The paper mill complex at Sheldon Springs has always a key element of my Richford Branch. I built the benchwork and installed the track and got it working "fairly well." While the track in the mill yard itself functioned fine, the curve into the mill peninsula from the mainline didn't like steam locomotives. It was simply too sharp, or had a weird kink, or the curved turnout I incorporated as part of the curve was just a little out of whack.
I reworked that turnout twice, replaced it once, and tried re-aligning the curve. But nothing helped. I actually considered removing the paper mill peninsula altogether - and even extending the Richford yard peninsula to fill that space. Such plans were greeted with much groaning and subdued laughter. After all, the prime directive of this layout is to stay with the theme - ignoring all those great "what if..." ideas that constantly derailed progress on my previous layout.
|My trackwork nemesis....this turnout and that curve|
But something had to be done with the paper mill.
The first issue I identified is that the track arrangement had gotten too complex and crowded. I won't really take a lot of blame for that - over the last few years I've come up with some more information on the complex that I didn't have a few years back.
But although there are still some questions remaining about the purpose of some of the buildings (like exactly what is that "bunker" in the lower right hand edge of the overall shot of the complex for? And when did it disappear?)
I do have a pretty good feel for how the pieces of the puzzle fit together, and I'm fairly confident I know what the track arrangement should be.
And of course comparing this newfound knowledge to the original track arrangement revealed a "close but no cigar" situation. Sure, I could freelance some buildings to fit the track arrangement as it was, but would I ever really be satisfied with that - especially when I'd turned up information on the real thing?
Besides, reworking to reflect the prototype would give me a chance to really fix the operational issues with the lead into the mill. And it would reduce the amount of track and turnouts on the peninsula - I've come to the realization that the less track, the better. In fact I'm eyeing another spur (elsewhere on the layout) for possible removal....
The drawing shown here, which Bernie Kempinski did based on some of my sketches, shows the basic approach (although some of the specific structure footprints and track arrangements may change or evolve as the scene is constructed).
The first step was to build a new, curved turnout for the lead into the paper mill. This replaced the original straight no. 6.
Once the turnout was finished and tested I removed the track and plywood subroadbed from the peninsula. I'll remove the fascia panels next - actually I might be able to swap the taller and lower fascia panels. But I ordered a couple of pieces of bendy board from Rockler just in case.
While I'd love to have this scene basically looking complete in time for the open house scheduled as part of MARPM in October, I may not meet that goal. There are several other projects I want to get finished up - such as the background forest areas in a couple of other spots on the layout, and ballasting Enosburg Falls and Richford, that may be a better use of time between now and the open house.
But on the other hand my layout progress has been somewhat paltry over the last year ... the MARPM open house (and our annual Holiday open house, which we'll be hosting this year after a couple of year hiatus, may be just that gust of wind I need to get a bunch of stuff done.