Wednesday, August 14, 2019


Each year at the beginning of August, I do a photo survey of my railroad to mark the year's progress.  Previous surveys may be found by working backwards through the links for previous years. Last year's link is:  

This year's survey might be subtitled:  "On the Seventh Day (Year) He Rested."  I have been on a bit of a sabbatical break after last year's intense scenery efforts.  Still, as I look back, I see progress has been made.  Scenery gaps now evident to me from last year have been filled in, notably below Cruzatte and around Tunnel 20.  Company structures have started appearing, though none are set into their scenes yet.  This year has been more about operating the railroad, including support of the second edition of Western Oregon OPerationS (WOOPS).

Follow along as the 02-EULAY (Eugene to Los Angeles manifest freight) makes its way RR-West from Eugene to Crescent Lake.  Photos were shot after the August 3, operating session, with several trains left in place out on the line.

Our train is departing the Eugene Arrival-Departure Yard via Santa Clara Tower.

We are rolling past the Eugene depot.  Sharp eyes will see the track use label tags in addition to track numbers in the classification yard.  Similar tags are used by the Santa Clara Tower operator.  These tags help operators organize their yards and convey to switch crews that organization scheme.

Passing out of Eugene, our train crosses the Willamette River on its way to Springfield.

Crossing the river into Springfield, we roll past the Borden Chemical plant.  Borden extracts wood resin for glue.

The first Springfield Turn is at work as we roll through town.  This job works the depot side of the mainline.

Our journey continues out of Springfield past the Marcola Branch. Cars destined for Weyerhauser are on the interchange track between the mainline (left) and the Amerigas dealer (right-center).  The beginnings of my forestry project (a lifetime effort!) can be seen on the right.

We roll past Western Lumber at Westfir, one of two large mills served by the Oakridge Turn.

Rolling into Oakridge, we find a full house.  The Dispatcher has elected to have us entrain our helper using the RR-East mainline.  Another RR-West train occupies the normal yard track for entraining the helper and the mainline is occupied by a RR-East train.  Further complicating the scene is the Oakridge Turn with its power using the engine facility run-through track as it swaps ends with its train, currently occupying yard tracks 3 and 4.

With our helper cut into the train and the brake test performed, our train, X7480W, is ready to depart Oakridge.  A cluster of maintenance-of-way sheds has appeared at the RR-West end of Oakridge.

In a scene similar to last year, our train crosses Salmon Creek on its way out of Oakridge.

The distinctive Montieth Rock (aka, "Rooster Rock") now looms over the railroad as we begin the climb over the Cascades.

We pass more maintenance-of-way sheds on our way through McCredie Springs.

We exit Tunnel 20 on our way into Wicopee.

Climbing out of Wicopee, we cross Salt Creek Trestle, a signature scene on the railroad.

We exit Tunnel 10 and its rock and snow shed to cross Noisy Creek Trestle.

We roll through Cruzatte with its company village developing.

Shady Creek Trestle is the third and final of the large steel viaducts on the line as we climb toward the summit.

Tunnel 5 has another rock and snow shed protecting its RR-West end. These open gallery sheds are a signature element of the Cascade Line.

The heavy work ends as we work through the summit tunnel and into Cascade Summit.

Our helper has been cut off and is now moving to push the rear of the train into the rest of it.  Cascade Summit also has a developing company village.

Our journey ends at Crescent Lake--the upper staging yard on my railroad.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


As I prepared to host the second edition of our regional model railroad operating event, Western Oregon OPerationS (WOOPS), one of my tasks was the preparation and update of guides for the various operating positions on my railroad.  A critical position, performed by one of my regular crew, is the Santa Clara Tower Operator.  This position controls the complex switch-work between the Eugene depot and classification yard and the reverse loop arrival-departure yard.  The operator position also manages departures and arrivals for the RR-East end of the modeled railroad.  This operating position has seen considerable development over the past year.  The rest of this document presents my thinking on the current operating position.

