I seem to spend a lot of time these days staring at a flat, empty wooden board! Actually it's not entirely empty - there are various pencil markings, a few paper track templates, and one of my Mk 1 coaches lying around to alleviate the vast expanse of nothingness!
Last night I was looking at the baseboards again, thinking about my track plan. While I'm happy with the overall layout, one thing that I wasn't entirely happy with on the existing plan was the length of the goods yard - looking again at the rough outlines drawn on the baseboard, I was feeling that it seemed unrealistically short, and wondering if there was any way of extending the length a bit to get away from it feeling too cramped. One of the things I've noticed on photos of the rail thing is that even (especially?) at small country stations the goods yard was often quite spacious even it was actually only a couple of sidings. I want to be able to represent this impression even though the actual space I've got to work with is minimal.
Ideally, you see, I would have liked to have positioned the goods yard entrance before the entrance to the bay platform, but with the yard entrance coming off the same set of points as the run-round loop, this would mean the head-shunt distance would extend even further out of the station - in fact probably right off the scenic section of the layout - something I want to try and avoid. I also want to try and keep all the pointwork on the one baseboard so I only have one track crossing the join. This also limits things.
I finally got the old Marcway paper templates out again and started playing around with different configurations. In the end I decided that the best solution to gain the extra length on the goods yard (and the only realistic one I can think of at the moment) is to replace the staggered entrances to the bay platform and yard/loop with a single 3-way turnout, approximately at the same location as I had planned to have the bay platform turnout.
This means that the yard entrance (off the loop road) can be moved back around 8 inches, freeing up that little bit of precious extra length for the goods yard sidings. It's not a lot, but every little counts.
The trade-off is that the shed road will have to be slightly shortened (if I'm still to avoid it crossing the baseboard join), but I think that's ok since there's never realistically going to be need for more than one loco using the shed facilities at any one time.
Another possible drawback is that the 3-way turnout, while space-saving, may not be as visually pleasing - ideally I would like to have a bit more trackwork on the approach to the station, rather than a single line abruptly fanning out into station and yard. But I don't know what other options there are really.
I'm sure I'll check back in again soon with some more changes!