The O-scale Garage Wall Layout of JumpJet

This is the presentation of the O-scale SCARM track plan by JumpJet, which he send by e-mail. It is about 13′ x 3.5′ shelf layout for an O-scale 3-rail Coach Yard and Express depot.

The whole track plan and the 3D views are shown below, following by detailed explanation of JumpJet’s idea.

  • Dimensions: 3926mm x 1085mm (155″ x 43″)
  • Epoch: VI-V (post 60′s)
  • Trackwork: Atlas O-scale 3-rail sectional tracks and turnouts
  • SCARM project file: yes (get it from the links below)

Below is the full description of the idea of JumpJet and the operations that the layout allows:

A large coach yard along a 13 foot garage wall

Do you want your toy trains to operate more realistically, yet want to avoid HiRail modeling? Do you like foreshortened 3-rail passenger cars, but don’t think you have enough space? Do you wish your passenger trains had the kind of switching action you get with freight trains?

Well, here is an exciting track layout that comfortably fits on a 13 foot x 3.5 foot shelf. Minimum radius is 45 inches, with only one duplicating spur having a 36 inch radius curve. Most track is within the recommended 30 inch reach, and the one spur that is slightly farther, is equipped with an automatic uncoupler. Suggested shelf height is elbow level. A notch in the front of the shelf allows a place for controls, or even your body for reaching.

The assumed location is totally freelance, but could possibly be a fictional northern Ohio setting. Era is an imaginary post-60′s autumn, where railroading is still going strong, and vintage equipment in excellent condition is still operated. Trains are assumed to be higher quality 3-rail toys, from manufacturers such as Lionel modern-era and MTH Railking.

The layout theme is a coach yard, supporting an unmodeled passenger terminal, passenger engine servicing area, turnaround track, and spare passenger car storage yard. Modeled along with the servicing yard is an express depot and milk transloading platform. Layout is designed to stand on its own, but it could easily be incorporated as an appendage to a larger layout. Note that the unmodeled passenger terminal is assumed to handle mail on the platform, and have tracks for parking business (office/recreational) cars in use.

Now for specifics:

For simplicity, the layout uses nothing but sectional (Atlas O 3-rail) track, and is serviced by a single dedicated (probably diesel) switcher. The switcher will travel off the layout to the engine servicing area whenever it needs to be fueled, serviced, or even swapped out. Because only one engine will be in use, the whole layout could be conventionally powered.

The front left is the track assumed to be coming from the passenger terminal, passenger engine servicing area, turnaround track, and spare passenger car storage yard areas. To simulate this, the track will in actuality be a fiddle track upon which passenger cars will be hand placed or removed (touching cars to manually uncouple, or physically remove to a cabinet, is an expectation). If you have a little extra space, you might want to lengthen the staging track slightly. Note that all cars will be assumed to have come from the simulated turning track, so shall be placed on this staging track properly oriented. The switcher may still need to run around cuts of cars however, in order to put them on the correct spurs.

To the right of the staging track is the locomotive run around, one lead of which passes through a passenger car exterior washing machine. The run around comes together again in the tail track for the coach yard. Curved turnout gives a “real railroad” impression.

Branching off the left run around track are six coach yard tracks. Although cars can layover in the yard (terminal tracks are normally only used briefly for the loading/unloading of passengers), its real purpose is to refresh cars between runs. Each of these tracks have paving around them for carts to be wheeled. Although carts can always pass in front of the end of a filled stub track, each track also has two shortcut crossovers spaced approximately one passenger car length apart (indicated by green in the SCARM drawing). Although any track can be used to hold any car type, normally the two rearmost tracks will hold food service cars (diners, cafe cars, bar cars, food serving lounge cars, etc.), the two middle tracks will hold sleeping cars, and the two forward tracks will hold coaches. Because the rearmost track is a bit difficult to reach to uncouple, it includes an automatic uncoupler. Note that the yard track second from the rear is reached entirely by not less than 0-54 radius curves, allowing even a full 0-scale passenger car to be serviced here (pulled from staging track, through washer, into tail track; and then pushed into yard stub track).

Branching off the right run around track are the head-end car tracks and the inspection track. The inspection track has a pit below where cars which have been on the road for a while are lubricated, and checked for wear and breakage. Over the pit is the repair-in-place track, where minor repairs, including sometimes wheel and brake changes, are performed. There will be some paving around this track, so a cart or vehicle can be brought alongside. Besides the cars regularly appearing on this shelf layout, an occasional business car or railway post office car might make a guest appearance at the inspection track.

At the end of the inspection track is space for parking a passenger car or a supporting freight car, such as a flat car carrying spare wheels. Note that this section of track is separated from the inspection area by an automatic uncoupling track, and also separated electrically from the rest of the layout. This is so an animated work car can have its track pickups independently electrically fed. Note the orange color on the SCARM drawing which indicates this isolated trackage, and note how it passes slightly to the left of the automatic uncoupler. This is so the magnet can be used to either uncouple the end of the car you wish to park, or to operate an animation feature in the middle of the car.

