Hidden Staging

[a] Is hidden staging the world strictly beyond the on-line layout [only "foreign" engines originate there]? [b] Is hidden staging an extension of the on-line layout ["home" and
"foreign" engines originate there]?
In both cases [a] or [b], it makes perfect sense for the handling of "foreign" and "home" rolling stock based on our previous thread concerning the expansive movement of "foreign" cars. They arrive from and they exit to hidden staging. The engine is irrelevent.
Where I need some help is to better understand freight engine movement.
I sometimes see model RR images of mixed, freight consists ["foreign" and "home" engines], and I wonder if that can only happen with option [b]. It would make sense that two railroads who require one another's assistance have a contractual agreement to operate mixed consists. Those lash ups can occur at whichever on-line interchange yard directly interacts with hidden staging.
Without option [b], I cannot see any justification for an all "home", freight engine consist exiting to hidden staging or arriving from hidden staging.
Thanks! Matt
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Matt,
Some of this depends on how you define the hidden staging in your world. On my last layout, and on the one currently in the planning stages, my hidden staging was defined as an extension of my home road, that is, the home road was "larger" than the limits of the physical layout. I did at times have foreign power as part of a lashup coming through (actually had two staging yards, so could run trains from one to the other, stop to exchange cars in the yard in the main town). But because hidden staging was defined as "home road", home power would enter from and exit to staging as a normal part of operations.
I set up the foreign cars (using a car-card system) such that "when empty return to owner" for Western roads caused the cars to be moved to the staging yard designated as "west", while cars belonging to Eastern roads got sent to the "east" staging yard. Once in staging, I could take them off the layout and put them in storage cabinets, and replace them with others from storage. With a large number of cars and a couple of large storage cabinets, individual foreign cars could thus stay off the layout for quite some time. Home road cars that ended up going to one of the staging yards as an outbound load usually didn't go to storage but cycled back onto the layout in the next operating session or two. (I did, however, have some offline storage used just for home road cars, so unusual home cars could be kept off the layout for longer periods of time if desired.)
As others have noted in this thread, do what you feel is "right", or what enhances your enjoyment the most!
(Another) Matt

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Matt Brennan wrote:

Staging, hidden or not, is whatever you define it to be for your layout theme(s) and operating scheme(s).
HTH
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Thanks Matt and Wolf!
I hadn't considered the hidden staging, storage concept to lengthen the re-appearance cycle for "foreign" cars. That will work very nicely. It could help pursuade my wife that we need even more cars than we already have ;-)
I also plan to include Geezer's "through freight" concept with a train that consists of all "foreign" cars. It will travel from one hidden staging area to the other w/o stopping. I like that idea because it would allow for some long, diverse, and colorful freight trains to make an occasional appearance.
BTW, do most of you use a fiddle yard approach in hidden staging?
It seems to be the area that allows for reduced costs by implementing manual switches, hand held engine turns, etc. I have seen some layouts where the hidden staging was equal to the on-line layout with regards to the track design, the use of switch machines, a working turntable, and completed scenery. The reason was to heighten the enjoyment for the "mole" who handled that particular assignment.
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Matt,
Friend of mine who has more cars than you and I will probably ever have combined put me on to the storage concept. He uses a fake 'barge' setup, rolls the cars out of storage compartments 3 at a time onto the barge (and vice versa, cars from the barge into the storage compartments) to take them onto and off of the layout. Same general concept could be used for a single interchange track or a fiddle yard. On my old layout (and probably on the new one - my hidden staging will be considerably less than what the old layout had) trains in staging were set up between operating sessions manually from storage, and when an online train went to staging, it (locomotives and all) stayed there for the rest of the session. Locomotives were turned as necessary and new trains put together before the next operating session. One feature of the session then was an Eastbound through freight that dropped off some cars for online distribution on local freights (but not all in the train) and picked up the Eastbound cars that had accumulated in the yard. Later on, a Westbound performed the same function, leaving new cars and taking out the Westbound ones. These trains were generally several cars longer than the local freights, thus the 'feature' you're looking at with longer trains. Sometimes, some of the cars in these trains came out of storage just for a 'run-through' and then went back into storage, while at other times they would be a 'run-through' car the first time out of staging, then would get assigned to an online industry and dropped off at the yard for distribution the next time they came onto the layout. Lots of combinations to play with to add variety to your trains and operating sessions!
Matt

