Macey Yard: Switching Puzzle

Discussion in 'N Scale' started by Tad, Mar 28, 2010.

  1. Tad

    Tad TrainBoard Supporter

    Macey Yard is my version of Alan Wright's Inglenook Sidings switching puzzle.

    Detailed information on Inglenook Sidings and John Allen's Timesaver can be found on Adrian Wymann's The Model Railways Shunting Puzzles Website

    Adrian's Inglenook Sidings Shunting Puzzle page.

    Macey Yard is a 1 foot by 4 foot layout constructed on 2 inch foam that sits in a rectangular masonite hardboard base that it 3 3/4 inches tall.

    My version is built with Atlas Code 80 Flex Track, two Atlas Custom #4 switches/turnouts, three Micro-Trains magnetic uncoupling sections, an Atlas rerailer section and four Atlas bumper sections.


    Macey Yard is designed to use cars that are approximately 40' long and all are equipped with Micro-Trains trucks with short extension couplers.

    The switching lead will hold the switcher and three cars. The center yard track will hold five cars past the magnet. Each of the other two yard tracks will hold three cars past the magnet.

    Today I experimented with taking model photos with natural light. I never had a layout, module, or diorama that I could take outside to try it before.

    This is a lengthwise view of the layout from the switching lead end.


    The yard tracks.


    View from the yard back towards the station.

  2. Tad

    Tad TrainBoard Supporter

    The switches/turnouts are operated using Caboose Industries 218S ground throws. Green is straight and red is diverging.


    Road crossing and yard end of station.


    Road crossing.


    Trackside of Macey Station.


    The station is an old Bachmann passenger station kit. I cut the mullions out of the windows and painted it.
  3. Tad

    Tad TrainBoard Supporter

    Rear of Macey Station and parking lot.


    Eight cars are used on the layout. Each is a different color.


    Each car has an associated icon/token that is the same color as the car.


    A round is intitiated by drawing five icons/tokens and placing them in order drawn by the appropriate number.


    The object is to block a five car train on the center yard track in the same order as the icons/tokens.
  4. Tad

    Tad TrainBoard Supporter

    The Macey Yard Job is MP 9181, a Life-Like SW9/1200.


    MP 9181 switching Macey Yard.



  5. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

    This is great Tad!! :thumbs_up::thumbs_up:

    :D :D
  6. subwayaz

    subwayaz TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for posting this Tad great stuff and definite food for thought

  7. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Supporter

    Nice job!

    I like the use of the tokens. And the scenery is well done, too.
  8. JSL

    JSL TrainBoard Member

    That cool! Very interesting puzzle. I may need to try that.

  9. Lark

    Lark TrainBoard Member

    Ya lost me on the...

    ..."drawing five tokens" bit- I have after a few minutes thinking (oh man my brain hurts trying to figure other peolple's stuff out) and I'm not sure this is right- but- you pull pieces out of a hat(?) randomly----> (the drawing part- there's no instructions on where you pull these five tokens from- a freinds sock? (Pheewwwweeewwwwwww) and line them up (wait a sec- let the air clear here!) and then you have to order/arrange the cars per the draw?

    "How do you 'splain this"?- Ricky Ricardo (Episode 21- Bad Neighbors- 1956, Warner Bros).

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 28, 2010
  10. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Supporter

    Exactly. The Inglenook puzzle is "how to arrange the cars from the sidings into a randomly selected train order."

    You may draw the pieces out of whatever container you like, so long as the result is sufficiently random to keep the game interesting.

    I recommend avoiding the socks, though.
  11. Tad

    Tad TrainBoard Supporter

    Thanks, y'all.

    Here is an online version of Inglenook Sidings if you want to fool around with it and see how it works.

    Riverside Yard
  12. brakie

    brakie TrainBoard Member

    Tad,That's a mighty nice looking layout you got there.I especially like the way the crossing is blocked during switching..Very prototypical for some yards.

    I don't call that type of layout a switching puzzle..I call 'em a yard switching layout..Another one of my favorite type of layout.
  13. Tad

    Tad TrainBoard Supporter

    Thanks, Mark, Glen, JSL, TwinDad, and Larry.


    I understand you thinking that it is not a puzzle because you have switched yards professionally before. :)

    I actually built this little layout as a therapy tool to put in my office. I work for the VA as a readjustment counseling therapist at a Vet Center working with other combat veterans. I work with several veterans who have suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBI). One of the therapeutic interventions that is recommend for working with people who have suffered TBI is to work logic puzzles to help them forge new neuronal connections for logical thinking and planning and to work on impulse control in dealing with frustration.

    Some of my veterans with TBI are issued PDA's by Occupational Therapy to help with memory issues and the PDA's contain a few puzzles and games that the OT's recommend that the vets work on. Most of my vets find them frustrating and have difficulty staying engaged while attempting to work them. The difficulty working them and the frustration are actually part of their TBI symptomology.

