MRL trains now operate around the lower level of the peninsula thanks to a sustained session of building spline track bed and other works. Work included the Lothrop MT. passing siding and extending the current main line run to the whole of the lower deck baseboards. This picture shows a west bound freight working the 4th Sub mainline around the end of the peninsula. Some tweaking of the layout design on this part of the lower deck means I can better represent the 10th Sub line too, thanks to a little compromise on curvature in one off-scene area.
Card stock ‘guard rails’ prevent any damaging accidents on the narrow spline road bed until the landscape is built up to meet the track.
Looking the other way to Lothrop, an intermodal train is standing on the main awaiting the west bound. This part of the road bed is composed of 18mm plywood, whilst the spline road bed on the curving sections of the main line is of pine strip wood – flexible, strong but more expensive than using 1/4inch Masonite (hardboard) splines. I could not be bothered with all the cutting and associated mess!
I will use certain river bluff scenery techniques to disguise the curve to the left seen in the back ground because this section of the MRL 4th Sub mainline runs along the Clark Fork River. This leads the line to the base of the helix and the climb to the second deck where some new ideas on extending the bench work and using shelf layout construction has seen a real change in how I will represent the 4th Sub mainline to Paradise MT. and Pipeline MT. The change solves a dilemma over the staging of trains at the west end of the run and will extend the mainline run to over 220 feet.
Progress has been made on the Top Deck layout too. If you recall, this is my UK outline project in 4mm scale, EM gauge. It was originally conceived to be a simple scenic test track which (inevitably) evolved into a fully scenic layout plan. The layout design element is based on Folkestone East, as far as can be fitted into my oblong space. The latest progress includes the installation of back scene supports and some reliability modifications to the main line track. The concept is, in effect, a narrow shelf layout with room for the permanent way, and little else outside the boundary fence. Unlike some layout concepts involving a railway in the landscape, I want to operate trains, not spend my life building ancillary structures and scenery which are not directly connected to the railway itself.
As keen as I am to have trains on the move, I knew that I would have to complete the back scene structure before laying any track in the yard area. The back scene will support the steep embankments found at Folkestone East and the entrance to the tunnel, the portal of which will be located where the red arrow is pointing, more or less. A compromise, to accommodate the curve to the back of the layout is to run the train roads beyond the tunnel portal whereas on the full size location, they terminate in line with the portal. But, why waste the space? The view above shows the mainline facing east towards Dover.
A view looking west towards Ashford past the site of the signal box and trailing cross-over. I removed the turnout for accessing the train roads I originally laid at this point and replaced it with temporary plain running line whilst I sorted out the facing cross-over and got it working smoothly with all of my stock. A new turnout for the train roads will be built, a B7 turnout for smooth transition when trains enter and leave the train roads. The red arrow on the photograph above shows where the turnout will be located. Again, the profile of the line is a compromise to fit the space at this point on the layout; the main line at the real location is dead straight. If modelled correctly, the line would be out through the wall and into the garden!
The back drop, or back scene on the top deck is double sided and is viewed from the opposite side of the Folkestone East project. With one scene divided from the other, another layout could be built on this side of the dividing back drop and that is indeed the plan. Note the framing to strengthen the back scene structure and the double skin nearest the camera. One hint for layout construction like this: have as many clamps as you can afford to hand – you never seem to have enough for the job!