LayoutConstruction

Overall  This is overall design of the layout. It's a three level mushroom design.The lower and middle levels are viewed from the aisles and the upper level is viewed from inside the center platform. The floor of the center platform is 30" above the room floor.  The overall design of the layout is a 'loop to loop' with a long mainline run between the end loops.  The lower return loop is in the top right corner and will be hidden under the large city. The upper return loop is above the helix next to the center platform.  There is about 500 ft of mainline run between the lower and upper return loops. Lower Level  The lower level. Most of the lower level is at 42" elevation. My freelance version of the city of Ogden Utah is located along the top/right of the lower level.  In my freelance version of Utah in the 1950s, Pirates from the Great Salt Lake founded Ogden. ;) MiddleLevel  The mainline exits the helix at 62" elevation on the middle level. About half the middle level is flat at 62" but then it starts climbing (2% helper district) until reachs about 80" where it crosses above the aisle into the upper level.
UpperLevel  The upper level mainline track starts at about 80" elevation and levels out at 82" elevation. With the 30" high raised floor of the center platform it is effectively 52" high.  The mainline enters a tunnel before reaching the upper return loop (with 5 staging tracks) which is above the helix.  There is a branchline that splits off the mainline and climbs up to 88" (58" relative) to service a large industry (or town) above the upper return loop and helix). ElectricalBusDiagram  Simplified bus wiring diagram 3D Overview  This is a 3D overview with the backdrops and terrain removed.  The pink areas will be 1" rigid foam sheets.
20150703 104405  Lowes delivered the initial load of lumber for the layout benchwork. 20150703 114227  First I built a storage rack for the lumber.... 20150703 114239  .
20150704 071022  Finally I moved all the lumber from the driveway into the garage. 20150704 071048  . IMG 2562  This is what the train room looked like before construction on the layout started.
IMG 2559  . P7051645  And then I started on building the 'center platform'.which makes the 'room within a room' of the mushroom layout design. P7051647  The benchwork leaning against the wall in the background was recovered when I deconstructed my old layout. I may be able to use some of it in the new layout,otherwise I will take the pieces apart and reuse the 1x4 and 1x3 boards.
P7051649  Building floor joists to support the 30" high floor of the center platform. P7051641  One of the other projects was to seal off the windows. The windows exist only for exterior archictectural reasons and get in the way of the layout construction because there will be two levels of shelf benchwork crossing them.  I first installed 2" rigid foam with reflective finish facing out and then mounted 5/8" plywood. P7051643  Furring strips around the perimeter of the window to be used for mounting the plywood.
IMG 2664  You can see the 2" rigid foam insulation in the windows on the back wall. IMG 2665 IMG 2666  Wide angle perspective showing the size of the center platform.
IMG 2670  I have tied the joists together across the front (where the helix will be located). IMG 2667  The joists were spaced 24" on center so I can use the area under the center platform to store the large plastic storage tubs. IMG 2675  I have installed the 3/4" tongue/groove plywood floor and one of the center platform wall panels (1/2" sanded plywood). The wall panel on the right is just leaning against the stud wall.
IMG 2676  The two 4 ft wide plywood floor sheets were about 3" short of making all the way to the near side of the platform here. IMG 2680  All of the center platform wall panels have been installed. I plan to fill in the 4" gap around the bottom at some point (probably before I install the carpet tile on the center platform). IMG 2688  The 5/8" plywood has been mounted.
IMG 2682 IMG 2684 IMG 2687
IMG 2689  I'm starting construction on the benchwork where the lower return loop and 5 staging tracks will be hidden under the large city.  The lower level benchwork will be 1x4 open grid style. IMG 2691  Here's my open grid benchwork construction/assembly area in the garage. IMG 2692  I am using SPAX 1 3/4" hardwood/MDF screws to assemble the open grid benchwork).
IMG 2693  Adding the second piece. The benchwork assemblies are bolted together with 1/4"x2" bolts and affixed the the wall stubs using 2.5" cabinet screws. IMG 2696  After the 3rd and 4th pieces were installed.  The two larger openings in the benchwork near the corner are access points where I will be able to reach the back side of the deep (44") city scene (which will have a removable backdrop to provide access from the back). IMG 2701  The lower return loop will have a radius of 38".  The 5 staging tracks inside the return loop will have radii: 35.75", 33.5", 31.25", 29", and 26"
IMG 2703  I used 2x6 SYP (Southern Yellow Pine) boards as the main support beams for the upper level 'wings'. IMG 2704  There is 6' 3.5" clearance under the upper level wings. IMG 2712  I built the stairs to get up onto the center platform. I also started work on the lower level benchwork on the right side of the door. I wanted to get that benchwork area built to establish the 'traffic flow' around the layout.
IMG 2713  The stairs are very solid. IMG 2716  The view entering the room. IMG 2718  I temporarily installed a piece of the old benchwork to the center platform to get a feel for how wide the aisle would be.  With exception of a couple places (entry door way, stairs up to center platform) the aisles are 48" +- 2" wide.
IMG 2721  The benchwork on the right is just temporarily mounted to get a feel for the aisle width. IMG 2724  Overall view of the work I accomplished in week one. IMG 2727  I rebuilt my benchwork assembly table so it's taller and more level. This makes it easier to produce accurate open grid benchwork assemblies.
IMG 2728  I also finally got around to installing an L6-30 240V receptacle for one of the workshop's 240v 30AMP circuits. This allowed me to run the Grizzly 240v 2HP dust collectosr. I also started configuring my dust collection system. Right now I just have the vortex chip collector, miter saw (it's hard to tell!) and the floor sweeper duct hooked up. IMG 2735  The lower level benchwork along the right side steps down to allow the mainline to descend into the lower level return loop and staging that will be under the large city (which will be along the walll behind the photographer.) IMG 2737  The main division yard will be along the far wall. The benchwork is 30" deep along that wall. I need to install a bunch of support arms from the wall to the benchwork in this area.
IMG 2739  I continuously verify level when building the benchwork. IMG 2742  Home Depot had their Ridgid MS1290LZA 12" sliding saw on sale for $299 so I bought a new miter saw.  I will be keeping my existing Delta 10" miter saw to use as a chop saw to use for cutting the Closetmaid Shelftrack mounting tracks/standards for the middle level shelf supports. I need about 100 shelf bracket mounts for the middle level benchwork.. IMG 2747  I was trying to decide how to support the middle level (shelf) benchwork.  These shelf brackets are very sturdy, but the diagonal support struts intrude into the lower level 'airspace' and make it difficult to create a seamless backdrop for the lower level as well.
IMG 2748  You can see how these brackets intrude into the lower level airspace. IMG 2745  This 'custom' bracket solves the problems of the previous bracket: it does not intrude into the lower level airspace and it would be very easy to install a seamless backdrop.  Unfortunately (as expected) it has too much deflection when you place weight at the outside end of the bracket. IMG 2746  This is the Closetmaid Shelftrack system with a 20" shelf bracket (for the 24" deep benchwork).  The bracket mounting 'track' comes in lengths from 12" to 84" and they have 12" 16" and 20" brackets. I cut two 5" lengths from a 48" track. In this configuration the 20" shelf bracket only intrudes about 3.5" into the lower level 'airspace' but the top of the mounting track blocks the middle level banchwork from mounting directly onto the face of the studs.
IMG 2744  In this configuration the middle level benchwork can mount directly to the studs but the mounting track intrudes about 2" farther into the lower level backdrop. It seems to be very sturdy (Using Spax #10 2.5" screws to attach the mounting track to the stud).  I'm going to try cutting the mounting track about 2" shorter to see if it's still sturdy enough when mounting directly onto the studs of the center platform. I'm pretty sure I will not be able to shorten the mount track for the middle level benchwork supports that will attach to the drywall walls around the outside of the room. The good news is that most of that benchwork is only 16" deep. IMG 2750  Working on the lower level benchwork where the main (classification) yard will be.  The benchwork is 30" deep along here. IMG 2757  After I added the wall support struts.
IMG 2769  Building more of the lower level benchwork around the center platform. I need to add wall support struts. IMG 2762  I have started building the shelf for the 4 track staging (and 'offsite' passenger train service facility) that will be located in the model workshop. IMG 2764  The wall studs were exactly where I expected them to be when I cut the opening of the model workshop staging track entrance from the train room.
