The Plan 2
I figured that if I could turn the loop in relationship to the storage tracks, I could enlarge the loop a little bit so I bought some of the smaller EZ-Track filler pieces and started trying to optimize the track plan. By adding smaller and different radii sections to the storage siding spur I was able to turn the loop which allowed me to add some small straight sections to the loop making it larger and the area between the loop and storage tracks smaller. By keeping the inside spur at the storage track end of the loop it allowed me to increase both the length of the inside stub siding and the open area for buildings. I ended up with enough room inside the loop for all of the buildings except the church, which already had a place on the hill. I used thin sheets of Styrofoam to raise the buildings and position them to make it look less flat and installed the riser for the inside loop but lowered it to only 1 inch instead of 1.5 inches since it was now an industrial siding instead of a mining spur. I piled slabs of foam inside the loop to make it more or less level and left a hole that the skating pond sat in.
Christmas was fast approaching so I removed the track, painted the track area and started to “rock” the cut using hydrocal and Woodland Scenics rock molds. As I progressed, the hill looked pretty dumb with a flat top so I built up areas with Sculptamold and small pieces of foam. Somewhere along the line of Sculptamolding and rocking, I lost track of my 6 inch requirement. There is one small section that ended up at 8 inches. I piled up foam between the inside spur and the loop into a pseudo-mountain for our two Arttista skiers and put washers on the bottom of some Arttista skaters to use in place of the horribly oversize skaters that came with the skating pond.
Somewhere along in there, I also decided the Bachmann EZ-Track just didn’t look right with On30 equipment. It made the trains look like oversized HO trains instead of undersized O trains. I ordered some ME On30 code 83 flex track and switches. I also ordered a TAM Valley quad_ln servo controller with accessory relay switches (to power the frogs) four front panel indicators/switches and servos. How long could it take? The only wrinkle was that I was replacing Bachmann’s standard switches (similar geometry to Atlas Snap-Switches) with approximately a #4 frog with #5s but I had the additional advantage of flex track. The potential problem was to position the switches so that the points cleared the 1×2 cross-members by enough to install the under-track servos. The original design had no under-layout wiring or mechanisms. I had already built the lower and main levels and part of the third level ramp so the goal was to build essentially the same layout but with #5 switches and flex track. As long as I was at it, I isolated the front storage spur so that it could be switched to mainline power or programming track power. I went back to AnyRail and came up with this.
One thing I did not consider was the powered frog. It never occurred to me that I needed to have the frog clear the cross-members as well.
I really only had a few constraints to be concerned with: the radius of the curve at the church end of the loop needed to be about 18 inches to match the cut, there was a 15 inch minimum radius throughout to accommodate the 4-4-0, the two diverging route switches had to line up with the existing ramps and the points had to clear the cross-members by enough to allow the installation of the servos.
While I was waiting for the track and servos to arrive I went back and used lightweight spackle to clean up the major blemishes in the fascia and repainted it. I also changed my mind on part of the track plan. I had two spurs near the end of the inner siding. Only one was long enough to hold even a short train and there wasn’t enough room around them to support two buildings. Even worse, I would have to modify my ramp. I changed it to be just one longer spur like it had been with the EZ-Track.