The Santa Clara Tower Operator (SCTwr) has responsibility for the Eugene Arrival-Departure Yard and the track throat complex leading into it. This includes oversight of the Eugene Engine Terminal and other tracks in the area such as the Oregon Electric Interchange and the Halsey Branch.  Several of these areas are under development yet, so expect this job to develop as well. On occasion, a hostler job will be called.  As that title implies, this job should deal with locomotive hostling.  It also serves as a general-purpose switch crew for the Arrival-Departure Yard.

Eugene Arrival-Departure yard staged for the start of an operating session.  Clockwise traffic is the rule in this set of reverse loops.

On the left, the yard switcher sits on the "PFE Track" awaiting duty. Beyond it are the five tracks of the diesel engine facility.  The left-most of these tracks (D-5) has a single locomotive on it.  This is the Sand House Track where the modern era sand house will be located and receive sand in covered hoppers.  The next track (D-4) is the Stores Track.  The company stores warehouse will be located at the far end of this track.  The space in front of that can be used for temporary locomotive storage.  The next three tracks (D-3, D-2, and D-1, left to right) are the main diesel facility.  Eventually the tall overhead sand towers and conveyor system for sand will be located here.  These are the primary locomotive service tracks.

Arrayed from inner-most (AD-12) through outermost (AD-1) and the Halsey Branch outside of that against the wall are the departure-side tracks of the yard.  AD-12 has a block of cars for local classification on it with a BN center-beam bulkhead flat car leading.  Next is AD-11 with a 25-car block ready to become an Oakland train.  AD-10 has a Los Angeles train made up on it.  AD-9 has a Roseville train ready to depart.  AD-8 has an Ogden (or Klamath Falls) train ready to depart.  AD-7 has another Los Angeles train ready to depart. This one will leave before the train on AD-10, clearing this track.  AD-6 has been designated for RR-Westbound classification, but has no cars on it. AD-5, the first of the "Portland" tracks, has a Roseville train on it with an early departure planned. This illustrates the dynamic use of these tracks.  AD-4 and AD-3 are empty.  AD-2 has a TOFC train on it, likely a BRLAT.  AD-1 is empty, awaiting AMTRAK (habitual use).  Finally, empty wood chip gondolas occupy the track against the wall, the Halsey Branch.

The primary task for the Santa Clara Tower job is launching RR-West trains onto the modeled railroad and receiving RR-East traffic.  The train line-up should be consulted regularly to determine the order of departures and to anticipate arrivals.

The twelve reverse loop tracks are arranged as an outer group of five and an inner group of seven tracks.  The five outer tracks (AD-1 through -5) represent the mainline to Portland and may also serve as arrival or departure tracks provided those tracks are cleared in time to receive "Portland" traffic.  Portland traffic includes passenger trains (AMTRAK in 1984) and trains with "BR--Brooklyn" (SP's Portland Yard) train symbols.

"Portland" Tracks (AD-1 through 5) and the Halsey Branch.  Empty wood chip godolas occupy the Halsey Branch.  AD-2 has a TOFC train on it, a BRLAT symbol. AD-5 has a soon-to-depart freight (pipe load and empty gondola).

The seven inner reverse loop tracks (AD-6 through -12) are the primary working tracks in the yard.  At least four of these tracks should be semi-permanently assigned for building RR-Westbound trains for Los Angeles, Oakland, Ogden and Roseville.  The usual procedure builds those trains to their specified length (25 cars for 1984 operations) and then add a caboose, moving the train toward the departure end of the loop tracks.  Additional cars for the same destination can then be added to the track behind the caboose avoiding coupling with the caboose on that prepared train.  The other three tracks may be used as needed, although one likely will routinely receive cars needing further classification for Eugene area locals (all of the locals on the modeled railroad).   Motive power should be assigned to prepared RR-West trains and the operating paperwork completed for their departure.

Departure end of the yard with power on Ogden (AD-8) and Roseville (AD-9) tracks ready to depart.

Blocks of cars for local freights should be exchanged with the classification yard, while blocks of cars for outbound destinations are received and switched into the appropriate tracks for those departures.

