Pentewan layout update: redesigning the fiddle yard

Progress on my HOe layout continues but I run into a problem that required a revision to the track plan of the fiddle yard.

The original track plan for my HOe/009 layout, very loosely based on the narrow gauge railway in Pentewan in Cornwall, is a 6ft by 3 baseboard on which an oval of track would sit. A siding outside and to one side of the oval would provide for a small engine shed while a run around loop and three sidings and harbour would sit inside the oval.

Each end of the oval and rear would be hidden behind a back-scene board with the front track disappearing into hills either side, in front of the back scene.  These hills would sweep down and run along the rear.

In this way, when viewed from the front you’d not know the layout was an oval and think you’re just seeing one end of a line with sidings, yards and harbour loading area and so provide switching and continuous running operation.

Model Railway Layut Plan

My HOe layout. Viewing across is from the bottom, so the ends and rear of the oval are hidden behind the back scene and hills. The river also disappears into the back scene, which is also hidden by a building when viewed from the front. But there’s a problem.

The rear-half the oval, hidden behind the back scene would also have two run-arounds and sidings to allow for variation freight and passengers carrying rolling stock to be run.

Trains from the staging area emerge from the tunnel on right, pulling either passenger coaches and pull up the station or pulling wagons and divert into off the run-around, reverse back to load up at the harbour.

Alternatively, trains unloaded or loaded at the harbour can pull away, run on the run around before joining the mainline to exist the visible left. Meanwhile, the passenger train pulls away and runs around again.

model railwaysI had the track down, fitted the Tortoise point motors and operating switches, installed the side back scene boards in place with the right-hand side hills, waterfall and river in place and had even started on a placing some of the buildings and ground cover as can be seen in the photo of it to the left.

It was all going well.

To complete the hills, I then placed the rear back scene board and it was then I ran into a problem.

I hadn’t left enough space between the fiddle yard and back scene board.

Any rolling stock on the front-most fiddle yard siding caught the board. Hmmm.

This was annoying as I’d designed this section to allow a through line, two parallel tracks that could either hold trains waiting to run or act as a run-around to the main line. Spurs off the end of the front run-around provide space for two more trains.

But to fit the back scene board I’d need to remove the front track and lose the waiting lines.

I’m not sure how I’d miscalculated but it was really frustrating. I’d designed and repeatedly checked it during construction but however, it happened I couldn’t now fit the rear backscene plywood on without cramping the fiddle yard.

In the end, I powered up my Dremel, cut out the front line and sidings and added spurs to the left and right of the rear run-around loop as seen below.

Layout Plan revised

It’s not quite as I wanted but still achieves gives me the flexibility I needed.

A passenger train can start from the top right fiddle yard siding, be reversed onto the passing loop and then driven forward, to emerge onto the layout and pull in at the station. While this is parked up for passengers to disembark, a locomotive can pull out of the shed in the bottom corner, run up into the passing loop behind the station, reversed back to the right siding, collect some wagons and run them to the yard in the middle.

(For those wondering, Pentewan was a narrow gauge industrial railway that carried ore, clay and coal between the mines around St Austel and the dock and harbour at Pentewan . It wasn’t a passenger service but there was a Sunday School outing once a year when children would be taken down to the beach at Pentewan. With a bit of artistic liberty I’ve added a Halt to the line where the children could decamp).

A third engine, carrying loaded wagons, can pull straight out of the top left fiddle yard siding, run down, pull off into the front passing loop before reversing to the harbour road for loading freight onto ships.  Meanwhile, either the other two locos can move off and disappear stage left to park up in the fiddle yard.

pentewan trestle dock railwayNext up, I want to finish the ballasting and build the trestle bridge supporting the track alongside the harbour.

This only raised the trains a few feet above ground level, as seen in the photo left from my dog-eared The Pentewan Railway 1829-1918 by M. J. T. Lewis , but allowed goods to be loaded and uploaded into ships waiting in the dock.

What are you working on right now? Share your update in a comment below.

Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

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