I've spent the last few weeks attending to the normal springtime chores (garden clean up and taxes if you must know!), as well as doing a fair amount of rather ruthless spring cleaning.
This has given me some time to reflect on the layout as I shovel mulch or rake…
1. I'm happy with the scenery and "open country running.
2. I'm less happy with the progress on structures and completing scenes.
3. My favorite part of the hobby (next to scenery) is building detailed freight cars. I don't really like building structures, benchwork, track work and wiring. But guess what I haven't spent any time doing for the last few years? This is more than a little frustrating...
4. I like switching the local freights, and enjoy sharing the layout with friends. I don't particularly care for the effort and time it takes to host a large multi-hour (4-6 hour) operating session.
So, while I admit it's a little late in the year for new year's resolutions, but if I have one, "fixing" #3 is my resolution. You'll see a theme develop over the next few posts that will show exactly how I plan to get out of the never ending track/benchwork/wiring 'do-loop' and back to rolling stock and scenery modeling.
The first phase was building a new south end staging yard. Stic came over on Saturday and we installed the new benchwork.
The original plan had been to put the staging in the utility room, and wrap it around the furnace and hot water heater. There were several things that bugged me about that plan. For one thing, the tracks would have have ended up in a long, narrow space between the furnace and the wall. Access would have been difficult. Also, I noticed I'd been spending the vast majority of the time that I host op sessions standing in the unfinished utility room "fiddling" trains in the old staging yard. I didn't want to repeat that mistake.
So the new staging yard is a narrow shelf - wide enough for three tracks, in the main layout room. If we need more length we'll extend the length of the yard with a drop-in section that will temporarily block the utility room door during op sessions.
In other news, the peninsula curve in Waterbury has always been a little problematic. I've mentioned the issues with this section of track (especially the Walthers curved turnout that derailed about 1/3 of the passenger cars that went through it at anything more than a crawl) in this post.
So I ripped out most of the ladder at the north end of my Waterbury scene and replaced it with a much simpler arrangement. In the place of the Walthers turnout is a Peco code 83 curved turnout. The siding arrangement was also changed to match the prototype more closely. I still need to reballast this track, but it's in, wired, and works.
I also got a start on the Demeritt Company canning plant shown in mockup form.
The prototype photos show both ends of the complex. The other end of the cannery is visible to the right in this Phil Hastings photo of the Ambassador rounding the curve at Waterbury.
At this point I've got the basic walls and sub roof in place on the gambrel roof end of the building.
Apologies for the rambling nature of this post. For the most part I keep my posts fairly short and focused, but it's been a while since I've posted an update.