Lots of updates to report since my last post on this thread. I have spent the last 2 weeks going from layout revisions per Don's inspiration, to laying out and finishing the track for the entire Mainline 1 loop. I still have to do the reverse polarity tunnel line that branches off Mainline 1 - I plan to nail that down this week.
Here is a before and after loop to show the layout changes I made after Don's post:
To help you understand some of the changes above, I color-coded all my inclines based on their grade percentage. In the "Before" pic, I had one 1% grade (in green), a lot of complex 2% grades (in yellow), and one critical 3% grade (in orange) that helps trains go from the low level Mainlines 1 & 2 to the upper level Mainline 3 / Rail Yard / industry sidings. In the "After" picture, I completely overhauled the inclines to reduce complexity (and minimize risk factors for operations) by doing only one simple 2% grade on the North side of Mainline 3 and still keeping the critical 3% grade for the level 1 to level 2 transition.
Here's a new scene from the East perspective showing the length of the layout.
I'm planning to have a small river in the canyon on the left because I needed a reason to validate why a canyon was there in the first place. Making the Yard and Mainline 3 on an upper level required this canyon, so now I needed a way to validate the canyon from a terrain / construction perspective. A river was the perfect answer! The 3% grade incline will have a challenging bridge to cross the river at the midway point of the incline too.
I also mentioned in my last post that I was going to consider eliminating the 2 bay engine shop because it took up too much room considering I needed more space to create additional sidings. Well, I came up with a better solution to keep it and still have the space! I found a Walthers 3 track "car shop" that is made for train car maintenance, but I decided I would use it for both loco and rail cars. Now I have the best of both worlds
And finally, here is a shot from the North perspective, showing the back side of the quarry mountain where Mainline 3 runs along it on an elevated height, and Mainline 1 & 2 are below. You can also see the tunnel portal that goes underneath the layout where the polarity reversal track comes off Mainline 1.
So with that, here are some pictures of my benchwork and track laying progress!
North side - Mainline 1
Close up of switches on North side of Mainline 1
My benchwork and paper templates laying out the South side Mainline 1 flex track double-curves
Close up of my paper templates for South side Mainline 1 flex track double-curves
South side Mainline 1 flex track laid, and drying with weights on top of it
I have actually made more progress than this but I need to take more photos still. I'll post again when I have them.