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Fiddle Yard Cassettes

Fiddle Yard Cassette Idea

Fiddle yards are used on layouts for holding & storing locomotives & rolling stock off the main scenic section of a layout. There are various types of fiddleyard designs & types. The one we’ll look at today is a tried & proven system that can be seen on many exhibition & home layouts around the country. It uses a light weight aluminum L shape angle strips, which whilst light weight for handling, are also sturdy enough for handling & holding the trains. They can made to any length required to suit your fiddleyard needs.

In the drawing below is the basic brake down of the fiddle yard cassette assembly. For the lower base base section of the fiddle yard cassette uses either plywood or MDF type material, the mid layer uses the same material again but uses three strips. The outer strips are postioned apart as the same distance as the rails are on your railway track. The center strip sits in between the two outer strips with a gap wide enough between it and the outer strips for clearance of the train wheels. On top of the two outer strips, aluminum L angle strips is drilled & screwed to them. The flat inner edges act as the rails whilst the vertical upright part of the L angle acts as a guard wall.

The combined height of the MDF/plywood strips & aluminum L angle strips must be the same as the rail height on your layout tracks, to allow for smooth passage between fiddle yard & trackwork.   


The photo below shows the small section of fixed fiddle yard cassette which is fitted at the end of the railway trackwork. You’ll see the gaps on the fixed cassette allow for wheel clearance, whilst the L shape aluminum is set at the same height of the rails. This small section of cassette is permanently fixed in place & prevents damage to the rail track ends. Notice also that the last sleeper has been replaced by a copper clad sleeper. The rails are soldered to the copper clad sleeper, which is either glued or screwed down on to the baseboard.  


In the next photo below the following parts are shown. Parts that are arrowed A & B are the power feeds from the controller or section switch. If running the layout under digital DCC control, then this power feed to the cassette will come from the DCC power Bus. You can see power feed wires are soldered to the two screws that hold the L shaped angle in place.

Part labelled C is the soldered joint that holds the rail in place. Both rails are soldered to the copper clad sleeper.

Part labelled D is the isolated electrical break between the two rails. To prevent a short circuit happening, a gap is cut across the middle of the sleeper or a section of the copper clad is removed between the two rails as seen in the photo below. It’s imperative, this isolation gap between the two rails is incorporated. 


For the additional fiddleyard cassettes, they are built the same way as described above. These however are not connected to the main baseboard & are separate sections bit like sections of track. This allows them to be moved by hand between other tracks, rotated (to turn a loco or complete train around). To join them to the fixed fiddle yard cassette metal sprung clamps are used. 

The cassette is simply butted up to the fixed cassette section, then two spring clamps are then used to hold the removable cassette with the fixed one. The metal clamp acts as the electrical connection between the two cassettes as shown in the photo below with the black clamp holding the two cassettes together. In the second photo below you can see both clamps holding the cassettes together. As there is no wiring on the removable cassette, using the clamps is one very simple method of powering the cassette.

For DCC users, once the cassette containing the loco has been turned around, remember to change the direction of travel otherwise you’ll end up driving the loco & it’s train straight off the fiddle yard cassette. In this case it would be worth fitting some kind of barrier to prevent driving the train off the cassette & taking a trip to the floor of disaster & many broken bits!! 

This form of cassette is quick & easy to build, so it’s worth making a few up so you can have a wider varity of trains to call up on for your operating session.


Happy modelling


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