Where I am at the moment:
[caption id="attachment_170" align="alignnone" width="601" caption="Version 2.0 includes the Hoboken Shore Railroad, and the Weehawken and Croxton Yards of the Erie Railroad with a small version of the Dial-A-Yard concept. This lays out the industries in order on the HBS."][/caption]
Option 1: Start on the big layout (room-encompassing) of the Hoboken Shore Railroad (HBS) with Erie Croxton Yard as seen in the version 2.0 plan above.
This would be a large project. The most disruption, the most money, the most effort... Major sub project would be figuring out how to deal with my "real work" area, which consists of computer, drafting table, table space and file and flat file cabinets. The tables/desks and layout above them would need to be configured somehow so that it is comfortable to do both at the appropriate time. I've been thinking in this direction for about 4 years, so there is really good background, momentum and interest for me. In research, I am getting into finding building plans and photographs of a lot of the industries along these lines. I could really closely model all the major buildings. In fact, I just started modeling the Dept. of Agriculture Quarantine Building in 3DS Max (just for practice using the software). The next thing to do for this option is to lay out the track in the yards especially, to make sure I can actually do what I am hoping to do. In the architecture biz, we call this moving into a DD set - Design Development. This is where the concepts come into contact with practical considerations and I have to make things 'work'.
Option 2: A larger Dial-A-Yard with New York Harbor pocket yards that would be about 5' x 7'. Possibly including Erie 28th St, Erie 149th, DL&W Harlem Terminal, and one or two others...then build the HBS later in a slightly smaller version.
I'm really interested in the Dial-A-Yard concept. I have 9 foot ceilings, so I could get 4 or 5 yards stacked in one 5' x 7' area. The engineering of a mechanized lift system would be a challenge (fun), but it would delay the start (and playing with) any sort of layout. An alternative is to build this just outside the room in the hall. That would be a tough sell to the brass hat, but is worth looking into the feasibility both space-wise and R.O.W. wise.
Option 3: A room full of yards connected by car float carts.
OK, I just thought about this for the first time thanks to David Ramos' post on the Rail Marine Yahoo! Group. It made me take another look at his layout plan, and the multiple yards/multiple railroads started me off thinking how amazing it would be to have a dozen yards from around NY Harbor all in one room. Four or 5 car float carts and one staging area to feed them. A pure, cohesive concept for a layout that would be innovative and interesting to operate (as long as one likes small yard switching). The downside is that it would be all one type of operating. Version 2.0 has the advantage that it includes a large a large yard, smaller yard, and branch line industrial switching. That fact could sway me. I will need to poll my potential operating crew for reaction to this idea. It may be that all those yards would be boring? It is worth drawing it up. As you can tell by the lengthy discussion of this option, I am intrigued by this idea.
I let you know what happens next.