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Matt Brennan wrote:

My hidden staging is beneath the main station and therefore largely inaccessible. I do need an accessible track where I can change rolling stock as I have about twice the number that my layout will accomodate.

I operate "old-time steam" where the models have a large amount of fragile detailing - hands-on is a no-no!!!
My staging yard holds circa 20 trains in 5 queueing tracks. That is enough so a casual vistor never sees the same train twice, but not enough for the different types of trains and to hold foreigners sufficiently long in proportion to home trains. After the household move comming up I will have more space and will at least double staging yard space. :^)
Regards, Greg.P.
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Whenever I build my hidden staging, it will be in another room, where I'll also store the rolling stock. This will allow me to do the 'fiddle yard' thing, and make up trains that will come onto the layout as a train from some other part of the RR world. Conversely, trains just 'transiting' through the layout will exit onto the staging yard, where it will be disassembled back into the storage cases.
I was initially of the mind to made the fiddle yard just like a prototype yard, but space considerations may not allow for that sort of thing. It might just end up being a stub end yard, with a pile of ladder tracks for various trains that are coming and going. I'd like to have an exit track on the other end, but those outside ladder tracks would be too short....
Kennedy
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Matt Brennan wrote:

My staging yard is a part of the same railroad and represents all destinations/originating points not modelled.

Foreign stock remains "off-stage" longer than "home" rolling stock.

Very broadly, locos are allocated to a specific loco depot and therefore start and finish their run at that depot. A "run" can be a short out and back movement or a long distance run of several days, or anything in between. Mostly the limit will relate to an (eight hour) crew shift so that the crew is at their home depot at the end of the shift. It is also common for crews to swap trains with another running in the opposite direction, half a shift away from home.

In most cases, locos operating together are under one railroad's control. The "foreign" locos may well be on short term lease, something which commonly happens when railroads experience seasonal traffic.

A railroad that you can model in total on a home layout would have very little traffic and be of little interest operation-wise. Hence (b) is almost a neccessity.
Regards, Greg.P.
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Hidden staging is used to simulate trains "going and coming from" somewhere. It's a place where you can manually make up trains before they make an appearance onto the layout. It's a place where a train that was on your layout goes, and once there, can be disassembled by the famous 0-5-0.
I'm a big fan of hidden staging. Some say you can have a visible staging yard, and before a session, you can 0-5-0 some cars onto it. To me, that pretty much kills the illusion a train has come from somewhere outside of your layout world.
Unless your layout is the sum total of the railroad you want to model (and, in that respect, you're modelling a really dinky RR), then Option B is what hidden staging is. Whatever portion of the RR you're modelling, there is the rest of the RR "off-layout". So, you will see home RR power in staging.
Kennedy
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in message

Wonderful ;-) I was unaware of that finger configuration. It's perfect.
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Generally foreign engines don't run on a road except under certain conditions like an accident on the foreigh road. Until very recently, locos just weren't used from foreign roads as they often weren't setup like the home road. The roads gradually got away from a lot of that troublemaking and standardized mostly on the layout of a loco. Needless to say, if you're running steam, it is always home road locos on the head end. Cabooses, could be either although in steam era they would tack on a home road caboose to the back of the train behind the foreign road caboose if it needed to go to the other end of the road. If you want to setup your layout so that the main yard is an interchange yard then you'd probably have the foreign road locos pull the train into the yard and drop off their cars for movement on your road. Otherwise, the storage yard would just be more of the railroad that you aren't modeling and you'd have home road locos pulling the trains out of the storage year.
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