Sunday, October 26, 2014

Another Month Gone By

It's now late October 2014. Progress continues on the layout. This past month I've cut a pass-thru from the main room into left-hand small room, and laid track almost up to the pass-thru. I also started construction of the first table in the next room.

If you look close in this picture, you can see where the opening has been cut just to the right of the reflector on the light. I put the boards back up temporarily.

Here's the pass-thru under construction. It's about 18 inches between walls, so I lined the opening with 1X4 & 1X6 pine. I was working only from this side, leaving the drywall on the other side intact until I finished boxing out the tunnel. That way I didn't cut out the wrong location on the other side. It sure made building the lining a pain at times, though!

And here's the pass-thru completed. I managed to finish without having to take out any wall studs, which in this house are 2X6's. I did remove a couple pieces of blocking between studs - one on the near side, and one on the far side.

And speaking of the far side, here's the pass-thru from the other room. I removed the drywall in one chunk, so if I ever need to seal the pass-thru I can simply frame the opening and install the removed pieces from both sides.

We hosted the NMRA division annual business meeting here yesterday, so I had to clean up the layout and prepare for the visit. Folks were very gracious, and seemed to like what I've accomplished so far (small amount that it is).

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Lift-out and Other Progress

It's been about four months, so I guess it's time for another update.

I spent some time on the Laurel roundhouse, and as of about early July, it looked like this:

It still looks like that as of today (24 September).

I had a work session in mid July. We added a couple more sections of benchwork along the wall (where Casper will be) and continued the subroadbed installation from the point we left off last time, at the temporary bridge.  A couple of the guys added buss wires and installed some track feeders. Thanks, guys!

After that work session, I decided to get the lift-out built to replace the temporary immovable bridge I showed in the last update. I got tired of walking all the way around the Laurel peninsula pretty quickly!

I documented that whole construction story in this thread at RR Line Forums. Here are a couple of shots of the lift-out in place and removed:

That sure makes it easier to get around the layout! The lift-out is in and wired, though the wiring is temporary until I get the wall and door that will be on this side of the above photos completed. Then the wires will be permanently run around the top of the doorway, rather than through a cable "bridge" on the floor where they are now.

I focused pretty exclusively on the lift-out until early September. Then on September 11 I had another work session. Four guys showed up, and once again we accomplished quite a bit - completion of bench sections along the Casper wall (benchwork construction will never be done!), installation of more subroadbed, and more track wiring. This time the wiring added feeders to the opposite end of Laurel yard (near the lift-out). Before that, all the yard tracks got current only from the end near the Laurel engine facility.

Here's a really exciting shot of those newly-installed feeders:

Here's the now-complete benchwork for Casper, along with some NP mainline hidden subroadbed installed (Casper will be about five inches above this), leading right up to where I need to cut a hole in the wall to get to the next room:

And to cap off this installment, here's an overview of the layout as of today:

Now to get started cutting that hole!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Laurel Engine Terminal Is Taking Shape!

Since my last post about 4 1/2 months ago, I've focused entirely on Laurel, and in particular on the engine terminal.
The turntable is in and functioning properly. Radial tracks are all installed and most are wired, but only one lead out of the three planned is installed yet. Here's what it looked like while I was wiring up installed tracks:

Here's the overall view of Laurel as of Friday,  16 May. A work session was in the works for the next day, so I cleaned all the crap off the benchwork that seems to collect there. You can see the one turntable lead (the track with the passenger car on it) that's in place. The other two will be to the right of it in this photo, and there will be one more track - the one which brings coal and sand to the terminal, to the left of that track.

I had the work session as planned on Saturday the 17th - thanks Phil, Jim, Charles and Jimmy!  Jim and Phil installed some 120 volt wiring and outlets around the edges of the layout, then wired in more radial tracks for the turntable. Charles and Jimmy worked on the bridge and subroadbed that connects the Laurel peninsula to the benchwork Casper will be on. That bridge, which is temporary and will be replaced by a drop leaf at some point in the future, can be seen below. If you look carefully, you can also see the 120V wiring Jim and Phil put in, running along the face of the L-girders. That's a huge help, because I've been moving an extension cord back and forth between areas I've worked on since this project got started. Having outlets within easy reach is a major convenience!

The plan immediately ahead is to get the roundhouse construction started, and lay track on the new subroadbed.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Near End" Laurel Yard Throat Installed

The switches and yard tracks for the Laurel yard throat near the locomotive facilities has been installed and wired.

I still need to install ground throws on the new turnouts, add the caboose track and complete the engine facility tracks (that's a long term project that will be done as the facilities are constructed). But the body tracks are functional at this point.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

The Last Eight Or So Months

Okay, here's an update. This will cover everything from the June 13 2013 update until today, plus a bit since late April (because the June update was so general).

