PROGRESS - 2005
Here are my
favorite pages of the whole site - the construction progress pages
(depending on the rate of progress, though, they may become my least
To see prior
construction progress updates, click on the appropriate text string.
to Construction Progress
is the double-crossover at the west end of Laurel. You can see the
ground throw switchstands on three of the four sets of points.
Once I start adding scenery, these will be painted and targets
the switchstand installed on the switch at the East end of Laurel.
Someday, the backdrop that will hide the helix from view will be
positioned just in front of the camera lens.
overall view of most of the layout as of mid-February. Half a dozen
or so new cars have been added, the Doodlebug is now DCCd, and the
Seattle staging yard switch machines are now in place and partially
wired. The GN passenger cars I just stuck on the layout as a whim.
They'll be back in their boxes soon.
is the NP control panel. The unlabeled switch in the upper left
corner is the power switch. All this panel will do for the present
is power all the Tortoise switch machines in the Seattle and
Minneapolis staging yards. If I power the Laurel turntable, it will
also control the motor for that.
is the NP Control Panel frame (three of the four sides of it,
anyway). The frame was made very simply by cutting old 2X8s I had
laying around. The panel face slips into the slot near the top of
the frame. The terminal strips seen connect the panel internal
wiring to the layout. To control 16 switches requires a total of 34
wire connections to the layout - two for each switch machine and two
the panel face is slid into it's grooves in the housing. The back
has a similar housing, and will be screwed to the two sides. The
front is screwed and glued together, but I want to be able to remove
the panel face, so no glue on the back.
mid-March I started building the two-track interchange yard at
Laurel. Since I use 1/4 inch cork for the mainline and 1/8 inch for
everything else (to get that prototypically correct - and so
visually pleasing - raised mainline, I have to build ramps to get
from the mainline to other tracks. This is the beginning of one of
the Laurel ramps. The ramps are similar in approach to the way I
superelevate curves - layers of 1/4 inch masking tape stacked up,
each subsequent layer shorted than the one below it to provide a
same ramp completed. The ramps are about 16 1/2 inches long, and at
their thickest 24 layers of tape deep. I don't anticipate a problem
with the tape separating, since masking tape tends to fuse together
as it ages, and once ballasted the ramp will be constrained by the
track and ballast. Laurel yard has no switch leads, so the ramp at
each end is built under a switch. I was a little concerned about how
well locos would track through a switch on a ramps, but I've had no
problems so far, and I've been running trains through the switches
to test them for two months now without a single derailment.
the end of March I started laying the subroadbed for the Minneapolis
mid-May, I had the Laurel interchange yard built and the small
engine servicing area laid out. Construction on that area will be in
fits and spurts, around other work on the layout.
Minneapolis staging yard is finally under construction! We're
looking east at the west end throat of the yard. Subroadbed and
roadbed construction were completed over the last few months. I've
started adding re-railers after each switch in the hidden track
areas. In long runs between switches (like on the helix), I'll add a
few as well. At about two bucks each, they're a cheap way to avoid a
potential derailment disaster. They are NOT a way for me to get more
lax in my trackwork!
June - The last bit of cork has been put in place on the NP
mainline, in the curved area of the Minneapolis staging yard.
June - Minneapolis staging yard tracks going down. I decided to try
gluing the track with caulk rather than nailing hidden track down as
I had been doing, and it works great! The track is securely in
place. The yard tracks in this picture - 12 three-foot pieces of
flex track, went down in about an hour, and that included the prep
work, like removing ties from the track ends and what-not. Lots
faster than nailing!
staging yard is now complete, save for some track feeders at the far
end. The track was done in early August, but business took me away
from home on several occasions, so wiring of the near-end turnout
machines waited until late September.
had one trouble spot with one of the turnout machines - the darn
thing fell right above an L-girder, and there wasn't enough
clearance for the machine to fit in place! So I set the machine off
to the side and adding this linkage arm. I took .032 wire, made two
little eyelets, then made the loop on the
link arm and threaded the arm through the eyelets. I fit the arm to
the offset machine, then drilled two small holes for the eyelet
posts. The holes were small enough that the eyelets were a press-fit
through the cork and into the sub-roadbed. I bent the link end to
fit the turnout throwbar, and pressed the eyelets into the roadbed.
All done, and it works like a charm. It took about 45 minutes to do
final touches on the control panel for the NP staging is shown here
- the cables which run to the different yard throats for turnout
control are all bundled together into one nice, more-or-less neat
accomplished a lot on the layout in the last quarter of 2005 -
unfortunately it mostly doesn't look like much! I got a great start
on the behemoth helix, thanks in large part to my friend Walt and my
wife Denise. Here's a progress photo as of December 20th. By the new
year I expect to have all the tiers "installed" at the top
of the suspension rods, and the lowest tier in its final location.
one is obvious to me since I'm around the layout all the time, but
an occasional visitor might not even notice - the entire layout has
been lowered by about 5 1/2 inches. As I started installing the
helix, it became clear that the top deck would be too close to the
basement ceiling for any good scenery. It would be at eye level for
me, which would mean most folks would have to stand on their toes or
wear stilts to see it! The lowest level of track had been set at a
comfortable level for working and viewing. But mostly it will be
hidden. The lowest generally visible level of track will be four
inches higher! The only part of the lowest level to remain visible
will be in Laurel. So to gain clearance and visibility, I clamped
temporary legs at each permanent leg, then removed the permanent
legs one at a time and cut 5 1/2 inches off the bottom using the rip
fence on my bench saw as a guide. Reinstalling the leveling screws
(without adjusting them) and reattaching the legs using the exact
same screw holes provided a relatively pain-free, accurate reduction
in all leg heights. Here you see one of the legs shortened, and the
temporary leg behind it.
several leg sets were shortened, I started at the free end of the
Laurel peninsula and lowered each set of legs 1/2 inch at a time,
until the entire layout was lowered. It took two of the three weeks
during the time between Thanksgiving and mid December to get the
entire layout done. It makes quite a difference! Track that had been
waist-high now is almost at mid-thigh on me. I have to remind myself
that most visible track will be higher. In this photo the free end
of the Laurel peninsula is about halfway down, while the Minneapolis
staging yard, as yet unlowered, is visible in the background. As he
often does, Walt helped with this "heavy construction," as
did my wife Denise.