Howdy! This is where I will update my work-in-progress for my first Micro-sized layout and my first Z Scale layout. I have quite a bit of history in modeling, I'm half-way thru getting my MMR, so I know my way around the track. Its just that I've never tackled something so small, nor anything in Z before. I'm open to any and all suggestions, comments, encouragement and critiques. First off, let me show you my size constraints: I bought this at a local thrift shop because it looked very well suited for my goal; which is a small, self-contained layout for my mother who is in an assisted care facility. She was also an avid modeler in her day, but she has memory issues now and working things that are complicated are not in her best interest anymore. So this will be simple, able to be run continuous, and safe for all ages. As you can see by the pictures, the display table is self contained - this if for two reasons: She has grand-kids that visit (my nieces and nephews) and they might try to grab; She isn't as steady as she used to be so this will make it as close to static as it can be and still be not static?? Not sure if that made any sense, but hopefully you get the idea. There is one side of the glass that opens, and that will be where any quick fixes that need to be done can be done from. I don't have much height to work with, so I'll be keeping this one level. Haven't decided if I want any grades, but definitely no crossing over/under. She is very good at scenery, and in fact held workshops at NMRA conventions on how to make trees from furnace filters so I'm going to set her up in the tree-making business for this. If I make the track too tall, there will be no room left for scenery. Because this is such a small area, I want to detail it as much as possible. I'm sure this will be the conversation piece with her friends for a long time, and it'd be nice to have hee keep finding little things every time she looks at it. This is an area that she especially liked when she was working on our family's N-Trak modules. You could spend hours looking over a 12' section and still not find all the little things that she detailed in there. I'll be doing lots of lights, a crossing, and if I can manage it, other items moving (i.e. cars, a flag, a clock, etc.). Track Plan: Oval. I am debating two things right now: A spur or a double loop with cross-over. Two concerns I have are: derailments in an always-on operation and size. The size is a huge factor for the double loop because I am not sure I can get a crossover at the right angle for that small of a layout. In HO, I'd just make one, as I did on a folded dog-bone layout that needed a curved cross-over, but there is just no way I'm going to hand lay Z scale track. I'd like this to be as reliable and maintenance-free as possible, but a spur just adds so much character. Any suggestions y'all have I'd appreciate! Time-frame: 75% completed by Christmas. This'll be her Christmas present. I will never say that any layout is 100% completed, just that other projects have taken priority. I think this will be the same and that 75% will get it to a point that it'll look pretty darn good in her apartment and she can show it off, and even say that its a work-in-progress to her friends. Materials: The table top is .5" pine or a light hardwood. I'm pretty sure that I'd like to build this on Styrofoam, but I am willing to take suggestions here. If I do build on the wood, it'd have to be prepped quite a bit as it has a furniture finish. I like the ease and customizability of foam , but I'm open to suggestions again as I have no experience working with Z. Also, if I go the non-embedded roadbed way, what do I use for roadbed? is cork available in Z scale, and is it size appropriate? I have seen (somewhere) where the suggestion was made to use double sticky tape for roadbed. I am all about hacking and kit-bashing and using unconventional methods to get what I want so again, suggest away. Cost: While I'd like to say that cost is no object when it comes to Mom, the reality is that I don't have a money tree so it is something to consider. I know Z scale is super expensive so I'd like to save wherever possible. Era: My Mom is in her mid 70's so I'd like to do late 40's-mid 50's. I know this is really popular as this was the main transition from steam to diesel, so this should also help keep costs down as this should be the most widely available era from power and rolling stock. I'd like to make my choice of base before next weekend - this'll give me the chance to do a track plan and do the initial prep work before I burn up my credit card at Caboose Hobbies in Denver next Saturday. Thanks for reading and I'll keep this build log updated as I keep building!