In early May I was laying out the end of the Laurel yard throat at the turnback curve:
 I printed out a couple of #8 turnout templates and used them to arrange the entry into the siding and yard throat.
After I was sure I knew what the arrangement of the throat would look like, over the next several months I built three left- and one right-hand #8's, plus three left- and two right-hand #6's.

June 15th I had another work session.

In attendance this time were (left to right) Jim, Jimmy and Phil. They were all present at the first work session as well, so I guess the long drive the first time didn't put them off returning (thank goodness)! 

In this photo, Phil and Jimmy are installing another section of benchwork. This will be the far end of Laurel yard. Jim is gathering up components for setting up a shelf for my NCE DCC system. Below you can see him hard at work putting it together.

After the work session I just kept slogging along building the turnouts and installing the yard from the one end to the other. I should probably have taken a few pictures as I went, but I didn't take any more of the layout until the end of 2013.

I took a week off from everything - the layout, work, and just life in general, to attend the NMRA national in Atlanta in July, along with my wife. I gave my Helix clinic (for probably the last time. It's getting a bit old, and the helix was dismantled three years ago now), attended a lot of clinics others gave, toured some local layouts, and of course attended the National Train Show. What a great time!

Once back home, I tried to get into the habit of working on the layout at least a few minutes every day, and was mostly successful. I just had to make myself do it, because with working ten hours and driving four hours four days a week, I had very little time in the evenings. Often I would only spend ten to 15 minutes on the layout, but those brief stints added up to a lot of yard tracks being laid over the course of a month.

On November 16th I held another work session. Being as we were getting on towards the holidays, that seemed like about the last weekend of the year that was viable. Only Jim and Phil were able to come over, but we got a lot done. We built the first benchwork sections for the Casper yard area, against the wall behind Laurel. The NP tracks will run against the wall there to the staging area in one of the smaller rooms. That determined the need to get those sections built. We also hung some of the sky backdrop I salvaged from my old NJ layout, just above the new benchwork. I didn't take any photos of that work session, but I have a shot showing the new benchwork below.

I'd initially designed Laurel to be a three track interchange yard, and one of the tracks would double as the lead to the engine facilities. But as I built the yard, I couldn't help noticing that there was ample room for two more yard tracks. Plus the more I thought about it, the more it seemed that so few yard tracks would be inadequate to support operations I've envisioned for this part of the layout. So... just before Thanksgiving, I decided to bite the bullet and add the two additional tracks.

My goal for the four day Thanksgiving weekend was to build the four #6 left-hand turnouts I needed for the yard tracks at the far end of Laurel Yard. Even with everything else going on that weekend, I managed to meet that goal, and even got a lot of the prep work for installation done!

So finally some photos again, which will bring us almost up to date. These were all taken 28 December 2013.

Here you can see the "far end" yard throat for Laurel, with the two additional tracks on the right.

Here's another view of the throat, from a different angle. The two nearest turnouts are #8's, and the four yard track turnouts are #6's. That's why the slight curve to the right beyond the second turnout - the angle on the #6's is a bit steeper than on the #8's.

Here's one more shot of the newer end of Laurel, looking from the opposite direction of the previous photo. The two nearest tracks will be extended to the opposite yard throat and tied in there, with a lead going off to the engine servicing area.

And speaking of the engine servicing area, I've started on that area a little bit. In November I bought a 130' turntable (they were on sale for a really good price, so the club was buying one. I just added mine to their order and saved half on shipping costs!). I put together the floors from three of the Modern Roundhouse kits (giving me a 12-stall roundhouse), then positioned the turntable and roundhouse where I would have best access - adjacent to the yard drill track. Enlisting my wife's help, we managed to put down a single sheet of cork for the turntable and roundhouse complex. The level is approximately where one of the turntable leads will run. The other will parallel it. Once I've got both lead tracks drawn in, I'll be able to cut out the hole for the turntable and drop it in place (probably still a few months away, as I'm going to finish the Laurel yard tracks first).

This view looking down the aisle between Laurel and Casper shows the backdrop and benchwork we installed at the November work session. At the far end will be a removable section of benchwork connecting the two sides of the aisle. The main entrance to the layout will be there. The removable section will swing out of the way to allow access - up, down or sideways, I'm not sure yet.

I'm currently building the switches to connect the two additional yard tracks to the "near-end" yard throat, plus additional switches for engine servicing tracks. That's going to require at least and additional three right- and two left-hand #6 switches, and I may add additional tracks beyond that, as there is plenty of room behind the roundhouse for additional facilities or maybe a couple of industries. Laurel is going to be a busy place!

And now we're up to date!