Minnesota Transfer Railway - HO - Stein Rypern

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The Minnesota Transfer Railway (reporting mark MTRY) was a switching and terminal railroad in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis & Saint Paul in Minnesota. It was owned jointly by no less than nine class 1 railroads, and a lot of the traffic of the MTRY was interchange between the owner railroads.

The MTRY also did local switching for quite a few industries located along its line, and operated a common LCL (less than carload) warehouse complex for several of its owner railroads.

My model is based on the MTRY ca 1962 or so - all diesels (mainly short wheel base switchers), mostly 40 foot cars.

What I want to model (in a small room - 11.5 by 6.5 feet, so it takes a _lot_ of selective compression :-) is:

  • Some yard switching - receiving transfer runs from other railroads, breaking up and putting together trains for transfers/interchange, and having other roads come pick up new trains for them and
  • Some setting out and picking up cars from local industries.

I expect this model railroad to normally have 1 operator (me :-), perhaps a maximum of two (me and one of my young sons, or me and a friend).

Givens and druthers


  • The available room is pretty small. 11.5 x 6.5 feet. Or 353 centimeters by 200 centimeters, since I think in metric and have to get out my calculator to convert to inches and feet.
  • Quick conversion : 10 centimeters (1 tick mark on the plan axis) is about 4 inches.
  • There is a door in the lower right-hand corner of the room. The door opens out (after a tiny little change while the missus was out of the house :-)
  • It must be possible to move in and out of the room without a duckunder - hence track across across the fold down leaf in front of the door must cross the line between benchwork and leaf as diagonally as possible.
  • There is a chimney in the upper right-hand corner.
  • The room also has to be used for storage - so I am going for a around-the-wall shelf layout about at face height while sitting (chest height while standing), with space for storage below the layout.

Druthers (preferences)

  • The landscape I am modelling is mainly flat industrial/suburban, midwestern USA. My focus is getting the operations right, not so much how the landscape will look.
  • Minimum curve radius on mainline: 45 centimeters (18 inches).
  • I want to use Peco flextrack code 75 - for several reasons: it isn't too expensive, it is decent enough quality and finally: it is available locally - I live in Norway, in Europe. There isn't that many hobby stores around where I live that stock non-Märklin track. It is a drag when you lack a few pieces of track to to have to order it from America and then have to pay for shipping, plus wait. Turnouts are Peco Medium turnouts (no 6 turnouts): SL-96/196 Left Hand , SL-95/195 Right Hand. Double slips are Peco SL-90/190
  • Engines will be fairly early diesel switchers and road switchers - RS-3s, S1s, GP-7s, HH16-44 - no long wheelbase steam engines. An average engine is about 20 centimeters (7.8 inches).
  • Freight only. 40 foot cars, no long wheelbase cars. A 40 foot car is about 14 cm (5.5 inches) long in H0. Car types: covered grain hoppers, boxcars, tank cars, stock cars, reefers, open hoppers, gondolas, flatcars.
  • Train lengths : engine+4-6 cars+caboose on locals, engine+8 cars+caboose on interchanges.
  • Types of local industries: Brewery, Furniture factory, Textile plant, Transload/Warehouse (LCL), Oil tank farm, Concrete plant, Flour mill.
  • Cabooses will still be in use - caboose length is about the same as a 40 foot car (or a little less).
  • I want switching and reasonably realistic operations for myself - but with the possibility of letting a train just run around the layout more or less on autopilot for trainwatching for visitors and for my boys (age 5 and 8).

Layout proposal 08 - double loop, hidden staging


  • Changing the mainline to a double loop around the room - about 14 meters (42 feet) long
  • Three hidden staging tracks (lengths 180-204 cm / 70" - 80") - used as both south and north staging. Any of the staging tracks can be used as part of the mainline for continuous running.
  • Track height varies from 113 cm (44") to 122cm (48") above floor level.
  • Layout depth 50 cm (20") or less all along the layout
  • 10 industry tracks, all south of yard.
  • One passing siding (upper wall, innermost loop) at 180 cm (70")
  • One short runaround track at the flour mill/tank farm industries - room to run around 5 cars.
  • One "bypass" track at 192 cm (75") - lower right corner, making it possible to have continous run on only the innermost loop.
  • Yard has three double ended tracks - track 1 (162 cm) and 2 (155 cm) are long enough for an entire train of engine, 8 40' cars and caboose (147 cm), track 3 can be used as a runaround track.
  • Yard also have three single ended tracks off the yard ladder.
  • Yard lead is long enough for switcher and 6 or 7 40' cars - and does not cross or foul main.
  • Trains cannot enter yard from the north (clockwise) while switching is underway, but can enter track 1 or 2 from the south (counterclockwise) or leave track 1 or 2 towards the south (clockwise) - and most trains will be coming from or going south - all industries are south of the yard, and most interchange traffic.
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