IMG 2772  At some point after the layout benchwork construction is completed I plan to go through the wall on the right and add a return loop in the woodshop/workshop.  The return loop will be designed so it can lift up against the wall when It's not needed. IMG 2773  I wired and installed DPDT switches so the staging track can be selectively powered/controlled either by the 'main' layout DCC control or by the Zephyr in the model workshop. I also wired it so the closest track can function as a standalone DCC programming track P8151672  I'm also working out the 'kinks' on how I plan to use 5630 SMD LED light strips to light the layout.
P8151669  The view from the train room looking into the model workshop. IMG 2774  I have completed the lower level basic benchwork. I will be installing 5/8" plywood and 1/2" homasote in the yard and engine terminal areas and 5/8" plywood and 1" Foamular 150 (pink) ridgid foam in other areas before I start to lay track. IMG 2778  The aisles are nice and wide.  Hopefully the aisles will still seem nice and wde if/when I host operating sessions. :)
IMG 2779  I need to start work on the helix infrastructure before I build the final section of lower level benchworkwork (on the left). I also cut and mounted the first/test shelf support for the middle level around the center platform. It is 1 1/2" x 3/16" right angle steel stock and it seems like it should be sturdy enough to support the middle level benchwork (24" deep).  I need 24 of these supports. IMG 2780  I mounted some supports and a piece of 1 1/2" right angle steel bracket across the aisle to simulate where the track will cross from the middle level (nolix) over the the upper level (center platform). IMG 2796  I am starting to work on the helix and upper return loop support structure.The helix will be double track with 37.5" and 40" radius tracks and will connect the lower level at 42" elevation to the middle level at 62" elevation. The helix will have 4.5 revolutions to climb the 20" elevation change. The upper level return loop will be at 82" elevation.
IMG 2802  The helix will have 4" rail to rail elevation rise per revolution.  There is 6' 4.5" head room under the 2x6 support beams across the top. IMG 2803  The 2x4s that are mounted to the vertical columns will support a 3/4" plywood base that will support the helix. IMG 2805  The eight vertical support columns are lag bolted to the slab.
IMG 2806  The upper return loop will be 40" radius and it will have 5 staging track loops inside of it. IMG 2811  The 3/4" plywood support base is perfectly level. I will use a multitude of different height riser blocks to provide the correct slope for the first revolution of the helix. Once the first revolution of the helix is complete with the correct slope I can use constant height riser blocks to build to next 3 1/2 revolutions.  The helix will be built with 2 overlapping layers of 15/32" sanded plywood. IMG 2812  The vertical column in front of the helix will provide support for the upper level return loop and will also provide support for the lower and middle level benchwork.  It is lined up with the outside edge of the lower level benchwork and the outside helix vertical support column. Th mainline track will come in from the right and curve to the right and enter the right side of the helix. The helix will climb in a counter clockwise direction and exit on the middle level headed back in this direction.
IMG 2814 IMG 2816  I need to add additional 3/4" plywood subroadbed to complete the upper level return loop. PlywoodCuts  I used 3rdPlanit CAD to try to figure out the optimal plywood cuts for the helix.  The helix will be constructed with two overlapping layers of 15/32" sanded plywood and it will be 4.5 revolutions.The left option would take 36 1/4 arc segments and require eight 4x8 sheets of plywood. The middle option will require 24 1/4 arc segments and 16 1/5 arc segments and it would require six plywood sheets.  The right option (1/3 arcs) will require 27 1/3 arc segments and nine plywood sheets (and waste the most plywood).
IMG 2818  I built the lower level benchwork that connects to the helix structure. IMG 2821  Starting to work on the wall panels that drop from the ceiling that support the outside of the upper level benchwork. IMG 2820  Starting to work on the wall panels that drop from the ceiling that support the outside of the upper level benchwork.
IMG 2822 IMG 2838 IMG 2831  Sept 7 2015 - I built the upper level benchwork on the left side of steps going up into the center platform. Because I had reduced the overall length of the center platform from 16' 6" to 16' to provide more efficient use of 16' and 8' lumber (I moved the center platform to the 'right' in the room in order to provide more aisle width near the locomotive service terminal) the 2x6 blocking I had installed in the ceiling no longer lined up with the back edge of this 24" depp upper level benchwork. Therefore I built this benchwork to be 30" deep in order to line up with the 2x6 blocking in the ceiling.  All the other areas where I built walls from the ceiling to support the outside/back edge of the upper level benchwork lined up ok.
IMG 2832  This is where the mainline track will cross above the aisle from the middle level nolix up into the center platform area. IMG 2841 IMG 2837  I built this section of upper level benchwork that connects the two 'wings' that extend from the center platform the corners of the room.
IMG 2843  And then I built/installed the wall panel that mounts to the ceiling and supports the outside edge of this benchwork. IMG 2844  Next I will install the 5mm panel to this wall assembly. IMG 2846  An overview of the center platform.  I will also be installing wall panels from the ceiling to the edges of the 'wings' so the entire center platform will be closed in except for where the steps come up.
IMG 2850  Sept 8 2015 - I finished the last wall panel that supports the outside edge of the upper level benchwork (between the two 'wings' that extend the upper level to the corners of the room). IMG 2852 IMG 2854
IMG 2855 IMG 2858  Sept 20 2015 - Working on the shelf brackets that will support the middle level benchwork.  These are ClosetMaid 16" shelf track shelf brackets that I am painting flat black. I need about 70 of them (one for each stud 16" on center around the perimeter of the 2x4 stud walls).  I built a PVC stand to hang about 40 of them while spray painting outdoors. IMG 2861  Setup in the yard on the south side of the detached garage. The 'lawn' is very long because we had new sod installed in front of the house/garage and we have to wait about a month before the lawn guys can mow it.
IMG 2862  The black spray paint is quite fragile so I had to do a little touch up after carrying the brackets inside. IMG 2865  These are the 1.5" steel angle brackets I fabricated to use as shelf brackets by mounting to the exposed studs around the center platform.  I started with eight pieces of 72" long raw steel 1.5" right angle brackets. I used my old 10" miter saw and a metal cutoff blade to cut them into twenty-four 24" long pieces.  I then cut off the front bottom corner (in order to try and avoid giving people lobotomies if they reach their head under the middle level shelf) and I used my bench grinder to smooth all the cuts.  Next I drilled 4 holes in each (3 to mount to the studs, 1 to screw into the 5/8" plywood shelf).  I then sanded the loose rust, cleaned with acetone and them applied a thick coat of Ospho. Ospho converts Iron Oxide (rust) into Iron Phosphate (a hard, inert substance).  FInally I spray painted them flat black. IMG 2867
IMG 2869  After spray painting flat black. IMG 2871  These are the Closet Maid double track shelf mounting brackets I will use to mount the 16" shelf brackets to the drywall/stud walls. I started with five 84" shelf tracks and cut each of them into 5" segments. I then used the bench grinder to grind all the cuts/burrs smooth.  Finally I drilled 2 mount holes in each one. I plan to make 5"x1.5" pieces of 1/4" plywood to mount between the 5" shelf bracket and the drywall walls. I plan to use two 2.5" Spax #10X screws to attach these bracket mounts into the studs. IMG 2873  After spray painting the 5" bracket mounts.
IMG 2878  I mounted the middle level shelf brackets to the center platform studs. IMG 2883  Given the wide span across the corners of the center platform, I plan to fabricate and mount pieces of 1.5" steel right angle brackets to the bottom of the 5/8" plywood to help support the plywood (prevent sag). IMG 2898  October 18 2015 - I have mounted all the Closet Maid wall tracks and 16" shelf brackets into studs to support the middle level.
IMG 2900  I ended up installing 70 of the 16" shelf brackets. I used two Spax 3.5" 10x screws to mount each 5" track through the drywall into the studs. IMG 2904  I also cut access holes into the 5/8" plywood panels that cover the windows. If necessary I will be able to cut through the 2" foam to access/unlock the windows and then we can open the windows from the outside for maintenance purposes. IMG 2905  I had a cat helping to mount shelf brackets.
