Andy Glascott, on 13 March 2011 - 05:51 PM, said:
Kids generally don't have a lot of it for layouts, and a lot of AFOLs, myself included are also limited for space, so they do have their uses. Half length straights could also be useful for similar reasons, but I have my doubts about that.
After reading this, it made me curious about what I could use half-length straits for. I mocked up a quick test in BlueBrick of a simple yard. Currently, you have to put a full straight between switches so that the handles aren't overlapped by the curve on the last switch. With half straights, you could get the switches closer together, and add more track to the spurs.
Quarter lengths would bring them even closer, though there's not as much of a gain (at least in this scenario).
For my mock-up, I assumed a train car to be about two track lengths long. Using the smaller lengths, the capacity of a yard could be increased by up to 40%.
Top image, full straights. Middle is with half straights between switches and at the ends of spurs. Bottom is with quarters between switches, and half and quarters at the ends of spurs.