Well, it's just over a year since the reconstruction of the Western Maryland Western Lines began, and I'm actually pretty pleased with the volume of progress I've made thus far.
Last night I made a significant advance by installing the 32" diameter helix I constructed over the course of a week. It goes in the corner, and will carry the Connellsville line down to the staging yard under Ridgeley. At this moment, there's about five feet of railroad to build to make this connection, which should be complete over the weekend.
The beginnings of the west yard throat will be just above this monster eventually, but I think I'm going to cheat a little and run a temporary track around there to make a connection to North Junction and on to east staging. This will afford me the opportunity to run trains in earnest for the first time in about year.
Like the initial section of the layout over by the paper mill, I constructed the bulk of the helix off-site (at the kitchen table to be precise) to make it easier to align the track, do the wiring, and otherwise try to get it right. Once completed, I hauled it up the steps to the attic. Amazingly, the vertical dimensions worked out to within 1/8", which was easily handled by the leveling screws on the legs. I secured it to the wall to eliminate any wobble.
The outer track on the twist has a radius of 16", and the inner 14.5" Ascending trains will have the wider berth to reduce friction as much as possible. It will be interesting to test to see how long a train can reasonably manage the climb. The overall rise goes from 31.5" to 38.75" in two and a quarter turns. Not sure how the math works out on that, but I'm sure it won't be long before someone chips in with that calculation. It doesn't look like more than a brace of SD40's can handle. I'm hoping I can maintain my projected train length of 30 cars.
Anyway, that's all for now. Stay tuned for further developments.