My Layouts - Time Saver
Time Saver

My Timesaver
Saving time in 1998

My Time Saver - 1998

Many years ago John Allen devised the simple switching game he called the Time Saver. Using 5 turnouts the make 5 spurs and 1 run-around, 5 freight cars, 1 loco it is easy to build. The idea is to shift the rolling stock from their original locations to where they need to be. Sounds easy doesn't it? Wrong!

Don't be fooled, with out careful planning you'll continually be in your own way. Oh yes, I forgot to mention the stop watch. Speed counts! It's a bit like bridge where each participant tries the same puzzle. The winner is the fastest switcher. Many are the participants that have resorted to the vocabulary they learned in the armed forces.

I built mine using turnouts I had on hand so it's not an exact copy but the car capacities of each spur and the run-around are correct. Here's how I put my turnouts together.

For more information about John Allen and his model railroads I recommend Lynn Westcott's book Model Railroading with John Allen.

Related links:
The timesaver outdoors.
The BCSJ I page.
The BCSJ II page.
The BCSJ III page.

Playing the Game
  • Determine the starting and target position of cars and loco
  • With a fixed speed throttle move the cars from their starting position to their ending positionThe loco operates at a fixed speed fwd or reverse so you can't hurry by driving faster.
  • Each person is scored by how long it takes them to respot the cars. The cars and loco are reset to their original starting position for each "contestant".
  • Fastest time wins
Sounds easy right? No way, it can be insanely frustrating...

The Timesaver Becomes Jallen

A timesaver is normally operated as an independent layout. But I figured whey not connect it to my main layout as a branchline. So along with with the U-turn module containing the tiny town of East Jallen and the Bear Creek Salvage Co. it became the Jallen branchline. Read about it in the South Jackson Gazette.

However there are some things to consider when using a timesaver as a LDE (layout design element) on a larger layout:
  • A timesaver straddling a busy mainline is trouble. The short (3 cars) passing track will lead to the mainline being tied up blocking other trains.
  • The end of a branchline makes a reasonable place to add a timesaver.
  • Severely restrict the number of cars heading into a timesaver at the end of a branchline. Having more than seven cars total (including a caboose) is a recipe for problems (as Joe Fugate found out when he drew the Jallen Turn and ended up at Jallen (the timesaver) with 9 cars! It just wasn't possible to make the pickups, do the setouts and turn the train to leave town. Finally an extra car was temporarily spotted at Bear Salvage in East Jallen and only then could the switching be accomplished! Yikes, time for a new special instruction. Sorry about that Joe.

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