There's no doubt about it. I love to show my model railway layouts at exhibitions. I enjoy talking to people about the models and explaining my motivation behind creating the layouts. I could talk the hind legs off a donkey when exhibiting at a show. I love to impart my enthusiasm for the hobby and I hope that it rubs off on some of the people that I talk to and they go away considering a layout like mine.
In fact, I've just returned from showing my HO scale layout at a show. Each show is a different experience, some are good, some not so good and you can come away with ideas on how to better your presentation for the next time. So it's quite natural for me to consider this P4 layout whatever it is to be an exhibition layout.
At the moment I am plainly considering this nuclear flask layout as an exhibition layout. A working crane would be a great crowd pulling feature and I am pretty sure that the vast majority of the show goers in Minnesota would never have heard of P4.
So my exhibiting experiences will affect the final design of the layout.
I like to talk to the punters, so operation from the front is definitely preferable.
I have tried operating layouts from several different heights and I have to say the higher the better - 48" is a minimum. I'm sorry little kids but you're not going to appreciate the niceties of P4 modelling anyway and if a layout is within your grasp you will try to touch it. I've seen you. I've given you every opportunity with some table top layouts I've displayed and the evidence is irrefutable. So, sorry but if you want to see the working crane Daddy will have to lift you up.
Also exhibition goers in a wheelchair. I'm really really sorry. I hope you won't struggle too much with 48" layout height. For me seated 48" is just below eye level. So perhaps there is some hope there.
This then leads me to the operators position. It has to be from the front. With a 48" layout height and a backscene as well. Then conversation with the punters would be difficult if not impossible. So the front it is. This then dictates the position of the working crane. If I'm operating from the front then it quite unsurprisingly has to be at the front too. To date the only one of the concepts I've sketched out that meets this criteria is the first one. Let's call it plan 1_a1.
Which is good, because I quite like it. It needs some work however, because that radius curve into the heavy crane is not a P4 radius curve (min 36"). But, keen to find out what sort of size this layout might turn out to be I traced out a pair of B6 point templates and put down some wagons down to get a feel for things. For the most part the scenic section of the layout will turn out to be about 4' long. Perhaps a little longer when I get the crane situated properly. But that's not too bad. Its about what I was hoping for really. Perhaps 2' deep at the deepest. There's other things to consider before I get to that. More of those later.