As I have eluded to here and there in previous threads, I have been slowly designing a new layout. My wife works from home but real soon, she will be moving her home office out into real office space. Yep, you guessed it – I get her old office space for my new layout. The new layout will have two gauges and two scales – HO, Hon3 and N. I have two young boys, ages 6 and 3 and I wanted to make this new layout somewhat interactive for them. I am going to accomplish this in two ways. - The first way will be constructing the HO track (DC) down at their height. This way, I can get each of them an HO train that they can operate themselves. - The second way will be by making the underneath of the layout kid friendly - sort of. “What does that mean?”, you ask. Let me explain… Every layout we have ever visited, the kids seem to be especially interested in seeing the trains go through the tunnels and underneath the scenery. I figure, why not incorporate that. The plan (at least in theory) will be to make it so that they will have a couple pathways (kid tunnels if you will) underneath the benchwork so they can follow the train around the layout not only above ground, but below as well. This will make more sense if and when you study my graphics. Why the other gauge (HOn3, DCC) and the other scale (N, also DCC)? Because I have one HOn3 engine that I would like to run with the majority of my collection in N scale. Let's see your plan you say? Okay, but first let me set up a mental image... All three sizes (HO, HOn3 & N) will be seperated at different heights with HO on the bottom, HOn3 in the middle and N scale on the top. Keep in mind that the scenery will flow seemlessly between the three and I am also going to try and use forced perspective to help tie them together. It will kind of look like this... My two engineers:mrgreen: have carefully calculated the HO level to be 30" above the floor (AtF). The HOn3 will be another 4" above that at 34"AtF. The two N scale levels will be another 4 inches and 7 inches above that respectively at 38" and 41". Finally, I will also have a helix climbing up to a shelf 10" above the main yard for a grand total of 48"AtF. Thanks go to Woodone for that idea! You want to see the plan? Have I got a plan for you! From the bottom up, Green is HO, Purple is HOn3, and red is N scale mainline with the other colors also being associated with N scale (yard, engine maint. facility, side tracks etc.). Grades are limited to 2% except in the helix which will be 3%. The layout sits in a corner next to some double French doors and will be viewable from the top and the left sides. I probably should mention that grey is future structure sites. Along the bottom wall of Urbanopolis, I plan on having a big city scene backdrop that wraps all the way around to the quarry or so and then I will have some built out buildings in front of that that will help hide some passenger train parking tracks and the helix. If you follow the layout around from right to left, it will proceed from city (Urbanopolis) to country (the farm) through some mountains (top right) to a valley town (Podunk) around the corner to some more mountains (Helix mountain). Stretching from the outskirts of Podunk to the top of Helix mountain, I am hoping to put an aerial tramway similar to the cable car set by BRAWA. Inside Helix mountain will be a... helix leading up to that shelf I was talking about over the Urbanopolis shown here... On this shelf will be the simple little town of Highyup serving some industries and terminating at a small engine maint. facility. I tried designing in a small radius reverse loop up here but it just took up too much space. Just how big is this sucker you ask? Not that big. I'm actually a little fearful that I'm trying to pack too much into too small of a space but... what the heck... I'm going for it! A while back, I submitted a preliminary model for comments. Though the plan has changed a little since then including the addition of the helix and second level, this was what the model looked like... Well, you say, that's real neat and all but boy is that first plan confusing! Let me simplify it for you! Let's start with the HO line. All it is, is a simple loop with one siding. And, 4" above that is the HOn3. Another simple loop with one siding and a spur. Finally, if you take away the HO and the HOn3 leaving only the main level of N, it would look like this... For the longest time, I was not completely happy with this layout because I could only ignore one N scale train at a time. I then came up with a couple ideas that would allow me to brainlessly ignore two N scale trains at a time. In this graphic, you can see how by adding two bypasses, I conveniently came up with two seperate mainlines shown in red. Well, that was sure a mouthful and I hope you stuck with me all the way through. Surely there was a lot of stuff I failed to explain so let's open this up to questions and comments time! Yes, you over there sitting at the keyboard?