Quite a bit of work was accomplished on the layout shortly after my last post, it's just taken a long time to get around to writing about it.
The first bit of progress was made with putting down the track support structure. I chose to follow the advice of Jim Richards in the October, 2010 MR and use EasyMat, a foam underlayment available at Home Depot, instead of the more traditional cork strips. I purchased a 4 ft wide roll that came in considerably less expensive than purchasing Midwest cork roadbed. As shown in the article, I created a simple jog for cutting strips, but chose not to bevel the sides, figuring I could use caulking to more easily do that once the roadbed was installed.
My original plan had been to lay the track directly on the foamboard base, but I was concerned about how I would accommodate the profile of the terrain at the module joints where the foamboard is level with the top of the end joists. I was not looking forward to carving ditch profiles into the plywood.
In the July 2013 MR Tony Koester has an interesting article on using 3/8" thick foamboard to help shape the profile of the ground on either side of the track. The pictures got me thinking and I decided to cut slightly wider strips of underlayment to place under the main support strips (which are basically as wide as the ties), thus increasing the height of the track profile. This would give me the flexibility I was looking for in creating ditches on either side of the roadway to support the fact that the track usually sits above the surrounding terrain. Roads will be able to come up to the level of the track at crossings and then go back down the other side, just like you see out in the field. Where required, sidings could also easily drop down below the main.
In the pictures you'll see that I've laid the main and a portion of the passing siding in Elmira. I've stopped short in the corner until I've proven to myself that I can build a reliable curved turnout.
On the end closest to the steps I'm still undecided on the total length of the town. To maintain a passing track length close to my desired 8 ft (which scales out to about 3/4 of the actual passing track length, accommodating 13 55' tank cars instead of 16), I might have to insert a 3 or 4 ft section between the end module and current end of track at the doorway. This is necessary as I do not want every turnout on the south end of Elmira being on the curve leading into town. That seems like it's just asking for trouble.
In future posts I'll add the current trackplan and talk a little bit about the genesis of the plan as well as the construction details.