I've been away from 3R for a while, but my son talked me into building a new 3R layout. I've been trying to design a good plan that uses our space well and accomplishes our goals. I think I finally have a plan that will work.
I started by taking John Armstrong's "Nasmyth and Lake Michigan R.R." plan, which I've always thought was the most creative and functional use of space track plan that I've ever seen. Just 4x8 in HO or 8x16 in O scale, it is amazing how much is packed in there. I lengthened it by 2.5ft. and removed the branch line, opting for an open view from the middle portal as my son loves sitting in the middle. The main part of the layout offers continuous run, out and back, a station, coach yard, and small engine facility. There is a hidden helix that I'm sure will be a challenge to build, but it will be worth it. I added my own branch line built in modular, removable sections. The branch includes 2 interchanges, 2 run-around sidings, a 2 track staging yard in the adjacent utility room, and 9 industries.
I drew the plan in AnyRail. It uses Ross turnouts and track with some Gargraves flex. This isn't my favorite track system, but the variety of turnouts and sectional curves was compelling. I may go back and see if I can draw the same plan with Scaletrax or Atlas O, but the design will stay the same.
In addition to giving my son his continuous running, I think this layout will also allow me to run operating sessions which is something I've wanted to do for a while now.
This should be an interesting journey, wish me luck.