Sunday, October 28, 2018


After a year of bridge, trestle, tunnel, and terrain work, I find myself shifting gears to other projects.  Specifically, I have resumed fleshing out the industry served by the railroad.  My recent work on the banks of the Willamette River between Eugene and Springfield inspired me to launch into a major industry along the Willamette at Springfield--Borden Chemical.  Yes, this is the same Borden known to generations of children and adults as makers of white glue.  Borden has been involved in many types of glues and adhesives, including plywood glue. That brings us to the Borden plant in Springfield.

Borden established their Springfield facility in 1960.  Though spun off to Momentive today, in the fashion of railroaders everywhere, the historic name sticks.  I took a number of photos of the facility in 2013--all from public sidewalks.  Still, my photos served as a useful modeling guide.

Momentive chemical plant in Springfield.  The Cascade Line mainline is on the right, with the Willamette River bridge showing in the distance.  Note the cooling tower with two fan housings near the photo center.  Also note the tan steel structure next to the cooling towers. Many of the plant structures follow this scheme.

Chemical plant detail--lots of refining towers, pipes, and even a rail tank car.

Paging through the Walthers catalog for suitable industrial structures, I came upon the corn ethanol plant series issued by Walthers in their Cornerstone series.  Both plants process plant materials to extract useful chemicals. Though the scale of some of the tanks is off and the implied chemistry modeled is certainly lacking in detail, these kits provided a good base for representing the Momentive facility, at least as it can be seen today.  Absent more specific knowledge of both the plant and its historic appearance, I chose to use today's appearance as my guide.

Walthers kits used for this project included:
933-2976, Processing Center
933-2977, Fermentation Tanks
933-2978, Energy Center
933-2979, Cooling Tower Facility
933-4037, Four Modern Loading Racks

Although the Walthers ethanol series was produced only once and is now absent from the catalog, one can find many of these kits on the secondary market yet. I missed obtaining a detail kit for some of the tanks, but will find other ways to add those details later. For now, what I have is sufficient to convey a sense of a large wood chemical plant.  To these Walthers kits, I added two of the Vollmer oil refinery kits (770-5525).  These added the refining towers and more modest-sized tanks to my facility.

The cooling towers were a relatively late addition to my facility. Looking at photos, such as the one at the top of this article, I realized I should try to add this function. Fortunately, I was able to acquire one of the Walthers cooling tower kits which matches fairly well to the prototype facility.  I needed to cut the kit down from four fan housings to two, per the prototype.  I did this by cutting both ends off the long walls and cutting an appropriate length roof with fan housings to match. This was necessary because of a center bracing structure for the bottom inlets on the kit walls.  This needed to be in the center of my structure. Similarly, I needed to slice the ends off the kit base to retain the center section.

Prototype cooling tower with two fan housings.  Although this structure has aluminum-colored walls, I chose to retain the "company look" with tan walls for my model.

Cutting the cooling tower base to fit the shortened (two fan) structure.

Model cooling tower.  This part of the model facility is furthest from the river and closest to the rest of the Springfield scene, somewhat like the prototype placement.

Borden Chemical in place at Springfield on my HO-scale SP Cascade Line.

I still need to add more piping connecting the many pieces of this facility.  Still, the vast bulk of the Borden Chemical (Momentive) facility has been built and occupies an important space and function on my railroad.

Sunday, October 21, 2018


My terrain forming efforts have enclosed the full mainline with completion of the ridge over Tunnel 7. This is the tunnel at the RR-West end of Shady Creek Trestle.  This was the final mainline tunnel to be enclosed.  All ten modeled tunnels have been encased.

Closing in Tunnel 7 awaited fine-tuning of the roadbed in this area resulting from the trestle installation.  In contrast to the other trestles on my railroad, I had to cut-in a new spine for Shady Creek.  Inevitably, this upset the roadbed alignment in the area, notably through the area to be enclosed as Tunnel 7.  It took a couple of fine-tuning efforts and then successful train operations through the area by my regular operating crew to approve this area for tunnel enclosure. The key test of the roadbed was that the operation needed to be done by someone other than me, the builder.  This is similar to the concept that one cannot proof read one's own writing.

