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Well we appear to have settled into our new home, but sadly for me, I can't get my head round blogs, so will resort to a good old fashioned layout topic. For those of you who are relatively new to the forum, I'll give you a quick background to my intentions and you can take it from there. I'm now into my 60's and have retired. Kids are well off my hands and I am fortunate to have a loft conversion available which was above an integral double garage. A new garage has been build in the front of the house and the old one converted to a study and utility room downstairs and my railway room upstairs. This gives me a space of 18' square with central heating and daylight courtesy of three Velux windows. Only downside is that the slope of the roof reduces the usable space to around 14' on two sides once you go above a board height of 3' or so. I grew up in North london in the 50's and my earliest memories of railways came from my Aunt and Uncle who took me to Alexandra Palace when I was probably 2-3 years old. There was a terminus at the Palace and steam hauled trains consisting of N2's and sets of Quad Arts were my first memory. At the bottom of the hill was Wood Green, a suburban station on the ECML out of Kings Cross and once I had seen an A4 thundering through Wood Green with 11 coaches in tow at a fair lick, I was hooked. Those memories will never leave me, hence my love of ECML loco's and stock. The world was a different place then and even at 10 years old, I would go off for the whole day on my own to Kings Cross, St Pancras, Euston, Paddington, Liverpool Street and occasionally over the Thames to see the Malachite Green of the Southern at Victoria and Waterloo. Shed visits were KX, Camden, Old Oak, Willesden, Stratford, Hornsey, Stewarts Lane, Feltham, Nine Elms and even as a kid, you were rarely stopped or told to get out. Heaven! OK, back to the present. Each to their own, but my passion is full length trains and stations with reasonable facilities and I am now lucky enough to have sufficient space to create something to meet that need. In the early days I experimented with Tillig track and whilst it was fine, the restrictions that RTR gave me meant I was unable to create something with flowing curves. For years I have been jealous of those who could make their own track, but felt I would never be able to do it. It was encouragement from this forum that got me over that hurdle a couple of years ago and I was really surprised that I was able to create something that worked. It was though a whole new world opened for me. Once that happened, I had also read about Templot and decided that would be the way to go for me in terms of layout design. Sadly it was a mystery to me and despite several attempts to get started I could not get my head round it, until one day with some help from Martin Wynne, it all clicked into place and I have to say it is the best piece of layout planning software I have ever used and invaluable to anyone who is building their own track. The current layout is my third attempt at building this layout. Two earlier designs ended up in the skip as a combination of issues meant insurmountable problems were encountered. The biggest problem was failure to appreciate gradients and the brief to run steam locos with 7/8 coach trains. The first layout had a 1:50 climb and trains just ground to a halt, with the combination of loco adhesion, weight of the train, curves on the climb and too fierce a gradient. Everything has now been replanned with nothing less than a 1:100 gradient. The layout starts from a 16 track traverser which has been made from ply and heavy duty runners. It does work, although I will be making some changes to the track alignment. There then follows a double circuit climb of about 150' which allows an 18" clearance for access to the traverser and stock storage. The hidden lines have all been constructed on very narrow boards so that access to all hidden areas can be easily undertaken. The layout is dcc and is split into three power districts. Each district is protected by a circuit breaker first and then each individual board has it's own isolation switch for fault finding. Once the lines emerge, they continue around a folded figure of eight which will allow continuous running, should you just want to sit back and watch trains. The final level is a large terminus with engine facilities and a goods relief road which will serve industrial units. I was fortunate enough to purchase the buildings from Great Northern's Peterborough layout. These were built by Alan Downes and are really superb. This will be an urban setting and all scenery will be tunnels, bridges, retaining walls and low relief industrial buildings. It will be set in the transition period which will allow me to run both steam or diesel, although I do adopt a run whatever I like attitude and odd locos will certainly make an appearance from time to time. The first board has been made as that had to sit over the stairwell, so this has track laid, wired and ballasted and the first pass scenic work is in place. There is still much to do but the bulk of the work on this first board has been completed. The lower levels are virtually complete and work is now starting on the folded eight. I have printed off a full size plan of about 30% of the layout and you can see how this will take shape. This project is not a five minute job and I suspect it will take 18 months or so to get up to the terminus level. I work on my own and even though I have retired it's amazing where the time goes. I'll happily post updates if people are interested....