All of us who are "layout space challenged" wrestle with how much of our imagined empire we can actually build in a way that is satisfying and keep our interest. I have to confess I'm a habitual layout builder and over the past couple of years started and pulled out more layouts then I want to admit to. Thank goodness for Homosote and track nails :) Learned early never glue anything down.
In my quest I looked at and considered hundreds of ideas. In a way I pined for the old days in the 1970's when I was a kid, having access to almost not information or the Internet. Layout decisions were pretty easy back then, no second guessing, no new web blog that pulled you in another direction... Oh well.
I think there's a sweet spot between the usual "Rat's Nest" switching layout and some of the anemic shelf designs that Lance Mindheim has. The former is a product of wanting to cover as many options as possible in a small space the the latter a more "dioramic" approach where the scene seems to take over operations. Both have their place and I am in no position to criticize folks who actually get things done. Just an observation folks. Every one has their sweet spot. I think if I had an outside corner I would have totally ripped off Keith Jordan's "The Patch" and called it "The Patch Too" lol. Really, an outside corner really helps block two sections so they can be operated separately and more realistically.
So not having this set up I decided to go ahead and keep my layout more rural than urban and save the Brand Blvd theme until I had a larger place to build it right. A few years ago I mocked up a layout using the Pike City Layout featured in a hobby mag I had in my pile. This seemed to have all I wanted given the space I had and things looked good until life got in the way...and a move back to an apartment. SAD I was.
Here is a rough sketch of what I have built now:
So far, basic operations have been successful...two yards on the right give me both storage and industries to switch to...freight coming out of the right side of the layout are spotted on the run around (which is larger than shown , 2 cars will fit nicely and then pushed into place. The back long track will feature several spots to place cars making movements out of the Sunkist packing plant a challenge.
Industries are still in flux at the moment. I have this ongoing love affair with tank cars and I think I have room on one of the short spurs in the center of the layout to put a small smudge pot oil depot and two cars can be spotted there. Packing plant in place and shipping and receiving along the back wall to the right. I have started working on the small gravel drop off installing a Tyco coal unloader in between the rails. A hole has been cut and a lid for a jar screwed to the underside of the layout to allow collection of the gravel dropped by the operating cars. These are talked about in an earlier post. Nice thing about these cars is the opportunity to actually load and off load something. Per Bruce Kelly, a trip to the coast to get round sand will be a must since normal sand and ballast have sharp edges and tend to bind when off loading.
I have been researching ways to do operations, car cards, rules and regs and I figure that will be a huge project. I will need to dedicate at least 20 cars to the layout to make this work.