Are you the Peter who used to be in NMRA-BR and who I gave some advice to om location etc of your railroad back when you were exhibiting it. If so I am still modelling the Pacific Northwest shortlines. Have a look at my thread "Diesel Forest Railroading in HO" -it might be familiar
While I was without a web connection I tried a small experiment which frankly didn’t work as well as I hoped it would. The fiddle yard on my shunting plank is about four feet long and 8.5 inches wide it has three straight tracks leading from a three way point at the right hand end. The two middle tracks have a cross over at the left end. It sits at eye level when I am sitting at my desk using the PC.
I drew a typical feed and seed merchants premises on cartridge paper and glued it to some thin card. This I pasted to the back scene to give a low relief background for the trains. I was now able to sit at my desk and shuffle cars up and down using the station area of the plank as a fiddle yard. I will post a few photos to give an idea of what it looked like. Here are the first by way of an experiment.
A few shots of a Mopac EMD SW1200 (The fuel tank should be extended outwards and downwards more) end cab switcher working in what I called Broadoak yard. The locomotive is a much modified Athearn Blue box job and is now over thirty years old but still runs very well.
There follows a selection of photographs of some the various locomotives and cars that have worked the Broadoak yard area at one time or another.
They are in no particular order but show that anyone who is starved of cash or space could with a minimum outlay build a small switching layout. You only need a small baseboard, some track and a hand drawn/painted backscene to make a start. You could probably download some suitable material for a backscene if you didn’t want to paint it yourself. All very basic I know but it works, the cars and loads have a destination and purpose which makes operation that bit more realistic.
A selection of pictures featuring an SP Baldwin S12 switcher that was built for working in San Francisco. In reality the SP traded them in for more modern power, but with modeller’s licence I have assumed this one is working out its days in south west Arkansas. The model is a basic Athearn blue box job with added details and modified headlights and is fitted with a Mashima motor.
These photos show that a small area at the front of the baseboard represents a sort of team track that allows trucks to bring in pulp wood to be loaded on bulkhead flats. The switcher then takes these to the interchange sidings (in my imagination) where they are made up into a larger train for onward shipment to the pulp mill in Louisiana. The team track can be used for any other loads in or out that take your fancy, it all helps to givethe model a reason to exist.