1. The first Helix is complete.
As you can see below, the helix has been installed onto the layout. It took about 8 hours all up to install the table, lay the helix, and on each layer, lay the track as a continuous curve, and solder droppers for power. Many thanks to Rodney from Ashlin Designs for the custom built helix, easy to set up and very sturdy.
|The Helix will join the two levels together. 2.5% Grade, 12.75" and 14" radius curves.|
|Side view with two trains stabled on the tracks (no locos)|
|A better view of the current end-of-line.|
|Another view into the helix.|
2. The Upper level roadbed is complete.
As you can see below, the roadbed not extends through the whole layout on the upper level. Since it skips the peninsula (which will contain the yard) it is a simple 'U' Shape around. I managed to finish the spline in 2-3 days, with still plenty to spare.
|Left Hand Side, future site of 'Meridian' with the loop and main line present for the helix.|
|The future site of 'Steino Triangle' - The entrance to Steino Yard.|
|A view showing both the upper and lower levels, with my current project of soldering sub-buses evidenced on the lower level.|
|Looking back onto the helix.|
By Christmas time, I would like to have a complete track around. That is going to be a hard ask, since I have to:
-Order another helix, install and lay track on said helix.
-Lay track along the upper level
-Have one point hooked into the DCC Bus.
Still, nothing like a challenge!
To keep myself motivated I'm also shortly going to purchase two locos to test the track with. A Kato SD70ACe, (UP Colours) and an Atlas GP38-2 (BNSF)
Why these two?
-One is a 6 axle and one is a 4 axle loco. This will help me test the pointwork and trackage that I have currently laid.
-Different brands have different characteristics, so this will let me see how they behave on the helix and along the other parts of the line.
Eventually they will be utilised for the unit coal train and local industry jobs.
4. This yard bugs me.
Is this yard too complex? Am I trying to compress too much track into the limited space I have? I'm starting to think so. Looking back at my previous design iterations for this yard, I can see how it has had a habit of filling out the empty space I have.
The yard in an operations context has a simple purpose:
-Trains come in with empties from staging.
-empties are arranged into industry turns for local trains to pickup.
-local trains come in from linside industries, drop off 'raw' goods which are then switched to industries within the yard.
-'refined' goods (cars picked up from industries within the yard) are switched into outgoing trains. they are then picked up and taken to staging - the car cycle is complete.
-A unit reefer train swings around the outside of the yard - to make things interesting.
I'm thinking of keeping the left hand side the way it its, but replace the haphazard tracks in the lower right with a ladder for a large grain/hopper goods complex.
The right hand side will become a lot simpler, the two passenger arrival roads will become a passenger arrival and loop road only, to allow freight trains to use the loop. the freighlt loop and industries will disappear to be replaced with a slightly modified layout of the 'timesaver' shunting puzzle. a lot simpler trackage, and a bit more room to put in some scenic items. since I will be battling a low depth-of-field on the rest of the layout, its probably a good idea.
Whilst writing this I did a quick mockup - I'm liking it this way a lot more already.
|A modified design, with changed track each side, and expanded shunting necks.|
I'm going to write another article shortly outlining my current idea for operations on the layout, after visiting a couple of layouts I have gotten some ideas on how to forward cars and I think i am now at a point where I can begin to start a theoritical car flow, and work on it from there once we start operating (Q1/Q2 next year hopefully)
Thats it for now, enjoy!