Thursday, February 28, 2019


A structure located along all rail lines has been a tool shed used by track workers and others to store tools, supplies and, in earlier times, a speeder.  Back in the day, track section gangs were located about every ten miles along the line. Each gang had their own tool shed and usually their own speeder--the relatively lightweight motorized conveyance they could use to patrol their section of track and to bring tools and supplies to a work site.  Most railroads had standard designs for such structures.

Southern Pacific modelers are quite fortunate to have the line of Common Standard plan structures produced by Bruce Barney of ALW Lines (  Most of Bruce's SP structure kits were inspired by SP Common Standard plan structures along the Cascade Line.  SP Cascade Line historian and modeler Larry Castle worked with Bruce to develop these structure kits.  This makes for an easy equipage of my version of the Cascade Line with an appropriate array of company structures.

I have begun populating my railroad with that most basic structure--the tool shed.  Indeed, these were the first structure models produced by ALW Lines.  I started the tool shed effort sometime back during the primary layout construction, but set the sheds aside as other tasks (like track switch construction took over all available time.  I have been "shifting gears" lately after the major scenery terrain push of the last year.  Indeed, some of that "gear shifting" left me in "neutral," not quite sure where to focus my efforts.  The tool shed project provided a handy focus and a way to get myself back into a model-building frame of mind.  Layout construction took all of my efforts over the past half dozen years, but it is time now to return to model work!

I elected to build a half dozen "SP3" large tools sheds and four "SP2" small tool shed kits.  These will populate my mountain grade, from Oakridge to Cascade Summit.  Oakridge had several large sheds and one small shed.  The mountain sidings generally had one large tool shed and a small tool shed used by the signal maintainer wherever he was based.  For my layout, only Cruzatte does not have the signal maintainer on station.

The kits feature laser-cut plywood and other materials, allowing for relatively speedy construction.  I began my construction by painting the plywood frets with a white primer spray paint to seal the wood and provide a good color base.  The white also served as the final color coat for the laser-cut windows of the small tool shed.  I then painted most of the structure pieces a "Colonial Yellow" using an old PolyScale paint ("PRR Buff").  With the demise of Floquil and PolyScale, I do not have a replacement color to recommend. 

Tool shed pieces painted and ready to be cut from their frets and assembled.

I studied photos of SP standard structure paint in the post-WWII era and into the 1950s and '60s.  Compared to the earlier paint standard that used a lot warm brown trim paint, this was simplified by the time periods I model to mostly door and window frames getting the trim color.  My mix for the brown trim paint used former Floquil/PolyScale colors of 2:1 "roof brown to armour yellow."  Again, I do not have a currently available paint mix to recommend.  

Assembly was straight-forward.  The peel-and-stick trim was applied to the walls and then the walls assembled around the floor base.  For future assemblies, I will try not to rush myself by gluing just one side wall and end wall to the base first and then returning at a later point to complete the other walls.  I found it useful to brace the roof panels with strip wood, including one that helps form a ridge beam.  

My kits were all part of the orginal production by ALW Lines.  As such, they use peel and stick shingles.  Over time, the adhesive has become weak.  I augmented the shingle adhesive with a thin coat of Weldon contact cement applied to the roof panels.  After this set up for about fifteen minutes, I began applying the shingle strips.  Bruce Barney did a very good thing when he designed these kits as he had shingle guide lines etched onto the roof panels.  Applying shingles is still a tedious job, taking about half an hour per shed roof.

Applying shingle strips to the shed roof.

Finally, I could paint the roofs and touch up the trim paint.  Once again, I used an old Floquil/PolyScale color (depot green) for which I do not yet have a good recommendation for an available replacement.

With my batch assembly completed, I posed the sheds together before distributing them around the railroad.  Final installation will occur as I complete scenery at the stations, to include the motor car pull-offs.  

A row of tool sheds ready to be distributed around my railroad.

Sunday, February 3, 2019


Over the past month, I made and reported on a couple of enhancements to my railroad aimed at improving and enhancing operations.  Notable was the track realignment at RR-East Springfield ( aimed at clearing a chronic source of derailments.  Another project created moveable track assignment tags ( use by yard crews.  Both projects needed testing by my operating crew.  I am happy to report both enhancements were resounding successes!

No new trouble tags were generated at RR-East Springfield.  This marks clearing a major trouble spot.  The moveable track use tags received even more glowing reports. The yard crews working in both the Eugene Classification Yard and the Eugene Arrival/Departure Yard were quite enthusiastic about those tags.  Switch crews no longer needed to refer to the car card slots with their destination tags or ask the Yardmaster.  As noted in the earlier blog post on this topic, the ends of these yards are away from the car card slots.  Indeed, they asked for additional destination tags to cover destinations or classifications not provided in the initial set of tags.  They also resolved the question of label tape format.  Conventional black lettering on a white background was more easily read and comprehended than white letting on a black background.

Chuck C. (near) and Brigg F. (far) work both ends of the Eugene Classification Yard.  Destination track tags are placed at the near end of tracks 2 and 3 (Right to Left count).  Indeed, two destinations have been designated for Track 2.  In the far distance to the right of this view, a through freight effortlessly passes through the RR-East end of Springfield.

The Eugene Arrival/Departure Yard crew (Santa Clara Tower job) composed of Scott B. and Craig P. is all smiles as they keep their work organized and efficient through use of the track tags.

While the big news of the just-completed 33rd full operation of my SP Cascade Line was the improvement made by this pair of operations enhancements, the rest of the operation provided plenty of enjoyment and satisfaction for the full crew.  Herewith additional photos from this Groundhog Day session.

Early in the session, the Oakridge Turn worked Westfir (left, lower) on its way back to Eugene.  Meanwhile, the LABRT crosses over Salt Creek Trestle (right, upper) as it descends toward Eugene and then Portland (SP BRooklyn Yard).

An EULAY winds its way around the Marcola Branch area on its way up the mainline toward Westfir and Oakridge.  The S-curve in the mainline is a favorite railfanning spot.

Tom D. and Jim M. work the Springfield-A job on the depot side of the mainline at Springfield.  The Springfield jobs are split by the mainline and phased to keep both the mainline and a passing siding clear for mainline traffic.

The EUKFY works through Westfir on its way to Oakridge while traffic on the mountain grade is at Wicopee and working through Tunnel 12 and Salt Creek Trestle.

The EUKFY gets a helper placed mid-train in Oakridge.  Dick K. serves as the helper engineer.

The helper power is removed from the EUKFY at Cascade Summit.  At Dispatcher's discretion, this move often is most easily done by using the Lake Siding (outer edge--left), allowing easy access for the helper into the Beattie Spur (actually a double-ended siding) where it can rest awaiting Dispatcher permission to return downhill to Oakridge.

A helper set returns light downhill crossing Shady Creek Trestle.

As my railroad, equipment, track, and operations mature, I find myself hosting full operating crews to the point where I must turn away late responders to the crew call.  This is a happy condition to be in!