So, what is an Inglenook Puzzle?

An Inglenook Puzzle is a shunting layout that while simple can give hours of shunting entertainment. The unaltered version is a single track that splits into three sidings, two sidings are long enough for three trucks or wagons and the other siding is long enough for five trucks or wagons. The layout operator has eight trucks or wagons set up in the sidings, five in the long siding and three in one of the short sidings with the final short siding being left empty. The operator then chooses a random selection of five trucks or wagons and shunts the rolling stock into that order thereby making a train ready for the main line.

There are many variations on the shape of the sidings to the criteria for shunting stock. My own layout has been modified to allow for a double track engine shed and while this does not add any challenge to the shunting it gives me a place to store and show off extra engines. Variations on the rules of shunting can include adding a brakes van that must always go at the end of the train or putting a goods shed on the line that the engine must not pass through.

As I enjoy seeing trains of all types running I have only loosely decided to run engines from the British Railways transition period and I haven’t set a specific region so as not to tie myself to any particular rolling stock. While I’ll aim to run mostly British Railways steam engines I have a collection of trains from all regions and eras so you might see some unusual running combinations towards the end of the build.


A blog about 00 and N model railways. Some posts will focus on my attempt to build a small space railway and others will focus on reviews and other things of interest. Updated every two weeks.

Getting Started

A small bit of space opened up in my house recently and I jumped at the chance to fill it with a railway. The new layout would have to be long and thin so a circular layout was out of the question and I wanted it to be portable so I could use it outside in the warm weather.

I model in both 00 and N gauge and for this layout I opted for 00 as I have a larger collection of trains in this scale. I decided to run on analogue control rather than digital as most of my trains either pre-date digital or don’t have the space for a decoder. For the track plan I went with a simple shunting arrangement known as an Inglenook Puzzle with a slight modification to fit a double road engine shed. The finished plan is roughly six feet long by just over one foot wide.

For the baseboard I spied a wallpaper decorating table at my local home store. It has a plywood frame, folds in half and has legs the fold into the frame. Unfortunately the surface of the table is made of a thin sheet of hardboard, I would not recommend it for a baseboard as it is serious headache trying to nail trackpins into it. I’m not close enough to any DIY stores or timber merchants to source a different type of wood so I’ve had to make do and mend. The table was twice the width I needed and after a handy bit of sawing and drilling I was able to cut it down to size and I finished it off by covering the top with a thin layer of cork.

One the cork was down I laid out the track to see how it will fit on the table. After a bit of manoeuvring I was able to line up the track so the joins were over the gap in the table where it folds in half. This done I marked out where the points were going to go and then took up the track so I could paint the areas under the points with grey paint. The reason for this that I’m going to try my hand at ballasting the track after it has been laid, a first for me, and the grey paint should cover up where there cannot be ballast due to the operation of the points.

When I was happy with this I nailed down the main trunk of the track and added some bridging wires where the table folded in half. As a next step I’ll be looking to add some point motors and then possibly move on to ballasting the line.