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  June 29 Update

Below are pictures of the construction progress for your enjoyment. Click on the thumbnails to open larger, full screen size, pictures.

We've been working on stiffening the plywood sub-roadbed at the Douglas area. Geoff Goble measured and cut some steel tubing which he will weld together to form bracing under the plywood already installed to the bottom of the ceiling tube. This bracing will be bolted to the threaded rods hanging from the ceiling joists and will provide substantial strength and stiffness to this area. Here is a shot of the steel bracing being positioned and measured.

More images will be posted later as we install the bracing.

Most of the progress this week has been installing spline sub-roadbed. Ray deBlieck helped cut about 240 feet of spline material and a box full of spacer blocks.

Spline was started above Sambone and now is halfway across Los Molinos. The section of the mainline from above Sambone to above the west end of Los Molinos is where the "new" mainline will diverge from the "old" mainline. The old mainline will have a 2.3% grade, lots of tight curves, and at least four tunnels.

The new mainline will be modeled as if it were still under construction. It will be relatively flat, with broader curves and only one tunnel. Both ends of this new right of way will be modeled with various stages of track construction completed. To be modeled will be: some finished track (so we can deliver equipment, machinery, and supplies); rails and ties that are ready for ballasting; ties and tie plates awaiting rail; and bare, newly leveled roadbed ready for ties to be placed.

The center portion of this new mainline section will have a scene of a large cut still being excavated. We'll be able to use some of the great MOW models that Custom Finishing produces to model this right of way as under construction. They have bulldozers, track laying equipment, ballast tampers, etc. We'll be able to run work trains to both ends of this new track to deliver supplies or equipment.

This next shot is the first spline installed, over Sambone. Here is where the "new" mainline will diverge from the "old" mainline on a #14 switch, which will be operational so we can deliver supplies to the track construction site.

That's the new mainline nearest the aisle. The old mainline starts it's 2.3% climb at this location. The grade up to here has been a steady 1%.

In this image the spline is being installed around the large curve opposite the entry door. Clamps of various types aid in the installation.

In the next image the spline is approaching just above Los Molinos.

In this image we are looking back towards the entry door. This is where the new mainline tunnel will be located. Above this tunnel the old mainline will curve toward the aisle and then back towards the backdrop. The new mainline will reapear next to the aisle and the two tracks will reconnect about ten feet behind the camera. The summit of the old mainline is just above the third bracket away from the camera.

Here is an overview shot of the spline around that big curve opposite the door. The old mainline is closest to the backdrop. You can clearly see the 2.3% grade compared to the relatively flat new mainline alignment. There will be two tunnels on the old mainline in this scene, one in the middle of the image, and the other to the right. The new mainline will be in a cut in the middle of the image. To the right will be the cut that will modeled as still being excavated. This cut will be adjacent to the tunnel on the old mainline.

Following are closeups and more detailed shots of the method used in constructing the spline.

The first image shows risers temporarily clamped in place while the grade is being leveled and how push pins are used to keep the spline in place while the risers are moved around until the curves and tangents look right.

In the next three images the "Smart Level" tool is being used to level the spline. The section shown here is exactly level. A change of 0.1% in the grade is accomplished by raising the riser the equivalent of the thickness of two business cards. Not much! To arrive at the exact grade percent, as many as three risers in both directions need to be adjusted and the grade continually remeasured along several points. It's slow, methodical work, but the Smart Level is a hugh help in getting perfect grades.

Also visible in the images are clamps and push pins being used. The third image also shows where the new mainline will tunnel under the old mainline before coming back out along the edge of the aisle about where the long black level can be seen laying on the brackets towards the back of the room.

Here are three more shots of the spline being constructed (in case you haven't seen enough already!)

Ron Orlando made up several tie strips which we will stockpile until we need them. Here is what they look like. This is about 35 feet of ties ready to be installed.

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

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