Before I packed up, I took stock of the progress to date and I found I was frustrated that in two years I was only just up to laying the underlay. Part of that is the pressures of life and juggling those with modelling time, but another part I have to admit is that I got bored with the design. Once I had positioned the track on top of the finished underlay just before we packed up the house, it became apparent that nearly all of the shunting I wanted to do would require the loco to 'exit' the layout at either end. For me, part of the fun is being able to see what is going on, and this is an element I'll factor into future designs.
Before we handed the keys over my brother came and picked up the layout to store at his place. It's a lot of work that I'm confident I can incorporate into a future layout, so I will be holding onto it. Here's the layout after it reached it's new home.
Due to limitations in car sizes, one of the return loop modules found a new home at the local tip.
Recently two things I've read in model railway literature have shaped my mind on what I want to do next. The first is a post by US small layout builder Lance Mindheim (here), which talks about designing something for your lifestyle. For example: if you only have time to run your layout for at best 30 minutes a day, by yourself, don't build a double-garage-sized behemoth which requires six operators. Smart man. Also makes me facepalm myself for not recognising this in my own design for a room-sized layout I only had time to play with on weekends.
The second was seeing the ad in the December AMRM for the Oz-32 competition. This is a great idea for attracting new blood (as well as fresh, Australian-themed layouts), and a great way to demonstrate achievable designs to newcomers. Also, if you enter, you have to finish the layout to keep your promise to exhibit it at the Hobsons Bay exhibition in July, made when you enter the competition.
My next project then will be a 140cm x 30cm, urban shunting layout. It will still be NSW-based, still set in the 1970s. I haven't seen many urban layouts, so hopefully this will add something different to the exhibition scene. I won't share many (if any) photos of the layout until it's displayed at the competition to save the surprise, but I will still share posts here about the other facets of modelling I'll need for the layout between now and then - after all, it's still modelling NSW in the 1970s.
P.S. Thanks everyone for your comments over these past two years and your suggestions for improvements - it has been much appreciated.