O Scale Layout Ideas

I know there are tons of places to look for layout ideas. But given a few specifics, I thought many of you might have specific good ideas.
I have a space that is 12' x 6.5' (the main large space that is). Large enough for an O-72 mainline running along the outer edges.
I'd like to be able to run at least three trains at once. I'm not into switching puzzles, so a ton of switching isn't desired. Though sidings on which to park trains would be okay. Being able to switch trains between routes would be cool also. That way when running a single train I could sit and control switches to make the train run different routes. Or even rig it so that the train trips the switches automatically so it runs through a different route with each pass.
I'm not a modeler by any stretch. I mostly just like playing with trains. So this would probably be just covered with grass paper initially. Maybe I would buy some kits and play with making scenery eventually. I do have an assortment of Lionel buildings. UFO Cafe, a Lighthouse, the Lionel Aquarium. I like aquarium cars, and I also have a fair amount of alien themed stuff. It's a pretty oddball collection really. This would not involve modeling an actual railroad. More like a strange little town somehow connected to government projects involving Area 51.
Note that running trains on another level would be really neat. But I have no woodworking skills to speak of. Putting together a strong, flat table won't be a problem. But building a bridge system is a bit beyond my skills. But if they can be made with a prefab trestle system, and they are stable enough, that would be great.
The other space I have would extend beyond one of the 6.5' edges of this table. I would need to tunnel into and turn 90 through the housing for my sump pump (it's in the corner obviously). I could then have say a 12' x 19" siding. There is plenty of room to make the turn. Setting up the bridge through the housing would be a challenge. Being only 19" wide the extra space could only really serve as a siding. Maybe more of a train display/storage area. That would take a switching puzzle to make it useful for storing as many trains as possible while being able to pull them out onto the main table.
Oh, one other thing. The rear 12' edge of that main part is up against a wall (so are the 6.5' sides...it's landlocked) The table would need to be no more than 3' high in order not to interfere with a furnace access panel and some other features of the space. No problem there. I like sitting when watching the trains, so it's just about eye level then. But difficult to work on when up against a wall unless I crawl over it. Yet if I make space on the other side so I can crawl under and shimmy up the wall to a standing position, it would cut into the 6.5' width. I was thinking of making a sort of manhole or two in strategic locations and putting buildings over them. Then I could crawl under and pop up through the table.
So, what you do if you bought a home and had this extra space that you could dedicate to trains?
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Best is to run the trains around the room. A trestle system isn't taht hard as it can just be a horizontal door with two or more hinges on one side and a V shaped receptor on the other side to align the ends of the tracks both vertically and horizontally. For the layout, three tracks in parallel so you can run the three trains without having them hit each other and crossovers between the tracks so you can switch them between tracks. A crossover is nothing more than a pair of track switches that allows you to go between the tracks. I'd put in two crossovers, one for each direction so you can run the trains either way. That will be a total of 8 track switches. Electrically, I'd have DPDT switches so you can, as you crossover, be able to connect the two mainlines electrically together so the train will operate through the crossover. Each of the crossovers will, of course, need to have insulating railjointers so the power doesn't crossover from one track to the other. The addition of a stopping section for the other train is a nicety so that you don't have two trains on one power pack. A SPST will cut the power nicely for that section and you want to put that switched section where you can easily give the second train a lot of room to switch over. Hope this helps!
-- Bob May
rmay at nethere.com http: slash /nav.to slash bobmay http: slash /bobmay dot astronomy.net
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