I’ve been doing a bunch of things, trying to get ready for the “public” debut of the State Belt this October. I plan to host several sessions around the Minn-Rail timeframe, some as official scheduled ops and others as can be fit in to suit the schedules of the out of town guests.
To that end, I’ve been trying to do a bunch of smallish things to make the layout more friendly towards guests. Every cross street is labeled (Stockton, Bay) with more or less accurate San Francisco style street signage. Each industry gets a label on the spur on the fascia (since the industries themselves don’t have much in the way of signage yet, see Stauffer Chemical or Simmons Co).
Each turnout button is more or less directly out from the points, making it fairly easy to match the arrangement on the fascia to the trackwork on the layout. The track lines are (for now) artist’s tape of various widths. Someday, I hope to paint on more durable artwork, but this will certainly do for now. This is probably what you’ll see for the next several years.
I’ve also been working on the pavement along North Point. Running tracks in the street are to be buried in pavement, but the spurs where cars can be spotted are laid in with cobblestones. This is DAS air drying clay, with the cobble stones rolled in using some nifty tools. This still needs some work, since there’s a little too much sinkage at the ties. I’ll write more on this as I get it all figured out.
The bulk of the recent tracklaying work is done, with an overview shot here prior to cleanup. Every tool seen here has been used within the last couple of weeks. For the next op sessions, instead of a couple of pieces of flextrack serving as the car float interchange, the crew will be able to make their way over here to North Yard and make a block swap. Eventually, the wharf job crew will be responsible for the car float that will be over here as well.
Below table work needs to be done here yet. This include switch machine installation and track feeder connections to the DCC bus.
I’m also working on some paperwork to help a crew find things. The first one is an Industry List, much like the prototype’s. Look up “Musto Keenan” and you’ll find it listed as “535 North Point / Taylor”. Now that the street signs are on the fascia, it should be easier to find places. I’ll expand the overview map as well.
My goal is to have everything that I like to see when I come to a layout for the first time. Easily readable paperwork that makes it clear what work needs to be done (handled via the B-7’s). Maps showing where things are. Signs for every industry. Signs for major locations.
Other goals to make it nice for the crews include:
- declutter the active portion of the railroad, and the to-be-built-later sections as well. The “later” sections will still have some building mockups, some switch templates down, showing some notion of what is yet to come.
- permanent fascia on all of the parts of the railroad we’ll be operating. I think this makes things look cleaner
- skirting hanging from the fascia, mostly to hide all of the clutter that used to be on top of the layout and which got moved down below
- a central place for snacks & such. Not right in the middle of things, but easy enough to get as needed.