So, I have a baby almost here, and lots of time overseas to plan a kid-friendly layout. 

I think high-rail is the best description - I want to run toy trains kind of prototypically, with switching and bridge traffic, waybill system, etc.

Project RR

Givens

Small kid friendly

      This could mean adjustable legs to grow with age.

      This does mean O gauge.

      This does mean a continuous run is req.

Modular / reconfigurable

      It should go from a family-gathering, kid friendly loop, to adult operations.

Homemade/Created Road name and logo

Viewing area to sit and watch trains at one location

      Seats are not required to be part of benchwork, but a tabletop is.

Short trains, 3-5 cars.

At least two operators in L shape.

Main run in loop config is not deadrail; the rest is.

 

Druthers

Large curves

Switching opportunities

Supports small crew

Covers a long distance / trains feel like they’re going somewhere

Connections with other, real RR / branch / interchange

Mainline running

High volume of traffic, lots of trains

Engine Servicing (Small, Diesel shops / fuel etc.)

Staging

Complex storage system (cassette, train lift, etc.)

Helper service (pretty much out)

 

 Attached are some sketches I'm working on - Red is backdrops.

When in the L, or operating shape, both ends serve as staging. 

All need revision, the straight staging most of all.

The long modules are planned at 3x8', the short ones are 3x6'.

 

Any track planning software that handles modules well?

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where modules join, you should avoid a curved track mating to the next module.  end the track at least 2-3 inches short of the module edge and use small 4-6" straight joining tracks to piece the modules together.  even easier to deal with when you keep all the mating track segments equal length.

For module construction techniques, suggest you have a look at the guidance available from the various modular groups. No need to reinvent the wheel. Track planning is up to your own imagination. Here are some links to get you started:

http://www.trainweb.org/ttat/ttat_module_spec.pdf

http://www.trainweb.org/Nation...ers/NCTStandards.htm

http://hirailers.org/PDF/Stand...raight%20Modules.pdf

http://hirailers.org/PDF/Stand...0Curve%20Modules.pdf 

http://hirailers.org/technical.htm#Module Building Techniques

Ted R

Hi Lucky 13, Concluding that you would want the layout to be kid-friendly, may I suggest that you place delicate and the more precious objects away from the edges of the layout, beyond where children can easily reach in or grab things. They will reach and want to touch objects because the appearance and action of the whole composition will be irresistible. Even some adults find model train layouts irresistible to touch while it is operating, and even before it starts moving.

Here are some examples, from my layout, of what I am suggesting you consider...

In this section, the trains themselves  are a barrier, being situated right up front, along the viewing-aisle, since the entire operation is about trains, but the delicate details, such as figures, etc. are located out-of-reach to most children...IMG_0508The viewing-aisle is on the right of these shotsIMG_1073photo 1_edited-1Here is a view of the same aisle and layout section, but as seen from the opposite direction, placing the viewing-aisle on the left of this photo. The bridges (by Stainless Unlimited) are tempting and sturdy, inviting hands to touch them, if desired.

Here is part of another area of my layout.... ww78You can see that the trains are along the outer edge , with the viewing-aisle out-of-frame on the right of this photo, with all the delicate structures and details situated well inside the "acreage," safe from exploring little hands.

FrankM

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there is a difference between a layout made to be modular (transportable) and a modular layout (compatibility with other modules).  i believe the OP is attempting to go for the 1st type, though an interesting idea would be to make at least a piece of it both intra- & inter-modular.

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