IMG 2907  I have begun installing the 19/32" plywood that will form the base shelf for the flat terrain areas of the middle level. I will install sheets of 3/4" Foamular 150 rigid insulation on top of the plywood. I had planned to use 1" Foamular 150 sheets however only 3/4" is available in Florida (unless you want to special order a case of 48 sheets). IMG 2909  One of the engineering challenges I had not solved was how to support the corners of the middle level shelf around the center platform. With just the right angle brackets mounted to the exposed studs there was considerable deflection when you pull down on the 19/32" plywood. I have decided to use one of these 13"x20" heavy duty brackets for each corner.  I created a 13" 2x2 out of a 2x4 and mounted it on the INSIDE of the plywood wall of the center platform and then I used three 2" 10x Spax screws to screw through the plywood into the 2x2. Then I used 3/4" screws to mount the bracket to the 19/32" middle level shelf.  It is very sturdy and the shelf does not deflect at all. I started thinking about how I was going to mount the coved concave backdrop with the bracket in the way and I realized that when I'm ready to mount the backdrop I should remove the shelf bracket, mount the coved backdrop so it's touching the plywood wall corner, and then mount the shelf bracket to the backdrop. I can paint the shelf brackets the same sky blue as the backdrop. IMG 2910  I designed the nominal track height of the middle level (62") so that it's just an inch or two below my eye level so it will put me "in" the layout when operating the layout.
IMG 2917 IMG 2916 IMG 2914  The middle and right side of the lower level here will be a locomotive (steam and diesel) service facility. If you look close you can see I drew in the approximate location of the 130' turnatable and 12 stall roundhouse. Because this area is much too deep to reach the back sections the two wall panels behind this area are removable (each panel is held in place with 6 wing nuts).
IMG 2938  Nov 22 2015 - Building the wall panels and coved backdrop for the upper level 'wings'. IMG 2941  I will install a 5mm plywood panel on the outside of the upper level wing and 1/8" masonite for the backdrop on the inside of the wall panel. IMG 2942  Eventually I plan to paint the layout wall panels the same off-white as the room wall color.
IMG 2943 IMG 2950  I installed an 8ft length of the LED strip lights I have planned to use for the lower and middle level layout lighting.  It's two parallel strips of 2835 LEDs (60/meter). They don't put out quite as much light as I was hoping. I will try adding a third row and if that doesn't provide enough light then I may go to 5630 LED strip lights (which use twice the power as the 2835 LEDs). This was a test of both the LED strip lights (mounted at 30 deg from horizontal) and a test of the backdrop paint colors. Update: I noticed the 20AMP 12V power supply I was using was only putting out 11.4 volts and it had a switch to change between 220v and 110v AC input and it was set to default 220v input. After switching it to 110v input the power supply put out 12.4v and the LED lights became much brighter. IMG 2946  This photo shows the LED strip lights and the room T32 (6500K) fluorescent ceiling fixtures on.  The room lights are clearly brighter than the layout LED strip lights because you can see a much brighter area across the front of the benchwork where the room lights are hitting.
IMG 2957  Nov 23 2015 - I'm working on building/installing the wall panels and backdrop for the rightside upper level 'wing'. IMG 2959 IMG 2961  As expected this aisle area became noticeably darker after I closed in the upper level wings and blocked those two fluoresecent light fixtures.  This area is currently lit with a single 4ft dual T32 fixture. I will probably replace it with a quad 8ft T32 fixture and see if that 'fixes' the room lighting situation in this area.
IMG 2962 IMG 2965  The ultrawide 10-22 lens can make for interesting perspectives. I need to patch/sand the screw holes and seams and then paint the backdrops. IMG 3082  I use many different sizes of Spax t-star screws....
IMG 3093  December 31 2015 - My original goal was to have all the basic benchwork completed and the lower/upper return loops and helix track installed and functioning by the end of 2015, but that didn't happen.  I have completed 98%+ the benchwork and I also installed most of the lower/middle level lighting. IMG 3094  I have started construction of the large steel bracket that will support the middle level 1x3 benchwork above the city where the middle level nolix track crosses the aisle and heads up into the upper level. The piece of wood crossing the aisle shows the planned relative height of the track crossing the aisle. I have ordered a 96" long 3" wide by 1.5" tall steel A-36 U channel which will be used to simulate a (long) plate girder bridge to span across the aisle. IMG 3122  This is the view from the upper level where the bridge will cross over the aisle to the middle level 'nolix'.
IMG 3095  The middle level will have a 'nolix' along the outside wall to climb from 62" to the upper level 82" elevation. The track will be climbing along this stretch of middle level benchwork until it's about 14-15" above the benchwork. IMG 3097  I have also started experimenting with installing coved backdrop corners for the lower and middle levels.  I'm using 3/16" hardboard/masonite for the middle level fascia. IMG 3098
IMG 3101  I have also completed the 1x4 upper level benchwork in the upper level 'wings'. IMG 3103 IMG 3104  You can see the LED light strips I am using the light the lower/middle levels. I am using 2835 LED strips and I mount 2 rows of LEDs to 30 and 40 degree mounts that I rip from 2x4 studs.  Each 2x4 creates 4 mount pieces.  The yellow/orange 12GA wire is the LED lighting power bus. I am using four 20AMP 12V power supplies to power the LED lighting buses.
IMG 3105 IMG 3106  The basic layout of the tracks along the main division yard. IMG 3108  There was a single 4ft dual T32 fluorescent fixture on the ceiling here which was not providing enough light so I replaced it with an 8ft quad T32 fixture which provides much better room lighting (although it overpowers the LED layout lighting).
IMG 3109 IMG 3110  In areas where the middle level is built with 5/8" plywood and 3/4" foam and supported by Closetmaid 16" shelf brackets I have to run the power buses wires over the shelf brackets. Ugh.   In areas where the benchwork is 1x3 or 1x4 open grid I can run the bus wires through the benchwork boards (much better). IMG 3111  You can see the LED lighting power bus running through the benchwork.
IMG 3112 IMG 3113 IMG 3114
IMG 3116 IMG 3117  You can see some of the 40 degree LED mount boards sitting on the left side benchwork.  For the middle level nolix benchwork I plan to install 5" tall hardboard fascia to the 1x3 benchwork and then mount the LED mount boards to the back of the fascia that will light the lower level. IMG 3118
IMG 3119  This is what the LED lighting looks like before installation.  I wire the two LED strips together so it needs only one power connection. IMG 3121  The LED light strip power connection. I use Scotchlok 'suitcase' connectors to connect to the 12V LED layout lighting bus wires. IMG 3123  Upper level left-side wing
IMG 3124  Upper level right-side wing IMG 3125 IMG 3126  With the room lights turned off.
IMG 3127 IMG 3128 IMG 3129
IMG 3132  Jan 3 2016 - I finished building the steel bracket that supports the middle level benchwork where the mainline nolix crosses over the aisle as it heads up to the upper level. I have also started cutting and dry placing the 3/4" plywood subroadbed for the lower return loop and staging tracks that will be hidden under the city (Ogden).  Once I am happy with the layout of subroadbed before screwing it down I will use it as templates to cut 1/2 homasote roadbed.  This task has also forced me to figure out exactly how I am going to support the plywood base of the city above the hidden return loop (as well as how the detachable backdrop behind the 42" deep high rise city scene will be built/installed. IMG 3134  This benchwork projects 48" from the wall and the top of the 1x3 benchwork is 77.5" elevation. IMG 3135
IMG 3136  Working on laying out the subroadbed for the double track mainline as it climbs a 1.3% grade and emerges from under the city. IMG 3144  Placed the board that shows the span where the mainline crosses the aisle on its way up to the upper level. IMG 3146
IMG 3145  I also installed a conduit over the door to allow me a shorter run for electrical cables/busses as an alternative to going all the way around the outside of the room. I considered trying to run the conduit inside the wall but this wall is a load bearing wall (with lots of extra blocking), it has all the plumbing for the bathroom, and it has a bunch of electrical.  So I took the ugly path of less resistance. IMG 3143  I finished installing the layout lighting LED strips that light the lower level. Note the "start climb" notation on the left. This is the point where the middle level nolix starts the 2.0% climb up to the upper level. IMG 3147  Showing the newly installed LED layout lighting sections with the room lights turned off.
IMG 3148 IMG 3149 IMG 3160  Jan 10 2015 - I painted/sealed the homasote subroadbed for the lower return loop.  The color is Behr N200-3  "Nightingale Gray". In the top left corner you can see a train crossing the aisle on the "plate girder" bridge that will be used to cross above the aisle into the upper level.
