Tuesday, May 15, 2012


The final element of layout room preparation was completed today!  The primary house construction took care of much of the space preparation:  insulated walls, covered with drywall, ceiling drywall, lighting, many electrical outlets (spaced every six feet), heating and ventilation.  Virtually all systems are independent of the main house systems with heating a separate zone and the ventilation unique to the basement.  Two weeks ago, the basement bathroom was completed.  Now, the vinyl flooring has been installed.  This seals the concrete, eliminating concrete dust from the layout space.  Eventually, some form of carpet will be laid in the operating aisles, but for now, the space is ready for construction.

Here are a few views of the space.

Main basement space with me standing beside the single post in the space.  In the foreground are the three floor-mounted electrical outlets.

Swinging the camera to the left, we see the stairwell wall and plumbing awaiting a kitchenette.  That will come after much of the layout construction, though several of the cabinets were acquired during house construction.  Overhead is the “Lifebreath” heat recovery ventilation system for the basement.  This system reclaims about 75% of the heat of the space before exhausting to the outside.  The ventilation system is independent of the rest of the house, removing any chemical vapors that might be generated by layout construction (e.g. “water” epoxy or paint).

A passageway under the stairwell connects the main basement space to the “back room.”  The back room will house the upper and lower level reverse loop staging tracks.  The dispatcher’s desk will be on the right side of the stairwell wall.

The “back room” as seen from the under-stairs passageway.  The exercise room is open on the left. 

Next, I’ll spend some time laying out the track plan at full size.  The flooring has a convenient one-foot grid on its surface.  After that, the hobby accumulation of five decades, removed for the flooring project, will return to the basement.  

Monday, May 7, 2012


Planning and building a prototype-based layout such as the SP Cascade Line is supported by a variety of research methods.  Books, commercial photos and maps can go a long way, but a feel for the geography is often best accomplished by on-site reconnaissance. 

An opportunity for such research occurred during travel to and from the NMRA PCR/PNR joint convention in Medford.  Additionally, the timing was perfect (early May) for capturing the Cascade Line surrounded by Spring foliage.  Spring scenery presents opportunity and challenge for modeling, but a key ingredient is on-site observation and photos.  The following images are but a sampling, arranged as though climbing the pass.

This scene at Hampton, at the top of Lookout Point reservoir, shows the Spring foliage below 1000 feet altitude.  Most deciduous trees have bloomed with apple-green leaves.  Spring grass is vibrant (but watch out for hay fever coming!).  Though this shot is at the top of the reservoir, the streams are running full.

This image from a little further up toward Oakridge shows even the moss on the rocks is light green.

At Oakridge, grass has required cutting and even the oak trees are leafing out.

Higher up, approaching 3000 feet at Salt Creek Trestle, Spring blooming has just begun.  Spring yellow mixes with chartreuse against the dark green Douglas Fir backdrop.

Looking geographic East, we see hints of snow on the mountain tops.

At the 5000 feet level, the deciduous trees have largely disappeared.  What is there is almost invisible in its late winter form.  Snow covers mountain tops and is on the ground in the shade. 

At Cascade Summit, the rail line is clear, but snow covers the ground in any shady spot.   Note that the current owner of the Cascade Line is replacing the signals, with the former searchlight targets already removed from the signal bridge at the summit.   The new signals are the shielded tri-color “stop lights” on the aluminum-painted masts on both sides of the track.

The images and observations from this trek will provide inspiration and challenge for future modeling efforts.