I really liked the arrangement I laid out and I could better understand the flow and function of the yard in 3D rather than on paper. The only problem was it was just too high!
The elevation needed to get behind my stairs is at 62". I thought this height might be manageable, but I quickly realized it wasn't, especially for a yard 8 tracks wide at it's deepest point. Near the beginning of the yard there's about 12 feet to that clearance point, which meant I could drop the upper level about two inches creating an 1.25 to 1.5% grade. This is actually similar to the prototype where westbound trains are coming up out of the Ohio River Valley. So like the prototype, most trains headed west wouldn't be very long and based on previous tests should be able to handle that grade.
Another evening of work redoing all the shelving brackets and I was back in business, amazing the difference two inches can make! Using a step stool is now a lot more optional.
This time I took things a step further and started cutting some Atlas flex track and added some switches to actively test out the arrangement. A functional mock up I suppose. Lance Mindhiem has written about doing something similar, using Atlas snap switches and flex track to test and adjust before laying down Micro Engineering track on his CSX Miami layout.
|The new easier on the neck 60" high Pine Valley Yard.|
Doing all this has been great for my son who has been very excited to finally get to run some trains. Teaching him switching moves has been very entertaining as well! Thanks to Tim Moran for the idea to get something up and running for my son's enjoyment while the big picture gets worked out. Combining it with testing a possible future section of the layout really kills two birds with one stone.