An added challenge for this terrain effort was that the RR-East end of the tunnel sits atop the area where the terrain from both lower and upper deck merge.  The transition is necessary but complicated by minimal scene depth.  This leads to vertical terrain walls.  I needed to make it somewhat believable and then distract attention to either side.  Fortunately, Shady Creek Trestle dominates the scene, so I will live with the vertical rock walls.  Subsequent addition of trees on the lower deck should help.

Construction of the tunnel enclosure followed my standard pattern, documented in blog posts over the past year.  The first step was to ballast the track through the tunnel.  Second, a tunnel liner was constructed for the inner tunnel. The portals and end liners were built and placed during my earlier tunnel end effort.  Multiple posts a year ago covered the portals, liners and rock sheds.

Tunnel 7 foundations.  The tunnel liner is in place and the first step off fascia panel installation has been done.  Still to come is curving the lower tail of the fascia around to attachment to the wood blocks just below the RR-East face of the rock shed portal.

Closing in the tunnel with slabs of insulation foam began with contour supports on the back wall and the inside of the front fascia.  Then, it was a simple job to fill in foam slabs around the tunnel portals and then build the ridge.  Once the basic landform was created with slabs of insulating foam, spray foam was applied to fill gaps and add additional rock formations.  The foam was then carved to the final configuration. This was particularly important with the spray foam, as it expanded considerably after the initial application.

The fascia panel has been fully-mounted.  Contour panels are mounted on the wall (right) and back of the fascia panel (left).  The RR-West portal has been encased in insulating foam slabs and panels for the ridge now span between the fascia and wall.

Insulating foam slab construction for the RR-West portal of Tunnel 7.

Spray foam fills the gaps and helps further form the terrain.

RR-West McCredie Springs terrain, including the transition to the upper deck terrain.

Sculptamold applied to the slab foam base.

SP9320E operating as the 05-RVEUY <Roseville to Eugene manifest freight> passes through Tunnel 7 and onto Shady Creek Trestle.

SP9320E stretched out from Shady Creek Trestle back through Tunnels 7 and 5.

Tying it all together, SP9320E is shown below entering the RR-West end of McCredie Springs while SP8283 climbs out of Cruzatte and through Tunnel 7.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018


My HO-scale SP Cascade Line achieved an operating milestone with its thirtieth formal operating session using the full mainline.  This session marked the first time my crew operated with most of the terrain fleshed out on either side of the track.  The crew greeted this with excitement and lots of smiles.  They no longer needed to imagine the Oregon Cascades from bits of wood, paint and track. 

This operating session used my usual format for formal sessions, beginning with arrival in mid-morning.  The initial gathering represents important social time, as the crew comes from the full length of the Willamette Valley.  Most of the crew drives an hour-plus, while the Eugene contingent faces a two-hour drive.

Crew arrival with the usual potluck spread on tables while our chili pots simmer away.

My in-brief focused on radio procedure and a review of Direct Traffic Control as applied to my railroad.  Around 11 am, trains began to roll.  I started the fast clock at 10:30 pm, picking up where the last session in early August left off.  The session began with a couple of trains out on the line, ready to "resume" their journeys.

David L. guides the EUCIY (Eugene to City of Industry manifest freight) over Salmon Creek Bridge, just out of Oakridge.  His train received mid-train helpers in Oakridge before starting the climb here.  This train began the session in Oakridge, ready for the helper to be entrained.

Jeroen G. serves as engineer and Mark K. serves as conductor on the 04-RVEUY (fourth Roseville to Eugene manifest for the date) as their train exists Tunnel 20 headed RR-Eastbound toward Eugene.