Arrival end of the reverse loop tracks.  Blocks of cars being built into new trains for Roseville (AD-9) and Ogden (AD-8) are shown.

Arriving trains should be received and broken up as time, tracks, and available switch crews permit.  Motive power and caboose should be removed from Eugene (EU-symbol) destination freights. Leave the power and caboose on Brooklyn trains.  Remove any block of cars inbound as local traffic and transfer those cars to the classification yard.  Consider assigning one of the seven inner tracks to receive lumber empties which generally will be found on the rear of arriving RR-Eastbounds.  

The remaining cars for an arriving RR-Eastbound will have Portland destination waybills.  A developing part of the SCTwr job involves a car clerk job wherein the waybills are cycled back to their RR-West destination.  This is a LOW priority task and is strictly dependent on the ability to handle that work. The alternative is to shove all of that traffic into one or two tracks awaiting subsequent car clerk work (flipping the waybills).

A special case arrival involves the WCEUE (West Colton to Eugene Empties) train symbol for 1984 operations.  This is a box car train.  It will become the CZLAT.  As such, it should be received on a "Portland" track (AD-1-5).  The empties (no waybill) on the rear should be pulled off and the caboose returned to the train.  With that action and subsequent waybill flipping, that train is ready to depart as the CZLAT.

Thursday, June 27, 2019


The second edition of Western Oregon OPerationS (WOOPS) was held June 13-15. This bi-annual event has joined other regional model railroad operating events around the country.  Our first WOOPS was held in 2017 with four layouts in operation over two days.  This year's event expanded to thirteen layouts operated over three days by an almost doubled crew of "Boomers"--visiting model railroaders.  

As with the first WOOPS, my SP Cascade Line was one of the featured layouts, hosting crews of fifteen Boomers plus five or six of my regular operators serving as mentors and filling key operating slots.  My operating sessions were Thursday and Saturday, leaving me a day in between to re-stage the railroad.  

I chose to create a "day shift" and a "night shift" for the two sessions with break points at 6 am and 6 pm.  Thursday's session then carried over onto Saturday, with several trains out on the line, "in-transit."  I also increased the local work a bit by calling the Eugene City Switcher for both sessions and ensuring three of the other locals had at least some work to do in their given session.  A returning Oakridge Turn began the Thursday session and its outbound counterpart went out to Oakridge later in that session.  This train was "caught" at Oakridge on Saturday and had plenty of work yet to do.

The following pictures from my two sessions tells much of the story--lots of action!  Yes, I did have a hiccup with Amtrak on Saturday--the lead unit failed.  That was solved prototypically by grabbing a spare helper set at Oakridge to replace the ailing locomotive.  That did cause a bit of a traffic snarl on "the Hill" up to Cascade Summit, but that was very prototypical.  

The 01-EURVY climbs up-grade over Salt Creek Trestle while the Oakridge Turn arrives in Westfir to switch the sawmill there on its way back to Eugene.  Bruce M, can't resist the photo opportunity while Bob W. reports to the Dispatcher with the Oakridge Turn.

Action in Eugene.  In the distance, Conductor Larry A. reports his departure from Eugene.  Jim R. works the RR-West end of the yard with Yardmaster Burr S. watching over.  Bruce N. is working a car cut at the RR-East end of the yard.  Closest to the camera is Ed S, working the Eugene City Switcher. This services Eugene industry spurs near the depot.

Brad T. and Mike M. confer as their 01-EUKFY rolls through Springfield.  The First Springfield job has arrived on the depot side of the mainline at Springfield and its crew is organizing their work.

A meet is underway at Cruzatte.  The RR-Westbound has taken the siding while the RR-Eastbound rolls downhill on the mainline, per standard practice.

On Saturday, the railroad was equally busy.  Scott B. watches his train depart Eugene on the main.  Yardmaster Mark S. watches as RR-West and -East Switchers, Tony T. and Joe G. confer.  Across the aisle, Tom L. can be seen in the distance conferring with his crewmate about their Springfield work.  They have just pulled in to the Springfield siding and will work aisle-side industry spurs there.  

