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  August 30 Update

Below are pictures of the construction progress for your enjoyment. Click on the thumbnails to open larger, full screen size, pictures. (Suggestion: "right click" to open the image in a new window so that you can easily toggle between it and the discription).

It's been three weeks since the last update. Much of the progress has been in the design and engineering areas, with some wiring included. The visible work that has been done is documented in the photos below.

Included in this latest update are: fascia installed around Redding and past the Shasta Lake bridge; the backdrop installation which now is into the Redding and Raymond areas; all the brackets installed to the west end of Raymond, which will be the end of the mainline and the beginning of the upper staging yards; and the car card slots.

Brackets are completed in the Raymond area. This required some stiffening done to the very long brackets needed to support the rock and gravel plant that will be located just east of Raymond. Geoff added thicker steel strips, and a 1-1/4" piece of plywood bought years ago during the construction of the train room floor will be used to bond all the brackets together to further strengthen the area. This photo shows the extreme length of these brackets - 57" is the longest - which will require additional bracing as we build this area up.

Standard length brackets finish up the Raymond area. Stringers - the 2x4 and 2x6 lengths bolted on the wall - will be needed for the remainder of the layout construction to support the upper level. Ron and Gary helped install these and the brackets have been inserted. Next will be the plywood subroadbed surface, on which the homasote sheets will be glued. This will provide the base for the several industry tracks in this town. This progress required that the existing lower level backdrop be cut down about 10 inches to provide clearance for the brackets. The backdrop was also moved closer to the tracks in the corner. This will avoid a problem area which would have required a removable section to access the staging tracks behind and below the main tracks. Full access to the staging tracks is now through a pop-up behind the backdrop. The upper level backdrop will follow the lower backdrop contour.

The fascia in Redding has now been installed. Much thought and experimentation was done to keep the width of the fascia as narrow as possible to minimize view restrictions of the lower level. The resulting fascia is only 2-1/2" high and will include switch control holes, car card pockets, and car card holders for sorting during switching activity. In this photo the fascia has just been installed, seams patched and sanded.

Another photo of the fascia, but showing where it wraps around the corner and continues towards the yard aisle. The black, round object in the left center of the photo was an experimental car card "slot". It's a section of mailing tube with a cap inserted at the back. The idea was that the roundness of the tube would provide ample finger space to grab the flat car cards when they were inserted long ways into the tube. I worked well, but was 2-1/2" wide, which would have required the fascia to be 1-1/4" wider to accomodate the tube and the 1-1/4" plywood/homasote roadbed surface. Plus, esthetically I didn't like the looks of that big black gaping hole in the fascia. Being closer than eye level than the lower level openings, this hole would have been unappealing.

Here we see the fascia where the mountain terrain begins. That's the Chico team track underneath. Behind the high profile - simulating a mountain ridge - will be a tunnel on the mainline which will act as a view block between the lower level flatlands and the upper level mountains. This will be the first tunnel on the layout. Also, behind this profile will be the monitor for the Richmond staging yard camera. A hole still needs to be cut to match the picture tube. To the right of the profile will the surface of Lake Shasta under the bridges and to the edge of the fascia.

Shasta Lake will be under the bridges in this photo. The lake will extend from the edge of the fascia and curve to the right behind the bridges. The bridge structure will be made up of the two bridges shown here, plus two short plate girder bridges extending to the right. The fascia profile rises to the right of the bridges to represent mountain terrain, and allows the bottom of the fascia to be cut higher to improve the sight line for the yards on the lower level. A section of the fascia that still needs to be cut to the appropriate profile is leaning against the backdrop on the right.

Looking back down the mainline the monitor for Richmond yard is visible behind the ridge profile. Just behind the furthest bridge will be a tunnel portal. The lower edge of the fascia seen here on the right will be continued to the end of the yard aisle, at which point the lower edge of the fascia will be raised even higher.

The backdrop has progressed even further in this photo. Only two more 1/8" masonite panels need to be installed at this end to complete the backdrop for this construction push. Two more need to be installed at Raymond. Note here that one of the two windows on this wall has been permanently covered by the backdrop. The window visible in this photo will be kept functional by building a sliding panel into the backdrop to gain access for ventilation. A total of 25 backdrop panels will have been installed when we come back for our next session in November.

The very lively car card box discussion is over! Only 50+ email messages went flying through cyberspace on this topic. Thanks for everyone for your input - I think! The resulting design is shown in this picture, seen from about 18" below eye level. Note how the car cards fit in the slot and how the bottom edge is curverd to provide clearance for fingers to grab the cards.

Here is a view of the slot from eye level for someone 5'10" tall. If there are any cards in the slot, they are easy to see.

Here is a straight on view of the boxes. There are ten car cards in this box. There is ample room for up to twenty.

This is how the boxes are mounted under the surface. The fascia height was determined by the dimensions of these boxes and the thickness of the plywood/homasote surface. They are simply glued to the bottom.

A closeup of the box construction. Like the lower level boxes, they are quite simple to construct. The hardest was cutting the curve for the finger clearance, and that was pretty easy on my bandsaw. I assembled them while watching a movie.

The new boxes are based on the design of the lower level boxes. Here is a comparison of the two. The upper box is shorter, and has a concave cutout at the edge of the back panel instead of the round hole like in the lower level box.

Well, that's it for this update. Thanks for checking out the progress!

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