Good Beginnings

I was in no rush to build the layout, and so I took my time (although, having recently retired, I made steady progress). A week after the project was officially under way, I'd completed the base. I used my favorite layout-building material, half-inch Gatorfoam, for the base as well as the subroadbed.

A week after that, I'd started laying track. One snag I'd hit, however, was that a new switch Rokuhan had announced, upon which my track plan was dependent, wasn't yet available. By the end of February I'd run out of patience waiting for Rohuhan to release their new switch, and I fabricated my own version of it.

Meanwhile, I tackled something that had me vexed for a week: how to model the stone viaduct. Ultimately I came to realize the only way was the "correct" way: scratchbuild it.

Shortly afterward, all of the track was laid, and wiring was finished. And this led straight into the next big challenge: the iconic truss bridge to the right of the stone arch bridge. I entertained all sorts of ways to make short work of them—I'd even tried to talk myself into using steel trusses! But deep down inside I knew that would be just plain wrong.

I mulled over this problem in a blog, which by then had acquired more than just a few followers—one of whom volunteered to laser-cut the trusses for me. And at that point I taught myself how to make drawings for laser cutters. It was akin to hitting a home run the first time I'd ever picked up a bat: the results exceeded my expectations.

I was on a roll. By early March I'd made the control panel, and installed it right where John Allen had indicated it on his original plan.

Then came a steady stream of kitbashed and scratchbuilt structures, including John Allen's billboard, reproduced from a photograph of the original:

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