Larry H. studies work for the Oakridge Turn while Brian F. rolls the 01-WCEUE out of town and starts up the Cascade "Hill."  Overhead, the 02-RVEUY enters Cascade Summit, ready to begin its descent toward Oakridge and then Eugene.

The 01-BROAT rolls past Montieth Rock, guided by Tom L. and Kurt S, as Larry H. snaps a railfan shot.  The Oakridge Turn was tapped to provide its power and crew as the regular helper sets had not been returned to Oakridge in time to assist this high priority train.

Meet at Wicopee.  A light helper set has pulled out of the house track and behind a RR-East (downhill) train as a RR-West (uphill) rolls by on the mainline.  <David Lange photo>

Amtrak No. 11 climbs uphill over Salt Creek Trestle.  The lead Amtrak unit failed at Oakridge and was replaced by the pair of helper locomotives available there.  <David Lange photo>

Regular crewmember Jim L. places his helper set on the point of a RR-East (downhill) train to get the helpers back down to Oakridge from Cascade Summit.  This often is the most efficient way to get the helpers back down the hill.

Regular crewmember Craig L. manages Crescent Lake staging, while Ron B. (seated) awaits 
his departure.

Boomer Dispatcher Seth N. works while regular crewmember John B. stands by to assist. 
<David Lange photo>

The Saturday crew is all smiles--a common facial expression for both days' operations. 
<David Lange photo>

Judging by the smiles, chatter and comments, my part of WOOPS was a success.  The same feelings were in evidence Saturday night at the banquet.  For my part, it was great fun showing off my railroad to peers--fellow model railroad operators and owners of operating layouts.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


The first Transcontinental Railroad was completed on May 10, 1869--150 years ago.  Rails of the Union Pacific from the east and Central Pacific from the west were joined at Promontory, Utah with a grand celebration, witnessed nationwide via the telegraph (that reference in my title).  Recognizing the significance of that event, which joined California and the West Coast of the United States to the rest of the country, this year's Sesquicentennial called for yet another celebration on that site.

Among other official organizations working with the National Park Service were the Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society and the Union Pacific Historical Society who held a joint convention in Ogden, May 9-11. Understanding well the historic significance, I eagerly participated in that convention.  A major feature of the convention was the bus trip out to Promontory on May 10.  Our convention filled 12 of the 81 buses that reached the site, as well as 1500 cars. The local Ogden TV news estimated the crowd at 20,000.  I figured it would be a mob scene.  I just wanted to be on site with one of the more recognized and organized elements of that crowd/mob.  

Reenactment of the historic image of pilots touching at Promontory Utah on May 10.

The National Park Service, Utah state and local law enforcement did a great job handling the large crowd getting to the site.  Sure, there were a couple of hiccups, notably the traffic back-up passing through the single check point which ensured all had the proper credentials to be on site for the occasion.  Otherwise, they should be proud of their work. 

The Promontory National Historic Site has been promoted to National Park status this year, per recently passed legislation.  On hand to mark the occasion and to unveil the official sign proclaiming Park status were the Utah Governor, Senators (including now-retired Senator Orin Hatch), the Secretaries of the Interior and Transportation, the President of the LDS Church, the President of the Union Pacific Railroad, and other dignitaries.  Think of that as just the modern version of the dignitaries on site in 1869.  The new sign unveiling, driving a Utah copper spike, and the usual speeches were the major features of the official program, followed by an historic reenactment of the 1869 event.  

A major feature of this year's celebration was formal recognition of the contribution to the railroad construction made by the estimated 12,000 Chinese laborers hired by the Central Pacific.  Secretary of Transportation Margret Chou made fitting recognition of that contribution.  

Secretary of Transportation Margret Chou delivering remarks during the official program.  A pair of jumbo screen helped the large crowd see activities at the event podium.

A traditional Chinese Lion Dance started the official program.

The official photo platform.

Photography by the crowd.

The National Park Service did a great job planning for the crowd. Limited seating was available. The site is quite austere.  The Park Servicer allowed a temporary food court and was well prepared for the aftermath of that.

