Our original club layout was a temporary layout that was created from loaned track from members. The layout was created with Kato Unitrack that is an integrated track and roadbed system. Unitrack has a connector system that snaps track together to create a very strong connection.
Our club layout was designed to be temporary and very portable. The concept is to come up with interesting 'virtual' track layouts on paper, then assemble them quickly on our superstructure, verify its operations, then do simple, temporary scenery with loaned buildings from club members. This is all done in the extremely rare spare time of our members, so we have tried to keep things as simple as possible, but provide the best visual and operational results.
The current layout has two viaduct lines, two local lines, and three auto-reversing tram lines. These lines are housed on a 12' x'4' set of table modules. A large 12 track storage yard is attached to the viaduct lines on a 8' x 2' set of modules at one end of the layout. The viaduct lines are on a raised viaduct level of track with two parallel track lines. The shape of this line is a one sided dog bone shape. The long side of the viaduct line is a 9' long shinkansen viaduct station that can hold a prototypical 16 car shinkansen passenger train. The shorter side has a smaller 40" viaduct station. Trains from the yard can be brought onto the viaduct level and switched to either track. The two local lines are on the table top level. There is an outside and an inside local line. Each local line is doubled over using crossovers to provide a more complex path for the trains. Each local line has spurs and passing tracks for the storage of extra trains.
The superstructure for the layout was created from 2' x 4' modules constructed from 1"x4" pine stock and topped with 1" thick foam insulation board. These modules are bolted together in whatever configuration is needed with a series of predrilled holes. The modules are supported with light weight, collapsible plastic saw horses.
Wiring is fairly simple with the Kato Unitrack. Unitrack switches can be set to route the track power only to the direction the switch is set to. Each of the main lines is wired to a unique cab (transformer). power switching for passing tracks, sidings and the large yard is done with the power routing of the Unitrack switches. We have opted to not build sophisticated control panels at this point since we are trying to keep our layout development and construction as rapid and simple as possible. With the four main lines of the current layout plus the three auto-reversing trams, we have a lot of action and operations packed into a small layout.
Our scenery has been kept simple. We have opted for the Japanese style of 'suggestive' scenery instead of highly detailed scenery. This allows us to quickly try many combinations of building layouts to see what provides the best views. Small amounts of natural scenery has been custom created for the layout and the rest is mainly created with buildings. Since Japan is famous for high density development and train tracks running right through city scenes, we can realistically place buildings in high densities near the tracks. The table surface is covered with loose sections of construction paper in various colors and textures to simulate earth, grass, and cement. Again, we have kept the scenery simple and suggestive for now for rapid prototyping of the layout and to show what can be done in a relatively short amount of time with elements that are easy to disassemble.
We hope to reuse the same layout a few times before trying other layout ideas as the group defines what it is and what we want to do as a group.