Saturday, April 13, 2013


With trains rolling in Springfield, the time has come to expand the empire to the next station: Oakridge.  The steam era helper station of Oakridge will be the heart of my SP Cascade Line.  Its principal function will be the addition of helpers for the mountain climb.  Oakridge also provides a key industry role, serving a pair of large lumber mills: Pope and Talbot to the geographic east and Western Lumber at Westfir to the geographic west.   The Oakridge local will serve both mills, taking their products back to Eugene for classification (switching into trains) further movement. 

<Recall my sidebar note about Southern Pacific railroad geography in Oregon.  Tracks headed TO San Francisco are “west bound.”  Tracks headed AWAY from San Francisco are “east bound.”  In Oregon, this means most RR directions are opposite geography.  Oakridge is a prime example of the confusion, as RR-West is at the geographic east end of town.  My blog posts identify the railroad geography with a “RR-east or –west” identifier.>

My HO scale version of Oakridge will feature all tracks present in 1954, albeit with concessions to space available.  The RR-West yard throat quickly splits into two switch ladders for the mainline and depot tracks and the four yard body tracks.  A long lead for the engine house and wye also takes off from the RR-West throat.

Oakridge RR-West throat.  Tracks are (left to right): House, Siding, Main Line, and four yard body tracks.  Engine house lead breaks off to the right of the yard body track switch ladder.

Oakridge depot area looking RR-East from the RR-West throat.

My layout design efforts consistently found a need to employ a “pinwheel” ladder on the RR-East end, somewhat similar to the real Oakridge.  My HO scale version features a much sharper ninety degree turn with many implications to the switchwork.  In a very short distance, the RR-East end throat must split into roughly four switch ladders for the depot tracks, yard body tracks, engine house, and miscellaneous spurs within the turning wye, and then cause all of those tracks to bend ninety degrees. 

Oakridge RR-East throat splitting into four track groupings for the depot tracks, yard body tracks, engine house and miscellaneous stub tracks in the turning wye.

The Oakridge RR-East throat puts to test my design minimums of 42 inch mainline radius, #8 turnouts on the main and 36 inch minimum radius and #6 turnouts off the mainline.  I began by laying out the depot tracks, working to keep the mainline standards in place for the main and siding.  In the end, I was able to keep a broad radius on the house track, as well.  I originally laid out the switch ladder for the four yard body tracks using all #6 switches.  Geometric reality set in as I got very precise with the track layout and I realized in a “duh!” moment that at least the first switch for the yard tracks needed to be a #8 switch to match the close-by geometry of the depot tracks.  A similar consideration added another #8 switch  as the first one serving the engine house.  It looks like the subsequent #6 switches will remain as such.

I am now wrestling with getting the engine house tracks into and around the engine house in the available space.  In the image below, four curved tracks are heading toward the space blocked out for the engine house.  Unfortunately, there actually need to be five tracks here.  I am contemplating a custom-built curved switch or two, but it looks like I might just make it with short-length #6 switches.  This is work in process, so you might see a completely different arrangement in later posts.

Initial track layout for Oakridge engine house.  One more track must be fit in the space of the inner three tracks shown.

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