IMG 3157 IMG 3158  I created a 1:1 scale design proposal for a control panel for the hidden lower return loop and staging track.  The red squares represent momentary switches that will toggle the turnout position.  The green circles represent 5mm bicolor LEDs that will indicate the turnout status (closed/thrown).  The red circles represent 5mm LEDs that indicate occupancy zones.  It also shows where the track is gapped.  The control panel would mount about 7" above it's current location once the plywood/foam base for the city is installed. IMG 3154  The lower return loop double track mainline will exit a tunnel portal at the bottom left of this photo.  You can see where it will transition from the homasote roadbed to the Woodland Scenics 3/16" foam roadbed about 3 feet from the exit of the tunnel.
IMG 3165  I used caulk to cover the drywall screws and seams in the homasote roadbed of the yard area.  After caulking I painted it with the Behr Nightingale Gray to seal it. IMG 3168  The loco service area in the lower right IMG 3169
IMG 3171  I finally started laying track (In the lower return loop).  The track is Atlas code 100. IMG 3175  I'm using Peco code 100 large insulfrog turnouts in the lower/upper return loops.  They will be controlled by Tortoise motors (which will be controlled by NCE Switch-it mk2 stationary DCC decoders with fron panel toggle buttons. IMG 3174
IMG 3163  The 8 ft long "U" channel raw steel bar that I plan to use to cross aisle into the upper level was delivered last week. It is 3" wide and 1.5" tall.  I plan to glue a section of 1/2" homasote into the U channel to use as roadbed.  This allows the train to be clearly visible as it crosses approx 80" above the floor but still (hopefully) provides some ability to "catch" wayward trains before they make to death fall to the floor.  I need to get the raw steel sanded and painted soon to avoid it rusting (of course some rust might be appropriate as 'weathering'). IMG 3179  Jan 19 2016 - All the track for the lower return loop and staging tracks has been layed.  Now I need to install track feeders and connect them to the track power bus. IMG 3181
IMG 3182 IMG 3190  Each of the 6 loops of track is an occupancy zone and each of the 2 turnout ladders is an occupancy zone so there are 8 track bus wire pairs. I ran out of combinations with a white wire so I ended up using a blue/silver wire as #8. IMG 3195  Jan 24 2016 - The lower level reverse loop and staging track have been wired for DCC track power and tested with 3 locomotives. I have also begun to work on the DCC infrastructure in order to test the track installation.
IMG 3196  The next step is to install the Tortoise motors to drive the turnouts and the NCE Switch-8 + button board to control the Tortoises.  I will also be installing the RR-Cirkits BOD-8 and FOB-A boards to handle the occupancy zone detection and LED status display. IMG 3197  This is the 'remote' booster #2 which  provides track power for the lower return loop and staging tracks.  The lower return loop is driven by a DCC Specialties PSX-AR to handle the reversing nature of the return loop. Booster #2 weill also drive a DCC Specialties PSX-4 which will eventually handle 4 other track power districts. IMG 3199  This is the main layout control panel.  The Digitrax DCS-100 which is main 'brain' of the DCC system is located here along with two Digitrac DB-150 boosters.   The DCS-100 will not be used to power any track.  One DB-150 will provide power/control for all the turnouts on the layout and the other DB-150 will drive a DCC Specialties PSX-4 and power/control 4 power districts. There are also four 20AMP 12v power supplies which power the lower/middle level layout LED lightstrips.
IMG 3201  I'm using a Digitrax PS2012 to provide power for the DCS-100, and two DB-150 boosters. Booster #1 will be connected to the PSX-4 in the top left corner to provide DCC track power for 4 power districts.  The turnout control booster will be connected to a power bus that will power/control all the turnouts (~100) on the layout. IMG 3204 IMG 3375  Feb 24 2016 - All twelve turnouts in the hidden lower return loop/staging track have been hooked up to NCE Switch-It mk II (one Switch-8 and 2 Switch-its).
IMG 3374  A Switch-It on the left and the Switch-8 on the right.  Behind the Switch-it on the left is the mount location for the RR-Cirkits BOD-8 and FOB-A occupancy detection/display boards. IMG 3376 IMG 3390  This mockup photo shows how the hidden lower level return loop control/status panel will sit between the 1x4 benchwork and the city base (5/8" plywood and 3/4" foam). It will be recessed so hopefully the turnout toggle switches won't be inadvertantly hit very often.
IMG 3394  There will be about 6" of clearance beneath the city base (5/8" plywood, 3/4" foam) to the hidden lower level return loop and staging tracks underneath. IMG 3373  I'm figuring out how the RR-CirKits BOD-8 and FOB-A boards work by testing them 'off layout' on my workbench before I install them on the layout.  I need to solder eight 82 ohm 1/8 watt resistors on each FOB-A board for the display panel occupancy status LEDs. I learned that if the occupancy zone is LARGE (like all 60+ feet of flex track in 4 staging tracks plus three turnouts in model workshop staging yard) then the occupancy detector will 'detect' empty track unless the sensitivity POT is turned almost all the way down.  Once I reconfigured the detector coil to detect a single track the BOD-8 started working as expected. IMG 3377  I installed a RRampMeter inline with the Digitrax DB-150 booster track power output to measure the voltage and current being consumed. This RRampmeter needs to be calibrated because it displays 0.16 amps even when no current is present.
IMG 3354  March 18 2016 - I've been working on installing backdrops and coving corners on the lower level for the last couple of weeks. I was unable to get the 1/8" masonite to consistently bend sharp enough for the inside coved corners around the center platform so I ended up using cheap formica to cove these corners.  Lots of spackling, fairing, sanding.  I'm not very good at making perfect drywall joints so this task is tedious. IMG 3355  Coving the corner with 1/8" masonite. IMG 3356
IMG 3357  I hit the masonite with 80 grit sandpaper using a palm sander before installing it on the layout to knock down the glossy finish and help the paint adher. IMG 3358 IMG 3359  I painted the panels on the right before installing them to see what the 'sky' blue was going to look like with the layout LED lighting.  I think it looks good and will look better when I drybrush on some clouds/haze.
IMG 3360 IMG 3361 IMG 3378  After priming the coved corners.  This is the corner where the double track mainline (foreground) is descending into the hidden lower return loop/staging track and a branchline (behind) is climbing to service the city above the hidden return loop.
IMG 3381  The primed coved corner where the double track mainline enters the division point classification yard area. IMG 3379  Primed lower level backdrop with coved corners around the center platform. IMG 3380
IMG 3382 IMG 3383 IMG 3385
IMG 3384 IMG 3386  Two issues here:   #1) The plywood that covers the window opening is recessed back from the drywall about 1/8"-3/16".  Do I just paint the plywood the backdrop sky color or do I install removable 1/8" masonite panels and then paint them?  #2) There's about a 1/16"-1/8" 'dip' in the homasote between 22" and 9" that needs to be filled/leveled before continuing to install the mainline foam roadbed. IMG 3387  The double track mainline descending (1.4% grade) down into lower level return loop and the branchline climbing (1.5% grade) up to service the city above the lower return loop.
IMG 3395  March 20 2016 -- I have started painting the base 'sky' blue on the lower level backdrops/background.  I have also installed coved corners in the the outside corners of the middle level.  I'm starting to spackle/fair/sand the coved corners before they are ready to prime/paint.  The middle level along this section is part of the 'nolix' that climbs from the middle level default 62" elevation up to the upper level at 80" elevation.  The middle level on the right will be a canyon wall with bridges and tunnel and will have terrain the reaches with a foot or two of the 10ft ceiling. IMG 3405  I'm not very good at drywall finishing so it takes me a long time to get the fairing/smoothing done to my satisfaction. IMG 3396  The coved inside corners around the lower level center platform turned out great.  You can see any seam at all.
IMG 3397  You can see I have installed the coved corner for the middle level on the far (right) end of this aisle. IMG 3400 IMG 3399
IMG 3401  It's remarkable to difference some sky blue paint makes. IMG 3402  I'm finishing up the fairing/sanding of the last coved corner on the lower level and starting the process on the middle level above it. The unpainted area on the lower level is ready to prime/paint. IMG 3403  I also painted the two removable backdrop panels behind the turntable/roundhouse area. I still need to finish the 2x4 supports and PVC conduit on the middle level.
