I will be using Atlas code 55 , because I think it is the most prototypical without going into the very expensive alternatives. It does mean I will have to fit a lot of rolling stock with low profile trucks but I think its worth it. My minimal radius will be 16" and most curves will be more then 20". With maybe an exception in real tight places I will use #7 and #10 turnouts.
Easy and fast ( temporarily) ballasting.
Today I made a big step, at least that's what I think. Up till now I had only run engines on a single piece of flextrack to see if decoders worked and how they ran. Today I lay and soldered quite a part of the layout.
And ran my very first train. The RS-1 Rock Island #744 with a few boxcars and a hopper.
I also discovered that I need to power the frogs of my turnouts, luckily I have foreseen that, the Tortoises already have the wiring to do so and the Caboose Industries throws I ordered are made to power the frogs as well.
Some pictures of the trackwork to the right ( east ) of Kansas City and what will be through Union Station
Here you can see the rods coming from the Tortoise switching machines. I used 0.025 , just a bit thicker then the ones provided by circuitron because they are somewhat longer.
This is what I plan for the upper deck in room 2, with the crossing at the station and an exchange between the UP and the Rock Island.
Here it is in Anyrail. The question is , will this be very difficult to wire?
Laid it out on the cork.
Views from different angles.
New situation after some rearrangements, I think it looks more natural now. Also added some buildings that I think will look good here.
Trackplan of this section.
All switches have Cobalt switch machines installed. Feeders have been connected and an autoreverser connected. Test ran this wye with both a small 44 tonner and an F7 with sound decoder , both ran smoothly through all the trackwork.
Some of the ballasting on the Clay Center peninsula.
Ballasted between the turnouts that make the wye finished.
These are the tools I use for ballasting, a coffee spoon , small round painters brush, cheap windex ( glassex in Holland ) , 50:50 diluted white glue or bookbinders glue.
With the spoon I spread a nice bead of ballast in the middle of the tracks , I then scrape with the spoon cup side down over the ballast touching the middle of the track , I repeat this a few times till most of the ballast has either found it's way in between the ties or has gone over the rails to the sides. I then spread ballast along the sides where needed. Then very gently I brush in the length of the tracks , brushing off most of the ballast still on top of the ties in the middle as well as on the sides of the tracks . Sometimes you take away a bit too much of the ballast , just use the brush to push or brush it back. Then when the ballast seems right , I mist with the windex, maybe I got lucky but the cheap brand I bought at the supermarket works perfect , there's alcohol in windex and that alcohol gets rid of the surface tension so when you take the glue bottle all you have to do is gently let if flow out of the bottle ( doesn't need much ) and it instantly seeps into the ballast . Let this dry for a day , then using a small flat screwdriver or another not to sharp small flat object scrape the inside of the tracks, trying to stay in the inner groove of the track and not touching the ties or spikes too much. Then use a trackcleaning block or sponge and clean the top of the tracks, after that vacuum and you are good to go. I also do my turnouts the same way with one small thing added , after gluing I take the brush and screwdriver and clean out all ballast in between the frogs and rail parts and give the moving parts an extra good mist of the windex , this rinses away most of the glue and I find that the day after it usually moves with just a tiny bit of force sometimes needed to move it the first time.
A first look at what the trackwork around Belleville will look like.
Okay , I had a major learning moment , some people call it a screw up, going from Manhattan to Belleville I have gradually gone up about 4 cm , 1 1/2 inch , so I had to solve this. I did this by making a descent in front of Belleville , I know it's not prototypical but it my become a nice scenic touch.
Soldering track together , I only do this in curves , and soldering feeders .
Some more photo's of the trackwork near Belleville.
Laying track on the liftout.
Ballasting the liftout and surrounding track.
Liftout connected to bus using these rather nice jack plugs I got at an Electro shop in Aachen
Laid cork at Belleville station area.
Soldering wires to the DPDT switches for turnout control.
Cobalt switch machine installed. I use double sided tape to temporarily fix it to the layout , if the turnout works correctly I then screw the Cobalt, checking if it still works after 2 screws and the full 4.
When I have to use other wire then the one in the box I use piano wire, which I let stick out quite a length, easier install then when the wire is exactly long enough , and it's easy to cut afterwards.
Very thin styrene with a slot in it for the wire so I can ballast right up to the wire.
My water filled milk jugs to weigh down the track while waiting for the caulk to set.
Stages of ballasting the track to Belleville.
I first paint the sides next to the track and while the paint is still wet spread a layer of ballast.
I then vaccuum the ballast thats not adhered to the paint , and carefully spread new ballast between the tracks and against the trackbed, the ballast thats already stuck there keeps the losse ballast in place while I spread it with a soft somewhat more then trackwidth brush. Then when that looks good to me I spray on a mist of Windex, this helps the glue mix to sink into the ballast. I use a mix of 50/50 white glue and water.
Then when it's dry it gives this result.