Thursday, April 24, 2014


As the mainline begins the climb up the mountain RR-West of Oakridge, it immediately crosses Salmon Creek.  The mainline bridge is a four-span ballasted-deck girder bridge.  Very nearby is a lower bridge and trestle that serves the Pope and Talbot sawmill.  The immediate concern, though is for the mainline bridge.

The mainline bridge was built around a core composed of the three splines in the middle of the spline roadbed used for the mountain grade.  I use nominal ¼ inch hardboard cut into one inch strips for splines.  The core bridge splines were depressed below grade to account for the thickness of the deck.   The ballasted deck was located on top of the spline core.  Girders were attached to the underside of the deck, concealing the spline core.  Piers and abutments will be fitted to this assembly (deck and girders), completing the bridge.  The spline core maintains roadbed continuity and a modest curve through the bridge.

Construction of the bridge began with a template tracing of the spline core.  Using this template, I planned the deck base sections, using two segments for each girder.   The deck width is 16 scale feet, per SP Common Standard plans published by Steam Age Equipment Company.  In contrast to the deck on a pile trestle, this deck uses 4 inch thick longitudinal boards supported by transverse (across the girders) 12x12 beams.  I cut out the scale 16 feet wide deck base segments from 0.040 inch thick styrene.  I used my NWSL Chopper to cut the 12x12 (1/8 inch square) styrene beams, making every eighth beam 18 feet long to support the railing posts. 

Ballast deck under construction.

Once the basic deck and its support beams were assembled, I attached the handrail posts and handrails.  Note there was a lot of styrene cement used on the deck.  While the primary bond occured fairly quickly, it took quite a while for the remaining solvent to evaporate.  I did fairly well with getting weight on the assembly to hold it flat, but I still got a little bit of warpage.  That complicated the handrail construction and subsequent handling, but was well within bond strength of the girder attachment and eventual use of adhesive caulk to hold the deck flat as roadbed.

Ballasted deck with handrails installed test fit into location.

The girders were cut from Central Valley plate girder bridge kits (210-1903). Only the rounded girder ends of two center girder sets were cut off.  The outer girder sets were cut shorter by a panel on each end, just as the prototype bridge.  The top and bottom plates were attached and trimmed to length, followed by the bridge shoes.  The rest of the Central Valley kit is surplus to this bridge.  I painted the girder sections Grimy Black. Rust weathering was done with Bragdon powders, followed by a light overspray of Tarnished Black. 

The bridge deck was placed on the spline core and the spline outline scribed on the bottom (cross-beam) surface.   The front girder segments were attached to the deck assembly using gap-filling acc cement.  Once this set, the bridge assembly was removed from location, inverted and the back girders attached, staying outside the scribed lines for the spline core.  Once all of this set up, the deck and girders were placed in position again, awaiting piers and abutments.

Ballasted deck in place with front girder segments attached.  Rear girder segments are laying on the “creek” surface below.  Cans of beans are very handy weights!

Completed ballast deck and girder assembly in place, spanning Salmon Creek.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


As I move into the next stages of construction, I also am planning for the eventual signal and switch control system.  Supporting that effort has been the creation of track plan schematic drawings for each of the stations on the layout.  Previous efforts documented Oakridge, Springfield and the Eugene Depot and Classification Yard.  Those schematics have been posted on the Track Schematics tab for this blog.  Schematics for the rest of the railroad have now been created and posted on that same page tab.  The new station schematics also are presented and discussed below.

Crescent Lake

Crescent Lake is the upper level staging for the layout with a twelve-track reverse loop yard planned.  The schematic shown below shows the yard ladders at both ends of the reverse loop.  The basic formulation is two six-track ladders at each end.  A “switcher spur” will be included within the loop to store a switcher that will assist layout restaging between operating sessions.  This might also be used to store snow removal equipment (plow, spreader, flanger) during operating sessions.  Crescent Lake is the RR-West end of the layout.

