My initial thoughts for this model were to build something large enough to be interesting but small enough to fit the limited space (and budget) in our home without major disruption; and have a fully functioning railway using the latest technology, but primarily as a background to my real passions of architectural and scenic modelling.
I always knew this model would be 00-scale, as that was where my entire modelling experience lay. Anything else would be either too large and therefore expensive, or too small for my ageing eyesight.
I have started many model railways before, so I was determined this one would be completed! That meant carefully considering all the limitations and compromises it would need.
Space is limited. The only ‘room’ available is the garage, which already houses my wife’s car and sundry household storage requirements. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that if I limit the size to 1.8m x 1.2m (old fashioned 6ft x 4ft) I could accommodate it without disturbing anything else. I also needed to accept that although such a small layout would require many compromises from the rail operation aspects, it could at least be affordable. If in addition I can devise a way of making the layout moveable, such as with wheels on the legs, I can move it to the centre of the garage floor for use with the car removed, and push it back to one side with the car returned.
So having decided on the overall size I can start thinking about the track plan and general scenic layout. Here the key criteria are set by the baseboard size, my need for maximum scenic space (rather than lots of complex track), but still having a loop-style track plan for continuous running with at least some storage sidings. The next step is to scour the internet for track plan ideas that I can adapt to those needs.
There is certainly no shortage of those on the ‘web! I eventually found FreeTrackPlans.com. They had the plan shown here, called “Oval track with return loop”. With only minor adjustments, this could be be ideal. Change the terminus into storage sidings hidden behind a backscene across the full width, push the track as close as practical to the edges, and put a very small branch-line station in the middle on the return loop. The entire track is flat as well, making for easier and more reliable installation.