The upper deck will be the mining area and I'll try to imply mountains on an 18" wide shelf. The track will be mostly level at 62". Everything begins at the helix. This will be an 18" radius climbing a 4.5% grade through four levels. Total climb will be 20" with 5" rise per loop. Leaving the helix you enter the mining district with four small mines and two larger mills. The mill to the left at end of track will be based on the Little Dora mill located outside of Silverton. I just really liked the way it looked. The mill to the right is labeled Argo Mill but I think that's not going to work. Too reduced and too cramped. There's a third mill in the closet that is supplied with raw ore from the smaller mines. This mill is based on the plans in the book "Modeling the Mining Industry" from Western Scale Models. For years I've wanted to build this 20 stamp mill and include all the interior workings. Now I'm having second thoughts. A number of folks have built beautiful models from these plans and I dont want mine to be just another one in the crowd. I'm thinking now that I'll do the interior of the Little Dora mill, replace the "Argo" with something smaller, more Gilpin like, and replace the closet mill with the back side of a lumber mill, just the stacks of cut lumber and the backside of the mill. Then I could have a lumber yard, or part of one, in town to supply lumber for the mines. If I went that way I can eliminate the 5% grade running around the outside of the helix to the upper level of the closet mill.
To service the mining district I've added some sidings, a run around and a wye. The wye takes up a lot of room but makes it possible to turn the engine and adds some interesting operating value. The buildings for the smaller mines will be based on mines in the Gilpin area and the scenery kind of a mix between Gilpin and Silverton. It's all still a work in progress.
Getting started on framing up the layout. I waffled on the track height for the lower level. Original plan had 42" for the lower and 62" for the upper. The 62" height is pretty much locked in because I'm 5'10" and that puts the track just below eye level. Up there but still comfortable. Furthest reach up there is 20" so I might have to use a step stool. The lower level is where I waffled. 42" looked too low when I first started putting up the framework. I raised it to 47" and that looked better. The helix is in increments of 5" so that's why I chose 47". But that left me with only 15" between levels and I'd probably lose another 2" to 4" for lights and facia. The area around the smelter had me concerned because it's going to be a large building. If I start limiting height to 11" to 13" it might look too cramped. I went back and set the lower level at 43" and the upper at 63". I think I'll be happy with that.
The photo shows framing started for the yard area along the far wall.
Made a little more progress on the benchwork today. I'm using Lynn Westcotts book on how to build benchwork. It shows several variations for shelf type benchwork and I chose to do the one with the girders hanging below the bracket arms, thinking my layout was fairly narrow and that I could use the bracket arms as joists. I ended up having to shift several of the bracket arms to below the girders to make room for the turntable and a change in ground height over by the smelter. I also spent a lot of time making things level. Something I didn't account for until I was half way into it was that the walls of the room are way out of square. I think I have everything under control now but this is taking way longer than I had originally planned.
I have the bump outs framed for the roundhouse and the smelter. I was relieved to find that I had left plenty of room in the aisles and that the lower level bench height is going to work out just fine.
My plan is to use battery power (dead rail) with DCC for control and sound. I talked with Pete Steinmetz at Dead Rail Installs. He has taken over the dead rail sales for Tam Valley and is taking orders now. He said turn around is a week or two so I guess this is gonna be my Christmas present. I'm starting out with one engine set up with DRS1 transmitter and receiver, 500 mAh battery, a charger, and a few other things. He said that size battery will work fine for my On30 engines (2-8-0, 2-6-0 and a BVM conversion of an HO three truck Shay. He said that size battery will give me several hours of play time. Cool! After looking around at some DCC systems I think I'll stick to my original plan and go with the DCC++ Arduino system and use an old smart phone for a hand held control. I already have the Arduino stuff so that cuts my expenses in half, to about $150 to get things started. If the smart phone thing is a PITA then I'll change over to a regular hand held later on. I'm anxious to get started laying track so I think I'll build around to the helix and get things running. The helix looks like a challenge so I'll put that off for a bit.