Back       Home       Forward

Back       Home       Forward

Ittsy Bitsy Thing

Two ground-breaking things have occurred recently. The first is totally unprecedented; I can have a SMALL  layout to play with; in the lounge!         This happened at the same time as “Model Rail” produced an article giving “12 great ideas for compact layouts”.

I had revealed to me the wonderful world of the “Inglenook” layout.


I like watching trains running in a landscape, as near full length as possible, which should explain why I moved from OO to N some years ago. Our Ken has always gone to the other extreme, the smaller the better. So I would have to shift into Kens’ world to make something  which was suitable.



I get bored easily, so just shuffling things around in a yard is not for me, but shuffling things around in a yard, for a purpose, might just exercise the noggin enough to keep me from going comatose.  I carefully read the articles and discovered that “inglenooks” were the brain child of a Mr A.R.Walkley as far back as 1926. He modelled in OO and wanted some- thing easy to create, carry and entertain. He eventually created shunting puzzles for exhibition punters at to solve. The term “Inglenook” can into use much later with the birth of Alan Wrights “Inglenook Sidings” in  1982. 


What makes an Inglenook?

Simplicity is the name of the game. All that is required is:

A. Two points.

B. Three sidings.

C. One head-shunt.


What creates the interest is the format of the sidings, they can only be of a certain length. Their length depends on what type of wagons you choose to use, after all there is a considerable difference between a standard wagon/12T van and 21T version. It is recommended that a constructor adopt a “standard” length format for construction, what that length is is up to you. However, if you make it too long, there is no challenge and  if too short it may be impossible.



Take your agreed “standard” length and make each siding to the following format:

Head-shunt              3 standard lengths and room for your loco, however big      

                                    that may be.

Sidings                      3 standard lengths only.

Departure siding     5 standard lengths only.


Or to put graphically…………..(I am no good unless I cab see it)

Exercising “The Little Grey Cells”

You will need about a dozen wagons and your loco of choice. Eight of your selection will be used in each puzzle so pick them and place them in your sidings. You will be required to make up a train of 5 wagons for departure.

The trick is that the train will made up certain wagons in certain positions, which will be selected randomly. Originally this was decided by using numbered buttons or tiddy-winks, with each wagon allotted a certain number. I feel that this could lead to identification problems with some users so I recommend the of a system of “playing cards” with a picture and  full details of the wagon on them.  Remember “Top Trumps”?


Print some playing card sized cards with a picture of each wagon and some details, one for each of your chosen dozen wagons and having done this shuffle them, once you have removed the ones not to be placed on the layout this time. Then turn up the 5 required to be made up in to a train and then shunt the wagons/vans into the required order  on to the departure siding. “Simples!”


My Inglenook

My approach owed much to Mrs Beaton, “first take your plywood off-cut”.

This solved many of the initial calculations (I had only one off-cut suitable). While the “useful” drawer was rifled for old track and turnouts. As I was going for the minimalist approach, this rather restricted the format of layout, I merely followed traditional lines, as in the diagram below.  I intend that the finished product should be capable of being “plugged into” another layout to provided some through traffic, so I have built either end so a suitable entrance/exit can be made through viaducts at either side or a short cassette attached to and variations in operation.


I had first to build a suitable back-ground, in which the creation could sit. I sort Metcalfe’s help with a suitable road bridge, viaduct and sloping ramp from the road to the yard. The back scene was two down-loadable factories in low relief which should be enough to serve as a back-drop. I haven’t tried any downloads before so this a case of “suck it and see” ( yet again). Will the ink run, will the glue produce wrinkles, will I not be ham-fisted enough to achieve a good result?


A tentative start has been made after clearing enough room in the garage to stand upright next to a bench. You may remember the “Cave” in which I used work, the new premises are about one third the size……… I leave the rest to your imagination, and you still won’t get it right! I had to start the work on the driveway and bring the board in when it rained! It can be cold, DAMN COLD in Water Orton!

More to come as things develop.                                                                 MPT


Loco and 3 standard lengths

Departure siding

5 Standard lengths

Sidings  3 standard lengths