Long-time lurker on here, recently made my second foray back into model railways since I was a kid.
I have a long-time love of Scottish railways in particular, for the scenery and journey as much as for the rolling stock (and, of course, the tractors).
I created a quick micro a few years back while living in Australia, loosely set in the Aberdeen/Dyce area, but more urbanised (may post some older pics if I can dig them out) to get the hang of some techniques and really just to play trains again. This time I started again with the idea of a micro, but realised during lockdown that I really wanted to (a) capture a bit of the magic of the highlands, and (b) have the option of continuous run. Just feels cruel to not let the locos stretch their legs! So I set about designing a roundy-roundy within the limitations of my office space (a small, oddly-shaped bedroom/box room). The main space in the room is approx 7ft square, with 2 alcoves which are each roughly an additional 3ft or so square. Not big, given the subject, so requires some creativity. I did consider moving to 2mm for some time, but in general I think I would find it too fiddly (something I might reconsider having seen some of the amazing work on here in 2mm over the last few years). So... how to capture some of the rugged majesty of the highlands in OO in such a confined space...?
Well, my solution has been to use the confines of the room to circumscribe the layout of the railway, in the same way the terrain does in the highlands... only much (much) smaller. As such, this will definitely not appease purists or "very serious modellers" and will probably fall somewhere between train set and model railway (it also has to please my 8 year old daughter who also loves trains, so long as she can build the buildings and make the people, and there are trains for animals to ride in). I have thoroughly tested the gradients and curves as I go, and will be making extensive use of 2nd rad curves (hidden, or well disguised!) and up to 4% gradients (again, hidden or disguised in scenic dioramas). This just about allows me to run 4 or even 5 coach trains behind a single class 37 (freight loads are a bit more testing, but around 12 axles works safely under a single loco's haulage). Incidentally, I was surprised at just how much better the performance was under DCC as I have gradually updated my small roster of locos. Sound might be added at some point.
So, the main scenic area will fit on a shelf along one wall, widening at the window-sill to accommodate some sidings. The main line then curves around and descends beneath my desk, wrapping around underneath it to form a lower level beneath the scenic area before entering a small helix to come back up to the scenic level. The scenic area will depict a typical west highland station, based loosely on Bridge of Orchy (I loved the 2mm version elsewhere on here, and remember visiting the station briefly on a holiday some time in the mid-80's - something about the layering of it with the slightly elevated sidings seems to lend itself well to modelling in a small space). I plan to extend the sidings to the original 3 to create a sort of Inglenook for some additional operational interest. I will try to use appropriate backdrops to create the illusion of space, both in the main section, and also potentially in diorama-like areas as the track weaves and dives beneath it. Given. the "geography" of the room (and the ages of my kids), there is the possibility of a future extension along one of the other walls to Hogwarts (via the Glenfinnan viaduct) - we shall see. For now the backdrop will be inauthentic, but at some point I will get back up to the Highlands and persuade my artistic wife to paint or photograph me some proper highland scenery.
Overall I intend to use this as a slow (working parent) project to build up some modelling skills and hopefully work towards something that looks and feels like a little piece of the highlands, and is fun to operate or just watch the trains go round the mountainous scenery. I'm going to use bullhead OO track as it looks so much better than anything else I have seen, and also intend to take my first dip into track building - away from the mainline.
Era-wise, this will be quite flexible, from BR blue through to privatisation... with some visitors (American other half). Rule 1 will apply liberally!
All in all this will be a big experiment and playground. Hope some people like it, but like my friend Richard D James, it probably isn't for everyone!
Here are a couple of pics in construction and gradient testing (March-April 2021) to give a feel for the overall shape. Please excuse the chaos.
Compact helix beneath the brinter brings line up from lower level to the scenic area above...
The main scenic area will be along this wall... Just enough space ofr a limited representation of a west highland station (with a lot of poetic license!)
The line then passes under my desk, looping around and back under the main scenic section to join the helix... Desk to be repaced with a sit-stand which will also help with clearances.
Early gradient and clearance tests (all excuses to play trains are good!). The lower line here may eventually form a mini-scenic area with suitable stagecraft to separate from / conceal the line above.