July 30th, 2013

So much for keeping up my new years resolution on updating the website at a more frequent pace! I'll try to make up for the lack of updates with a bunch of pictures.
So, the entire upper level main line and siding track is all in and wired up with detection. I also built the hinged return loop for the upper level in the staging/laundry room. In fact, I can now run a train from the helix, around the upper level, into and out of staging and back to the helix. I think I spent a month just running trains! I also tackled the tedious job of finishing the valance around the ceiling. Heat rises, and having my head just a few inches away from the ceiling in the hottest months of the year made the job just that much more enjoyable! HA! Speaking of heat, I purchased a portable AC unit to help keep the train room cool. I was having problems with the track getting all crooked in some areas. My house AC system is on it's last leg and it's not keeping things cool in the hot AZ summers.
Now that the valance in installed, I came up with an idea to add acrylic panels to give the layout a nice "finished" look and block the glaring 4' light fixtures. So far it has turned out real nice.
Anyhow, lets get to some pictures.... lots of pictures...


Upper level track going into the staging/laundry room. Sharpest curve on the main at 18"


Used lots of adhesive since this area will be covered up.


Going through the backdrop to the visable part of the layout


Through Walker River canyon.


Around the curve at Sonora and into the passing siding.


All the upper level track is now wired and ready to run trains!!!


Tracing out the hinged reverse loop for the upper level


All cut out. Curves are 18" radius.


This bracket holds up the 180° curve on the reverse loop.


Hinge in the middle. The L shaped bracket holds the top against the wall when folded up.


Underneath view. These 3 brackets hold this section when the reverse loop is in the down position.


Top view. You can see one of the L brackets at bottom of photo.


Setting in position for trains. I had to cut out the homasote on the staging yard to have a flat place to lay the reverse loop.


Going up!


Folding against the wall


And folded up. Right now I have clamps holding the reverse loop against the wall, eventually I'll replace them with a locking system so the loop won't fall away from the wall.


Access is now available to the washer and dryer.


Track installed. The rail is cut at the 2 center hinge joints.


Auto reverse circuit wired up.


Ready to test with trains.


The turnout is an Atlas #7. I used a coupler box and spring from an old Rapido coupler to make this turnout a spring switch. There is just enough pressure on the points to keep them firm against the stock rail, but not so much that a freight car can't push them over when coming from the diverging route.


Continuing with the valance. Note the darkness, had to take down the lights to install the brackets for the valance. Gotta love doing things twice!


Glued on at the right and light back up


Finished up this side


Brackets and lights


This stuff is called "edge protector" and is sold at Home Depot and Lowes. It's an L shaped plastic product. They sell 2 kinds, one is just plain, the other has sticky stuff (the white paper is covering it). I got both to see how each would work. I prefer the plain ones. The holes are my doing.


Using some clamps and a metal bar, I glued the edge protector to the inside of the valance, 1" up from the bottom edge.


Straight across from the valance, on the backdrop, I screwed in the edge protector.


Ready for the acrylic panel.


The acrylic panel installed. These come in 2'x4' panels, so I had to do some cutting. A fresh blade in the knife and a ruler made it easy to cut the acrylic.


View of the acrylic panel sitting on the edge protectors. No need to have them attached, they just lay flat and are easy to remove.


I use the edge protector to "box in" the acrylic panel. No need to attach it, the panel holds it in place.


These short pieces lay back to back to hold up the acrylic panels


Two panels installed, a lot more to go!


Another view.


Doing the curved backdrop was a bit harder. I used some old cardboard to get me the shape I needed, then transfered it to the acrylic panel. The curves are cut out using the cutoff disk in the Dremel.


This section is now ready for the acrylic panel. I was able to get the edge protector to bend around curves by cutting grooves in it with the cutoff disk in the Dremel.


I glued the edge protector back to back for this section since it is quite long.


Gluing around the curve using wire nuts to hold the edge protector.


Finished up this section. I really like how this turned out! I also ran some silicone around the top of the valance and ceiling to give it a bit more strength and to block any stray light that might come out through the cracks.


Continuing with more valance


Clamped and ready for screws


Around the end of the peninsula


I used longer supports in this area since they need to hold up the lights as well as hit the rafters.


Gluing the last section together. Yep, I'm taking chances with those parked trains!


The final joint and the valance will be done!


All done! Now to get all the lights back up.


Another view


I also installed the PVC pipe at the end of the peninsulas. The pipe is 2.5" OD, cut in half on the table saw. That thickness matches my backdrop support wall.


Screwed in from the front. The seams will get taped and filled, and when painted the pipe will blend right in.


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