Saturday, July 28, 2018


The canyon spanned by Shady Creek Trestle needed a water outlet for the implied drainage.  That water course needed to cross under the lower mainline--the line between McCredie Springs and Wicopee.  Studying the bridges along the prototype Cascade Line, my attention was drawn to the short span over Eagle Creek.   Photos in the McCredie Springs to Heather section:  This short (40 feet long) through plate girder was just what I needed for my scenery. My lower level track has relatively flat scenery after the deep gorge of the canyon above it, spanned by Shady Creek Trestle.  I just needed something "plausible."

Once again, I turned to the Central Valley 72-feet through plate girder kit (210-1903) that I have used for so many bridge girders on my railroad. For once, I was going to use it as an actual through plate girder bridge!  I still needed to cut it down to my desired length and match the girder end treatment of the prototype span.  This was accomplished easily, as Central Valley uses a relatively soft plastic for molding their kit parts.  That is one of the reasons I have used so many of these girders around my railroad.

With the basic bridge built, I could turn to cutting the required gap in the track roadbed.  Identifying a structural panel that I wanted to install the bridge within, I spanned the panel with a plywood base.  I then cut abutment blocks that I glued between the roadbed and the base plate. This provided additional roadbed support that will keep the roadbed in vertical alignment.

Plywood base installed for the future Eagle Creek and bridge.

Roadbed abutment blocks installed.  Two sets of cut lines are drawn on the roadbed.  I shifted the bridge to the left set.

I then removed the flex track segment that spanned the bridge area.  This allowed me to use my finish router to rout a channel into the roadbed.  This channel was cut to the depth needed to support the cosmetic bridge abutments and the bridge.  I then cut the roadbed gap with my circular saw.  In the end, I got a bit too vigorous with the saw--I cut the gap too wide.  I fixed this by gluing end plates composed of my 1/4-inch hardboard spline material cross-wise against the edges of the abutment shelves.  

Eagle Creek roadbed gap cut.  I have begun filling the creek-bed in with styrofoam.

With the gap cut and appropriate abutment shelves built up, I installed the cosmetic abutments.  I needed to shim the abutments to get the bridge to the right height relative to the roadbed.  Micro Engineering bridge track has thicker ties (0.100-inch) than their regular flex track (0.080-inch), so this needed to be accounted for when checking height with a steel straight edge across the span.  I let the caulk used to install the abutments set up and then began filling in the rest of the terrain around the bridge and creek.

Eagle Creek bridge test installation while the caulk sets holding the cosmetic abutments in place.  

I made quick work of the foam base carving and shaping.  While I was at it, I added styrofoam panels between the roadbed and the fascia throughout the immediate area.  After the caulk used to attach the foam set, I went back with my saber saw to cut a new terrain contour along the fascia.  Finally, I mixed up a large bowl of Sculptamold with paint mixed in and applied it to the pink foam.  I try not to leave "raw" pink foam on my railroad for very long. I find it distracting.

The track was re-installed, now with a bridge track segment.  Feeder wires were attached and the railroad was returned to service.  This is the last of the mainline bridges on my railroad.  I still have a branch-spur track bridge set to go, but the mainline has all of its bridges now!

SP X7480, an EURVY (Eugene to Roseville mixed freight) crosses the new Eagle Creek bridge.

A wider view of the SP X-7480 crossing Eagle Creek showing the now released "drainage" from the Shady Creek canyon above it.  The tunnels on the upper line on either side of the trestle will be closed in after my August operating session.  The track-work on the trestle and within the tunnels needs to have train test runs over it by operators other than myself before I close in that track.

Thursday, July 12, 2018


Learning from my experiences with the other two steel trestles, I took the time to build the terrain around Shady Creek Trestle immediately after completing the trestle components.  
(  I deliberately left the trestle components loose so I could remove them for the rough work of terrain forming.  Previously, though I had removed the steel towers under the other trestles, I still had to work very carefully around and under the girders and track decks.  

Terrain construction proceeded along the path established with Noisy Creek, as both Shady Creek and Noisy Creek occupy room corners.  Profile stryofoam planks established the "ridgelines." I then carefully built up the surrounding styrofoam base around the trestle tower bases, concrete piers and abutments.  Then I began placing styrofoam planks to span between the ridges and the immediate trestle base area.

Terrain base construction around Shady Creek Trestle.

Filling in the terrain below the trestle base was a little more complicated as I needed to prepare two foot pads with removable scenery sections.  I also needed to terminate the area "drainage" into a creek that flows under the lower level track.  That project will be described in a later blog post, but for now, I simply needed to direct a gully toward the eventual creek location.  Note that Shady Creek Trestle supports the upper line in this area.  The lower line, almost two feet below, is the line climbing up out of McCredie Springs toward Wicopee.

Completed Styrofoam base for Shady Creek Trestle.  Spray Foam has been applied to cracks and holes.

With the Styrofoam planks in place, spray foam was applied to the cracks and holes that developed during the rough construction.  The completed foam shell was carved with knives and shaped with a Surform scraper.  Following clean-up with a broom and then the shop vacuum, Sculptamold was applied to the foam shell.  I held out the terrain cover for the footpad and applied Sculptamold to it the next day after the "fixed" terrain had a chance to begin setting.  

Terrain cover for one of the footpads in the Shady Creek area.  The edges are separated from the fixed terrain with waxed paper.

Finally, it was time to reinstall the trestle components and run a train over it!  I will do a bit more height adjustment with shims on the trestle, as my match of the new trestle spine to the existing roadbed was not perfect.  That was a consequence of my installation of the spine well after initial roadbed construction.  I planned for this with my trestle construction--another reason to leave the components loose until I completed the rough work in the area.   The need for adjustments to the track and roadbed were the reason I left the tunnel portals on both sides of the trestle loose. I need to get at least one operating session completed with train crews other than myself over this section before I close in those tunnels.

Step by step, my railroad is emerging from its "Plywood Pacific" appearance to one that clearly climbs through the mountains.

A WCEUY (West Colton to Eugene manifest) drifts down-grade over Shady Creek Trestle.