    I was thinking that there must be a better way to get my guys engaged working through some logic puzzles. Most of my guys think trains are cool even though most of them are not model railroaders. I thought that maybe I could use this little layout as a therapeutic intervention when working with these guys. Guys, trains, playing, you know. :D

    I ran the idea past my boss, who is an O scaler, and he thought it was a good idea that was worth a try. He also said that it was a good example of "thinking outside of the box."

    So on Tuesday I will be using trains as a therapeutic intervention for the first time. We will see how it works out. :)

    There are a lot of firsts for me on this small layout. I used it as a learning experiment/experience. I had never made trees before. I used the Woodland Scenics deciduous and pine trees and threw in a few Busch pine trees from a bag that my daughter had given me for Christmas for variety.

    I never made a road or road crossing before. I used the Busch flexible asphalt roadway and parking lot. The crossing itself is an Atlas rerailer section.

    On the station I experimented with some techniques to make a little kit look better. I picked the kit up for about $3 when Micro-Mark was getting out of N scale. I bought several of the old kits when they were dumping them and the GP20's.

    Overall, I was pretty happy with the way the little Macey Yard layout came out. I put it in the contest yesterday at the NMRA Pacific Northwest Region 3rd Divison Semi-Annual meet and it took 1st Place for Best of Show in N Scale in the Popular Vote Contest. Winning something with my modeling was another first for me.


    If you look on the Inglenook Sidings Shunting Puzzle page or try the Riverside Yard link you will see how the game works.

    You draw five of the eight tokens and those are the five cars that must be blocked into the train. It gives you a random combination of cars to make up the train and there are 6,720 possible combinations of cars to make up a five car train out of the eight cars on the layout.

    There are 40,320 possible different arrangements of cars possible for the eight cars in the eleven spot yard. For someone who enjoys switching yards this should give plenty of variety in a small space. This is a farily simple type of layout to build and most folks could find space to store a 1'x4' layout.
  14. HKH

    HKH New Member


    The layout looks great, and I really like the way you intend to use it. Please post updates, because I'm sure many of us are interested in the outcome.

  15. Tad

    Tad TrainBoard Supporter

    Thanks, Harlan.
  16. Delamaize

    Delamaize TrainBoard Member

    From a Army Veteran, I want to say thank you for Helping my Injured Brothers in arms get back to some kind of normality. Although, during my enlistment, I never deployed to theater, I have plenty of friends and brothers that have, Including my wife, and it really means alot that you are doing this. Being in the medical field, I understand the effects of TBIs and how diffrent things work for diffrent people, it is great to see you think outside the box and doing what you can to help our service members recover from their injuries. The VA needs more people like you, I can't express how much it means to me to see someone care enough about us to put forth this kind of effort and thought into trying to help those of us who fight. Keep up the great work!

    BTW, the layout looks great too!
  17. Tad

    Tad TrainBoard Supporter

    Thanks, Delamaize.

    And thanks to both you and your wife for your service.

    The coolest thing about my job is that I still get to work with soldiers, marines, sailors, airmen and coasties. As a retired US Army First Sergeant who has ridden a tank into battle, I really enjoy working with other members of my tribe.

    At the Vet Centers you have to be a combat theater veteran to be eligible for services. But any service member who has spent one day in any combat theater is eligible for free services for life. We offer individual, couple, family, and group counseling to eligible veterans and assist any veteran in getting any VA services they are eligible for. We also work with victims of military sexual trauma and offer bereavement counseling services for the family members of fallen service members.

    Readjustment Counseling Service (RCS) is the part of the VA that is in charge of the Vet Centers and is the only part of the VA where it is required that any of the employees be veterans. The requirement is that 50% of the employees be veterans and 25% of the employees be combat veterans. We actually have about 70% veteran employees and 40% combat vets.

    When the newest Vet Centers come online there will be right at 300 Vet Centers nation wide.

    Vet Center Home

    I have had the honor to be able to assist veterans from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, the First Gulf War and OIF/OEF.

    It's the coolest gig in the VA and is about the best job I can think of for a retired senior NCO combat vet.
  18. txronharris

    txronharris TrainBoard Member

    Tad, even though I've never met you, I've always been an admirer of your work. Every time I see an ADN boxcar I think about your layout. Cool shunting puzzle and cool idea to use it for rehab.

    Thanks for the work you do to help those that need it that have served our country. Let us know how it comes out.
  19. Tad

    Tad TrainBoard Supporter

    Thanks, Ron.

    That is nice of you to say.

    I hope it works out well. If not, maybe at least the guys will have fun.

    I'll let y'all know what my guys think about it.
  20. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Supporter

    Tad for N-Scaler of the year!

    That is AWESOME using such a simple (yet maddeningly complex) tool to help our Veterans readjust and regain their skills after serving in combat.

    My hat is off to you, sir.

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