Meanwhile, the Eugene Yard crew gets to work.  Jim M., hidden at the far end, drew the Eugene City Switcher and has a string of cars on the track closest to the depot on the left. Randall P. works the RR-West end of the classification yard, while Yardmaster Rick A. organizes the work and RR-East Switcher Pete H. works another cut of cars.

Santa Clara Tower Operator Vic N. organizes his work in the Eugene Arrival-Departure Yard.

Craig L. brings the 03-LAEUY (third Los Angeles to Eugene manifest freight of the date) down over Noisy Creek Trestle.

The 03-LAEUY has made it down to Salt Creek Trestle.  Note that I hang inspiration photos below the major scenes on my railroad, as seen here in the lower left.

David L. has the EUCIY approaching Montieth Rock while helper engineer Scott B. controls the slack point ahead of his helper locomotives.

David L. proudly displays his photograph of the Montieth Rock scene--an important inspiration photo for me, now recreated in HO-scale.

An important feature of the midnight portion of my line-up is a fleet of RR-West priority trains with trailer equipment designations.  This fleet of three priority trains eventually gets met by a RR-East trailer train out of Los Angeles (LABRT--Los Angeles to Brooklyn <Portland, OR> trailer train).  This creates a busy period for the Dispatcher, as none of these trains should be delayed.

Dispatcher Dave H. records data on the Train Sheet.  The track schematic in front of him is laid out on a steel panel, so magnetic tags can be used to help visualize the traffic.

Helper engineer Mike L. watches his train as the BRLAT (Brooklyn to Los Angeles Trailers) crosses Noisy Creek Trestle.  The BRLAT was the first of the RR-West fleet of priority trains. With 89 foot cars in the train, the helpers go on the point (front of the train).

The BRLAT climbs through Cruzatte with helper engineer Mike L. and road enginer Mike B. (hidden behind Mike L.) watching their train.

Mike B. watches the BRLAT pull out of Tunnel 5 toward the summit. The train extends back through Tunnel 7 in the foreground.  This operating session successfully tested the trackage through Tunnel 7 and over Shady Creek Trestle.

The BRLAT enters Cascade Summit as both Mikes look on.

Mike L. cuts his helper set off the point (front) of the BRLAT as the RR-Eastbound RVEUE (Roseville to Eugene Empties--an "XMUG") occupies the Cascade Summit mainline.  Dick E. and Dave C. are the crew for the RVEUE.

Jeroen G. and Mark K. guide the middle of the three priority RR-West trains, the BROAT (Brooklyn to Oakland Trailers) over the Willamette River Bridge and into Springfield.  The developing Borden Chemical plant beside Jeroen will be the topic of a future post.

David L. rolls through Cascade Summit (above, left) with the LABRT, the RR-Eastbound priority train that must work against the RR-West fleet of priority trains.

The CZLAT (Crown Zellerbach to Los Angeles "Trailers") pauses in McCredie Springs as helper engineer Scott B. looks on from the Cascade Summit and Conductor Mark K. copies block authority from the Dispatcher and Engineer Jeroen G. awaits that clearance.  The CZLAT was the focus of an article in the just-arrived Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society "Trainline."  This was a mostly boxcar train carrying CZ paper products to the Los Angeles area on a priority schedule--hence the "T" symbol in CZLAT.

The BRLAT (above at Cruzatte) and CZLAT (below, exiting Tunnel 20 before entering Wicopee) move toward a meet. 

The CZLAT continues to climb over Salt Creek Trestle toward the meet with the BRLAT at Cruzatte.  The Dispatcher has properly given the RR-Westbound CZLAT priority over the otherwise equal RR-Eastbound BRLAT.  This follows the timetable assignment of "West is Best" between otherwise equal trains.

The lunch break is an important part of an operating session. It provides nourishment, rest, and plenty of social interaction.  We were blessed by good Fall weather, so we could convene outside for lunch.

Seventeen operators joined me for this thirtieth operating session. The railroad is living up to its design focus for hosting such events.