The original "Timesaver" track layout as conceived by John Allen requires 5 switches (the original layout used "Y" switches) to build up a layout with 5 sidings and a runaround track, providing access to 5 destinations (e.g. industries) receiving and sending goods by rail. 

The twin copy of the original Timesaver (on display at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum)

Most importantly, each section of the track plan has a specific length which is measured in terms of the number of rolling stock it can hold.
This in cludes both the freight cars and the locomotive used, meaning that a siding with a capacity of 2 should be able to hold either two freight cars or one freight car plus locomotive (the original Timesaver was conceived to work with five 40ft freight cars and 1 short switcher).

Restricting the length of the tracks is a key element of the switching game, because it limits the number of freight cars you can temporarily leave on a siding while getting another car to its actual destination. In order to end up with a working Timesaver layout, the lengths of the individual sidings as given above must be strictly observed.

With the track layout and storage capacities indicated above, it is easy to determine the length of a Timesaver layout in any modelling scale - you just measure the longest item to be used on the layout and multiply this with the storage capacity index of the individual sidings (e.g. if you use 50ft boxcars instead of 40ft boxcars, the tracks need to be lengthened accordingly).

A short British Cl 08 switcher and an even shorter wheelbase freight car (VEA) cut down considerably on the required length of the sidings of a Timesaver

  By defining the lengths of the sidings in terms of the exact number of rolling stock they can hold, the scheme can therefore easily be adapted for any scale and, in fact, any prototype.

Special care needs to be taken with regard to the runaround track, making sure that the clearances work on all sides. So before starting to build a Timesaver layout, you will obviously need to know the projected size of the layout.

Once this question is settled and the length of the individual pieces of rolling stock is know, figuring out the length and width of a Timesaver layout is easily done.
The longest track and as such the defining element for the minimal total length of the layout is the line running through from C to D in the illustration here. The overall length of a Timesaver layout is thus the total of 6 times the length of the longest piece of rolling stock used (bear in mind that this could be your locomotive) plus the length of two points (the third, turning off to E, forms part of the middle track section holding 2 pieces of rolling stock).

An important part of getting the lengths of the tracks right is checking for clearances, taking into account that certain lengths of track around points are "collision areas".

The positioning of uncoupling devices is also very crucial for a succesful shunting puzzle layout. There should at least be enough of them to allow for all the necessary uncoupling moves. Some may want to reduce the number of uncoupling devices to a bare minimum and will accept having to sometimes make lengthy and not very protoytpcial shunting moves such as pulling the entire string of rolling stock from its siding in order to get at one single freight car, while others may want to spread a larger than needed number of uncoupling devices around the tracks.

A Timesaver layout requires four uncoupling devices located in specific positions -
it won't work with less, and it doesn't need more if couplings are used which allow for delayed uncoupling

Using a permanent uncoupling device - such as a magnet for "magnematic" couplers - requires some additional special attention.
The track lengths need to be adjusted so that the required number of cars can be left on a a siding whilst standing clear of the uncoupler. Otherwise it will be impossible to pull the cars out of the siding again as the magnet will have the coupler locked permanently in the "uncouple" position and will not allow any recoupling to be made.

This is of no concern if uncoupling devices are used which can be "switched off" mechanically or electronically.



Page created:18/OCT/2002
Last revised: 09/JAN/2024