Sunday, November 23, 2014


Building and suspending the roadbed panels for Crescent Lake was a major milestone. ( )  The next tasks were to install roadbed connecting Crescent Lake to Cascade Summit and installing track at Crescent Lake.

I had a gap of about twelve feet between Cascade Summit and Crescent Lake.  This gap was along the wall, so I installed basic wall brackets, similar to my previous efforts at the other end of Cascade summit.  ( )  I chose to mount Crescent Lake a little higher than Cascade Summit.  This provided a bit more headroom in an area that will need additional lighting and will see a fair bit of operator foot traffic below portions of it.  This meant I needed a slight grade between the two stations.  I installed wall brackets at the ending heights for each end and then spanned the entire distance with a pair of 1x4 boards on edge for a straight edge.  With this, I was able to set the risers for the roadbed on the rest of the brackets.

Setting the roadbed grade between Cascade summit and Crescent Lake.

Cascade Summit to Crescent Lake roadbed installed with trim board temporarily mounted.  The trim board will be removed to provide easier access for switch machine installation and wiring.

With most of the track for Crescent Lake previously formed, installation was relatively straight-forward.  I had to take a break from that work for a literal break—I broke my left little toe one evening after a full day of track work.  Fortunately, that was just before the “vacation” break for the SPH&TS Meet in San Luis Obispo ( ), so I felt little “guilt” about not being able to work on the layout. 

Now, with healing well underway, I could return to my step ladders to complete the track installation.  All twelve staging tracks plus a utility spur are in place as well as the connection to Cascade Summit.

Mainline, reverse loop throat and “right” switch ladder in place at Crescent Lake.

“Left” switch ladder in place at Crescent Lake.

West Cascade Summit—now connected to Crescent Lake.

Friday, November 7, 2014


The Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society returned to San Luis Obispo, California, for its annual convention at the end of October.  We last met in San Luis Obispo in 2009 for what proved an outstanding convention.  So, too, this year’s event was very good.  Having taken the refinery and Santa Maria Valley Railroad tour last time, I elected not to go this year, but all the other events were very good.

The convention began with a shuttle bus over to the newly opened San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum, housed in the former freight house.  The building has been restored and renovated and turned into a good museum housing railroad artifacts, interpretive exhibits and a pair of HO-scale model railroads.  Exterior exhibits include an historic wood boxcar, a Santa Fe café-observation and an SP caboose.

San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum in the restored freight house.

San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum exhibit space.

A modest size model railroad illustrates the Pacific Coast Railroad, an early railroad on the California Central Coast.  A larger space is devoted to a layout focused on Southern Pacific activities around San Luis Obispo, spanning from Cuesta (“The Grade”) to the north through San Luis Obispo (the Division point between Northern—Coast Div., and Southern—Los Angeles Div., California operations) to points along the coast, including Surf.  Convention Co-Chair Andrew Merriam contributed fine modeling to the Pacific Coast Railroad layout, including a wood through truss bridge featured recently in Railroad Model Craftsman.  The SP layout is in an early stage of construction, but already features the station at Surf.

Pacific Coast Railroad layout.  Train is approaching Andrew Merriam’s wood through truss bridge.  Andrew is dealing with something in the electrical gear.

Southern Pacific model railroad layout showing the scene at Surf.

The Santa Fe café-observation car was open for visitors.  Though the car interior arrangements have been modified over the years to serve as a private car, some of its former style has been preserved, especially in the rear section of the car.

Santa Fe café-observation car interior.  Our SPH&TS Belgian member, Wouter De Weerdt, is facing the camera.

While I was at the museum, the southbound Amtrak Coast Starlight (Daylight) arrived for its station stop.  Several of my Oregon railroad friends arrived on this train.  A photo line formed on the museum freight house platform.

Amtrak Coast Starlight leaving the San Luis Obispo depot.

Thursday and Friday featured the “usual” array of excellent clinics, a pair of vendor rooms, and lots of time to meet and greet.  This was an excellent opportunity for me to catch up with my California railroad friends while also spending time with my Oregon friends.  I had a great time! 

I also met with Chuck Catania about his and Seth Neumann’s Model Railroad Control Systems “cpnode” computer interface.  Cpnode uses an Arduino chip to replicate local (field) circuitry of a signal and control system (e.g., a Control Point).  Their cpnode interfaces with the C/MRI system developed by Dr. Bruce Chubb.  I will be using their system plus “Chubb hardware” for my signal and CTC control system.  It was good to see Chuck getting lots of serious attention throughout the meet.

Another long-term acquaintance present and displaying was Rob Sarberenyi of Albrae Models.  I recently took delivery of their first HO-scale product, an SP rebuilt flanger.  ( Their next model will be a DODX heavy flat car with M-1 tanks.  Announced at the meet is the third project, a pair of SP water cars.  After the meet, Rob and modeler extraorindaire Clyde King took prototype measurements and photos of a pair of nearby water cars for this project.

Thursday evening provided an opportunity to visit a couple of local layouts.  Although I had seen these five years ago, it was good to see what had been accomplished in the interim.  Andrew Merriam models the SP Coast Line around San Luis Obispo.  Indeed, his model of San Luis Obispo is seen when one enters the layout space.  Andrew’s layout was very popular, so I had to grab a few photos while jostling for space.  Andrew recently was awarded his Master Model Railroader certificate by the NMRA.

The SP Daylight arrives at San Luis Obispo on Andrew Merriam’s layout.  Andrew has captured the look of San Luis Obispo on a narrow shelf and with his backdrop.

The northbound SP Daylight crosses Stenner Creek Viaduct on Andrew Merriam’s HO-scale layout.

Andrew Merriam guides a freight along the coastal hills on his layout.

As usual, the SPH&TS Annual Convention was a highlight for my year’s railroad activities.  Convention Co-Chairmen Logan Bertolette (retiring SPH&TS President) and Andrew Merriam put on a great convention.  Thanks guys!