Loren: I plugged the HOG layout to my wife and she sounds pretty excited to see me and the boy doing something together. While it doesn't have the large mass of square-footage that a 4x8 does, it still has a ton of room to do stuff. And that works for me. Plus building the benchwork (as opposed to laying a piece of plywood on top of a folding table) will give me some experience in the field, and that's never a bad thing. I have a friend who is big into carpentry and he has a load of tools and maybe a nugget of advise on how to avoid losing fingers; both of which he would probably willing to lend. Squidbait: He intially recommended a 4x8 layout and a 4-axle train to go with it for a beginner, but then I described the HOG setup and emphasized the wider turning radiu..radium...radii...whatever, and he recanted his initial 4-axle recommendation and said that a 6-axle shouldn't have any problems. The one I chose was one of the more low-end and he gave me a 10% discount as it was my first train. I think it came out to 40 bucks or so with tax. I see where you're coming from on the over/under/round n' round thing. While this is going to be something for my son to enjoy, this is also something I'd like to enjoy messing around with once it's done. Plus the HOG will be something at little easier to expand off of, if it comes to it.