It has been a little while since I posted an update on the layout, so here comes a few updates on the layout in a couple of postings.
Work on phase 3 has been progressing nicely since I started construction back in August. I have all of the benchwork and mainline track in place prior to the open houses in November, so I was able to run the trains on this section. This was also the debut of the U18Bs and they performed quite well (operationally and sound wise). I’ll give an update in a lnear fashion, moving from the existing layout area starting at Gilman and finishing up at the other end of the room.
Putting the trackwork into this latest phase solidified some things that were up in the air and opened up some new possibilities. First, I removed the MEC Connecticut River bridge crossing. It is nice to see a train roll through a bridge, but it just felt too cramped and forced right next to the paper mill at Gilman. It also created a difficult scenery situation. So now I extended the track out of Gilman into the area where the bridge was, which gave me a nice sized passing siding and a realignment of the mainline through a broader curve. I still have to get in there and finalize the actual track sidings and of course get some of the paper mill building built. But Like this arrangement better. Hiding the hidden CP track behind the mill is also easier now as it will just be behind trees. To the right is a look at the revised Gilman area.
The MEC line after Gilman will parallel the CP line and head behind a new foreground scene that has been opened up. Before, I planned to have Whitefield in the 2x 8 area across from Gilman, but it was just too hard to fit the track in correctly. So I moved Whitefield further down the benchwork on phase 3 and created a new area as a destination for B&M local trains, the Groveton paper mill. This will provide a good switching location for an operator and give some purpose to the B&M trains crossing and interchanging with the MEC at Whitefield.
In the picture you will see the 3 tracks along the wall. The far track is the CP mainline into staging (having come out of St. Johnsbury’s south end) and the near track is the MEC main. In between is the staging track for the B&M, representing the south end (i.e. White River Jct.) From this staging track the B&M train will come “on-line” to the layout entering Whitefield. It will then travel and turn back on itself, descending as it does (more on this later). It will end up here on the pink foam which will be the Groveton paper mill. I will also incorporate an interchange track with the Grand Trunk as another car destination (and I could make it an operational interchange if I want to add some GT engines to the layout!).
After Groveton, the tracks pass through the utility closet to the rest of the phase 3 section. The B&M track into Groveton will pass in front of the doors on a shelf or drop leaf. In the picture the MEC track curves towards the front as it approaches Whitefield. The B&M track is in the middle, also heading to Whitefield. The far track is the CP heading to the staging yard.
Here is an overall look at the bulk of the phase 3 section built since last August. The front track near the edge of the layout is the MEC. The B&M track/roadbed is seen heading diagonally towards the diamond crossing and then along the front of the layout edge, descending to a turn back curve and then reappearing under the staging yard and the MEC track (the spline and Homa-Bed is the B&M). In the back is the double ended staging yard to handle CP and MEC trains at each end. There are 6 tracks in total and this, along with their length will fully support all the trains I will operate. The staging yard will be hidden by a short backdrop, allowing someone to peer over it to see the yard, but visually separating it from the foreground scenes. The sidings and interchange tracks at Whitefield still need to be added and are next up on the work list. At the far end is Crawford Notch and the curve that leads into the other end of staging, representing Portland, Maine. (Pictures and info on that end will come in another post)
I’ll close out this post with 2 more views of the new area. The first is a look in the reverse direction, back towards where the above photo was taken. Here you can see the existing layout sections to the right, and Crawford Notch is directly on the left. The throttle is sitting atop the B&M line.
And finally a look at the new section from the existing layout area where St. Johnsbury is located. In this view you are looking directly at Whitefield. The freight cars in the background are in staging will get hidden by the short backdrop coming later.