Sunday, September 29, 2019


Continuing my construction of structures for the company "villages" located at stations up the hill on the Cascade Line, my attention turned to the small auxiliary structures supporting the main structures of the "village.  Most of the housing had a woodshed--a good fuel choice for these remote sites.  Wood for heating and cooking would be plentiful in the Cascades, especially given the 1926-27 construction date for these structures.  

Station plats and photos show a wood shed for each of the operator houses, the four-family bunk house for the section gang, and the section foreman and signal maintainer's houses at most stations.  A couple of sites, notably Wicopee and McCredie Springs, do not have wood sheds for the section foreman's house or signal maintainer's house (Wicopee). Instead these houses were built on a hill slope that provided room for the woodshed within the skirting underneath these houses.  I will build these structures, including the extended skirts at a later time.  For now, I needed thirteen woodsheds for the housing at Cascade Summit (7) and Cruzatte (6--no signal maintainer house).

ALW Lines kit SP 13 covers the standard wood shed.  My kits included a mix of old and new, with the older kits using peel-and-stick shingle strips and the newer kits using laser-cut plastic shingle sheets.  I much prefer the newer shingle sheets, but the older shingle strips work fine and provided a good place to use shingle-strip ends saved from the four-family bunkhouse project.

Woodsheds getting laser-cut shingle sheet roofing applied.  

My other small structure project built four four-hole outhouses for the section gangs.  ALW Lines kit SP 11 covers this structure.  Both the wood shed and outhouse are simple builds with four walls, a floor, two roof pieces and appropriate trim.  With its four doors and board-and-batten siding, the outhouse trim is a bit more involved, but the peel-and-stick trim makes the job easy.  My basic construction technique for these closed structures has me assembling a pair of walls with an interior corner post.  Two of these sets are then joined on top of the floor, with the roof pieces following after the glue sets on the wall-floor assembly.

Outhouse wall assembly.

Completed outhouses and woodsheds.

Section gang structure cluster at Cascade Summit.

The developing village at Cruzatte.

Although small, these structures are needed to complete their station scenes.  In all cases, I needed these structures to guide terrain forming.  Each of the station villages along the Cascade Line above Oakridge were built on hillsides that came down to track level.  In most cases, this means the wood sheds and outhouses are behind and slightly uphill from their respective houses.  I am close to completing my first full station sets of structures for the company villages.  This will allow me to form the base terrain behind these villages--an important goal for this overall project.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

VanRail 2019

One of the benefits of building a model railroad focused on operations and then using it to host regional operating events is reciprocal invitations to similar events.  I attended VanRail (Vancouver, BC) in 2017 and quickly placed it at the top of my "must do" operating event list.  This year's VanRail featured a dozen wonderful operating layouts.  I immediately responded to the invitation for VanRail 2019.  Last weekend we met in the Vancouver, BC, area for the 2019 edition.  

In addition to the gracious hosts, VanRail draws operators from all over North America, providing an opportunity to meet with old friends from past events and make new friends.  This is the social aspect of model railroad operations.

Many of the layouts of VanRail run using Timetable and Train Order (TT&TO) dispatching control and that certainly applied to all of the layouts I operated.  Fortunately, I am versed in TT&TO just enough (to be dangerous) from model railroad operations here in Oregon, so I looked forward to the fun.  All three of the layouts I operated on were at the top of my personal preference list for the event.  Two were new to me and one was a repeat--a reflection on the great time I had in 2017.  

VanRail began operations on Friday afternoon.  My assigned layout was John Green's Coquihalla Valley Railway. John models the Canadian Pacific line through this valley--one of the CP secondary lines in southern British Columbia. His modeling era is the mid 1950s, so we had lots of maroon and gray CP power.  I drew one of the road engineer jobs, as I wanted to experience as much of his mainline as I could.  I primarily ran through, but had major block swaps at the main yard at Brookmere.  

Bryn E. works the Brookmere yard on John Green's Coquihalla Valley Railway.  Just beyond Bryn and the yard is a two-track helix which provides serial staging in both directions through its turns.

