Sunday, March 13, 2016

Covering the West End Staging Yard

Whew! I've been getting a lot done on the layout these past few weeks in anticipation of the shake-down ops session last Friday. The railroad hasn't really operated in over a year (if you don't count the informal "dad ops" session in April) and I've been anxious to get things running again. I've had a few setbacks, due primarily to my interests evolving, but all of the changes have been improvements - they've just taken longer to finish than I thought they would (natch - work, life, etc.) but considering the usual time constraints, I've accomplished quite a bit in the past bunch of weeks.

So, lots to report on in the coming days - including having unceremoniously and totally blown by putting in my "golden spike" - Yes! the entire mainline is done now, Wethersfield to Saybrook, including Shailerville Bridge, East Haddam, Deep River and Essex(!). And I had a work session mid-week last week, and the "shake down" on Friday. So lots to report.

But for now, here's just a quick post on what I was able to do today.

I'm really looking forward to being DONE with benchwork and trackwork - seems I've been working on that for the last 30 years and I've gotten pretty good at it, but I want to get to other phases of the hobby, scenery, and such. So I got rid of almost all of the scrap wood that's been laying around "just in case" and I got out the last of the plywood to build my "cover" for the west end staging.

Long time readers will recall that, as my interest in operating mainline trains through Old Saybrook evolved, it became obvious that the one (albeit large) staging yard "east" of Old Saybrook wouldn't be enough. If I wanted to avoid contriving a reason for eastbound trains to first head west through Saybrook, I needed staging for trains coming from the west. And the only place I could fit a "west end" staging yard was in front of one of the modules. Check out here, here, and here for more of that story.

The final step of building this staging section (well, other than painting) was to build some protection for the trains that would be staged there. The aisle is fairly narrow here (2 feet) and I didn't want errant elbows knocking models on the floor. So I devised a clever (well, at least I think so) way of not only shielding the cars from disaster, but providing a neat operator's shelf as well.

I first added a 6" high plywood "wall" to the front of the staging yard benchwork, then used a loooong piano hinge to attach a "roof" that could be swung away for access.

Here I'm installing 1" L-brackets to give the "lid" someplace to land.

My "clearance car" - a 50' autobox - confirms that I have enough clearance.

And here it is all complete. That splice on top connects the 2 halves of the lid together. I'd run out of long-enough pieces and wasn't going to buy any more. Bonus though: the splice acts as a handle to lift the lid.

And here's the lid open for access. The piano hinge is absolutely critical for this to work well, IMO.

View down the yard - lots of capacity here for what I need.
It took a bit of time to get everything cut and attached (I couldn't believe how many screws hold the hinge in place!), but it was an afternoon very well spent. Especially since this marks the likely end of benchwork-related construction on my railroad - YAY!  Another milestone reached.

I've been passing a few milestones lately since I've been working on the layout as much as possible. It's so nice to be in the "flow" - to see clearly the path forward and to have everything needed to accomplish what you set out to do.

So it should be no surprise I haven't had many posts lately - I've been too busy "workin' on the railroad all the liv'long day" - but rest assured I'll be sure and log the progress I've made, if only to have a record of it for myself.

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