Build small, play big

BRIAN ROL­LEY dis­cusses how an in­glenook-in­spired track plan can max­imise oper­a­tion on the tini­est of lay­outs, and delves into the famed shunt­ing puz­zle’s his­tory.

Model Rail (UK) - - Content -

Brian Rol­ley ex­plains how an in­glenook can max­imise oper­a­tion on the small­est lay­outs, and delves into its his­tory.

At face value, an ‘in­glenook’ is lit­tle more than a small lay­out. But, delve into its con­struc­tion and you’ll find a clev­erly con­ceived track plan that packs al­most lim­it­less op­er­a­tional po­ten­tial onto a baseboard the size of a book­shelf. In fact, in­glenook lay­outs are so com­pact, a 4mm:1ft scale mod­eller can get by with eight wag­ons, two first ra­dius points and a sin­gle shunt­ing lo­co­mo­tive. The in­glenook shunt­ing puz­zle can be traced back to an ar­ti­cle by A.R. Walk­ley, pub­lished in the June 1926 edi­tion of Model Rail­way News, in which he de­scribed his fold­ing por­ta­ble ‘HO’ scale model rail­way, which mea­sured 6ft by 11in. The lay­out in­cor­po­rated a goods yard com­pris­ing three sid­ings - a head­shunt and short sid­ing serv­ing an en­gine shed. For al­most 40 years, Walk­ley’s con­cept was for­got­ten. But, in the mid-1960s, a lay­out with a sim­i­lar track plan ap­peared at a Manch­ester Model Rail­way So­ci­ety Christ­mas din­ner, where it sparked in­ter­est among the guests as a shunt­ing puz­zle. The now com­monly used term ‘in­glenook’ first fea­tured in the De­cem­ber 1982 edi­tion of Model Rail­ways, where Alan Wright de­scribed his small three-sid­ing shunt­ing lay­out as ‘In­glenook Sid­ings’.

IN­GLENOOK ANATOMY

An in­glenook track plan com­prises just two points, three sid­ings, and a head­shunt. The lay­out can be mea­sured in re­gards to SLU, a rail­way term mean­ing Stan­dard Length Unit - the length over buf­fers of a stan­dard 12 ton van, or 21ft. The head­shunt should be long enough to ac­com­mo­date the shunt­ing lo­co­mo­tive and three SLUS. Two of the sid­ings are long enough to hold three SLUS. Fi­nally, the long­est sid­ing should hold five SLUS. This pro­vides 11 pos­si­ble places for wag­ons to stand and the puz­zle should be op­er­ated us­ing eight wag­ons and a sin­gle shunt­ing lo­co­mo­tive.

GAME ON

Alan Wright en­hanced the oper­at­ing po­ten­tial of ‘In­glenook Sid­ings’ in the form of a game. He as­signed each wagon a tid­dly­wink. To be­gin, five tid­dly­winks were drawn at ran­dom from a pot and laid out. The or­der in which the tid­dly­winks were drawn dic­tated the or­der in which the cor­re­spond­ing five wag­ons were to be made up into a train on the long­est sid­ing. Once the train of five wag­ons had been shunted into the cor­rect or­der, the game was com­pleted; the tid­dly­winks could be re­turned to the pot and the game restarted.

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