Mark VIII, Part 1

Every time I thought I’d hit rock bottom, something would happen to make me realize I
was still on a steep slope with a long way yet to go; some new fresh hell arrived almost
on a weekly basis. Life had become bizarre, frightening, and entirely unpredictable.

I was going on my second year being cooped up in a 12 by 12 foot cabin (originally built
to serve as guest quarters for my unfinished house), and I felt the walls closing in on me.
Eventually I came to believe that I might find some relief by working on a layout, so I
ventured into the storage container to unearth some of my unfinished projects. But, for
some reason, seeing them once again after three years didn’t have the desired effect,
and I returned everything to storage.

As I was sifting though a box of used Minitrix track, I came across a couple of curved
turnouts and was struck with the idea of recreating my first White River and Northern.
I thought perhaps a trip down nostalgia lane might be good for my tortured soul. I
scrounged around for materials and found enough to replicate the original round layout.
Aside from a new lightweight base, I allowed myself to modify the track plan a little:
I swapped the geometries of the upper and lower lines and added a few more sidings.
Compare the “before” and “after” versions:

It wasn’t long before I had the base assembled, comprising two laminated sheets of half-
inch Gatorfoam and a piece of 3/16-inch Gatorfoam for the cookie-cutter subroadbed.
Because of my new physical limitations, however, I grew concerned that the new plan
required a custom-built crossing (as it happens, just like the original). But once I got into
it, I found it was a relatively simple bash using Minitrix sectional track.

I laid the track using 3M’s VHB (Very High Bond) double-sided foam tape. Based on prior
experience (I’d first used it on the WR&N VI), I’ve learned that things had better be lined
up perfectly before dropping the track in place, because this stuff is frighteningly powerful,
and there’s no going back. Make a mistake, and start over with new track. To help avoid
such mistakes, I soldered groups of track sections together before laying them. In a few
short days I was ready to start working on structures.

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