Here are my favorite pages of the whole site - the construction progress pages. The last of 2005 and the beginning of 2006 have seen what seems almost magical progress! Tracks are finally leaving the horizontal "plains of Laurel" and progressing up into the third dimension.

To see prior construction progress updates, click on the appropriate text string.

The Old House








I began installing the backdrop relief panel at Glenrock in January. This is spaced in front of the sky the thickness of a 1X2 (3/4"). Behind it will lay the red sunrise / sunset lights - red Christmas Tree rope lights.

A close-up of the relief panel. The tops of distant hills are cut into the panel. This will be painted the appropriate colors, and 3-D scenery will begin somewhat elow the top.


By February 1st, the relief board was in place for the entire length of the sky.
This is looking along tracks in Minneapolis staging yard. I got curious as to what it looked like under there. 
In mid February I started playing with the Laurel roundhouse area. Here I installed one of the outdoor turntable radial tracks.
My focus was mostly on Glenrock in March, though. I installed a bunch of horizontal 1X2s to support the styrofoam scenery.
And here's the base sheet of styrofoam carved to rough shape and laid in place on the scenery supports.


I started out by adding several odd-shaped blocks of foam on top of the scenery base.
I rounded off the scenery shapes using a serrated knife and a surform tool. I tried a foam carving hot knife, but it was too slow. The surform tool requires more elbow grease, but I like its control better.
During the latter part of March I turned back to the roundhouse area in Laurel. I cut a large hole in the subroadbed for the inspection pits, and installed the floor per the turntable instructions. I had to fiddle with the tracks to get the alignment correct, but after only ten or fifteen hours of work, all tracks were installed and wired - fully functioning. I may install a rotary switch on the control panel in the future so that only one track is powered at any one time - no need to run all those decoders all the time!
Another view of the roundhouse floor. Weathering will be added when the roundhouse is built above the floor.
Finally - a place to park locomotives! They had been setting out in Laurel's interchange yard or in the staging tracks.
Another view of the tracks, full up.


I discovered, as I half expected, that the foam scenery base above the IRDots reflected too much of the beam back down to the sensor, giving false occupied indications. To eliminate the problem, I attached squares of sandpaper to the bottom of the foam over the detectors. The sandpaper scatters the beam - no more false indications! The pins were just in place until the glue dried.
Sandpaper glued so it will sit over all five detectors at the west end of Minneapolis staging.
An event that I've anticipated for years - scenery construction beginning in earnest! The base in the above photos will be used, but it was a test to see if the styrofoam would work, and what sort of pitfalls I might have with it. This is the first real stack to make some hills, which will go behind the track at Glenrock. I glued the foam sheets together using Liquid Nails for Projects.
And now I've started the carving process. I still like the surform tool, but it make a lot of tiny little pink shavings!
After I rough carved the first pieces of foam, I realized that I had to put in the upper deck in the area to test out lower level lighting. So on April 19th my good friend Walt, who helps with the heavier work on the layout, came over and helped install the first section of upper deck benchwork. Holy cow - another milestone!
The threaded rod worked so well on the helix that I decided to use it to support the front edge of the upper deck benchwork. The back is attached to the studs you can see in various photos. The backdrop mount - a 1X2, worked great as a rest for the upper deck until it could be secured to the studs (I actually did plan it out that way).
The end of the day - the first upper deck section of benchwork is in place!
The benchwork installation went so easily that we had time left over to mount a couple more sections of to-be-sky backdrop, which will allow the completion of sky behind Glenrock and around the wall behind part of Thermopolis.


Here's a shot of the test train running out of hidden trackage between the pink hills of the Glenrock area. I discovered that the hole in the backdrop was too low, and a somewhat over-height gondola load hung up. A bit of trimming and it's fine now.


By late June I extended the backdrop around the end of the Glenrock benchwork and into the Thermopolis area.


Construction Methods