Thursday, April 23, 2015


A signature element of the climb up into the Cascades are several steel trestles and other bridges.  All three of the major steel trestles on the line are represented on my layout:  Salt Creek, Noisy Creek and Shady Creek.  These were among the final roadbed construction on my mountain grade as I built toward mainline completion and the Golden Spike.  I needed to at least prepare for the trestles and bridges even with temporary construction. 

First up was a pair of bridges in the midst of Cruzatte that span Cascade Creek.  These are deck girder bridges and employ the basic construction method I use for most such girders.  I create a central spine that continues the subroadbed through the bridge.  This is sheathed with Central Valley girders.  I used this technique previously for the mainline bridge over Salmon Creek on the RR-West end of Oakridge. That bridge has a deck.  The pair spanning Cascade Creek at Cruzatte needed to represent open deck construction. 

Though the actual bridges are “open,” one does not see much down through the ties or up from the bottom.  I chose to cut out the plywood subroadbed at Cruzatte to create a ½ inch wide spine for each bridge.  I then painted these spines a dull black.  The actual bridges at Cascade Creek are still painted black, just as my models are, so a dull black interior works well. 

Spines for Cascade Creek bridges cut out of plywood subroadbed for Cruzatte.

The Central Valley girders were shortened from the 72 foot through plate girder kit.  Separate girders are packaged as Central Valley 1903-1.  I added “angle iron” to the bridge ends and decal rivets to the visible side of those angles.  Top and bottom plates were added.  The two girders were then joined by three short sections of 0.125x0.156 styrene.  All of this was painted black and then weathered.  These bridges sections fit neatly over the plywood spines.  Bridge track was laid on top and joined to the regular flex track on either side of the bridge.

Cascade Creek bridge girders.  Correct side is up for the one on the left.

Cascade Creek bridges installed.  Abutments will come later.

I will use a variation on this theme for the three large steel trestles.  All are built on curves, so they are composed of many sections of straight bridge girders.  I previously noted the use of aluminum strap as the spine for these trestles.   I will use the same technique of sheathing this spine with Central Valley bridges girders.  I needed to temporarily install the track over these spans, though.  Even basic girder bridge construction takes a bit of time for me.  These trestles will take longer with their need for the tower construction.  Meanwhile, I need to get this railroad into operation for the fast-approaching NMRA National Convention in Portland this August! 

I found that the hardboard spline material I used for much of the mountain grade made a perfect pattern and substitute for the eventual Central Valley bridge girders.  That happy discovery was made as I built and installed the Cascade Creek girders.  I cut sections of hardboard to the individual girder lengths making up the trestle.  These varied between 30 scale feet for the sections over the towers up to 70 scale feet long for sections of Salt Creek Trestle.  I then trimmed the ends of the non-tower sections to an angle to fit the curve each trestle is aligned on.  I found it easy to make an initial guess as to the angle—after all, these are “temporary—and found those guesses to be very good.  Most are 7 or 8 degrees at each end.  I then affixed the temporary bridge girder patterns to the top of the aluminum spines using Dap 230 adhesive caulk, following up with a level for cross-ways alignment.  Once the caulk set, I could lay the bridge track on top, temporarily affixing it with modest spots of the Dap 230 caulk.  When I go back to build the permanent bridge-trestles, I will replace the hardboard patterns with the Central Valley bridge girders, just as I did at Cascade Creek.  Then I can build and install the trestle towers.  The inspiration photo for this blog taken at Salt Creek Trestle will give you an idea of the effect I am striving for.  I will paint my trestles black, as they were until the early 1960’s.

Temporary bridge girder pattern installation at Salt Creek Trestle.

Bridge track installed on top of temporary bridge girder patterns at Salt Creek Trestle.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


The mainline has been pushed through for a complete circuit including one of the reverse loop staging tracks in the Eugene Arrival/Departure yard.  It was time to celebrate a major milestone!  I held a Golden Spike ceremony and gathering of folk April 12, 2015.  About forty folk gathered to help me celebrate this milestone.

Gold Spike Ceremony at Salt Creek Trestle.  Left to right: Larry V., me, my wife Janet, Mike Y., and Rodney L.

In true railroad fashion, there is much remaining, including more track and a lot of wiring.  Still, track now runs continuously from the Eugene Arrival/Departure Yard, through Eugene, Springfield and Oakridge.  There, it starts the 1.8 percent climb up through McCredie Springs, Wicopee and Cruzatte to Cascade Summit.  Track extends  from Cascade Summit into Crescent Lake.

Eugene Arrival/Departure Yard Track 4 (one of five to be laid with code 83 rail) complete one full reverse loop.

Throat trackwork leading to Track 4 of the Eugene Arrival/Departure Yard.  The actual final gap was closed here.

Mainline track on the mountain grade.  Cruzatte is on the upper line on the left.  Wicopee is in the distance curving to the right.

Wicopee and Salt Creek Trestle (temporary).  The pictures hanging from the layout are the historic scenes I am trying to model.

The “Gold Spike” at the end of Salt Creek trestle.  The spike actually is a tie date nail that my wife surprised me with today.  I am a lucky man.

Monday, April 6, 2015


Cork roadbed has been installed on all the new construction, clearing the way for track laying.  I used Midwest Products cork roadbed strips for the mountain grade.  Nominal ¼ inch thick cork sheet was used for the Eugene Arrival/Departure Yard area.  Following installation with carpenters glue, the cork was smoothed by sanding and then painted a neutral gray.  The gray is similar to the final ballast color and will serve that way for some time.  Ballasting will come very much later in the process.

Mountain grade cork roadbed installed and painted gray.  Cruzatte siding is on the plywood on the upper level.  The lower level snakes along the benchwork edge and under the Cruzatte mid-point  (where the station company structures will be).  This will be Tunnel 20 on the lower line.  Curving to the right in the distance is Wicopee siding on the lower line.  The lines meet just beyond Wicopee on Salt Creek Trestle.

Wicopee siding roadbed.  View is from atop Salt Creek Trestle.  Part of Wicopee was built on plywood.  Most was built with hardboard splines.

RR-West end of Salt Creek Trestle.  The trestle has a spine made of two 1/8  by ¾ inch aluminum straps (painted black).  This is pinned within the hardboard spline at the ends of the trestle.

Pins for trestle spine inserted through the spine into the surrounding hardboard spline. 

Bridge spine cut-outs for Cascade Creek near the RR-East end of Cruzatte.  These spines will be encased in a pair of deck truss girders for Cascade Creek.

Eugene Arrival/Departure Yard roadbed. 

Eugene Arrival/Departure Yard roadbed seen from the yard throat area.  Operator access hole will provide access to the yard tracks and engine facilities that will be contained within the reverse loop yard.