Well, I am well on my way of completing my first official addition to my roster: A 17200-series Flat Car. Pictures and thoughts will be posted in the relatively near future.
I have also completed my first semi-handlaid turnout. I say semi-handlaid because I'm using the Central Valley turnout kits, and it doesn't require quite the amount of work as a completely handlaid turnout. In any event, I've come up with a way to model the throwbars to my satisfaction:
This is a rough prototype, but the concept works. It has been noted (by Andy Reichert) that the approach of soldering pc-board ties as a throwbar is not as reliable as you might think, so testing continues.
So between the better looking track, and the fact that I need to order some trucks and wheelsets for my new flat car, my thought process is once again focused on proto:87. In the last few days I have found and joined two Yahoo groups, handlaidtrack and proto:87. Although I may be stating the obvious, I tend to do a lot of research and even experimentation when making decisions. I don't take this one too lightly, because there is both a time and a money component involved. I also have to worry about converting my locomotives (I have around 10 right now) as well.
But since I don't have an operating layout, and I've loaned out my DCC system for testing and evaluating to a friend, I have some time to make those conversions. I only have 3 locomotives equipped for DCC right now anyway, and all three will probably not be in my final roster because I've altered my plans, and settled on different standard models.
So, later this week I will most likely place my first order for proto:87 wheelsets, along with the trucks and couplers I'll need to complete this model. The very fact that I keep coming back to this question is a pretty good indication that it's the direction I want to take. All my other decisions: handlaid track, Sergent couplers, prototype modeling with a high degree of fidelity, are not only compatible, but heading down the same tracks, pun intended.
I will post an update with what I think after I've received the wheelsets and other materials and complete the car. I also plan on building a second (code 70) turnout with the same process, but to proto:87 standards to see how much additional fiddling that entails. Hopefully I'll have more to report within the month...