HelixDisplayPanel  This is my first design proposal for the display/control panel for the helix.  The mainline enters the helix on the bottom right and then splits into two tracks.  The outer helix track (upward traffic) has a 40" radius and the inner helix track (downward traffic) has a 37.5" radius.  There are 4 1/2 laps to the helix plus lower and upper entrance/exit tracks.  Each 'lap' of each track will be an occupancy zone so there are 18 zones in the helix plus 3 zones for each of the entrance/exit tracks for a total of 22 occupancy zones. UpperReturnLoopDiagram3  This is my design for the hidden upper return loop and staging tracks. This is almost identical to the lower return loop except the upper return loop is a 'true' return loop with a single track mainline. IMG 3407  March 26 2016 -- More base blue sky being painted
IMG 3417 IMG 3411 IMG 3412  This shows how the middle level needs some LED layout lighting so the backdrop sky color matches the lower level backdrop. And it show how much work I've got to do (later) on the upper level backdrops.
IMG 3413 IMG 3414  This is in front of the left window opening. The 1/8" masonite panel is removable and the seams on the left and right sides of the window don't stand out too bad.... IMG 3415  The right window opening. The seams are a lot more visible.
IMG 3416  Again this highlights that the middle level needs some LED light strips in this area to match the lower level lighting. IMG 3418 IMG 3420  The sky backdrop on the left looks more purple than the other sky backdrops. It turns out the LED strips in that area are outputting 4400K color temp versus the rest of the LED strips outputting 3800K color temp. That LED strip will have to be replaced....
IMG 3422 IMG 3424  March 27 2016 -- Working on the 1/8" backdrop for the middle level around the center platform. IMG 3427
IMG 3428 IMG 3429  I coved the three corners of the middle level around the center platform using cheap formica. IMG 3430  Now I need to spackle/fair/sand/repeat all the seams and screw holes before priming/painting.
IMG 3431 IMG 3591  April 16 2016 - After spackling/fairing/sanding all the seams several times I primed the backdrop using Zinser 1-2-3 sealing primer. IMG 3592
IMG 3593 IMG 3594 IMG 3602  April 17 2016 - After painting the middle level backdrop around the center platform.  You can really see the difference in the much cooler color temperature of the LED strips on the level compared to the middle level backdrop.
IMG 3596  The lower and middle level backdrop colors look slightly different right now also because they are picking up the pink/purple foam on the bottom level versus the light brown/tan of the exposed plywood on the middle level. IMG 3597 IMG 3599
IMG 3600 IMG 3598  I painted sections of the 2x6 beams that support the upper level 'wings' the blue sky color where they project below the upper level benchwork. I will either leave them sky blue or possibly paint them (and the upper level benchwork) flat black at some point in the future. IMG 3601
IMG 3608  April 30 2016 - I've been working on installing the double track mainline through the main classification yard area. The flex track has been glued down with clear caulk and track power feeders have been fed through to the DCC track power 10GA bus wires under the benchwork.  Now I need to connect the track feeders to the track. I solder track feeders every other flex track connection (Approx every 6 feet). IMG 3605  Glueing down the track as it turns left near the loco service terminal area. IMG 3606
IMG 3614  Continuing on towards the big loop around where the turntable/roundhouse will be located. 20160501 080508  May 1 2016 - Gluing down the 3/4" foam around the center platform of the lower level. IMG 3617
IMG 3618  I installed the foam roadbed for the mainline around the center platform lower level. IMG 3619 IMG 3620
IMG 3621  Gluing down the single track mainline behind where the turntable/roundhouse will be located. 20160514 082401  The lower level mainline track has been completed all the way around the center platform and into the entrance of the helix. 20160514 082342  The lower level mainline track has been completed all the way around the center platform and into the entrance of the helix.
20160514 082324  The lower level mainline track has been completed all the way around the center platform and into the entrance of the helix. 20160508 130547  May 8 2016 - I have started construction of the helix.  The helix roadbed will be made from overlapping 15/32" sanded plywood so the roadbed will be 15/16" thick. There railhead to railhead height is 4" so there will be only 3 1/16" clearance between the helix levels.  The outside track (upward) has a 40" radius and a 1.595% grade and the inside track (downward) has a 37.5" radius and a 1.69% grade. There will be 4 1/2 revolutions to climb from 42" to 62".  This is the pattern I used to cut 1/4 arcs from the 15/32" plywood. I get five 1/4 arcs per sheet of plywood and I need 36 arcs. I tried cutting 4 sheets of plywood at once and the radial saw had no trouble but the jigsaw could not cut that many sheets at once so I cut two sheets at once with the jigsaw (and that was really slow). 20160508 112032  These are the 3/4" plywood risers I made to establish the grade for the first level of the helix.  There are 16 of them and they have 1/4" rise between each step.
P5081679  Here I am gluing the helix entrance roadbed where it comes in from the lower level mainline. I have also (dry) placed all the risers overlapping 1/4 arcs that make most of the first level. P5081681 P5081680  This is where the mainline track comes through the backdrop to enter the helix. I am fairing down cork roadbed in order to drop from the mainline track 3/16" foam roadbed down to the bare plywood of the helix.
P5081682  Gluing the first sections of the helix plywood roadbed.  Once I finish gluing the first level roadbed I will install both the inner and outer helix tracks and then I will install track feeders.  And then I will install the next level of helix roadbed. 20160512 064616  May 10 2016 - Gluing down the outside track of the helix. 20160513 055257  The inside track has been soldered and dry placed.
20160513 055333  I altered the turnout where the mainline splits into the inner and outer helix tracks from being a left hand to a right hand turnout to resolve two 'S' curves. 20160513 061051  I installed a scrap piece of 1/8" masonite as a proof of concept/test for enclosing the helix (eventually).  It seemed to be fairly sturdy but I may try a piece of 3/16" masonite to see how that does. 20160514 062125  I test fit a couple more 1/2" plywood roadbed arcs to see how the spacing when the helix makes a complete circle and starts covering the lower levels.
20160514 081954  A good use for cheap Publix root beer. P5221714  I installed a plywood panel where booster station #3 is located.  Booster #3 will power a DCC Specialties PSX3 amd PSX-AR.  The PSX3 has three power districts: helix, upper level left, and upper level right.  The PSX-AR will power the upper level return loop and staging tracks. P5221721  I have started working on the helix trackpower bus infrastructure.
P5221726  Each half of each track (inner/outer) of each level in the helix will be an occupancy zone. There are 4 1/2 laps/levels for the helix so there will be 18 occupancy zones within the helix (and 3 occupancy zones for each the helix entrances (lower/upper)) for a total of 24 occupancy zones.  Each occupancy zone requires a track power bus. For the helix I plan to use 9 different 12GA wire colors (brown, gray, yellow, orange, red, green, blue, purple, pink) paired with white on the left half and paired with black on the right half for the track bus (18 total color combinations). 20160524 195556 20160528 063814
20160528 072141 20160528 153008 P5291727
P5291728 20160529 144457 20160602 063741
20160602 063753 20160603 061714 20160603 070230
20160604 095441 20160604 095453 P6061734
P6061735 P6061736 P6061739
P6061738 P6061737 P6061733
20160530 152916 20160601 063211  Only one injury during construction of the helix. 20160610 064817  Wiring the track power in the helix.  There are 22 occupancy detection zones in the helix.
20160610 064825 20160715 165627  Building the subroadbed along the 'nolix' that climbs @1.95% from the middle level to the upper level. 20160715 165653
20160715 165712 IMG 4155  The exit from the top of the helix into the middle level. IMG 4156  All the mainline track has been installed and powered.  Trains can now run all the way from the lower return loop to the bridge that crosses the aisle where the mainline enters the upper level.
IMG 4157  I will be adding several service spurs around the center platform area of the middle level. IMG 4158 IMG 4159
IMG 4160 IMG 4161 IMG 4162  Middle level passing track.
IMG 4163 IMG 4165  The start of the 'nolix' climb from the middle level at 62" elevation up to the upper level at 82" elevation.  The grade is 1.95% and will be operated as a disgnated helper district. IMG 4166
IMG 4167 IMG 4168 IMG 4170  There will be a 3ft long trestle bridge in this corner of the middle level level.
