As many of you have seen on my videos for a while I've been working on a number of modules for a while now trying to finish my home layout. At first, my plan was simple; 4 corners and two POFF's all with mountain line to make a home loop. However, the problem with this quickly became apparent, it's the same problem as at shows. With no way to cross between lines you're always picking up trains to get them in the right place. That won't do, so I started working on the crossover modules (which I'll be doing with FastTracks #12's), but that left me wondering how to arrange the home layout.
After months of thinking, I came up with this:
The modules with names (including "No Name", they have no scenery yet) are already in progress in some way. In particular two of the corners have no mountain yet, and I was thinking it would be nice to have some non-mountain modules so when I travel I could match what the local club has (mountain or no). I'd already thought of making the junctions have alt-blue, so I could hook up with that as well.
So, I designed two custom 5'x3' modules, which was the size required to keep minimum radius on all of the corners (FYI, the blue on these is 18" radius on the tight side, and 22.5" on the easy side) that turn mountain back. This solves the problem of not everyone in the club having mountain, part of a loop can have mountain.
By using standard modules between these blue can be split into dual mini-loops, or run as one large loop, which is cool. Might provide an easy way to split off a small loop for operations and the like.
Then, I thought, if I do a smaller crossover (#8's should work) and make the middle modules 4'x3' I could get up to green and stay under the 3% maximum grade. Note the thicker black line is the skyboard, so the up and arounds disappear into tunnels. This also allows them to be used as setup tracks, set your loco on the down side (to keep the cars from rolling away!) and you can set up trains on both up and arounds.
Lastly, I realized if I extend the yellow line out across the 5' corners I could have a way to mate with oNeTrak modules!
Operationally I think this pretty much assumes blue and green are DCC, and the yellow line in the middle is on an auto-reverser (crossing over reverses you on blue); and if there was oNeTrak it would be DCC as well.
I'm sharing this now, because it seems darn near perfect. There has to be something wrong with it. It gives me mountain line and non-mountain line to take to meet with people. It gives a way to get from blue up to mountain, something that has been missing from almost every green line layout I've seen. It provides a way to run green line not on the entire layout, something I'm not sure I've ever seen before. It provides two full sets of red/yellow/blue crossovers so there are plenty of ways to get trains from place to place. It gives you a way to reverse a train without taking it off the layout (work it over to blue, through the middle yellow, then back to where you want). It provides a way to hook oNeTrak into the layout. It provides a passing siding on blue (the alt-blue), and staging (using the blue to green up and overs from inside).
Seriously, what is missing? Ok, I can't hook up to BendTrak, or T-Trak, but frankly the oNeTrak was just a bonus idea. It seems totally complete, pretty compact, and, the largest bonus, it will fit in the space I have available!
One downside I see are somehwat large modules (2 4'x3' and two 5'x3'), but to get the functionality I see no way around that. I can do some lightweight construction on them. The other downside is 5' modules are totally non-standard, but they are paired so it's unlikely the 1' would make a difference. I do already own two sets of 1'/2'/3' bridge modules, so they could easily both be padded to 6' or 8' in a layout.
I'm thinking building this layout may be my slightly modified direction. Please comment!