The first Monk Subdivision didn’t get far has it got entangled in issues such as hidden trackage and steep grades. I took a few days last month to strip down the incomplete layout to the benchwork. Better to start from a clean slate. However, lessons learned from this previous iteration were quite precious to get moving fast with the second one. My soldering skills are better, my grasp of spline roadbed building too. Also, I’m more comfortable with laying tracks.
Settling down with a much simpler track plan also help to speed up the construction, which is quite a great factor for motivation. Add to that Quebec was plagued with a heatwave during the last few days, it was just a good reason to spend my evening in the cool temperature of my basement rather than suffering the debilitating 32 degrees Celsius of my modelling room/office.
As always, working with spline roadbed is so natural to create free flowing track on a scenic layout. I love that technique, which is relaxing to build. It goes beyond simplistic geometry and provides much more subtlety. No wonder many large layouts use it.
With that said, it’s also a good occasion to test ideas in real time. Moving mockups and structures around to see where they belong, which is always, to a certain extent, a tricky business on paper. At this point, it has become quite clear the station building must be located on the aisle side to provide a more engaging contact with the railroad. As for the sidings, they look better against the backdrop because, in a sense, they are a backdrop when trains parked there are passed by express freight and passenger trains.
On the other hand, I’m no longer sure the water tank looks good in the foreground. I’ll have to find a better location for so it can’t obscure the nice view of a train leaving the big scenic curve. This is the kind of thing that only manifest themselves when working with physical models.
The same can be said of the grade. Until now, I had reservations about it. And now I feel it is a must… the train must climb the hill to reach the station. Visually, it doesn’t look right if everything is flat. For sure, we are talking about a 1.4% grade and nothing really serious… Just to add that little visual impact but not to the expense of reliability.
So far, I'm excited by the project and have found a good way to build in in meaningful steps, which is crucial to ensure success.