Sunday, June 8, 2014


We just conducted the second test operating sessions on my SP Cascade Line.  I brought back my original crew of four testers to both confirm (and deny) that fixes from the first session were completed and to move on toward a more complete operational concept.  
I’ve been working to get the gauge set correctly at the points on my FastTracks switches.  My construction technique has been a bit faulty there, so I’ve had to work on broadening the gauge a bit. 

The major emphasis for the second operating session was the introduction of car cards and waybills to guide car movements.  The car card boxes were heavily used as the classification yard broke and created trains according to the waybills.  Three local freights pulled cars from industry spots in their zones and spotted new cars. 

Second Test Operations Session.  Rick A. and John B. are discussing a switch move at Eugene, while Eugene West Switcher Joe B. awaits a decision.  Meanwhile, Dave H. brings the Oakridge Turn back through Springfield.

Four new spurs were added, with at least one at each of the three stations currently on my SP Cascade Line.  All were important to the developing operating plan and were used by those three local freight crews.

At Eugene, I completed the industry spur closest to the depot.  This has three industries on it: Oregon Supply, Portland Electric and Plumbing, and Oregon Egg.  All three of these industries were served by the SP in the area of the Eugene depot.  Note that I finally chose the name for the middle of those three industries: “Portland Electric and Plumbing.”

Industry spur closest to the Eugene depot installed  (closest to the backdrop).  A CNW box, Cotton Belt box and two mechanical refrigerators (SPFE and UPFE) are spotted at the three industries on this spur.

The Eugene City Switcher pulled cars from the many industries located near the backdrop on my layout, near the Eugene depot.  There was plenty of work for this job, even before another four industries get added at the RR-East end of the depot trackage.

In Springfield, I extended the Tilbury Cement spur to the rear space for Clear Fir, as it appeared in the 1960’s.  This created more track space for cement hoppers and provided a couple of spots for in-bound materials to Clear Fir.

Springfield Tilbury Cement spur extended to serve Clear Fir.

The Springfield Switcher had more than enough work to do, eventually pulling 28 cars back to Eugene.  Several spurs still had not been serviced.  It looks like I will need two Springfield jobs in addition to the Marcola Turn to handle all the traffic here.  This is very good news to an individual car movement-focused guy like me.  Adding another local switch crew without adding more switches is great news!

The completion of the mainline bridge over Salmon Creek, just RR-West of Oakridge, paved the way for the temporary bridge over Salmon Creek in front of it to serve the Pope & Talbot mill. 
This past week I added a switch and a pair of tracks on the plywood base for this area to begin Pope & Talbot service.

Pope & Talbot mill spurs, just over Salmon Creek (left) from Oakridge.

The Oakridge Turn was called to duty at Oakridge, beginning with a train staged as if it had just come into town from Eugene.  Empty cars were blocked into the train by car type, plus a few loads for Oakridge delivery at the end of the train.  Roughly half of the empties went to each of the two big mills that straddle Oakridge: Pope & Talbot to the RR-West, and Western Lumber at Westfir to the RR-East.  This job kept Dave H. busy for a couple of hours.

Historically, the Oakridge Turn originated at Eugene one day, trekked up to Oakridge, and switched Pope and Talbot on that first day.  They then went off-duty at Oakridge and came back eight hours later to finish the job.  Finishing involved returning RR-East (toward Eugene) via Westfir to switch Western Lumber, using the now trailing-point switches. 

The initial model operation (just done) suggests I will modify this procedure to bring my model crew on-duty at Oakridge with a previously-staged train in the yard.  They will switch both mills and any other Oakridge work, completing their work by taking their train to Eugene.  Late in an operating session, a new Oakridge Turn will depart Eugene and terminate at Oakridge, setting up a repeat of the cycle.  On a model railroad, this has the advantage of starting a local switch crew early in an operating session, without need to interface with the main classification yard early in the session.  Meanwhile, a new Oakridge Turn can be built in the classification yard, working throughout most of an operating session.

I am well pleased with the results of the second test operating session.  Of course I have a number of “fix-it” tasks, but I can see those coming down in number (progress).  I am thrilled to be moving into developing the operating concept for my railroad, even with only a portion of it built.


  1. We had a lot of fun. The smoothness of operation stepped up several notches over Test 1.

  2. Congratulations on a successful test session (I've called mine "Sea Trials." It's amazing what you learn from them. I've found with each one the "must-do" list gets a little shorter and more manageable and the layout performs better. Hope your results are the same! - Marty McGuirk