A HO scale micro model railroad layout, representing a car float served waterfront switching area in the urban area of New York city.

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.

Layout Description

The Pier 39 layout is a 1200mm x 300mm HO scale micro layout which has a 2 track transfer table, with each track able to hold a loco or one or two cars depending on the length of the cars. The track plan is shown below.

The track plan is based on the track plan of th same name on the late Carl Arendt’s small and micro model railroading website. I was able to add some extra trackage, such as the RIP / Loco track, and the COFC / TOFC track along the top.

Operating Sessions

For an operating session on this layout, the ‘aim of the game’ is to ‘swap’ inbound with outbound cars. Cars are hand staged in the yard tracks, and they have to be moved to the relevant industry track, while cars already in those tracks have to be moved to the yard tracks.

Because usually only one car can be switched at a time there is a need for the train crew to think ahead, and treat the movement of cars somewhat like a chess game or other game requiring strategy. Most cars moved on this layout are virtually interchanged with other layouts through the Virtual Interchange group I am a member of.


The Pier 39 Yard layout is representative of a small car float served switching area in the Brooklyn, NY area where cars arrive / depart by car float (implied rather than modelled) between the Pier 39 Yard and the Greenville Float Yard in New Jersey. The car float is implied rather than modelled. Some of the inspiration for this layout was taken from the New York Cross Harbour Railroad’s operations and locale, although the Pier 39 facility is located in an undefined area within Brooklyn, which once had railroad connections to other railroads but now the only access is by car float. The Pier 39 facility serves various nearby industries, has a port for marine shipping, and is a place where various types of activities take place such as :

  • International shipping transfer to / from rail.
  • General freight rail transfer to / from road transport.
  • Bulk and aggregate transfer rail to / from road transport and storage.
  • COFC / TOFC rail to / from road transport.
  • Stevedoring / customs services.
  • Forklift transfer between rail and nearby industries.

To view Blog posts related to this layout, go to the Pier 39 Micro category.