Timesaver Switching Puzzle

This page is about the classic switching puzzle invented by John Allen, the famous model railroad pioneer.

The trackplan is simple, but has been enjoyed by many people since it's introduction by John in 1972. The lengths of track and arrangement of switches have been designed to make you have to think about how you move the cars.

We are presenting the most authentic design and rules as were put forwards by John himself, honoring John, and also as a correct representation for assisting Boy Scouts in achieving a merit badge in railroading.


Again, the numbers show the capacities of cars on that section of track.


Here is an excellent article explaining the history: http://www.wymann.info/ShuntingPuzzles/sw-timesaver.html


Here's a link to the original rules for the puzzle: http://www.wymann.info/ShuntingPuzzles/Timesaver/timesaver-rules.html



We normally put together a large version of this design for the annual boy Scout meeting in San Diego. Boy Scouts can get a merit badge for executing the puzzle. For this event, our representation uses all LGB track, and R3 switches. We use 5 "G scale" 1:29 freight cars, and one loco, all of these are approximately equal length.

 Also under development is a minimal portable design. We found a lightweight folding table, 2 foot by 8 foot, and use the track plan below:


This implementation uses:

2 pieces LGB 12150 left hand switch

1 piece LGB 12050 right hand switch

1 piece LGB 11000 curved track

12 pieces LGB 10000 straight track


The grid is 1 foot squares, so you can see that this layout is about 1-1/2 foot by 8 foot.

A small power supply will be installed with reduced voltage for slow speed, and a left-off-right toggle switch for speed and direction to make it simple

Kadees will be mounted for automatic remote uncoupling with magnets placed at appropriate locations

Still to be worked out is grouping the track into larger pieces for easy assembly and transport




In the pictures below, the locomotive is the orange box starting in the "middle".

The goal is to put the cars in the starting order below, and then use the least moves and time to get to the "ending" locations"


Starting locations:


Ending locations: