Hi - new to the forum...long time enthusiast, rare hobbiest. Having two young boys who look like drug addled lunatics whenever they see at train - real or otherwise has got me going again...I want to do something right this time - have it work properly. I am looking to make a generally interesting layout some freight, some passenger which I know will not be great on a small layout, except for possibly trolleys (4' x 8') maybe with a street running down the middle with tall buildings to break it up a bit...I know I am asking a lot here - but here it goes... 1. I have always just done a sheet of wood on top of a pine frame - this is probably not the best way to go? I keep hearing about using two inch foam on top - would that be on top of the wood, or on top of the pine frame? Is it strong enough alone? How hard is it to cut? How much does the foam go for? I am guessing it is a Home Depot type product? If using the foam as a base how does one elevate the track for grades? Another layer of foam? Can you attache wood supports to the foam? Am I way off here? 2. Road bed - I used to use cork, but never really new how to deal with it on curves and generally made a mess and hated it - I have also heard about Homosote - any advice here? Do you use Homosote for a base like the 2 " foam, or do you just use it as a road bed like cork. Can you paint the foam? 3. DCC vs. traditional - I am leaning towards DCC - but need to keep it faily economical and easy to set up...which brings up my fear of soldering - have never had any luck with that... 4. Laying track - I have always winged it - never had it come out great - always had trouble with switches, etc...I have a lot of books and have been looking at some software for planning...I want my curves true, my trunouts correct (not derailing or stalling) and my wiring solid - advice? books? tips? 5. If this goes well I am going to try something bigger - I am somewhat enamored with the old Boston Elevated Railway - but to make any of this accurate I am going to have to make the cars and hand lay the track...so I want to get something going that will give my boys some fun and develop my skills. Any thoughts or input are greatly appreciated - I have enjoyed and got a lot out of what I have read here so far. Thanks!!