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The New SLF - continued
Level "1" - Italian Staging
I admire those folks who have the capability to conceptualize and plan an entire layout before they put a single saw stroke in a piece of wood (probably those same people who knew what they wanted to do in life before they graduated from high school). For me, layout planning is inexorably linked to layout building - I think I have a good plan, but as the structure of the layout takes shape, new ideas crop up and problems have to be addressed, so the plan inevitably changes.
I got so wrapped up designing and building the 'racetrack' (the Simplon to Domodossola main line) and it's accompanying layover yard, that I shortchanged the Italian part of the layout. My realization of this came as I was performing the mental gymnastics necessary to justify the use of the main layover yard as a place to store Italian locomotives and their trains alongside their Swiss counterparts.
A linguistic aside here: I love Italian for some of its descriptive words and idioms (many of which don't translate directly into English). The word that comes to mind at this point is stonatura which describes a thing that just doesn't fit, sound right, or seem correct. My original plan called for a pair of turnouts that would connect the Italian trackage to the helix, thereby allowing the Italian trains to 'sneak' down into the storage yard.
What a stonatura!
This realization took me back to examine my premise and my 'druthers'. Thankfully, I remembered that while my reason for the 'racetrack' was to include a heavy main line operation (and continuous running) on the layout, the Italian track was intended for hands-on operation. So, whereas the Swiss trains needed to be mostly hidden, the Italian trains could be mostly visible!
The result is a smaller Italian layover yard suspended above the Swiss yard and positioned to reduce interference. The yard itself will be on a slight grade so that the loop tucks nicely under the Simplon loop directly above it and it will connect to the first visible level on a 2% grade. The subroadbed is constructed of 3/8" A/C exterior plywood and is attached to the back and side profile boards and supported with 1x2" birch - I learned my lesson on 1/4" ply with the last layout! With this yard, I will be able to send Italian traffic south (off-layout) without having to use the track under the Swiss catenary system.
All is again prototypically correct!
Up to Iselle di Trasquera!
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