I've finally completed (I think!) the work on the McPhee staging tracks. I've unpacked a couple of long-stored Bachmann 2-8-0s and I'm using those on the test train, forwards and backwards. They seem to handle the staging tracks and sharp entrance radius ok. And - it's really great to have steam running on the layout for the first time.
The test train is pretty long - 9 or 10 cars - with a variety of car types (72' Athearn heavyweight passenger cars, 40' and 50' frieght cars, etc). The grade to Lizard Head is 3%, and this train does need double-heading to make the hill. The grade coming into Rico from the north is also pretty steep (2.5%). Both need the pair of 2-8-0s on this train, but that's pretty much as intended; after all the real RGS needed to double-head as well with longer trains.
So - I've begun installing the base for Vance Jct (which sits above the McPhee staging). It's going well, but there are several transitions to other modules (my benchwork is built in sections that can be disassembled if we have to move). Getting exact height matches between these modules is always a bit of a problem, and the Vance module has three - the line to Butterfly trestle and the Ophir low line, and the two legs of the wye leading to Telluride. All three need work at the moment, so that's the next focus.