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.

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