Two by Three But Still Interesting
The challenge in such a small space was to make as many interesting features as possible but to avoid the requirement that operators pay close attention to the layout, since show booth personnel will be otherwise occupied. The job description here was to build a layout that operators would start up and then leave to run on its own (and a plexiglass cover should be used to keep onlookers' from touching anything and fouling up the works). A minimum of switches and toggles was desirable. I got four SPST on/off toggles and four indicator lights, six 18-volt 3mm lamps for building lighting, and six small terminal strips. I fastened the MRC throttle to a small piece of plywood on which I installed the switches and indicators as block switches. I designed the control panel board to slide fully into the benchwork for storage and transport, and to pull out for use at shows.
For maximum impact, we designed the layout as a two-level affair that was 18" tall, with steep cliffs, lots of tunnels through the mountains, nice rock formations, a river running through the layout, and cute little scenarios created with people and situations. The upper track is a double folded loop that crosses over itself and looks like a double mainline in most places, including a double-track arch bridge. There's one industrial spur. The lower level is a single track loop with a trolley spur and a passenger train spur. It includes a lighted underground trolley station (2) that you can look down into from the front of the layout to see the trolleys come and go. (The number 2 last sentence is about a map three web pages ahead.)
For the scenarios, we glued in Preiser people and had cops arresting a fisherman fishing from a bridge in spite of "No Trespassing" signs, a lady in a swimsuit wading into the river, a line of cars forming because the driver of the front car was out of his vehicle and watching the ruckus across the river with the cops (or was he really watching the lady?—you decide), and a man holding his son on his shoulders also watching the action.