After recently lamenting the lack of spare time to work on the layout, especially after the arrival earlier last week of tools and supplies for construction, I managed to spend most of Sunday making relatively substantial progress. Most significantly, almost all of the second layer of foam required for trackwork is now in place, including the long gradient around the engine terminal.
"Prove it!" you say. OK, here we go...
Here is a shot of the east end of the yard on the left, with the engine terminal in the background. In the left foreground on the lower level you can see the mainline heading through the industrial/interchange trackage before curving to the right up the grade that will take it to the second level, right behind the roundhouse at right rear:
Here is a closer picture of the engine terminal providing a good view of the mainline grade snaking around the engine terminal. The sheer walls of foam will be shaped into a combination of retaining walls and slopes to (hopefully) make the grade a little less obvious.
Here is a closeup of the "cookie cutter" approach I took in constructing the grade. For the gradient I cut a 2-3"-wide strip out of the top layer of foam, then lowered it down to meet the first level via a series of supporting piers consisting of combinations of 1/4" plywood squares and 1x2 blocks. Eventually this view will be covered up by the application of 1/8" hardboard around the edges of the layout to provide both a nicer finish and a place to mount control panels and small boxes to hold paperwork for freight cars. (Yes, this will be a more-or-less working railroad.)
After completing the foam work on this section I realized that the turntable was 1) far too close to the mainline grade and 2) an inch too small in diameter. Fortunately, I had given myself some wiggle room in the plan, particularly in cutting a hole through the base plywood and first level of foam, so I will shift the turntable back toward the wall a couple of inches and adjust the inbound/outbound tracks and roundhouse tracks accordingly.
The only section of foam required for trackwork and yet to be laid is a short section on the transition to get the mainline on level two from the rural section to the bridge on the transition section. This requires me to make some decisions as to how the surrounding terrain should look, but I hope to have that figured out and in place this weekend. There is still much work to be done to build the fairly substantial mountain I have planned for the rural section, but I can proceed with getting the right of way ready for laying track.
The next step is to smooth the joints of the foam sections with putty to provide a good level surface for the cork roadbed. I also want to rough out the terrain contours at trackside, since that should be done before track is laid.