I have always loved the postwar dealer display style layouts. A few years ago, my son and I started building our layout table, laying track, connecting power, etc. The concept of the design was borrowed from a youtube video called the Grandpa Russ Layout. The automated relay control of this layout is really cool, but I prefer a more hands-on approach to keep the kids engaged and having fun. A while back, I received some help from DoubleDaz to help visualize a few tweaks to the track configuration. Since then, I have tweaked the design in SCARM a little myself. I haven't had the time to really be able to figure out how to add the terrain exactly how I envision, but hey that's what my two hands are for! Thanks to this forum, I have been able to maintain and breathe some life back into some worn down old trains. This has been quite fun and only possible because of people who have responded directly to questions of mine, or had the discussion years ago left the answer in an old thread somewhere.
The goals of the layout project:
Goal 1: Have fun with the kids and pass on the enjoyment that I experienced when I was growing up. I want to teach them about building something tangible, working with electricity, learning the simple mechanics that make things move, and provide a fun toy (or hobby if they choose) that will be here as long as they are able plug a transformer into the wall.
Goal 2: Interesting track plan - I wanted to keep the kids interested. While the track plan is not exactly prototypical, I enjoy the spaghetti bowl of track. We also wanted multiple tunnels, a hill to navigate, lots of switches, etc. I also wanted to have two independent loops, one on the lower level and one on the upper level to just let a couple trains run by themselves if we wanted. The upper and lower ovals have reversing loops and between the upper and lower loops is a passing siding. Theoretically, there could be 3 trains in motion at a time. I also wanted to give the trains places to go - so in this case we have the upper mountain loop and the lower more industrialized lower level.
Goal 3: Interactive accessories - I wanted the kids to be able to walk up to the side of the table and push a button to make the accessories operate. Down the road, if they want to do more operational play, they will need to work together to accomplish each task.
Goal 4: I wanted the industries to make a little bit of sense and give the layout a sense of needing to move materials from one location to the next. This goal hasn't exactly been realized, but this will make for more fun if it is plausible and purposeful - as far as toy trains go anyway
Goal 5: Keep the costs reasonable. I have been buying bits and pieces of what you see over time. I only purchase when I see a good price. For the most part, we are running small locomotives that are tough and can hold up to the occasional dive off the upper level or head on collision. I have a few nicer postwar engines we can run in a more respectful manner which are not subjected to "enthusiastic play." I bought a couple large lots of track from ebay a few years ago for well under a $1 per piece. I also bought a bunch of 022 switches, most of which needed some re soldering and lubrication, but are good to go now. Most of these switches were purchased between $10 and $15 each. The accessories are all "runners" and were picked up at reasonable prices as well. It all adds up, but for the most part the layout was done very frugally.
Not long after we had the layout at about 90% operational, the opportunity presented itself to move to a new home early this year. The layout has been on the back burner (it always is, actually) while we became situated in our new space. We have a lot of extra curricular activities going on throughout the week. At this time of year, practices start to wind down a bit, and sometimes the weather forces you to stay inside. Also, in preparation for Christmas I am hoping to get the train table up and running again. There is just something so magical about having the trains running for Christmas.
Here is the track plan - - - and a possible addition. I haven't been able to get the current table up and running, and I'm already thinking of the addition - haha! I wanted a place to run our 726RR away from the sharp turns and steep grades of the current table. I played around with curve easements as well to hopefully limit chances for derailments. The main table is 5.5' by 8' while the possible addition is 4 by 8 feet.
I ran out of track pieces in the free version of SCARM, so here is the addition with a little more detail. I wanted to add a trolley line. Inside this oval would be more of a small town and residential area while the original table would serve as the industrial area.
Here is a picture of the table before the move. Currently, the table only has the track remaining as all of the trains and accessories are still packed in their boxes. I will try to post pictures as we reset the table and make improvements along the way. We have also added a few more accessories that we will need to find a space for on the table.
With the push buttons added:
I hope to add some more pictures of the current state and progress soon!