Last night I went over to Rob's place for the monthly operating session on his VR/NSWR layout. The layout uses DCC for loco control and a card operating system based on train sequences.
The experience of operating this layout has reinforced to me that I really love model railway layouts that feature a system of "prototype" operation. Now, this layout wasn't run exactly as on the prototype because it represents a railway line between towns in Victoria and the southeast coast of NSW where no real prototype line existed. But that's not the point: the layout is run as an approximation of prototype railroading with an emphasis on establishing a real purpose for the movement of particular trains and the locations on the line. This blend of operation and railway purpose is what is of greatest interest to me. It also helps to have a good bunch of people to be with during the operating session and Rob's "crew" certainly fits that category.
I am now more seriously considering that when the move to the new home takes place in a couple of weeks time, the "old" layout (Winmar) will get dismantled. I need to build a new layout based on my model railway operation-oriented preferences. My thinking at this stage favours a shelf type of layout. The design of the layout will be planned specifically for the actual size and shape of the available space in the garage of the new house. I shouldn't need to compromise the new layout because of a previously designed and built layout from many years ago; one that was constructed within the parameters of a different overall plan and housed in a different location in Sydney.
The development of Winmar did offer some operational potential with the proposed Lake Hume branch and the industrial siding leading off to the traverser (fiddle yard). However, in the new location in Canberra, a single-top baseboard that is 16' x 8' in size does not really fit conveniently within the space available, and nor does it really offer an easy path for any potential Lake Hume Branch extension in the future.
The stage is therefore set for a new layout design that reflects my current thinking and preferences. The layout will be designed specifically for the new physical space of the garage at the house we move to at the end of the month. I think we have a new beginning...