IMG 4173 IMG 4175  There is 41" elevation difference (38" - 79") between the lower return loop and the middle level mainline where it reaches the bridge that crosses above the aisle into the upper level. IMG 4174
IMG 4176 IMG 4179a  I had originally planned to butt join the backdrops in these two red highlighted corners of the upper level but I subsequently decided they would look much better if the backdrops are rounded/coved so I am reengineering these areas.  I plan to finish the upper level backdrops before I start laying the upper level mainline track. IMG 4180  After taking out the backdrop panel for redesign/rebuild.
IMG 4181  After installing the 1/8" masonite with rounded corners. IMG 4182  After installing the 1/8" masonite with rounded corners. IMG 4184  Dec 19 2016 - Still working on installing the 1/8" masonite backdrops for the upper level.
IMG 4186  I am completely replacing the panel in the right corner to see if I can get a better/tighter fit to the ceiling. IMG 4189 IMG 4187
IMG 4191  Dec 28 2016 - Applied first coat of mud to seams and screw holes. IMG 4193 IMG 4194  I have sanded the screw hole patches but the taped seams need to dry more before sanding and applying the second coat of mud..
IMG 4195 IMG 4203  Dec 30 2016 - I finished the backdrop prep and painted two coats of primer this morning. IMG 4204
UpperBackdropPanorama  A panoramic view of the upper level. IMG 4210  The slightly darker shade of blue for the upper level backdrops. I still need to cut in the very top near the ceiling. I plan to use white spray paint to create some 'haze' on the lower area of the backdrops. IMG 4211
IMG 4212 IMG 4213  Jan 1 2017 - After I spray painted some white 'haze' and removed the plastic sheets. IMG 4214
IMG 4215 IMG 4216  The left side upper level 'wing'. IMG 4220  The view of all three backdrop levels below the left 'wing'. Notice how the middle level is fairly dark in the corner.
IMG 4217  The right side upper level 'wing'. IMG 4219  The view of all three backdrop levels below the right 'wing'. Notice how the middle level is fairly dark in the corner. IMG 4224  Jan 2 2017 - I installed LED strip lights for the middle level under the upper level 'wings'.  This is the right side wing.
IMG 4225  And the left side wing. I also added a short light strip for the lower level corner as there had been a dark spot there previously. IMG 4226  I am starting the cut and dry place the 3/4" plywood sub-roadbed for the upper level track. IMG 4228  There is a passing track on the mainline in the left 'wing'.  The radii of the large curve area is 42" (mainline) and 44 1/4" (passing track).
20170105 065148  Jan 5 2017 - I am starting to install WS faom roadbed for the upper level mainline and passing track. 20170105 065218  There are three #8 turnouts along here (farthest to nearest: passing track return, helper engine pocket (for designated helper climb district), and Cache Valley Branch line turnout.) IMG 4231  Jan 9 2017 - Construction of the upper level return loop subroadbed is complete.
IMG 4230  The upper return loop is at elevation 82" above the room floor and 52" above the center platform floor. IMG 4233  The upper return loop and staging tracks will have exactly the same turnout ladder configuration as the lower level return loop (mainline around the outside and 5 stagiung tracks on the inside). IMG 4234  There will be large agricultural facilities and small town (Franklin Idaho) 5" above the upper return loop track.
IMG 4235 IMG 4236  The 'Nightingale Gray' paint is still drying. IMG 4237
IMG 4241  Jan 10 2017 - Paint is dry and working on the staging track turnout ladder layout. IMG 4244 IMG 4242
IMG 4243 IMG 4245  January 13 2017 - Gluing down the outside return loop track (mainline). I use DAP Dynaflex 230 clear to glue the flex track. I tack down turnouts and Atlas rerailer assemblies. IMG 4246  Shows the relative height of the return loop from the center platform floor. The center platform floor is 30" above the room floor and the upper return loop is 52" above it (82" absolute elevation).
IMG 4248  The view of the helix and upper return loop from the lower main aisle. IMG 4249  The Walthers #8 curved turnout and entrance tracks for the upper return loop staging track ladders. You can also see the mainline track on the middle level level below (20" rail-to-rail elevation difference - 62" vs 82"). IMG 4250  Gluing down the first staging track loop. The second staging track has also been soldered and dry placed
IMG 4251  The second staging track dry placed (not glued yet). IMG 4252  Gluing down the second staging track. IMG 4253
IMG 4255  Jan 14 2017 - The track for the upper return loop and staging tracks is complete. Now I'm going to start working on the mainline track leading from the bridge over the aisle to the return loop. Note the lower return loop on the left of the photo. It is functionally identical to the upper return loop. IMG 4266 IMG 4258
IMG 4260  Looking from the exit of the bridge over the aisle along the mainline track. the first turnout to the right is probably going to be to service a cattle/hog farm/ranch. IMG 4259  Working on laying the mainline track out around the left 'wing'. There is also a passing track in this area I will be installing next. IMG 4263  You can see the roadbed for the passing track on the left of the mainline.
IMG 4264 IMG 4366  January 29 2017 - I finished installing the upper level mainline track from the bridge over the aisle around to the upper level return loop. I installed track feeders and the 10GA THHN track power bus as well. IMG 4369
IMG 4367  The short track on the left is for a small steam engine service facility and endpoint of the designated helper district. IMG 4370 IMG 4368  The bare sub-roadbed on the left will be the 'Cache Valley' branch that heads up to Franklin Idaho (above the upper return loop).
IMG 4376  This is how I install Tortoise turnout motors when there is an obstruction underneath that prevents mounting them directly under the turnout points. In ths case (the Walthers #8 curved turnout for the return loop) the LED lights for the middle level forced me to offset the Tortoise mount. IMG 4374  An offset mount in one of the upper return loop staging track ladders.  I ended up having to offset mount 4 of the 11 turnouts that make up the upper return loop/staging tracks. IMG 4351  A test/prototype of the upper return loop control/status panel.  Once I am happy with the layout and functionality of the three control/status panels (lower return loop, helix, upper return loop) I plan to have nice etched plexiglass panels made.
IMG 4352  Hinges out for access. IMG 4353  Back side of the panel. I still need to install the RR-Cirkut occupancy detection modules and status LEDs. IMG 4355  These are the turnout control boards (NCE Switch-8 mk2, Switch-It mk2, button board) that control the 10 staging track ladder turnouts.
IMG 4361  Control station #3 controls/powers the Helix, Middle level center, upper level, and upper return loop. IMG 4362  I still have some wire tidying to complete. There is just barely enough room for me to stand/work in there. IMG 4364  Here's the 'hole' in the benchwork I stand in to work on the upper level turnout control components (If I can't reach from the control/status panel access hole).
IMG 4372  I'm starting to add the 2x4 risers that will support the 3/4" plywood and 3/4" foam that will cover about half the upper return loop and provide the base for Franklin, Idaho 6" above the return loop track. IMG 4373  The diagonal 1x2 shows how the backdrop partition wall will line up.  The upper level return loop on the right will be covered and on the left will be exposed (however it's 82" above the room floor so it won't be readily visible). IMG 4377  The 4ft level shows how much space there will be below the 3/4" plywood base/cover. It looks like trains on the staging tracks should be reasonably visible as they approach the fouling points (Atlas rerailers).  I may install an LED strip to the bottom of the 3/4" plywood in this area to improve visibility of the staging tracks, but based on this view it may not be necessary.
IMG 4378 IMG 4380 20170129 130113  Feb 1 2017 - I cut and placed the first piece of 3/4" plywood that will cover about half of the upper return loop.
20170201 043441  After cutting and placing the second piece. 20170201 043506 20170201 043536  A view of the space under the plywood for the upper level return loop track.
20170201 192728  Starting to work on the wall panels that the final upper level backdrops will mount to. 20170201 193145  I have decided that I need to move the diagonal wall panel in about 2 1/2" to provide a smoother backdrop corner. This means I need to make additional cuts on both pieces of plywood. IMG 4387  I finally finished installing the 2ft carpet tiles in the center platform. The center platform floor is about 16ft x 10ft (on one end) x 8ft (on the other end). And the helix/upper return loop Blob projects into the space by about 3 ft.
IMG 4388 IMG 4389 IMG 4381  Feb 4 2017 - The view of the new wall panels above the upper return loop as you enter the layout room.
