A Railroad with Relevance

Lower Deck Prep Work – Part I

Written By: Alan - Apr• 02•23

Nothing like changing horses in the middle of the stream, right? As was expected, there were numerous changes required in the existing setup to accommodate the new lower deck design. These included:

  1. realigning hidden track;
  2. changing some upper deck supports;
  3. raising a valley floor;
  4. adding more lights;
  5. surveyor work

I’m currently working on the lights but 1, 2, and 3 are done.

Hidden track right-of-way

The hidden track (10 Mile Tunnel) that would have connected Kitzmiller with the north helix was originally free to meander anywhere under the upper deck as there was nothing else there. It would have been hidden behind a curtain. With a lower deck present that is no longer the case. Now the roadbed needs to hug the wall as tight as possible. Built before the plan change, the partial right-of-way shown below was removed.

Next, the upper deck shelf brackets were in the way so they had to come out. To support the upper deck while not interfering with the track along the wall I turned to 4″ steel corner braces. Several were placed under the benchwork around the curvature of the wall.

With the shelf brackets removed there was no support for the front edge of the benchwork inside the curve of the wall. The front span is nearly five feet in length so support only on the back edges was out of the question. I needed something strong yet small enough it would be hidden by the 1″ of fascia underhang. Steel in the form of 3/4″ square tube fit the bill. I was lucky the wall studs were in just the right spots. The new assembly is just as solid as it was before with the shelf brackets.

The roadbed I removed was reused to make the new right-of-way. Working with the plywood semicircles and straight pieces was a lot like assembling sectional train track. Trying to accurately measure the shape required for snaking along the wall looked fraught with error. Instead, starting at the existing end, I simply held a piece in position, straight or curved as needed, and marked a cut line. The piece was cut, a lap joint section added, and then clamped into position. Little nudge here, little nudge there until the section was where I wanted then drill the matting lap joint holes, screw together. This process was repeated all way round to the hidden track exit under Mittiki Mine.

The starting point:

High tech cribbing (stacked milk crates and 2x4s 🙂 ) supported the roadbed as it was being assembled. The setting of the grade came while installing the 3″ corner braces securing the roadbed to the wall.

Reusing the old roadbed did create quite a few lap joints which gives the assembly a bit of a Frankenstein look. Doesn’t matter. The assembly is rigid and will be hidden from view.

And finally, the exit below Mittiki Mine through a new hole in the wall:

Raising the river

Another obstacle in the way was the River Styx gorge. I needed about five inches more clearance for the lower deck than what the existing setup permitted. So, the river was raised.

The before gorge:

I marked a cut line across the fascia at the base of the upper radius on each side of the gorge. The marks I placed on the rear of the fascia two years ago came in handy locating the attaching screws. A small magnet zeroed in on the exact spot. Touch the area with a 80 grit disc, clean joint compound out of the screw heads, and remove. I even used the same screws to install the new fascia.

With the fascia cut and removed:

One at a time, each of the four uprights were removed, cut five inches shorter, and reinstalled:

The gorge floor was raised and then reattached to the uprights. The two shelf brackets supporting the floor were repositioned accordingly:

A new fascia section cut and installed:

With Behr Limousine Leather black paint applied:

Representation of before and after:

When I get the lights and surveyor work complete I’ll post the results. Back soon!