One of the port-a-potty lines at the site.

As with getting the crowd up to the site on time, so also was the departure. State and local police and sheriffs did well moving the crowd out and back to "civilization."

Bus loading after the program.  There were a number of school groups present providing those youth with a great experience of living history.

Meanwhile, back in the Eccles Conference Center in Ogden, appropriate art greeted us.  Those balloons lasted throughout our event.

The SPH&TS+UPHS Convention provided a good program of presentations on the history of the joined railroad and railroading in Utah. The final banquet added the National Rail Historical Society and the National Rail and Locomotive Historical Society for 801 folk in attendance.  I am glad to say:  "I was there!"

Friday, April 19, 2019


Continuing my development of the company "villages" located along the sidings of the Cascade Line, I turned to train order operator housing. During the era of Timetable and Train Order operations on the Cascade Line, the train order stations were continuously staffed.  Since those sidings were quite remote, the railroad needed to supply suitable housing for the three shifts of operators at each train order station.  

Once again, my efforts have been blessed by the kits produced by ALW Lines:  Specifically, kits SP22 and SP23 provide train order operator house with either a left (22) or right (23) porch addition.  The porches were added just a few years after the original line construction in 1926.  The left porch variant serves Wicopee, while the right porches were used at Cascade Summit. I will use left porches at Cruzatte and right porches at McCredie Springs, as well.

Cascade Summit village begins with the train order station and operator houses.

The ALW Lines kits feature laser-cut pieces for walls, roofs and trim, and Tichy plastic castings for the windows and chimneys.  My kits came with laser-cut shingle sections for the roofs. Construction of these kits is relatively straight-forward, though I found it useful to modify the assembly sequence a bit.  I also encountered an "oops" moment that I will describe below.  As with most kits, it is important to read the directions. Even then, one's experience may suggest slightly different assembly order.

During assembly, I found it useful to put the peel and stick door trim onto the door backs before I mounted those assemblies into the walls.  Doing so facilitated a small amount of trimming I found I needed to adjust the door height to more easily fit the door jamb hole. This became very important with the side porch outside door, as the door back width needed to be sanded down to better fit the porch width.  

My "oops" moment occurred when I started to fit the roof sections onto the assembled structure core.  I discovered that I reversed the positions of the two internal roof supports. One of these supports has a different lower profile on the front to support the front porch roof.  The difference is subtle, but real. Fortunately, I was able to remove my original mounting with the aid of a razor saw and then remount after a general cleanup of the removed parts and the ceiling/attic base.  Since the attic would be closed up when the roof sections were attached, I created simple triangular braces to remount the roof supports perpendicular to the attic base.  

Roof Support installation mistake.  The supports for the house on the left are correct.  The ones on the right are reversed in position.  Note the subtly higher right side needed to support the porch roof--correctly located on the left.

Correcting a mistake.  The roof supports have been re-mounted in the correct locations.  Triangular braces cut from the corners of some the kit frets have been attached to help keep the roof suports vertical and perpendicular to the attic base.  

One other significant assembly order alteration was needed.  I installed the Tichy windows before attaching the roof sections.  The front porch roof seals in that porch.  There is a window inside this porch that needed to be installed before the porch roof.  

To help indicate this housing is occupied and in use, I added simple roll shades to the windows of the core building.  I simply added small bits of paper to the inside of the windows with some height variation.  Canopy glue is a very useful adhesive!  During initial assembly I added basic interior walls to prevent a see-through effect. These two additions help bring the houses alive.

Two of the operator houses at Cascade Summit.  The house on the left has a window blind pulled all the way down. The night shift operator needs his sleep!

I used a craft paint antiquing acrylic to add mortar detail to the chimneys. I brushed the acrylic onto the chimneys and immediately wiped most of it off using a damp paper towel.  This left most of the mortar lines defined with a contrasting color (beige against dull brick red).

Cruzatte station village begun.

With two station sets of operator houses built, my company villages are beginning to take shape.  Indeed, I will use these structures to lay out the villages, adding terrain definition and foundations based on these completed structures.