The Coquihalla Valley features wood trestles and steel viaducts, and lots of tunnels. The backdrops are just enough detailed to convey the distant scene and support the immediate 3-D railroad model.

John Green's impressive steel viaduct and mountain rockwork.

Lead VanRail organizer Scott Calvert and his wife hosted a Friday evening social event at their house.  This gave me an opportunity to check Scott's progress since I last operated there in 2017. Scott models Canadian Pacific's Boundary Subdivision 2--another part of the CP lines in southern British Columbia. It formed part of a secondary mainline across the mountains of the area, gathering traffic from mines, timber and other natural resources.  

Scott Calvert's railway is headquartered in Nelson, BC, with this imposing depot serving as the subdivision's headquarters.  

My Saturday layout assignment was with Mike Chandler's Western Midland Railroad.  This was my much-appreciated repeat for VanRail.  Mike used a John Armstrong plan from the 1960's as the basis for his layout.  This is an "island" layout with operator aisles around the outside against the walls.  In spite of that older layout configuration, Mike's railroad works very well for formal operations.  He operates in 1938 with steam locos drawn from Colorado Midland prototypes and a few other sources.  Everything works like Swiss watches!  

Mike uses a Dispatcher--a retired CP Dispatcher--working remotely over the phone from Calgary.  This places the four train order operators in their proper roles as the Dispatcher's eyes and ears and deliverers of orders.  Other than the passenger train on the schedule, all other trains do at least some work on-line.  Typically for VanRail, one of the train order operators is drawn from the guest (Boomer) pool--a role I took in 2017, but deferred to others this time.  All of this was a lot of fun.

Mike Chandler's yards at Aurora (right) and Java (left) are joined through the turntable and roundhouse, but are otherwise separate.  One must run over the full railroad to get from one to the other. Mike's rockwork extends to the floor in many areas.

The other operator cul-de-sac on Mike Chandler's Western Midland includes the summit and a wye at Lofty.  I had a mine run that terminated at Lofty and had quite a tight squeeze fitting all of the cars into the mine and then leaving them on one leg of the wye.  Note the track diagram on the fascia.  All track controls are embedded in that full-size diagram.

Mike Chandler's craftsmanship shows in the sawmill scene at Neral.  This scene was fleshed out a bit more between my 2017 and 2019 visits.  The modeling is stunning--a feature of Mike's entire operation.

Saturday evening featured a buffet banquet, followed by a presentation on the Pacific Great Eastern Railway.  The PGE became the British Columbia Railway and eventually was absorbed into the Canadian National system.  I finally have a clear picture of this railfan favorite Railway, its service to the Province of British Columbia, and its connection to the North American rail network.

My Sunday layout operation was on Anthony Craig's CPR Kettle Valley Division.  This covered some of the same territory seen Friday on John Green's layout but with a concentration on CPs second mainline through southern British Columbia. Anthony operates in 1938, so I got a feel for CP steam operations on the secondary main.  I chose to operate in the road pool in the morning and then took on the Brookmere train order operator role in the afternoon.  That later position gave me a wonderful railfan perspective that I somehow missed when I was running trains in the morning. Unfortunately, I did not use my camera at that time.

Brookmere yard on Anthony Craig's CPR Kettle Valley Division.  Brookmere serves as the operational hub at the western end of the modeled railway.  The train order operator uses a desk just beyond the roundhouse.

One of the main operating aisles on Anthony Craig's layout.  Mainline runs are on both decks and both sides of the aisle. Anthony's railway presents a beautifully finished appearance--a delight to see trains working within.  Anthony sets a very high bar for the rest of us! 

Penticton serves as the other (eastern) end of Anthony Craig's modeled railway.  A way freight was kept busy here.

VanRail features great layouts run by wonderful people.  It is a delight to visit and have an opportunity to operate on their layouts.  The people interactions are great!  That combination has us "Boomers" (traveling railroad operators) wanting still more and promising to come back next time!  

I returned home Sunday night, tired, but enthused.  Indeed, I dug into my library to learn more about railway operations north of the 49th parallel.  That is a high tribute to our hosts.  Through their modelers' eyes, I gained a view of those railway operations--enough so that I want to learn more!