Space Saving Idea: The Disappearing Fiddle Yard

folding fiddle yards

A neat idea for small, space restricted, modellers. 

For many modellers, it’s hard enough finding space for a layout let alone a fiddle yard.

The fiddle yard, if you’re new to the idea, is an area of track hidden from view when observing the layout where trains can be stored and manipulated prior to running on the layout. A staging area if you like.

Typically, you’d only have a few locos in actual operation on a small layout. These would be run and then driven off into the fiddle yard for storage and other locomotives from the yard brought onto the display so allowing many more trains to be operated on a layout and giving more enjoyment.

The problem for many modellers, however, is that fiddle yards take up space that’s only used when running the trains. Something few have. This is especially the case if your layout is in a living area.

Michael Campbell has an elegant and simple solution to this problem for his Hexworthy 009 layout.

The layout lives in his living room and so a fiddle yard on the end of the layout would considerably extend the space required.

folding fiddle yards folded away

Michael’s solution is to have a fiddle yard that folds up and over his layout when not in use.

It’s a great idea and one I’m going to borrow for my shed layout. This already has a folding section but, in my case, this is a section of the baseboard that folds up to reveal a workbench. We obviously think in similar ways.

The layout and folded out fiddle yard of Hexworthy can be seen in the photo above and in its folded up configuration to the right.

Michael attached the fiddle yard to the layout frame with some pasting table hinges and it just swings up and over the box containing the layout.

When folded away it uses up considerably less space requiring just a bit more vertical room. (Michael wisely points out the need to check the height required to fold over the yard in case it hits the ceiling).

And even this extra height can be hidden behind a pelmet or frontage.

The folding fiddle yard is an innovative way to add extra operational facilities to a model layout but not using up space when it’s not used and one I’m certainly going to employ in my shed.

If you’d like more information a longer guide to how it was constructed is on Michael’s blog here. Actually, I recommend you have a look at Michael’s blog even if you aren’t building a fiddle yard, his work and layouts are a delight and very inspiring!

Pictures reproduced with kind permission and copyright of Michael Campbell.

> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.


    • Julian, thanks for the question. There’s no reason why not. You could just fold down an area for more track. You will be limited in the height of scenery and buildings on it though. Andy.

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