Friday, March 16, 2012

The Road to Paradise: Expansion to the Side Yard

More "March Madness" has occurred off the basketball court and in our back yard lately. After months of deliberating about how to engineer fly-overs, a PVC ladder for a raised roadbed, and other options, I acquired some used track which motivated me to make a choice.

Trackage finally reached the deck landing, the first "island".

The goal is to access the much lower side yard for the eventual town of Paradise, since I unceremoniously relegated that place away from Boulder Point (see previous post). The creativity of this is half the fun, I've determined. Two trips to Home Despot (as a friend lovingly calls the place) have provided several lengths of pressure-treated lumber, some pre-formed concrete piers, and various retaining wall blocks and paving stones. Basically I decided to use 2-by-6 pressure-treated lumber placed atop partially buried concrete piers, just to get the main line over to the side yard fence. Instead of messing around with (very tempting) PVC ladders or even poured concrete piers (overkill, I think), I decided to go the simple route. Ask me next year if this was wise. There are three "chasms" to cross, the first one of which is pictured here, essentially hidding under the deck. The second is not photographed yet, but takes the track some 12 feet from the deck landing (pictured here) to a raised garden area.

The "Road to Paradise" (thanks, Strasburg Railroad!)
seen here disappearing under the deck.

The third chasm might be built tomorrow (no promises), and will take it the final few feet to the fence posts. In an "ah-ha moment" last week, I determined that the fence posts are already cemented into the ground! Why not use those to attach a shelf for a couple of tracks? No messing with the ground at all that way! And, as the ground slopes to the west (closer to the front of the house), the track can remain level along the fence and serve as a raised shelf to "fiddle" with trains and to ease the addition of trains coming in from other local railroads. The final phase of construction (if not this year, next year?) is a "Y" track that leads from the fence trackage directly into the crawl space of the house, with a drop-in piece to connect an under-house yard. As for the side yard expansion, it is tempting to call the town "Key West" instead of Paradise, given the numerous chasms and "islands" that need to be bridged to reach it!

Back to Work! Here comes the 2012 Edition

Following a lengthy break for teaching abroad in the fall and early winter, it's back to work (or fun) on the Ponderosa Lines. This post provides a brief update on progress at Boulder Point as of mid-March, 2012. First, the revised track plan for the back yard:

Boulder Point is getting an "extreme makeover," initially conceived as the end-of-the-line destination, and finally designed to be just that. No more sharing trackage with the other end of the line at Paradise, and the Viterbo siding has moved over to a separate location at a small wayside town of that name. All of this should be visible in the map and images here. Boulder Point now has a freight siding, a house track, a passing siding with two tracks in front of the station (recently acquired), an extended reverse loop, and a "tail track" to allow for switching the sidings. The tail track doubles as the "continuous loop" connector allowing trains to run in show-off circles if desired.

Thanks to wonderful weather and using part of spring break, the Boulder Point track plan is now in place, with four new Piko switches (8-foot diameter) and fresh ballast.

The "New" Boulder Point, with paving blocks for platform for station area.

An early March snowstorm suspended work on Boulder Point.