So I've had the layout up and operational for 1 1/2 years now. I know that I enjoy it tremendously, and it seems my operating crews really enjoy it.
Understand that when I designed and built this layout, I did so with the idea of running a dual era on it:
* 1964 using my KC&G theme.
* 1880s using my Ozark & Southern theme. (The KC&G acquired the O&S in the 1890s during its southward trek to New Orleans.)
Well, here's what I've learned in the 1 1/2 years my layout has been up and going:
* I am thoroughly enjoying the experience of having an operating layout again after nearly two decades of absence.
* I am loving (more than ever) my KC&G theme. (It's now proven itself since its creation back in the mid-late 1990s.)
* The dual era concept is in severe trouble.
My initial "dual era" thought was to incorporate some key replaceable structures (depots, add/remove water tanks/etc) to convey the passage of time. However, a dual era would also require keeping all permanent scenic support "generic" so as to have zero anachronisms to detract from either era. This would mean nothing "out of period" on the layout scenery (such as a paved road, which wouldn't have existed in the 1880s) as well as keeping any structures on the actual backdrop generic, along with many other little detail no-no's that I began to grasp. Once my initial enthusiasm for the idea I designed on the master track plan subsided, and I started having to think-through the elements needed to support a dual era, the idea got much more complicated than I expected.
Further, it has been a lot of work and a ton of money to acquire the needed (and some I want) engines for the KC&G as well as to equip them with DCC/Sound. I shudder to think of the $$ that would be consumed starting almost from scratch to equip the 1880s era!! As it is, I'm having so much fun, as well as willingly sinking my modeling energy, time, and hobby funds into my KC&G, that I really haven't done a thing with my 1880s idea. (Aside from the meager pre-layout collection of 1880s stuff.)
I am officially retiring the "dual era" concept.
My out-building layout is going to be the KC&G's Ozark Sub set in 1964. When the time comes for scenic elements, I can now add the scenic features that will support and enhance my 1964 era, instead of being restricted to doing a lousy job of trying to portray either era. (See the above "generic" scenery restrictions.)
Because of this decision, I can now undo what I feel is the worst feature of my layout design. Originally, my layout had that feature as way of turning a steam locomotive without a turntable. That feature is: The return loops in the upper left corner of the published track plan in this thread.
I've grown to dislike the "reverse loops" area shortly after the completion of my layout. It serves zero purpose in my KC&G 1964 era, and is only a "concession" to hosting a dual era. It creates extreme headaches in regards to any type of plausible scenery that allows minimum access at that location. Further, seeing as I haven't run a single 1880s era session, or even substantially ran the equipment, then the ability to turn a steam engine using either reversing loop is moot. It's nothing but a consumer of floor space as well as complicating and restricting the scenic potential of the layout unnecessarily.
So, I'm in the process of making sure I have the needed track, switches, and what have you, in order to pull the reversing loops entirely and reconfigure that corner. I'm liking what I'm seeing on paper with the "new" trackplan for that corner, and I like what it does for the ergonomics of operating. Lastly, I like what it's going to do for the visuals of the layout in regards to my KC&G's theme.
There you have it: Only 1 1/2 years into this layout, and yet a major revision lurks ahead.
In subsequent posts, I'll try to post a pic of the trackplan to illustrate the changes I will be making, and perhaps a photo or two of what I've already done to that corner. (I've already pulled the reverse loop switch and straight-railed that section, and already pulled some of the track off the loop itself.)
I'm liking what I'm seeing and can't wait to make this change happen at some point in the coming weeks/months.
All fer now.