Now that I am building it, what have I learned? What would I change if doing it over?
August 2004, It has been a year in construction and the three outside section have been built, track down and wired. Most structures have been installed and ground cover (read mostly ballast) is down on Armstrong Street and the 5th Street yard.
Construction: I built modules in case I ever have to move but was it worth it? They are heavy for me even though they are mostly 2' x 4' or 18" x 4'. It would have been faster to use ordinary L girder construction. In the yard, for example, two pieces of 2' x 7' plywood would do it and I could still salvage them if another move is in the future.
Since I used adhesive caulk to lay the track (great stuff!). I realized after I didn't need the Homosote! Its great for spikes but I don't use them anymore. It adds considerable weight of the modules. On the positive side, it does cut the noise.
Track: Since this is not a portable layout, there was really no need to build all the track joiners spanning the module joints. It makes for a lot of rail joints and shorter pieces of track. It would have been better to run the track across the joints and cut it with a Dremel tool when it is time to move.
ME Turnouts: Never again. I have had to scrap too many of them because the rails were not soldered sufficiently. They are not DCC friendly. I relied on the points hitting the stock rails to power the points. Bad decision. Now that they are laid and ballasted, fixing them is a real problem. Wish I had used Atlas and Caboose ground throws. Can not replace them now because I did not leave enough room for the ground throws in many areas. Peco has finally got into the North American market with a new code 83, correct tie spacing turnout. Next layout will use them ... love their springs and the fact that their springs are accessible from the top of the turnout instead of underneath like the MEs.
Yard Tracks: The center peninsula has not been built yet so I am not at the point of full operation. However, in making up the car cards, I realized that it is not prototypical to route an empty car from one industry directly to another for loading. I should use one cycle to route it to an empty car yard. It means doubling the switching moves while the car is on the visible section (i.e. not in staging) but I need extra tracks for those yards.
Last updated: 02/01/2007