IMG 4382  The new wall panels above the upper return loop.  The 5mm door skin panels are noticeably more pink than the panels that have been installed for over a year. I will be painting all these panels the light beige room color eventually. IMG 4383  You can see all the risers supporting the plywood base (and wall panels) above the upper return loop. IMG 4384  The exposed half of the upper return loopand staging tracks.
IMG 4385  I plan to install 3/4" foam on top of the 3/4" plywood. IMG 4386  It's ready for the 1/8" masonite backdrop panels to be installed. IMG 4390  The Atlas rerailers mark the 'foul point' clearance locations in the staging tracks. As long as locomotives/trains don't pass the rerailer they will not foul the turnout ladder/mainline.
IMG 4391 IMG 4392  After installing the 1/8" masonite backdrop panels with coved corners. IMG 4393
IMG 4394  The backdrop is ready for the screws and seams to be spackled/faired/sanded/repeat. IMG 4396  Feb 5 2017 - I built the 3/4" plywood subroadbed for the Cache Valley Branch line as it climbs from the mainline elevation at 82" up above the upper return loop at 88" (Franklin, Idaho).  It's about a 40 ft run of track at 1.25% grade. IMG 4397  The mainline as it passes under the Cache Valley Branchline.  The minaline will enter a tunnel right about here.
IMG 4398  I also installed the Woodland Scenics foam roadbed for the Cache Valley Branchline.  Here's where the brnachline splits off the mainline using a Peco Code 83 #8 turnout. IMG 4399  The #6 turnout is where a spur that services a coal mine facility will be located. IMG 4400  The branchline climbs as it heads out and back in the right 'wing'. The mainline is in the foreground.
IMG 4401 IMG 4403  The view of the branchline passing over the mainline as it heads up and over the upper return loop. IMG 4404  The connection for the branchline subroadbed to the plywood base above the upper return loop. There will be 3/4" foam insulation above the 3/4" plywood base.
IMG 4405 20170207 190926  Feb 7 2017 - Starting to patch/fair/sand the masonite backdrop. 20170208 053725  Feb 8 2017 - First coat of primer.
20170208 121203  Second coat of primer. IMG 4409  "Dancing Blue" sky color. IMG 4410  All the upper level backdrops have been painted the basic sky blue.
IMG 4411  After spraying some white haze/clouds. IMG 4413 IMG 4414  Feb 9 2017 - I installed the track for the Cache Valley Branchline.  It's the track on the right here.  The middle track is the mainline and the track on the left is the helper district service track.
IMG 4415  The track on the left is the Cache Valley Branchline. It starts climbing a 1.25% grade here in order to get above the upper return loop/staging tracks. IMG 4417  The branchline uses the right 'wing' to climb up to Franklin, Idaho (above the upper return loop). IMG 4418  As the branchline passes over the mainline.
IMG 4420  Feb 11 2017 - The 1" foam is glued down and seams are caulked.  I have also installed a 2" tall 3/16" fascia to hide the edges of the 3/4" plywood and 1" foam. IMG 4421  It's ready to install the branchline and spur tracks that service Franklin Idaho. IMG 4422
IMG 4423  I'm starting to work on installing the 5/8" plywood and 3/4" foam base above the lower return loop where the city of Ogden will be located.  Because the city base is about 45" deep the backdrop in this area will be removable. IMG 4424 IMG 4425
IMG 4426  Installing the risers that will support the 5/8" plywood (and foam) city base. IMG 4427 IMG 4428  I have installed the first 5/8" plywood base piece and now I'm working on fitting the (removable) backdrop 1/4" plywood panel.
IMG 4429  Not a lot of clearance (5.5") above the lower return loop/staging tracks.  But I can access it from inside (underneath) and outside. IMG 4430  I plan to build a large "high rise" interpretation of downtown Ogden in this area.  The pirates from the Great Salt Lake who founded Ogden were very successful in attracting large multi-national banks and corporations with their programs of low tax and low levels of corporate governance.  :) IMG 4431  Half of the lower return loop is still accessible by going under the benchwork and coming up in the large openings next to the removable backdrop.  I will also be connecting the track coming thru the wall from the model workshop (offsite passeneger service facility, aka 4 tracks of passenger train staging) to the spur that services Ogden.
IMG 4433  Painting the removable backdrop panel the base "Brilliant Skies" blue before installing it on the layout. IMG 4437  Feb 12 2017 - I have mounted the removable backdrop and painted the room wall the base sky color.  Unfortunately the double switch wall plate and thermostat will intrude somewhat but there wasn't anywhere else feasible to mount them. IMG 4438  I've got the second plywood base section mounted and all the risers and ledger boards mounted for the next two plywood sections.
IMG 4440  Risers and ledger boards mounted. IMG 4441  Two more plywood base sections cut and placed. I need to make some small refinements to one of the plywood sections before mounting them. IMG 4442  The city of Ogden will occupy this entire plywood base area (approx 90 sq ft).
IMG 4443  After cutting and mounting the last two plywood sections I will start working on the backdrop panel that goes between the removable panel and the room wall backdrop. 20170226 050547  Feb 26 2017 - I'm working on the risers, plywood sub-roadbed and Homasote roadbed for the track that connects the branchline in Ogden through the backdrop to the 'offsite' passenger train facility (staging) in the model workshop. The steel brackets that support the middle level benchwork are in the way relative to the original track plan so I modified the track plan such that the first turnout in the model workshop yard is a right hand turnout and it will come through the hole in the wall on a diagonal allowing the connecting track to follow the right edge (inside) of the lower level staging track loops. IMG 4463  March 12 2017 - I have installed the final backdrop panel and I have begun the spackle/fair the screw holes and the edge on the left side where the panel meets the room wall.
IMG 4465  I have cut/placed the 3/4"foam sheets that will make the 'base' for the city of Ogden. IMG 4470 IMG 4467  I built a tunnel enclosure and painted it flat black to 'hide' the inside of the layout benchwork behind the backdrop panel. This opening in the backdrop will be shielded (mostly) from view by a fairly large building.
IMG 4473  March 18 2017 - I have painted the last backdrop panel.  The edge between these two panels is more visible than 'ideal' but the panel on the right is removable from the back side and the left panel is positioned at an oblique angle which required a mitered cut.  1/4" luann plywood does not miter cut as well as thicker plywood. IMG 4485  Gluing down the next section of 3/4" foam. IMG 4475  I am going to have a 24"X20" removable section of foam that will allow me to stand here when I need access to the middle level above here for construction and maintenance purposes. I was originally thinking about having a permanent piece of 3/4" plywood here but then I realized using a piece of removable 3/4" foam would be a MUCH better idea.
IMG 4477  The removable section with the 5/8" plywood underneath. IMG 4484 IMG 4482  The view when standing in the 'removable' foam area on the benchwork.
IMG 4478  The view from behind the backdrop of the lower return loop track and the elevated track that connects the city level track to the 'offsite' passenger staging tracks in the model workshop. IMG 4480  Here you can see the 'tunnel box' where the connector track goes through the backdrop on its way into the model workshop.  The tunnel box is painted flat black inside and just sits on the 5/8" plywood benchwork on the left end and horizontal screws on the right side so it is removable. IMG 4492  March 19 2017 - After caulking the seams and painting the foam base.  This paint color (Nightingale gray) is mostly to just hide the purple foam but it will also provide some color for underneath the track that will be installed directly onto the foam.
IMG 4493  The lower return loop and 5 staging tracks. IMG 4495  I installed 1.5" tall masonite fascia along sections where I want access to the lower return loop underneath and 12" tall fascia where I can access the double track mainline from underneath the benchwork. IMG 4496  The removable foam panel that I can take out if I need to stand on the benchwork to work on the middle level above.
IMG 4497 IMG 4487 IMG 4490
IMG 4488  The tunnel portal for the double track mainline and entrance to the lower return loop will be located somewhere around here. IMG 4498  March 25 2017 - I have finished installing all of the track that will service Ogden (and connect with the staging yard in the model workshop).  This area on the right will be a highrise downtown city scene with large buildings up to 40"-44" tall. IMG 4499
IMG 4500  I combined two Downtown Deco 36"x2" warehouse flat kits along the wall as a proof of concept. I plan to have about 14-16 ft of narrow depth/flats warehouses/industries along that stretch of wall.The combined warehouse kit is 72" long. IMG 4501 IMG 4503  There's plenty of space along the wall for more structures.
