After deciding that I didn't need to have a lower staging yard I ran some numbers and operational running scenarios on a track diagram and came to the conclusion that I did need some staging on the lower level. As well as staging I am going to change the track layout at the base of the helix to allow trains to be turned around on the layout. I have used a variety of methods and materials on the benchwork on the lower level as you will see in the photos below.
I decided to use the spline method to form the lower staging yard as it allowed me to span large gaps in the benchwork and naturaly formed the best curve avaliable to the space. I used 3mm thick MDF cut into 40mm wide strips of various lengths.
I purchased some metal shelf brackets to support the benchwork and screwed them to the support posts, I then screwd some timber pieces to the to better support the roadbed. I didn't fix the spline roadbed in place as I went along but instead just clamped it down and when it was finished took it outside to sand it and give it a coat of paint to seal it
Almost finished and fixed in place and wide enough for three tracks and big fingers, I will put some sides on it to prevent falls after I get the track down.
Putting in the cross supports after placing the bridge to estimate height and placement, it is 19 x 40 pine and will be covered with 6mm ply wood.
The supports for the gravel facility are made of the same materials, I did some test placements but forgot to take photos.
Base in place and painted to seal it.
I have cut and fit the first piece of foam board for the big bridge scene and have stacked some stuff on their to provide a level surface to work out the next lot of track placement.
Working out the lower crossing loop.
At the moment I am planning to put a small service track off the lower loop at the south end of the crossing loop as well as a house track for M.O.W cars and the like. I am toying with the idea of a snow shed at this location possibly from the middle to the north end of the loop.