Friday, May 2, 2014

Aerial Views and Expansion Progress - May 2, 2014

Changing Plans

The nice thing about plans on paper is that they are easy to change.

Last Friday's post on Knott's Calico Mine Train inspired me to go back and take another look at the expansion plans I have for the TMMC, and especially at the corner Calico section. To be honest, I was never fully satisfied with the plans for that corner and taking a fresh look at Calico had me wanting to incorporate more of the look and feel of the Knott's original in my layout. To that end, I spent a couple of days figuring things out and now have a revised plan for the Thunder Mesa expansion.

The upper lefthand corner has been completely reworked with a much more spectacular presentation of Calico Mountain, its waterfalls and dramatic trestle. Now trains will pass in and out of the mountain on multiple levels, much like the Knott's attraction, and a reverse loop will send them back toward Thunder Mesa. Gone are the engine shed and turntable once planned for this corner, but the long spur up to Big Thunder Mine still remains.

On the left is the old version of Calico with its engine shed and turntable. A functional scene but not one that really captures what I'm going for. On the right is the updated plan for Calico, a scene with much more bang for the buck and the added interest of a reverse loop. I was sorry to loose the engine house but it's easy to pretend those facilities are just over on the other side of the mountain somewhere.

I've had to give up a wee bit of aisle space with this new scheme but the trade off in scenic potential should be more than worth it. A 3% grade still brings trains up to Calico, and the natural bridge, balancing rocks, deep canyon and Indian pueblo are largely unchanged. I did change the size of the Calico section from 3'x4' to 6'x4', and this in turn now makes the canyon section 5'x3' instead of 8'x3'. It just seemed to make more sense to have two medium sized sections.

Construction has officially begun on the Calico section, with the benchwork already completed and the 1/2" plywood sub-roadbed well underway. And that bring us to this month's aerial views.

Last month: April 4, 2014.

Today: May 2, 2014. 

Here you can see the new 6' length of the Calico section and the beginning of the 3% grade.  A cutout in the benchwork marks the future location of Natural Bridge. Calico Mountain will occupy most of the far corner and should make a nice balance with Baxter's Butte.

In the next section of benchwork, the scenery will plunge dramatically as the trains cross Bright Angel Canyon on their way up to Calico. With any luck I'll be able to get that built later this month and can start looking forward to running trains through the new sections. Stay tuned! Thanks for checking in, folks. Adios for now!

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