Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Construction progress on the upper level of the railroad continued with the laying of track at Cascade Summit.  My Cascade Summit models  the steam era track layout which includes a turning wye for steam helpers.  The tail of the wye was contained within a single-ended tunnel.  Other features of Cascade Summit include the main flanked by two sidings: the “West” Siding for RR-Westbounds, and the “Lake” Siding used by RR-Eastbounds, so named as it was the track closest to Odell Lake.  A set of cross-overs provide for helpers to exit the turning wye and work over to the “Lake” Siding and the small “Beattie Spur” (actually a short siding).  A company spur for maintenance of way equipment or set-out of broken equipment completes the tracks at Cascade Summit. 

Cascade Summit Track Schematic.

RR-East end of Cascade Summit.  Foreground tracks are (left to right): Beattie Spur, Lake Siding, Main Line, West Siding.

Turning Wye. 

Cascade Summit RR-West end.

Cascade Summit Turning Wye.

Although my initial plan used a conventional #6 straight turnout for the wye switch, I eventually acquired a commercial #4 Wye switch.  This is a Shinohara Code 70 switch that needs modification yet.  Commercial Code 70 wye switches have yet to be redesigned as “DCC Friendly.”  This older design switch has the points rigidly tied together by a metal strap, making them electrically equal.  Better practice would have them electrically separate and of the same polarity as their respective stock rails.  I have yet to make that modification and others stemming from the same principle, so the wye switch and tail track are placed temporarily for now.  I am undecided as to the length of the wye tail track.  Historically, the tail was just long enough to handle an SP Cab Forward steam locomotive.  Engineers were known to try to “lengthen” the tunnel on occasion.  My sense is to keep the tail long and not introduce another operating headache, no matter how prototypical.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Construction of the upper level of my SP Cascade Line is proceeding with laying out Cascade Summit.  The basic benchwork uses a box grid to minimize the overall structure depth.  This is necessary to maintain my design goal of seven feet vertical clearance under the benchwork for the operator “tunnel” through the Pryor area and to place the rail height no closer than two feet under the 9 ft. 6 inch ceiling.  The rail height is 89 inches above the floor.  I built a 30 inches (2.5 ft.) high platform to serve Cascade Summit.  I’ve long used a drawing to illustrate the overhead structure with operator “tunnel” underneath.  The photo below now illustrates the completion of this design feature.

Cascade Summit operator platform and benchwork.  Note the operator tunnel for crews with trains RR-west of Oakridge.

Railings were installed fairly quickly after construction of the platform.  Barely visible in the photo in the railing panel with the blue ladder in the background is a raised lip.  This 1x4 lip sticks up 1.5 inches.  It is intended to keep stools (and feet!) firmly on the platform.  More of this safety lip will be installed soon.  Stools will be useful for shorter operators and even for me for construction and maintemance.

As I laid out the tracks for Cascade Summit, I discovered my sidings were a bit short of the required twenty feet long.  This led to a benchwork extension on the RR-East end of Oakridge and the tracks wrapping further around the curve at this end of the station.  Serendipity provided a wider platform section with this extension. 

With the benchwork built and primary track lines drawn, I installed cork roadbed.  I also built a slight up-ramp and higher roadbed for the wye, just as the actual track rose to the wye tunnel.  Most of the roadbed is Midwest Products split cork roadbed, but I did install several pads of sheet cork to support more complex switch arrangements for the mid-station crossovers and the RR-West end switch throat.  This was easier than cutting lots of triangular sections from the roadbed strip. 

Cascade Summit roadbed looking RR-West.  The turning wye goes into the corner.

Cascade Summit roadbed looking RR-East.  Three curved turnouts will form the throat ladder at this end.

As seen in the photo above of the RR-East end of Cascade Summit, I continued the benchwork into the “nook” with a large S-curve. My original benchwork plan used a rectangular grid, but after a few days of thinking about this and the scenery needed, I opted to replace the rectangle with the deeply cut triangle seen in the photo.  The roadbed did not need any more support than this.  Much of the former rectangular grid would have implied relatively level ground at this end of the station.  The real Cascade Summit slopes off rapidly toward Odell Lake all along what is my aisle side of the station.  The revised benchwork better supports the scenery that will be created for this area.

Also showing in the RR-East end photo is as gap in the benchwork with a girder bridge sitting on top of the roadbed.  This will be where my version of Trapper Creek appears.  I hope this bridge goes faster than my previous bridge installations!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


It is with great sadness that I read the notices posted by his good friend Tony Thompson that Richard Hendrickson passed away following a fall a couple of days ago.  Richard was a giant of the prototype railroad modeling movement.  His many articles in model railroad publications and his presentations at modeling events helped define, uplift, and encourage what we know today as the prototype modeling movement. 

Richard informed us of prototype railroad practices, guided us to more accurate modeling, and influenced and supported manufacturers as they began producing far more accurate models.  We have come a very long way from Athearn “Blue Box” kits to today’s accurate-to-the-rivets freight cars. 

Richard and his wife Sandra created the Westrail line of freight car kits.  In some cases, these provided detail parts and instructions for improving an Athearn freight car kit, thereby creating a more accurate rendition of an actual freight car.  Other Westrail kits, such as the AAR War Emergency flat car, comprised resin, styrene, and brass parts.  Though most of those kits have been superseded by current production models from several manufacturers, they blazed an important trail toward accurate freight car modeling.  I assembled several kits and have more in my stockpile.

Richard was a fountain of information.  His research and photo study provided the basis for rapid response to inquiries from prototype modelers far and wide.  He was generous with that knowledge.  The steam era freight car movement will be particularly depressed by his passing. 

Richard was a Santa Fe modeler.  He figured prominently in the creation and development of the current Santa Fe Railway Historical & Modeling Society and its predecessor organizations.  Through his interest in recreating a scene from his youth, all of us were enriched.  His efforts even caused me, a congenital Southern Pacific fan, to model a bit of Santa Fe.  I’m sure Richard’s good friend and our own Southern Pacific freight car guru, Dr. Tony Thompson, understands the sentiment and motivation.  Richard’s enthusiasm was that contagious.

I enjoyed meeting with Richard on a number of occasions.  Our conversations might involve freight cars and prototype modeling or flying—a passion we shared.  Whenever I saw him in recent years, I had to ask what altitude he was flying (fast on the ground or in the air).  His Citabria was a perfect complement to his passion. 

Our railroad hobby has lost a great good friend.  Rest in Peace Richard.