IMG 4505 IMG 4507 IMG 4509  I ran a 12ga track power bus and a bunch of track feeders for all the track in the city.  I also connected to the track in the model workshop and I was able to run trains in/out of the model workshop form the main layout room.
20170401 120744  April 1 2017  - Starting to work on enclosing the helix. First I installed additional wood framing for mounting the 1/8" masonite panels. 20170401 122947  This is where the helix display/control panel will be mounted. 20170401 120723  I mounted additional vertical 2x4s to provide more support for achieving a smooth curve of the 1/8" masonite panels.
20170401 131721  Mounting the first panel. IMG 4510  All the 1/8" panels are mounted andnow I'm working getting the screws counter-sunk appropriately in order to patch/fair them. IMG 4512
IMG 4513  I needed to purchase one additional 1/8" masonite panel which is a different color than the original 25 panels I ordered whern I started the layout construction. IMG 4514 IMG 4515  First step of patching/fairing the screw holes and seams.
IMG 4516 IMG 4517 IMG 4518
IMG 4519  The helix as viewed thru the opening where the helix display/control panel will be located. 20170405 044641  April 5 2017 - Finished patching/fairing/sanding the screw holes and seams. Wiped it down with a damp rag and now it's ready to prime. 20170404 051642  This is the current proposed template for the helix control/display panel.
20170405 044715  . IMG 4522  After 2 coats of primer. All of the 'pink' wall panels will be eventually painted the same color as the room walls and the helix enclosure: Sherwin Williams "Gauzy White" SW6035. IMG 4525  2 coats of primer. I use two coats of Zinser primer on the masonite because the Masonite is very dark and it has a glossy finish.
IMG 4527  Very white!  I can't wait to paint all those pink wall panels. IMG 4532  After painting the enclosure the Sherwin Williams SW6035 'Gauzy White'. IMG 4533  After painting the enclosure the Sherwin Williams SW6035 'Gauzy White'.
IMG 4536  I have removed these (removable) backdrop panels in order to paint their backsides the Gauzy White wall color. IMG 4537  I have removed these (removable) backdrop panels in order to paint their backsides the Gauzy White wall color. 20170407 05051-c  April 7 2017 - Panorama photo from inside the enclosed helix.
IMG 4539  I'm starting to patch screw holes and seams in the wall panels around the upper level in preparation for painting them IMG 4540 IMG 4541  April 9 2017 - I've painted some of the wall panels that drop from the ceiling the room wall color 'Gauzy White'.  On the right side here I have attached a strip (pink) on the end cap that I need to caulk and paint.
IMG 4542  The view while on a 3ft step ladder. IMG 4545 IMG 4546
IMG 4543  I plan to install trim molding along the top of the wall panels at the ceiling joint. IMG 4544  I plan to install trim molding along the top of the wall panels at the ceiling joint. IMG 4547  April 13 2017 - I'm starting to work on the next upper level wall panels.  Patching/fairing/sanding and then primer/paint.
IMG 4549  I have six sections of track in the lower/middle levels around the center platform where turnouts on the mainline connect with service/spur track that will be mounted directly to the foam base. They require transition sections of roadbed to drop down from the 3/16" Woodland Scenics 'mainline' foam roadbed. I use cork roadbed for these tapered transition sections and they are 24-26" long.  I will add caulk at the end of the cork to finish the transition. IMG 4550 IMG 4553
IMG 4556  April 15 2017 - I painted the next (right) section of upper wall panels. IMG 4555  It looks much better (finished) looking with the ugly pink panels painted room wall color. IMG 4559  April 23 2017 - I painted another section of the upper level wall panels. They are on the left as you enter the room.
IMG 4558 IMG 4561  I also painted the raw cut edge of the plywood base roadbed of the upper return loop and the perimeter 2x4 risers that support the plywood/foam base of Franklin, Idaho above. IMG 4563  Eventually I am going to have to decide what color I am going to paint the fascia masonite. It will probably either flat black, dark brown, or dark green.
IMG 4564  The visible portion of the upper return loop and staging track loops.  It's not visible from the floor of the main aisle. 20170701 062052  June 20 2017 - When I needed to purchase more Foamular rigid insulation sheets for above the upper return loop Home Despot was out of the 3/4" sheets so I bought/used 1" sheets.  The 1" sheets are much stiffer and they had some 'bowing' that I could not eliminate when I glued them down.  Therefore I had to make 'cuts' though the slight hills in order to flatten them for track laying.  You can see the 'cuts' beyond the turnouts. 20170702 060200  Using caulk to smooth out the rough foam.
20170701 072014  July 1 2017 - Before redesigning and rebuilding the mainline track as it exits the Ogden yard. 20170701 072115  Theorizing how a #8 right hand and #8 double slip switch might work to provide a turnout leading into the Oregon Short Line. 20170701 072720  After pulling up the old track and foam road bed.
20170701 111426  Gluing down the Woodland Scenics foam roadbed using DAP DynaFlex 230. 20170703 072336  I used the opportunity of laying another mainline track to flatten out a slight hump in the homasote for the mainline track. 20170703 072354  Working on laying the new inside mainline track.
20170703 110422  Installing the 'inside' mainline track. 20170703 110457 20170703 160603  Gluing down the new Oregon Short Line mainline track.
20170703 160542  Gluing down the new Oregon Short Line mainline track. 20170703 160646  The new double track mainline as it runs behind what will be the turntable/roundhouse area. IMG 4751  July 9 2017 - I finished caulking the edges/seams of the lower and middle level foam and painted them to hide the purple/pink foam insulation color. I also began placing the service spur track in these areas as well.  I also painted the bracket that supports the middle level shelf.  I need to install/paint the brackets for the other two corners.
IMG 4752  I am using Micro Engineering code 70 track and Micro Engineering code 70 #6 turnouts for the service spurs.  I still find the Micro Engineering track to be extremely difficult to get smooth flowing curves (compared to the Atlas and Peco flex track). IMG 4753  When I originally designed the layout I wasn't sure whether I was going to model Pocatello to Butte or the Oregon Short Line from Ogden to Cache Junction and the Cache Valley branch line.  Since I chose Ogden/OSL/Cache Valley I subsequently redesigned the double track mainline as it leaves the Ogden yard closer to the prototype. This double track mainline represents 'West' of Ogden headed towards Nevada.  The OSL turns off on the left side here.  The 'right' mainline track is electrically isolated with a 16" stretch of 'dead' track and will be setup as a DCC programming track. The 'left' mainline track is electrically dead to minimize chance of locos running off edge of layout. :) IMG 4754  There will be two classification yard arrival departure tracks on the left here (As well steam locomotive server facilities).
IMG 4755  Closeup of the OSL interchane Walthers #8 double slip turnout. IMG 4757 IMG 4759
IMG 4760  The outskirts of Brigham City will be located on the left. IMG 4762  I finished laying the track and turnouts for Franklin Idaho at the end of the Cache Valley Branch above the mainline upper return loop.  I still need to fill in missing ties where flex track joints are. IMG 4763
IMG 4764 IMG 4809  Aug 4 2017 - I used a 12" piano hinge to mount the control/display panel for the helix area and I used a magnetic latch to hold it closed. IMG 4808  A wider view of the helix control/status panel.
IMG 4810  The view of the helix with the panel door open. IMG 4814  I plan to locate the Laser 3 Modeling "John Murray & Sons Coal Distribution" craftsman kit in this location. I have installed the spur track that will service this facility. IMG 4813  It's an amazing model.
IMG 4815  I have shaped/glued/wired all the Micro Engineering code 70 service/spur track around the center platform on the lower and middle levels. IMG 4816  It took quite a while to figure out how to shape the Micro Engineering track so it has reasonably smooth/flowing curves. I have also caulked/painted the remaining two shelf support brackets that support the middle levels on the corners of the center platform. IMG 4818
IMG 4817  There will be numerous businesses/industries supported by the track around the cednter platform on the lower/middle levels. IMG 4819 IMG 4820  The middle level with the exit from the helix on the left.
IMG 4823  The outskirts of Brigham City will be along here. IMG 4821 IMG 4822
IMG 4824  A wider view of the lower and middle levels. IMG 4825  A wider view of the lower and middle levels.