I was hoping to learn a lot about the practical aspects of garden railroading when I visited Stan Cedarleaf's layout in the Prescott area, and that's exactly what happened. Stan gave me the grand tour of his Prescott Canyon Southern Railroad with plenty of suggestions yesterday, and his experience helped me find answers to numerous questions that I have been compiling. I greatly appreciated his time and interest in helping a "newbie," and he offered to assist with battery installation into my two "newbie" locomotives.
Decision on Power Supply:
I finally resolved the power issues, thanks to Stan's input. He showed me examples of track power, DCC, and battery. I am going to focus completely on battery power now, to avoid the need for powering the track. I can also install a battery and receiver in my little LGB switcher without the need for a trailing battery car!
The lesson: books and online forums are invaluable resources for learning (any hobby, I imagine), but there is no substitution for actually visiting someone else's layout and learning from their experience!