through a fan of sidings, sector plates and currently cassettes.

    The minimalist single piece of track certainly takes up the least space but setting up trains is slow - especially with 3 link couplings. For home use though this does impose a certain amount of discipline.

    Fans of conventional sidings taker up a huge amount of room and can end up as long as the 'shunting plank' they are serving.

    Sector plates and traversers need a fair bit of width.

    I am currently using cassettes these take up minimal space and are relatively easy to make. Mine are made from aluminium angle stuck to self-adhesive card. I have got 1 cassette that will take the normal size of train that the layout will handle. 1 that will take a normal train plus 1 extra wagon and 2 cassettes capable of accommodating the largest train the plus 2 wagons.

    Hope this helps


  4. A FY probably needs to be able to take the longest train that the layout can, although of course there are prototypes that very rarely (if ever) saw a full-length train...if you're modelling one of these, and are sure you won't want or need the flexibility to unprototypically "play trains", then the FY could be significantly shorter than the longest possible train.
    I do recall CJF expressing a dislike of the sort of layout depicting a small through station with FYs at either end, and boards hiding said FYs covered in photos showing how prototypical the layout was..though obviously that's a somewhat different case to a single FY serving (presumably) a terminus.
    In the end, FY size and form is down to functionality but what might work fine at home may be not so good at a show, though there may or may not be space for the show setup at home.
    Acceptability/proportion...I suppose it might look a bit odd if the FY was as big or bigger than the scenic part of the layout (and may attract negative comments at exhibitions on the grounds of poor use of space) though I can see that it might be an advantage to have a larger FY for some layouts...for example something using predominantly MU stock where cassettes or a sector plate might be difficult to implement due to their size, but with a fairly short terminus....the lengths of the two sections may need to be equal.

  5. Personally, I always think it looks a bit neater when the FY is tucked around in an L. You don’t see it that often though. I’m not a fan of those where the FY takes up more space than the actual layout.