Wednesday, August 10, 2016


My railroad is settling into a regular operating pattern—at least when my slot in the area operating layout rotation does not conflict with holiday weekends.  Nineteen folk showed up to operate my railroad this past weekend.  Even with that many operators, most road freights “made do” with single man crews.  We prefer two operators for train crews so that both ends of a train can be observed.  Dispatcher communications handled by a conductor is important with the verbal (over the radio) operating system employed.  With a single person “crew”, one has to handle both throttle and radio.  No one was complaining, though!

This session marked significant development of my “Santa Clara Tower” operator position.  This operator controls the traffic in and out of the Eugene Arrival/Departure Yard (lower level reverse loop staging).  The tower aspect of the job involves control of the many switches in this bottleneck area between the Eugene depot and classification yard and the arrival/departure (A/D) yard and engine facility.  The intent is that all road freights and Amtrak originate or arrive into the A/D yard.  This procedure is new to much of my operating crew, so it will take some time to fully accomplish.  Meanwhile, the “Santa Clara Tower” position worked well.

Vic N. surveys the Eugene Arrival/Departure Yard as part of his Santa Clara Tower duties.  Behind him, Rodger C. is getting ready for his train.

A note on the Santa Clara Tower:  I spent a great deal of time (off-hours) early in my working career in the San Francisco Bay Area photographing rail action “in the shadow of” the Southern Pacific’s Santa Clara, California, tower.  When friend Bruce Barney (ALW Lines: ) released a kit for this tower, I just “had” to get one.  I took note of the complex switch-work in the bottleneck area between the two major Eugene yard areas and realized I needed a tower operator here.  Though SP had few towers in Oregon, this location cried out for one.  As to name, the Santa Clara district of Eugene is on the north side of Eugene—very near to the SP yard.  Model RR Rule Number One applies here—It is MY railroad!  <wink>

The introduction of the computer-printed waybills ( has the impact of better car distribution.  Staging is beginning to fall into patterns I expected when designing the railroad.  A significant challenge involves staging the “XMUGs”—empty lumber cars returning to Eugene.  Several trains full of lumber box cars and flat cars need to return to Eugene from California marshalling points and the Ogden Gateway.  Conversely, the trains departing Eugene for those major reclassification points tend to be more mixed.  I was happy with the setup process for the trains at Eugene and for cars needed for the local freights, also from Eugene.  Staging for the ninth mainline operating session found a couple of XMUGs at Crescent Lake, so this session went well.  As I restage now after the session, I find I need to flesh out the car fleet a bit (cars are on-hand) to create the desired traffic.

My staging efforts for Eugene paid off, as the operating crew always had plenty to do AND we had lots of traffic on the mainline.  Indeed, this was the first mainline operating session that actually ran all of the trains on my standard line-up—over a dozen trains.  Usually, the crew tires out by the latter trains.

Here are more photos from this successful session.

As usual, the Eugene classification yard crew was busy throughout.  Mike B. ran the East Switcher.  Dave H, behind him, is working the Eugene City Switcher.  David B. (red shirt in distance) ran the West Switcher.  Beyond them on the other side of the aisle, Mike L. and Jim M. are working the first Springfield local.  This local switches the industries on the depot side of the mainline.

Bruce M. and Bob S. work the Oakridge Turn.

Dick K. gets clearance from the Dispatcher, while Steve C. awaits clearance to begin the trek RR-East downhill from Cascade Summit.

A helper is cut in at the RR-East end of Oakridge.  I need to work with crews to not do this, as the location of the end of the trains through a tunnel and over the bridge at Westfir.  Though compressed in distance on my model railroad, this would pose  a similar problem at the full-sized Oakridge.  Conductor Rick A. is getting asphyxiated in that to-be-built tunnel, while helper engineer Bob Y. breaths clear air out in the yard.  I need to add cross-overs in the Oakridge yard to assist this move without “endangering” the rear end crew! 

Bill M. watches the slack action closely as he helps a train uphill through Cruzatte.

My railroad has come to life sufficiently to simulate conditions on the real Cascade Line.  My operating crew faces problems similar to those encountered on the big railroad and they employ many of the same solutions.

1 comment:

  1. no fair bringing in ringers from Southern California..