For a couple of months now, I've mentioned that shortly after October 2013 York, my toy train interests took an unexpected -- but thus far very enjoyable -- fork in the road. And if I can borrow Robert Frost's poem, I'm choosing the "road less traveled"... and have embarked upon building a hi-rail style layout that combines both Standard Gauge and O-Gauge trains. The goal here is to really just sit back and enjoy the trains running in as realistic an environment as possible, yet maintain the whimsy typically associated with tinplate trains and select accessories. The space available in a portion of our finished basement is roughly 15' deep by 36' long, with the island layout measuring approximately 11' x 32' -- give or take a few inches in either dimension. Here's the current layout plan designed in RR-Track:
The current plan sports 3 Standard Gauge loops, and just yesterday I enhanced the O-Gauge portion of the layout to include two loops. Here's the key to deciphering the plan's track loops...
Dark Blue: Single lower-level Standard Gauge loop.
Magenta: Two mid-level Standard Gauge loops.
Green: Two upper-level O-Gauge loops.
Minimum spec curves for the Standard Gauge loops is O-72, with most curves much broader including O-120/128/89 on the lowest level, and O-113/106/89 on the two mid-level loops. Gargraves Standard Gauge phantom-center-rail on top of Flexxbed roadbed is planned. Minimum spec curves for the O-Gauge loops is O-72 on the outer loop and O-54 loop in the inner loop. Atlas-O track with painted Rossbed roadbed is planned.
During the Christmas holiday season, I expect the O-Gauge loops will mostly be running the scale Polar Express on the outer loop, with a Christmas freight train consisting of scale Polar RR and/or North Pole Central cars on the inner loop.
As for the Standard Gauge trains, I DEFINITELY don't plan to "over-purchase" like I had been guilty of doing in prior years for O-Gauge. This time around, I think I'll limit Standard Gauge purchases to a few select passenger trains to be run on the mid-level loops, along with an American Flyer freight train running on the lowest level loop. Perhaps a Lionel Lines freight train consisting of coal cars might also make an appearance on that lower level loop as well.
Most of the fun here will be building the layout -- not necessary "acquiring" rolling stock inventory, if you know what I mean. Key tinplate accessories already include the #840 Power Station, #134 City Station, #128 Station with terrace, and two 440 Signal Bridges. The O-Gauge section of the layout will also host the Lionel aluminum Rico Station, Lionel MG switch tower, and a large Department 56 Christmas-in-the-City Village -- all hoping to add a bit of "forced visual perspective" in the center of the layout. The Standard Gauge section also has plans for what should be THREE eye-catching scenic jewels, including a 94" TW Trainworx "steel arch" bridge, a triple-span Lionel Hellgate bridge, and a completely scratch-built stone/concrete viaduct (see above plan). All three of these venues will have scenery that drops well below track-level. Additionally, a few arch bridges purchased years ago from the former Bridge Solutions company will add some great visual interest amidst some mountain scenery in the O-Gauge section of the layout as well. The perimeter of the layout's base will largely consist of finished cabinetry for storage and good looks too.
It's gonna be an ambitious undertaking for sure (hey, it's the first time I'm building a layout with combined Gauges)... but it should be a fun ride!!! Stay tuned...