Friday, April 19, 2019


Continuing my development of the company "villages" located along the sidings of the Cascade Line, I turned to train order operator housing. During the era of Timetable and Train Order operations on the Cascade Line, the train order stations were continuously staffed.  Since those sidings were quite remote, the railroad needed to supply suitable housing for the three shifts of operators at each train order station.  

Once again, my efforts have been blessed by the kits produced by ALW Lines:  Specifically, kits SP22 and SP23 provide train order operator house with either a left (22) or right (23) porch addition.  The porches were added just a few years after the original line construction in 1926.  The left porch variant serves Wicopee, while the right porches were used at Cascade Summit. I will use left porches at Cruzatte and right porches at McCredie Springs, as well.

Cascade Summit village begins with the train order station and operator houses.

The ALW Lines kits feature laser-cut pieces for walls, roofs and trim, and Tichy plastic castings for the windows and chimneys.  My kits came with laser-cut shingle sections for the roofs. Construction of these kits is relatively straight-forward, though I found it useful to modify the assembly sequence a bit.  I also encountered an "oops" moment that I will describe below.  As with most kits, it is important to read the directions. Even then, one's experience may suggest slightly different assembly order.

During assembly, I found it useful to put the peel and stick door trim onto the door backs before I mounted those assemblies into the walls.  Doing so facilitated a small amount of trimming I found I needed to adjust the door height to more easily fit the door jamb hole. This became very important with the side porch outside door, as the door back width needed to be sanded down to better fit the porch width.  

My "oops" moment occurred when I started to fit the roof sections onto the assembled structure core.  I discovered that I reversed the positions of the two internal roof supports. One of these supports has a different lower profile on the front to support the front porch roof.  The difference is subtle, but real. Fortunately, I was able to remove my original mounting with the aid of a razor saw and then remount after a general cleanup of the removed parts and the ceiling/attic base.  Since the attic would be closed up when the roof sections were attached, I created simple triangular braces to remount the roof supports perpendicular to the attic base.  

Roof Support installation mistake.  The supports for the house on the left are correct.  The ones on the right are reversed in position.  Note the subtly higher right side needed to support the porch roof--correctly located on the left.

Correcting a mistake.  The roof supports have been re-mounted in the correct locations.  Triangular braces cut from the corners of some the kit frets have been attached to help keep the roof suports vertical and perpendicular to the attic base.  

One other significant assembly order alteration was needed.  I installed the Tichy windows before attaching the roof sections.  The front porch roof seals in that porch.  There is a window inside this porch that needed to be installed before the porch roof.  

To help indicate this housing is occupied and in use, I added simple roll shades to the windows of the core building.  I simply added small bits of paper to the inside of the windows with some height variation.  Canopy glue is a very useful adhesive!  During initial assembly I added basic interior walls to prevent a see-through effect. These two additions help bring the houses alive.

Two of the operator houses at Cascade Summit.  The house on the left has a window blind pulled all the way down. The night shift operator needs his sleep!

I used a craft paint antiquing acrylic to add mortar detail to the chimneys. I brushed the acrylic onto the chimneys and immediately wiped most of it off using a damp paper towel.  This left most of the mortar lines defined with a contrasting color (beige against dull brick red).

Cruzatte station village begun.

With two station sets of operator houses built, my company villages are beginning to take shape.  Indeed, I will use these structures to lay out the villages, adding terrain definition and foundations based on these completed structures.

Monday, April 8, 2019


Following my usual schedule of First Saturday operations, I just held my thirty-fifth full operating session.  In contrast to sessions earlier this year, this one had a light turnout, though just enough for all needed positions to be manned.  Operating session attendance ebbs and flows with no particular pattern that I can discern.  This session had quite a number of my regular operators down with various medical maladies--the impact of late winter bugs, I guess.

In spite of, or perhaps because of the smaller crew, this became a very successful session in spite of a derailment event toward the end of the session, recorded below.  With a low crew count, all but one local freights were run with single man "crews."  This may have been a contributor to the easy-flowing successful session.  There were less folk in the aisles and less distractions.  

In spite of the low crew count, we still doubled up on the Dispatching job, as Vic N. gains experience with the Direct Traffic Control system used on my railroad.  Vic dealt with the "valley" portion of my railroad between Eugene and Oakridge. Early on, he had heavy traffic with a couple of through road freights and the Oakridge Turn returning to Eugene via switching at Westfir.  This lead to a three-train meet at Springfield.

Vic N. and John B. work the Dispatcher's desk.  (David Lange photo)

Later on, more meets took place at Springfield, this time with one of the Springfield local freights in town.

Brigg F. and Craig L. work the First Springfield job (depot side of the mainline) while Jereon G. and Bill M. (just beyond the backdrop edge) guide their through freights through a meet at Springfield.

The Eugene Yard crew works, including the Eugene City Switcher, which serves the industries near the depot.

Meanwhile, other parts of the railroad saw plenty of action.  Included in that was a pair of private cars tacked onto the rear of Amtrak Number 14, the northbound Coast Starlight.  Salt Creek Trestle is a popular photo spot on my railroad.  

Amtrak Number 14 crosses Salt Creek Trestle with a pair of private cars tacked onto its rear.

Later on, an OAEUY (Oakland to Eugene manifest) crosses Salt Creek Trestle. Yes, the photographers were out and about!

Bill M. guides his train past Westfir and through the S-Curve into the Natron Block.  I continue to enjoy trains snaking through that S-Curve.

Craig P. held the Assistant Chief Dispatcher job for this session and did a very good job.  He successfully got crews assigned (crew caller part of his job) and got the traffic moved over the railroad, completing all trains on the twelve-hour line-up prepared for this session.

Rodger C. and Jim L. successfully got their train into Cascade Summit.

Toward the end of the session we had an operating event that nearly stalled the rest of the session.  A slight hiccup on the head-end power on a train climbing into Cascade Summit resulted in too much force applied by the mid-train helper, resulting in a derailment inside the Summit Tunnel.  This drew a crowd.  Accidents always do--grin.  Expecting such an occurrence (a derailment inside a tunnel), my fully-lined tunnels have removable side walls on the room wall side of the tunnels.  This still required me to reach up under the layout to remove the panels and then remove the offending cars.  This took a fair bit of bending and reaching on my part, but I eventually cleared the derailment.  Meanwhile, whenever I popped out from under the layout, I could see most of the operating crew nearby, "supervising" the activity.

I am bending to get in under the Summit Tunnel to clear the derailment inside the tunnel.  The rear half of the train has been reassembled to the right of the tunnel on the upper line, while the train crew watches from the platform.  (David Lange photo.)

A crowd has been drawn to the scene of the accident, but they grew bored and began watching activity still underway at Oakridge (lower level, left). (John Brock photo.)

The crowd of on-lookers could not resist the photo opportunity.  (David Lange photo.)

Eventually I pulled out the last car wedged into the tunnel.  (David Lange photo.)

Although one hopes not to have derailments in tunnels, the reality is that they will occur.  This was the first serious derailment inside a tunnel for my railroad and the first time I needed to remove a tunnel liner wall.  Nonetheless, I am happy I was able to clear the problem after fifteen minutes or so, albeit with a bit of contortion on my part.