After a 8 year hiatus from the hobby which entailed dismantling the old layout that was started and due to life circumstances the selling off of 98% of my collection (I restarted collecting in 2020 with only 4 locos from my former fleet of +300 and 2 railcars from several hundred....oh well, starting fresh is nice too). I started piecing an idea together in May 2020 and started purchasing some locos & rolling stock as my wife and I began the house hunt process for our new home in Georgia and before the cross country move from San Diego. I decided that I would split my approach on the hobby starting with a smaller HO switching layout above my desks in a spare bedroom / office. Then, a few years down the road (at least 10 years) would tackle a larger layout in the basement while still keeping the office layout. When I was living in Minnesota (where I am from) I wanted to model or incorporate the Twin Cities & Western Class III short line. It is a fascinating little railroad that operates on what was the former mainline of the Pacific expansion of the Milwaukee Road and later the Soo Line until the Soo Line sold the line and the TCW started in 1991. I have always modeled either the BN or BNSF Class 1 railroads inspired by the Twin Cities Area. Now that I am a homeowner and rooted in Georgia (about 30 miles west of Atlanta) another railroad that has always caught my eye calls this area home and is moving it's headquarters here in Atlanta, the Norfolk Southern. I decided I wanted the future basement larger layout to be prototypical freelanced on the Norfolk Southern with run throughs of Union Pacific, BNSF, KCS, and of course local traffic as well from CSX. The basement Norfolk Southern Layout as stated is at least 10 years out and will probably be "THE" layout into retirement (still over 20 years away). In the meantime, I have deeded the basement to my son who is now 3 and also has an interest in well whatever dad is interested and is also addicted to trains, cars, motorcycles, and anything that moves, fly's, or roars lol. I am setting a simple layout setup for HO (DC analog with DCC option) 2 track loop setup with room for his slot cars and large scale battery operated train and future redevelopment. I figure in about 12 years I will either revoke the deed or we can work on a layout together.....I am working on brain washing .....um, encouraging him in the hobby lol. So, in the meantime, I am focusing on the thousands of other things that comes with purchasing a home and 2 months post cross country move and of course competition with my other hobby of motorcycle camping trips (postponed until at least 2022 right now) and planning out the office layout. The office layout plan is freelanced by inspired by the Twin Cities & Western and will include loose representations of Glencoe, Buffalo Lake, Hector, Ruebel and Granite Falls areas of Southern Minnesota. Layout is set in 1993 with some modeling license applied for some rolling stock, locos, and automobiles but for the most part will focus on 1993. Railroads operating on the layout include: 1. Twin Cities & Western 2. Soo Line 3. Burlington Northern 4. Chicago Northwestern The modeling license applies with operations stolen from 2007 to present where BNSF runs coal trains, Union Pacific runs DDG & grain extras, CP runs ethanol trains. In my version of 1993, BN is running a coal train to Ruebel, Soo Line runs ethanol and grain extras, and CNW runs DDG trains and Grain Extras. BN and SOO also run transfer jobs to Glencoe as demand warrants due to TCW power shortages (which is somewhat real history but interchanges were limited to Hopkins, MN in the Metro area). rough plan of operations: Twin Cities & Western 1. Glencoe Turn - Runs from Glencoe to Ruebel working Buffalo Lake & sets out / picks up at Ruebel. Hector is worked on the return trip as a trailing point move. 2. Ruebel Turn - Runs from Montevideo (Staging) to Ruebel working Granite Falls & Ruebel and returns to Montevideo (Staging) 3. Hopkins Turn (Twin Cities Staging) - Runs from Glencoe to Twin Cities to interchange with Soo Line, UP in Saint Paul. 4. Aggregate train from Montevideo to Twin Cities (Run Through From staging back to staging) 5. North Star Intermodal Train from Montevideo to Twin Cities (Run Through From staging back to staging) Burlington Northern 1. Coal Unit Train Extra from Twin Cities (Staging) to Ruebel to set out loaded train. Power will return to Twin Cities light or with available empties and transfers for BN in Twin Cities. 2. BN Transfers as needed from Twin Cities to Glencoe and back to Twin Cities. 3. BN Grain Extras as needed from Twin Cities to Glencoe and / or Granite Falls Soo Line 1. Ethanol Unit Train Extra from Saint Paul (Staging) setting empties in Glencoe & Granite Falls. Power returns to Saint Paul light. TCW assembles loaded ethanol cars and soo line will send light power when ready to finish assembling the train towards Saint Paul (and eventually interchange with CSX in Chicago for Rhode Island). 2. SOO Grain / DDG Extras as needed from Twin Cities to Glencoe and / or Granite Falls 2. SOO Transfers as needed from Twin Cities to Glencoe and back to Twin Cities. Chicago North Western 1. DDG Extra from Twin Cities as needed. Power returns light. Loaded cars are hauled by TCW to Twin Cities. 2. Grain Extra from Twin Cities as needed. Power returns light. Loaded cars are hauled by TCW to Twin Cities. 3. CNW powered eastbound trains are possible if no TCW locos are available. Though these would most likely be hauled by BN or Soo Line in such cases. Industry: Glencoe 1. TCW Yard and HQ (much larger than in real life but oh well) 2. Seneca Foods (Provider of canned vegetables for refer boxcars) Buffalo Lake 1. Large Grain Elevator (ADM on layout) - Covered Hoppers 2. LPG Gas Dealer - LPG Tank Car 3. Feed & Mill retailer - Misc. products - Boxcar & Flats Hector 1. Small Grain Elevator - Covered Hoppers 2. Farm Supply Dealer - Misc. Machinery via flat cars & boxcars Ruebel 1. Southern Minnesota Sugar Beet Plant (Coal, Sugar, Limestone) Boxcars, Covered Hoppers, aggerate and slurry cars, Syrup Cars. Granite Falls 1. Granite Falls Energy (Ethanol Plant) - Covered Hoppers (Grain & DDG), Ethanol Tank Cars. Montevideo (Staging) (Trains essentially are run through on layout from staging back to staging) 1, Aggregate train originates in Montevideo delivers rock from L.G. Everest Inc Quarry in Ortonville, MN to Twin Cities Staging. 2. North Star Intermodal in Montevideo (Staging) hauls cattle feed, grain, and DDG in containers on flatcars to Twin Cities staging. 3. The grain shuttle originates in Twin Cities staging and also uses containers on flatcars to Montevideo and west. Operations Note: Not all trains will operate on every op session, the layout is not big enough for all of that. The TCW turns are the only pretty consistent scheduled runs. Everything else from the Class One's are extras as needed (will work that out later maybe with ShipIt). So, that is a whole lot of reading.....I apologize. I go quiet for years and it just flows out lol. There are still many competing priorities between our home, our son, and our other hobbies and interests not to mention required minor remolding of the office and figuring out the desk / benchwork solution. I am hoping to have trains rolling in 2023 at the latest, sooner would be better but competing time and $$ may prohibit that lol. Staging will be under the layout on a shelf planning on 8" beneath the actual layout and mostly only about 10" wide. For my planned operations, this is enough. The slightly less than 4% grade ramp to staging needs to be tested in a mock up though. Here is the LAYOUT! Primary Level, Staging Level, and desk area beneath layout.