The head-end car tracks branch to the milk transloading platform and express depot. At the milk track will be a platform for depositing milk cans. A Lionel Milk Can Platform would be a good choice to use here. In front of this platform is an automatic uncoupler track, intended for operating an animated milk can unloading reefer. Just past the platform is where tank type milk cars can be pumped out. An access driveway on the track side opposite the milk can platform is where the transloading trucks will arrive and depart.

Just past the milk track are two express car tracks servicing an express depot. The truck docks with driveway, are on the rear of the building near the layout edge. The public office is on the unmodeled right side of the building. On the front side are the train car bays. The reason why there are two tracks instead of just one long track, is so one car can be moved without disturbing the other car being loaded/unloaded at the express building. Note that the forward most track is long enough to hold two cars, but only one car will stand along side the building. You could still service both cars though, as the leftmost car could be loaded directly from a delivery truck in the driveway. Express cars temporarily not in use can be shoved into the coach yard. A cut of head-end cars are usually sent to/from the Terminal separately from a cut of passenger cars, even if they are part of the same train.

Branching off the coach yard tail track is the supply track. Crossovers allow carts of ice and mechanics supplies to reach both the coach yard and inspection track. Here is where boxcars and flatcars of coach yard support supplies will be delivered. The icing station is where you would also spot the occasional express reefer or business car to be iced. The power house lets freight cars enter through its side (the idea for the model comes from page 8 of “The Model Railroader’s Guide to Industries Along the Tracks 2″). It will get an occasional covered hopper to collect ash stored above on the upper floor, and regular hoppers of coal to dump below into the basement storage pile. Just outside the building is an automatic uncoupler, so a car could optionally be left in the building if desired. The track in the middle of the building also has an automatic uncoupler which would be used to operate an animated dumping hopper. This way a hopper car could enter the building full of coal, and then exit empty. A hole below the hopper car is where the coal would fall, to be caught in a bucket for later re-use. Note that if you do not have a coal hopper, you could substitute a fuel oil tank car, and assume the facility has been converted to run on oil.

All along the back of the shelf are building flats, or partial buildings, representing the coach yard service buildings. They can be kitbashed toys, or even simple cardboard mockups. Examples of models of these buildings can be found in the magazine article: “Modeling Passenger Servicing Facilities”. Starting from the layouts left, the buildings are as follows:

Beside the rear sorting track, the first structure is the two story Pullman building. Although the building is mostly for porter supplies such as mattresses and linens, it also supports the cleaning crew which wipes windows, washes surfaces, and vacuums rugs in cars. Next is the one story commissary, which provides food and drink to food service cars, as well as a place to house the yard offices. Both these buildings are normally supplied from the unmodeled rear side by delivery trucks, but there is no reason why you couldn’t spot supply freight cars, such as a boxcar of new bedding materials or a reefer of seasonal vegetables, on the spur in front of the buildings.

Behind the supply track is the two story power house, with belowground basement, which provides electricity and steam for the coach yard. Next is the icing station, which along with holding ice in the ground floor insulated building structure for food service and the occasional legacy air conditioner (such as you might find on an old business car), includes a dumb-waiter serviced roof level icing platform from which the occasional express reefer can be iced. Note that you could use the Lionel Icing Station here, if you cover the skeletal supports with fake walls to create the ground floor structure. Ice can either be supplied from the unmodeled rear side by a local ice delivery truck, or from an ice filled reefer unloaded in front. Next is the one story workshop, which holds tools, lubricants, batteries, and other supplies required by maintenance. This building also can be supplied either from delivery trucks on the unmodeled rear side, or various supply freight cars unloaded in front.

Behind the tail track, is the rear “fire-escape” side of a multi-story YMCA-like hotel that caters to railroad workers. This hotel also contains a casual restaurant, and lounge areas with relaxation equipment. All supplies come from local delivery trucks, not rail cars.


If you are on a tight budget, you can reduce up to two switches. With some esthetic, but little operational impact, you could eliminate the tight-radius switch for the coach yard track closest to the layout rear (Pullman and commissary buildings should then be pulled farther forward into the layout). Your next possibility is to remove the switch for the short express car track, leaving just one long express car spur (you must then extend the left half of the Express building forward to the edge of the remaining track, so that the building now forms a long rectangular shape). Removing the short express spur will reduce loading flexibility, but conversely, a stretched Express building could now service up to three cars at once.

Thank you, JumpJet, for sharing your SCARM layout idea and track plan project with all other model railroaders and SCARM users :)

See also
JumpJet Treasures

Featured layout (30,6 KB unzipped SCARM file)

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