I have started laying track on the second level. I had hoped to have all the second level track in by last Tuesday when my friends from the South Coast Society of Model Engineers came over, but as my wife continues to tell me, things take a lot longer than I think they will.
I did manage to get track in both the inner and outer helices. I used flex track for both. In the inner helix it is code 100 and is designed to take trains from the west staging yard which is also code 100, to the upper level (at this point level two). As it exits the track reverts to code 83 for the visible section of the layout. On the outer helix I used code 83 flex track connecting the code 83 main at La Patera on the first level to the code 83 main at Surf on the second level.
Michael Lopes has been assisting me in some of the construction and helped with the inner helix. We connected the flex track with track joiners and then soldered the track. The track was slid around the helix but as we did so the movable rail kept moving and would come up against the plastic ties causing distortion. I tried removing the ties but in the end the large sections of tie-less flex track was out of gauge. The track was trimed and resoldered. Then I tested the track with a good rolling hopper which eventually made it all the way down.
I wired the track to the power bus and checked voltage with a voltmeter and everything looked good. So I tried with a locomotive and made it up and down. Then the loco pulled one 85 foot Amtrak Superliner car up and down to check clearance. The track is still not secured but everything cleared easily both vertically and horizontally.
As mentioned above I did lay in some track exiting the outer helix above and the inner helix at Surf. Here are a couple photos.
The bottom of each helix has already been attached to the first level and functions well.
So when the SCSME crew came over they got to see the progress but we still did not get to run all the way across the second level. But Michael brought an Amtrak F59PHI in Pacific Surfliner colors as well as a few Superliner cars. He assembled his train of 6 superliner cars in the west Staging and ran it all the way up the helix and out onto the second level until he hit track I had not yet powered. We slid the train back just enough to pick up power and reversed it down the helix.
I really appreciate the help that Michael has given me. It is encouraging to have teenagers interested and active in our wonderful hobby and Michael is just one of a long history of junior members in the South Coast Society of Model Engineers. Their participation ensures the model railroad hobby's future.
Back to work laying track.