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!

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