Micro HO scale switching layout in a bookshelf, based on the Boxer Shortline plan on the late Carl Arendt’s small and micro model railroad website

Micro Layouts for Ease of Moving

This HO scale micro layout was one of 3 proposed to be built to replace the Dolton / Illinook / Blue Island / Barr layout. With the possibility of an impending move some time 2020, I decided that it would be best to minimise the layout moving stress and dismantle the previous modules in favour of some smaller and easier to move modules.

The Box Street micro is a 1200mm x 300mm switching layout based on the Boxer Shortline that can be found on the late Carl Arendt’s small and micro layouts website. But I did add some extra trackage, and industry switching possibilities due to the extra width of the layout compared with that in the original Boxer Shortline plan. Below is the track plan I decided on.

Layout Description

The sector plate can hold 1 short switcher and a 40 foot car, or a longer loco and no car. There is a run around track for getting to the other side of car to switch some of the tracks, a 2 track ‘yard’ where trains ‘arrive’ from, 2 team tracks, a flour and grain industry spur, and a food manufacturer. This layout progressed quite quickly to an operating state, and when I finally decided to do the scenery, the scenery was fairly quickly added as well. This layout, along with the Pier 39 micro layout, was added to a custom built bookshelf so that the two 1200mm x 300mm layouts only take up a little more than 1200mm x 300mm in floor space as they are housed in the bookshelf one on top of the other.

Jaxxs Snaxx snack food manufacturer
Looking ‘east’ towards interchange yard and team tracks.
Team tracks and derelict building.

The layout has 1 double slip, a single slip, and 3 turnouts and can handle about 6 cars an operating session, with some cars already in industry spurs and some in the interchange tracks. It is built to be operated as part of the Virtual Interchange operations group I am a member of, which tends to have 1 or 2 cars per waybill and most spurs can hold about 2 cars each..

How It Is Operated

The start of an operating sessions sees some cars in industry tracks awaiting moving, and a loco and some cars (placed there by hand) in the interchange tracks. The loco crew has to work out how to best perform tha moves in the minimum time and with the minimum amount of moves, This usually means that an operating session is akin to playing chess, each move having to be thought out in advance.

When I originally envisioned operations on this layout I thought that I could have up to 50 scale feet cars without any problems. After operating this layout for a while, and experiencing some ‘unsolvable’ switching requirements when using a few 50 foot cars, I now rarely use cars longer than 40 scale feet long.


The layout represents a small switching area near the B&OCT Barr yard in Riverdale, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. It’s motive power is either a B&O S4, or a CM / MPAC switcher from CM / MPAC Blue Island. CM = Colorado Midland, and MPAC = Midland Pacific, 2 model railroads operated by another member of the Virtual Interchanging group I am a member of.

To view Blog posts related to this layout, go to the Box Street Micro category.