The Track Gang
A few days later the track arrived. I had four reference points to help me: the 18 inch curve at the rear, the connection of that curve to the switch, the through and diverging tracks in relation to the ramp down to the storage spurs and the through and diverging tracks in relation to the inner spur ramp. Most of it was pretty straightforward and followed the plan nicely but getting a curve that worked into the 18 inch curve that also allowed the diverging route to mate to the ramp while maintaining a 15 inch minimum radius and not putting the switch too close to the cross-member proved difficult. In fact I failed. First I had forgotten about the frog wire, it was right over the cross-member and second there is one spot about 2 inches long at the start of the small end of the loop that is not quite 15 inches. It is more like 14.75 inches and the front truck of the 4-4-0 binds a little through it. What about the frog wire? Well the middle cross-member has a 3/16″ hole through it now.
The rest of the track work went quickly. I wish I could say that every piece of rail has its own feeder but that is not so. I only added feeders where needed to supply power. All of the feeders go to terminal strips mounted to the cross-members and the terminal strips are tied together by the power buss. I had a spare left-hand switch because of the change to the track plan. It seemed like a waste not to use it so I modified the track plan to add another short inside spur that would be just long enough to park a short train. I placed the switch in the outer loop just before the original inner spur. I did remember to drill holes under the center of the points.
I glued another piece of half-inch foam on top of the main board between the loop and the storage track area and moved the post office to that location along with a rock casting that I had not used for the rock cut.
The TAM Valley equipment arrived quickly and I set about learning it. It proved easy to understand and well designed. Once I understood it all, I installed the servos under the switch points using TAM Valley’s mounting brackets with double-sided foam tape and 1 inch long wood screws screwed right into the foam. I have not had one problem with them in three years. I mounted the quad controller and accessory relays to a small board under the rear of the layout so that I could see it to do the programming and just hung the turnout indicators/switches over the edge of the layout.
I was already tired of trying to run two trains from the Zephyr so I ordered a DT402 handset. I plugged it into the back of the Zephyr and the Zephyr hasn’t been out from under the layout since.
The Summit Ridge Railroad
As soon as the track was down, it was obvious that the layout needed a depot. I bought a Lemax one online and placed it at the end of the original inner spur track. The name on the depot was Summit Ridge Depot. Thus the layout was now the Summit Ridge Railroad.
It was only a couple of days before Christmas so I put a small Nativity scene on the hill near the church, put plaster gauze over the foam inside the loop and on the mountain in front of the depot. We moved the layout into the living room for Christmas.
Once the layout was in the living room and in place, two slight problems became apparent. The servo switches just hanging down looked somewhat incomplete and crawling under the layout to get the DT402 was inconvenient. I bought a Digitrax UR90 (so that I could run the trains via IR from my easy chair) and some 6-conductor cable for the UR90 and went to the hardware store to scrounge up a front panel. I settled for a piece of basswood (it was only two days until Christmas). I mounted the switches and UR90 to the panel and put a cup hook on one of the cross-members to hang the DT402 by its cable.