A pint in a half-pint pot!
My plan is to build the layout on a 4ft x 2ft base-board. Well, the plan is to actually build the layout in a collection of 4x2 boards. Each board will contain a scene to be acted out by the trains. Each scene can comfortably fit in the house. Where there is more space, then the scenes can be connected together forming a bigger layout. Nothing particularly new there, just practical. It does however mean that there has to be a bit of planning (and accuracy) to get the rails to join between scenes.
So what about the 5-6ft radius that is required. Well, the plan is to squash the circle down to sort of a very thin ellipse. The ends will actually be 2 large turn tables. The layout will have a hidden track running around the back and a hidden turntable at each end. This means that the traditional "running round a loop" effect can be maintained as the trains will be purposefully short, and the turntables long, so the train can pass in front, go on the turntable and the whole train turned so it can go around the back, turned again, the re-appear to the public. Alternatively the train can go out one side, be turned and then head back in the other direction.
To try and keep the height of the scenes the same, the whole layout is going to be held within stands. The stands will bolt together as required.
A single scene with the turn tables at each end (hidden from view)
Here, two scenes are connected together, again with the turntables on the ends
The stand can then be dressed up a bit with signs and a drape along the front. This will give access to and from the back (under the layout) if required.
The layout can also be used on top of tables (if you can find enough with matching heights). The base-board will be constructed with batons around the edge for extra strength, and to allow any cables to be run under the board but above table height. This will allow for the board to sit ï¿½on the tableï¿½ but not ï¿½on the wiresï¿½.
To allow for some contouring of the scenery, and to embed control motors and other equipment, I have purchased some loft insulation foam. it is about 100mm thick and can be cut-away to form "lower than the track" scenery. I intend embedding some cork or soft wood into the foam to attach the rails. By screwing the track onto the cork, some adjustment would be available rather than gluing the track direct to the foam.
The foam layer