With some trepidation I start a thread showing the progress on my layout. Trepidation because starting a thread means some level of accountability - but almost everywhere on this forum there are great encouragers and helpful tips so I don't want to miss out. Also, there are some things I do that might help others. I just don't want to realize halfway through that there was something big I wished I had/had not done. But life without risk gets you no train layout!
The Hannibal-St Joseph Railroad was a real railroad, started in part by Mark Twain's dad (Samuel Clemens' dad) in 1851. It was folded into the CB&Q, then Burlington-Northern and now BNSF. I grew up north of Hannibal, in Canton, and we made the trek frequently across the state of Missouri along 36 Highway to my grandparents north of Kansas City. Hwy 36 connects Hannibal and St Joseph, and roughly parallels the original Hannibal-St Joseph track. As an adult we lived in St Joseph for a couple of years, so my attachment to Hannibal-St Joseph is lifelong.
My model diverts from history, and actually connects Keokuk, Iowa to St. Joseph, Missouri, by traveling south along the Mississippi River to Canton, then down to join the Hannibal-St Joseph trackage across the state. So I will probably refer to my model as the Keokuk-St Joseph Railroad. There was a Keokuk & Western Railroad in the early 1900's, and it did cross the Des Moines River heading south, but then turned west back into Iowa vs. further south to Canton. Since I grew up in Canton, modeling Canton was a requirement and I know more about Keokuk industry than Hannibal anyway.
The layout design is basically an along-the-wall and peninsula single track, short line type of railroad. Minimum curve is 34". I have some 34" Marx switches, and most people say not to go beyond 36" depth without access hatches so 34" loops are where I ended up. I wanted low profile track, so 31" O Scale was out, and my experience with 27" switches and track is they are just a little too tight. Plus I am now a proud owner of a Lionel GP38 and its minimum turning diameter is 31".
So the layout is basically a loop-to-loop, 2-level layout (48" and 30") with a town at mid height (Marceline at 40"), and an industrial yard spur at one end. Going from one end to the other is about 270 feet of track, in an L-shaped area about 23' x 18'. Keokuk will start at 48", and on the 48" level the towns will progress from Keokuk south along the Mississippi and across the Des Moines river to Canton, then southwest to Monroe City, then continue west to Shelbina, and Macon. From Macon, the transition begins to the lower level.
Note that 18" is a long way to go at 2.5% or less! So midway down, we turn through Marceline (Walt Disney's home town) - and Marceline will be at 40", and in a stub wall-separated area of its own. After Marceline we continue down to the 30" level, where we pass through Brookfield, Chillicothe, Hamilton, and then arrive at St Joseph. Also, from St Joseph we can drop down through the stub wall underneath Marceline to the St Joseph Industrial Park, which is at 25" height.
The majority of the incline/decline is along the long part of the "L", 23 foot wall, and about a 12" shelf. The 12" shelf area will have track at 48", declining track from 48", inclining track from 30", and 30" track. So a long stretch of scenery along the wall is about all that will fit - which is nice between towns, and represents what you see along Hwy 36, which is primarily 200 miles of farms.
Note that I am using primarily scrap lumber, estate sale track and buildings, and I will have tubular track in the Industrial Park, FasTrack in Marceline, and the rest will be Gargraves. I will have Marx switches, Lionel and K-Line tubular 42" switches, Fastrack switches, and Ross switches with Tortoise motors. Eventually I will have a simple PLC to control some block signals, and hopefully run a fast clock with lighting. Maybe the layout should be called "The Estate Sale and Scrap Lumber RR"!
I have started construction at Marceline to use up my menagerie of scrap lumber and switches in the least visible area, which limits initial outlay of cash, and because the track through the wall and around the sump pump is the most difficult to figure out. Also I am allowed my fun as long as I include a Disney play area - which means Marceline needs to be in place soon! Marceline will feature "Disney Home at Marceline", a Disney amusement park located in Marceline in my imagination, complete with Disney castle playset and monorail. (Marceline does have the Disney Hometown Museum in real life!)
Hope you enjoy the development, and here goes!