Cascade Summit

Cascade Summit will be at the same level as Crescent Lake and, as the name implies, will be the summit of the mountain climb that begins at Oakridge.  Cascade Summit has a mainline straddled by two sidings: the “Mountain Siding” for RR-Westbound trains and the “Lake” siding, closest to the aisle and the imagined Odell Lake, for RR-Eastbound trains.  Cascade Summit also includes a wye for turning helpers and snow equipment.  A set of crossovers provide access for the turned helpers to the “Lake” siding and a small extra siding (the “Beattie Spur”) used to hold helpers for their opportunity to return downhill to Oakridge.  A railroad maintenance spur should be located at the RR-West end of the complex, but may end up at the other end due to space considerations.


During layout design, I chose mountain sidings to model based on operational significance.  I ended up selecting about every other actual siding, but the ones selected had some significance.  In all cases, my sidings had train order offices before the installation of Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) in 1955.  With all the structures needed for one of these full “railroad villages” available as kits from AL&W Lines, I could not resist this choice.

Cruzatte was a required wheel cooling stop for descending (RR-Eastbound) trains in the days before dynamic brakes.  Water was available at both ends of the siding to handle both the road (lead) locomotive and helpers.  Beyond that, Cruzatte was a “basic mountain siding” with main, siding and a company spur (house track or M.O.W. spur).  I skipped Abernethy between Cascade Summit and Cruzatte.


Skipping Frazier and Fields, the next siding or station will be Wicopee.  Wicopee also was a train order station.  In the days of steam, it was the habitual up-hill watering stop.  One of the steam era water plugs still exists  at Wicopee today, used for fire fighting and other maintenance tasks.  Wicopee is another “basic mountain siding.”

McCredie Springs

McCredie Springs will be the lowest of my mountain sidings, skipping Heather (RR-West) and Pryor (RR-East).  A resort once stood near this siding.  I will add a rock quarry and bunker for “operational interest.”  There were a number of quarries in the area, but none were rail served.  Consider this a modeler’s choice.

Oakridge is the next station RR-East on my layout.  Oakridge was the helper station at the base of the mountain climb.  It had engine facilities and a turning wye.  Oakridge has been discussed in several prior blog posts:

The schematic is shown here again, just for completeness.

The schematic shows the yet-to-be-built Pope and Talbot mill spurs at the RR-West end of town.  Travelling through a short tunnel at the RR-East end of Oakridge brings us to Westfir.  Westfir is represented by another pair of mill spurs for Western Lumber Company.   No schematic is provided for Westfir at this time.


Springfield is the next station on the layout.  It was the first track laid on the layout.  Springfield includes tracks and spurs along the mainline and a bit of a branch, my “Marcola Branch” off the RR-West end of the siding complex.  Sufficient railroad business exists in both areas to require two separate local switching jobs.

Eugene Depot and Classification Yard

Just across the Willamette River from Springfield is the Eugene Depot complex.  This includes the depot mainline, “WP Siding,” a pair of “City Yard” tracks, and industry spurs.  Parallel to the depot complex is my eight-track classification yard.  The classification yard is placed here simply because there was space for it—space that did not exist in the “back room” where the Arrival/Departure Yard (staging tracks) are located.  Industry spurs at the RR-East end of the depot complex are still under development. /2013/07/track-laid-in-eugene.htm

Eugene Arrival/Departure Yard

The RR-East end of the layout is in the Eugene Arrival/Departure Yard, another twelve-track reverse loop yard.  Contained within the reverse loop will be engine service facilities for both steam and diesel.  Outside of the reverse loop will be an industry spur/branch that will terminate at a paper mill.  (I moved Millersburg from north of Albany to north of Eugene.)  The other side of the reverse loop will have the caboose track and the Oregon Electric (SP&S, BN) Interchange.

The track throat complex between the depot and classification yard and the reverse loop yard is sufficiently complex that a tower operator position will be developed.  The complex is somewhat like Santa Clara, California, where I used to take railfan pictures.  Once again, AL&W Lines has produced a wonderful structure kit for that tower.  Since Santa Clara, Oregon, is on the north side of  Eugene (very near the SP yard), I will call this tower Santa Clara, as well!