The local NMRA Division of which I'm a member, came up with a challenge at its March 2016 meeting:
Build an operating layout in any scale that does not exceed 576 square inches in size or shape.
That is 4 square feet.
Being one of the very few active in O scale, the Superintendent leaned on me a bit to come up with something. I checked out a website he gave for ideas about a mini layout and indeed O scale was mentioned there as well. The Division members knew I had the Baltimore & New York layout which they visited in 2010, but it was torn down for a move to Tulsa. They also saw the diorama I built for displaying that ancient Walthers observation car I rebuilt as Beebe and Clegg's "Virginia City" in its 1950s appearance.
So in a way, I felt the challenge to be a good one. I still have a number of pieces of the old B&NY right of way standing in a corner of the workshop, slowly warping into uselessness. One or two of them could give up their rails to such a project!
But what to model? I came up with a return loop on the Route 23 Germantown Ave line, like the one not far from where I lived in Philadelphia in the 1960s. Two switches and a crossing, as the track up to Chestnut Hill had a loop which could turn a car to down-town on the corner of a park. I also have a powered Corgi PCC painted in PTC colors of the 1950s-60s.
Here are a few photos, laying out a return loop. The contest rules allow turntables or cassettes to aid in operating the pike, which must also have scenery to serve its purpose.
The track plan is laid out on a thick sheet of Styrofoam to keep the weight light, as it has to be taken to the meeting in November. The center line for the loop track probably should be a bit farther to the right. A photo back-drop on foam core board would be attached to the far side.
The car is set with its trucks centered on the loop track line. The trucks still have some room to swing even tighter, so hopefully it will work. The radius of the loop is about 8 1/2".
The prototype PCCs also had considerable end overhang on that loop, as well as at the Chestnut Hill terminal. Lots of wheel squeal!
On the track heading down-town. The loop, switches and crossing will be hand laid with code 125 rail from the old layout.
I'm still doodling on how to make the end cassettes so a car can roll onto one and be turned to go out on the opposite track. A cassette will be needed at each end, and this set up could also be made to operate with two cars, I think. I also have a metal Pittman kit that could model one of Richmond Railways 1924 Brill trolleys that ran on my native Staten Island up to the mid 1930s.
Anyone's thoughts or suggestions on this mini-layout are welcomed.
Time is marching on . . . .