Edit: February 2014. The layout has been progressing very slowly as I started my own railroad book publishing company and researched, wrote and published my first book in December that took almost 3 years. The book had been a raving success. For more info on the book, go to www.erstwhilepublications.com
I am building the Wabash RR Indianapolis Branch in HO set in the early to mid 1950s. The layout is a double-deck, walk-in, basement design which will have interlockings and plenty of scratch built structures, including bridges and interlocking towers. (I am sticking with Wabash practice in structures and signaling on the Wabash portion of the layout.) The Wabash never had an Indianapolis Branch but my freelanced version connects with the Wabash's Detroit-St. Louis mainline at Fort Wayne, and runs to Indianapolis. (The Wabash did lease a line btw Michigan City and Indianapolis up until the 1880's when the lease was lost. That eventually became the NKP's "I-MC" via Peru, Indiana. I am not modeling that line.)
Modeled locations include Fort Wayne, Kingsland, Marion, Elwood and Indianapolis, where my branch crosses other railroads. Some locations will feature working NYC, PRR, and NKP trains. My Wabash Red Ball freights will use the PRR in Indianapolis to get to the PRR Hawthorne Yards (staging) but there will be a small Wabash yard in Indy for a local, transfers and an extra drag freight. In addition to the Wabash Cannon Balls and the Detroit and St. Louis Limited passenger trains on the 1st District (the mainline) at Fort Wayne and numerous freights, passenger trains 12 and 13 will run btw Toledo and Indianapolis using the 5th District to and from Toledo and the Indy Branch btw Fort Wayne and Indy. My Indy Local will be a mixed train with combine.
The most prominent interlocking on the layout is Fort Wayne Union Junction. (There really was a Fort Wayne Union RR at Fort Wayne but not a FWU Junction.) This will be an interlocking complete with working Armstrong levers, a lighted model board and signaling. It will require a full-time tower operator. The Indy Branch cuts south for Indy here off the 1st District Wabash mainline and the Fort Wayne Union RR crosses the Wabash 1st District with NKP, PRR and NYC trains having trackage rights on the FWU. All routes are in and live including a fully functioning wye and interchange yard. The interlocking tower is scratch built, modeled after a common Wabash design similar to one at Jacksonville, Illinois. Numerous freights, the Cannon Balls and Detroit & St. Louis Limited passenger trains will keep this interlocking busy in addition to NYC, PRR, NKP and Indy Branch trains!
The bench work is up on both levels in the 16x24 main room and track laying is about half way complete on the upper level. However, I have not yet started on the next room for Fort Wayne and Indy and the Fort Wayne/Indy staging yards. The Toledo/Detroit staging is complete including a backward reversing loop. (The backward reversing loop allows trains to be turned and backed into staging tracks upon arrival so they can be recycled to keep FWU Junction busy.
Though I am utilizing several helixes (with two built so far), I will be running 17 to 20 foot long trains. So far testing has shown that this will work as long as I stick with metal Kadee couplers (with tapped and screwed coupler boxes), keep the equipment up to par and go easy on the slack. My minimum radius and grade are 30" and 2% respectively. Most grades are not out in the open.
I am using code 70 and 55 rail on the Indy branch, the NYC, NKP and Fort Wayne Union, and code 83 and 70 on the Wabash and PRR mains. My turnouts are hand built for me using Fast Tracks jigs and I use Micro Engineering flex track. However, Atlas and Peco code 100 track and turnouts are utilized on hidden track and in staging yards. Easy DCC by CVP is my control system of choice, but I do not have it installed yet as have been testing with DC for now and do not have all my feeders in on track constructed so far.