Saturday, August 22, 2015


I held my third mainline operating session with my local crew on August 8, 2015.  Note this is just three years into solo construction.  Track is still needed for the engine facilities within the Eugene Arrival-Departure Yard (reverse loop staging) and a few more tracks in that A/D Yard, but the vast majority of the railroad has been built.

This third mainline operating session was a success, with few—minor—issues discovered.  Whew!  The railroad has come together just in time for the NMRA National Convention at the end of the month.  My layout is on the formal bus tours, will host an operating session, and is on the Layout Design Special Interest Group Tour.  I had accepted the state of the railroad this summer for the tours.  What I needed was a successful operating session.  That has been accomplished!

The Eugene Yard crew is hard at work, with Jim M., David B., and Chuck C., visible.  Bob S. is over at Springfield working the depot side of the mainline with the first Springfield Switch job.

Having worked down my priority “fix-it” list from the first two sessions, I could concentrate more on proper organization for operation for this third session.  That effort paid off handsomely as the full crew of 14 was kept busy throughout the day.  One can get a sense of that from the organized look of the Eugene Yard and in the image above and Bob S’s activity in Springfield in the photo above.  More will be evident in photos below.

I am discovering just how big this railroad is by its ability to absorb rolling stock and still need more.  I was able to put together and stage three 25-car freights each way—about half of my intended operation.  The trains were assembled differently based on direction of travel.  The RR-Westbounds represented loads headed up over the Cascades toward California.  As such, the pair of trains mostly forest products freely intermixed flats and boxcars.  The more general merchandise train also had appropriate cars and loads. 

The RR-Eastbound trains (downhill) were assembled as if the Roseville and Los Angeles Yards (Colton for the 1984 era of the current equipment on the layout) had classified them for return of empties to Eugene.  In an earlier era, these cars full of lumber empties were known as “XMUGs” for general freight empties (possibly to EUGene).  As such, they are very distinctive.  One train was composed entirely of boxcars, almost all SP or SSW (home road).  Another was about half home road boxcars and a long string of empty flat cars.  The third RR-East train was another general merchandise train. 

I also added AMTRAK to the mix, starting it from Crescent Lake in the morning.  Eventually, I plan to double these trains and add a hot piggyback train (LABRT northbound, BRLAT or CZLAT southbound).  Meanwhile, we had more than enough equipment to begin operating!

Visiting Californians Wayne C. and his son Kenny control a train drifting down from Cruzatte  (upper line in the rear) toward Salt Creek Trestle and Wicopee.

Ex-SP Dispatcher Rick K. discusses the finer points of dispatching with Direct Traffic Control (DTC) with Dave H. 

One of the joys I experience with this layout is attracting a great group of operators, including several former Southern Pacific operating personnel.  Dispatcher Rick K. has been particularly helpful by designing an initial operating scheme using Direct Traffic Control (DTC).  DTC was SP’s answer to dispatching by radio, replacing the old Timetable and Train Order system, which required many train order operators stationed along the railroad.  Both control systems were used in territory not controlled by Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) which SP had installed on most mainlines by the mid-1960’s.   Eventually, my railroad will have CTC installed, as the Cascade Line was upgraded to that in 1955.  I will discuss more about my DTC system in a subsequent post.

Oakridge Turn engineer Mike B. works at Oakridge while helper engineer Dave C. wraps up his return with light helpers to the engine facilities at Oakridge.

We used manned mid-train helpers for the RR-Westbounds going uphill from Oakridge to Cascade Summit.  This went very well.  I had cut back the size of my road power sets from three units to two based on earlier testing.  This added to the operations, as it now took two crewmembers, each with a throttle to guide trains uphill.  After the help was provided uphill, the helpers needed to return light to their base at Oakridge.  This added still more to the operation.  This also was a major priority of the layout design and it was gratifying to see this come into action.

Road engineer Norm A. and helper engineer Bob Y. pull a train into Cascade Summit.

Rick A. studies his DTC authority sheet as he guides a RR-West lumber drag past Westfir.

The railroad operated well and the operating system proved functional.  The railroad is ready for guest operators during the NMRA National Convention!

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