Monday, January 19, 2015


A revised track plan has been drafted reflecting actual construction of the railroad.  This revised plan replaces the April 2012 plan long posted on this blog.  The “Concept and Plan” tab has a revised explanation of the plan.  Both the revised plan and the former plan are posted there.

Revised, January 2015, Track Plan.

Two significant changes were made to the April 2012 plan during construction.  The Springfield turn-back lobe was moved two feet closer to Eugene.  There is plenty of aisle space between the two stations.  I needed to provide more space along the window wall for the crew lounge.  The other change was to angle the Oakridge wye into the middle of the “nook” containing McCredie Springs.  This made better use of the space.  It also provided for better platform access for operations at Cascade summit.  More subtle is the addition of more industry spurs and their identity. 

Many small details get lost on this plan, even at the ¼ inch to the foot scale I used to draft the plan.  Viewers wanting more detail should check the track schematics under the “Station Schematics” tab of this blog.  The correct sequence and orientation of switches is provided on the schematics.

I needed a track plan better reflecting the as-built layout for presentations.  I will be presenting my layout planning, construction and initial operations to the annual San Francisco Bay Area Layout Design and Operations Special Interest Groups Meet this next weekend.  In many ways, this is a report back to my former model railroad colleagues on what I have done since retiring and leaving that area.  I also will highlight this next summer’s National Model Railroad Association National Convention, to be held in Portland, OR, August 23 – 29, 2015.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


While clearing the stacks of packing/storage boxes along my basement east wall, I finally located the controller unit and two more clocks for my GML Fast Clock system.  I purchased the controller and clocks a half dozen years ago, knowing I would need a fast clock system for railroad operations.  I settled on the analog clock system sold by GML Enterprises.  (  The analog clock faces are appropriate to the era of timetable and train order operations up through my layout’s “modern era” of 1985.  Digital presentations may be appropriate for current day, but railroading is a conservative business, particularly where safety is involved. 

I ordered my clock controller with 3:1, 4:1, 5:1, 6:1, 8:1, and 15:1 ratios.  I expect to use the 3:1 ratio on my Cascade Line.  In retrospect, I probably should have skipped a couple of the higher ratios to get a 1:1 and a 2:1 ratio.  The 1:1 would be useful for some operating schemes.  Having an “official railroad time,” even at the same time step as real time could be useful in some operating scenarios.  Still, the 3:1 ratio is my best guess as to a good ratio for this railroad.   That ratio compresses twelve hours of railroad operation into actual four hours—about the limit of most operating sessions I have attended.  By the way, the 15:1 ratio is useful for checking the clock operation (just done!) and for setting up for a future operating session without directly interacting with each clock.

Most of my clocks are GML’s six inch size.  The Dispatcher’s clock will be a four inch one (to be mounted when I build the Dispatcher’s work station).  Three of the clocks have GML’s “real time” feature that allows them to function as regular clocks when the fast clock system is turned off.  Two of the clocks in the main room are so equipped.

I built frames for the clock faces from ½ x 1-1/2 inch poplar.  The frames are much like picture frames.  The clock faces are mounted on plastic plates by GML.  I mounted these to the frames.  Inside, I found I needed to provide terminal posts to connect between my main distribution cable and the smaller wire desired for the terminal connection to the clock mechanism provided by GML.  I used an old model railroader’s (aka “cheapskate”) trick of making connection posts from brass wood screws.  Once the wires are looped around the post (with solder-tinned ends), I could secure the connection by screwing the post into the wood frame.

Two fast clocks.  Just visible on the back of the left clock are two connecting posts at the bottom of the wood frame.  The clock on the right has the “real time” option and controlling toggle switch.

I placed four of the clocks above the backdrop on the single post in my basement, effectively creating a clock tower.   At least one face of this post is visible from most everywhere within the main layout space.  A clock above Wesfir covers it and the future locations of Wicopee and RR-East Cruzatte.  Another clock is located near the RR-East yard throat of Eugene Depot and Classification Yard.  The final large clock is mounted in the “back room” where the staging yards are located.

“Clock Tower” on basement post as seen from the Eugene operator aisle.

“Clock Tower” seen from Oakridge.

Westfir Clock.

Staging Yard Clock.  Clock for the RR-East end of Eugene Depot and Classification Yard can be seen through the passageway.

I am glad to finally have my clock system installed and functioning.  This becomes one more tool as my railroad comes to life and begins operations.