Tuesday, June 30, 2020


The Marcola (Wendling) Branch leaves the mainline towards the geo-east end of Springfield and initially follows 28th Street north, serving several industries before arriving at the interchange with the Weyerhaueser Corporation.  Weyerhaueser's forest products mill in Springfield remains one of the larger shippers on the Cascade Line, but is simply rendered on my model railroad as the interchange tracks.  Several other industries along the line contribute significant traffic as well.  One of those is Neste Resins, formerly Chembond and originally Central Processing Company, beginning in 1960.

I chose Neste Resins as one of the industries on my Marcola Branch both for its interesting chemical processing equipment and the fact that it remains in business.  The company was identified as Neste Resins in the 1977 SPINS (Southern Pacific Industry Numbering System) diagram, so that is what I have been using on my freight car forwarding waybills.  The Springfield Chamber of Commerce book I often refer to pegs the shift from Chembond to Neste Resins later than that SPINS diagram, so I may revise what I call this industry in both operating practice and the car movement documents.

The wood chemicals business represented by Borden Chemicals and Neste Resins (Chembond) on both ends of my Springfield area extracts resins from wood for use as adhesives and bonding agents.  Think plywood glue and bonding agents for hardboard, chip board and oriented strand board.  The wood chemicals business is an important part of the forest products business served by the Cascade Line.

My Chembond/Neste Resins plant occupies significant space within the turn-back loop at the end of my Springfield peninsula.  With the long break from operating experienced this Spring, I have been filling blank industry spots such as this.  Indeed, this one is the last major space needing something more than a folded index card sign.

Chemical plants such as Chembond are both visually interesting and challenging modeling subjects.  For the similar Borden Chemical plant at the other end of Springfield, I was able to adapt refinery structures and cracking towers from Walthers and Vollmer.  I needed something different for Chembond/Neste Resins.  Once again, I looked to petrochemical refinery models.  This time I selected kits from Walthers (United Petroleum Refining, 933-3705), Pikestuff (various structures), and Plastruct (various tanks and a refinery kit).  

The size and complexity of this wood chemicals facility dictates my model efforts will stretch over considerable time.  This initial report covers the core of the processing facility and a start at the rail interface.  A major modeling resource was found in Google Earth.  I used both the satellite view for overall layout of the plant and the street view to get a better sense of the shape and size of various components.

Chemical Engineers will need to suspend their technical knowledge of plant processes and understand that my model effort is directed at being "representative and impressionistic."  For this first effort, I used the Walthers refinery kit mostly for the refining towers, piping, and intercooler.  I cut down the central refining tower of the kit to better match what I was seeing in the street-view pictures.  I eliminated the tall stack of the kit and will use Plastruct parts to fill that spot at a later date.  My cut-down refining tower led to changes in the use of the kit tower platforms, ladders, and piping.  

Overview of the initial core of my Chembond/Neste Resins plant.  Sample photos from Google Earth for the satellite view and street view are in the foreground.  The green structures on the right appear to be for covered hopper loading. The initial central tank farm is in front of the modified refinery model.

Refinery elements are on the left.  The central refining tower was cut down and the platform and piping arrangement modified to fit the reduced structure.  The intercooler is between the refining towers and the tank farm.

The Walthers refinery kit includes etched brass handrails for the refining tower platforms.  This is a nice touch as it provides for fine detail that is not easily destroyed by an inadvertent sleeve or elbow impact.  Following the kit instructions, I found it easy to establish the desired curve for the handrails to fit the curved platforms.  I attached the brass handrails to the plastic platforms using canopy glue which has become my favorite way to join such dissimilar materials.  

Handrails being applied to the refining tower work platforms.

Ladder cages were attached to the ladders before the parts were painted and then removed from the casting sprue.

The central tank farm for my facility was built using Plastruct "oil" tanks.  Plastruct kits are a bit of a throw-back to an earlier era of model railroading.  They are mostly a bag of raw parts and shapes.  Think of these kits as a collection of scratch-building materials one can use to fabricate the desired structure.  The tanks are nothing more than PVC (or ABS) pipe to which various parts are attached.  The first step in building the tank models was to scribe the weld lines.  I found my old X-Acto miter box quite handy for the scribing process.

Scribing a Plastruct tank tube.  I could insert a knife blade into the saw kerf of my miter box to make the horizontal scribes.  The wall of the miter box was used as a guide for the vertical scribes.

Plastruct appears to be in the process of moving from their long-time location in California to an address in Illinois, perhaps signaling a company ownership switch.  Unfortunately, this shift has interrupted the supply of Plastruct kits such that I could not obtain a third kit for the larger tanks I used.  Fortunately, I had that same diameter PVC tube in a different Plastruct tank kit that I could claim for this project.  I was able to scratch-build all the other parts I needed while claiming a pair of valve castings from the Plastruct refinery kit I will use for parts for one more refining tower and associated tanks and parts.

The central tank farm for my wood chemical facility.  

The final element of my initial construction for Chembond/Neste Resins was the covered hopper loading shed.  My references for this were the Google Earth satellite view and what I could see of other structures for the facility that were closer to the street.  I used a pair of Pikestuff structures--their small engine house (541-5000) and the pre-fab warehouse (541-4).  These kits are intended to be modified by the user although I generally followed helpful wall opening outlines cut into the inside of the walls.  

Covered hopper loading shed and attached warehouse.

Overview of the initial core of my Chembond/Neste Resins wood chemical plant.

I finally have made a start on modeling the Chembond/Neste Resins facility on the Marcola Branch.  There are lots of tanks, a bit more refinery gear and several structures that are needed, but the core already shows this area of previously blank plywood is now the home of a chemical plant.

Monday, June 22, 2020


At the center of individual car movements on my railroad are operations in the Eugene Yard.  The Eugene terminal area includes the Arrival-Departure Yard which is controlled by the "Santa Clara Tower."  https://espeecascades.blogspot.com/2019/07/santa-clara-tower-operations.html  Contained within the Arrival-Departure Yard is the still-developing engine facility which includes tracks for servicing diesels and now includes the turntable originally installed to serve steam locomotives.  https://espeecascades.blogspot.com/2020/02/eugene-turntable-2-turntable-bridge.html  Located in parallel with the Eugene Depot tracks is the Classification Yard, the subject of the current discussion.

My Eugene Classification Yard is double-ended and eight tracks wide.  It roughly corresponds to the historic Bailey Street Yard along the Coos Bay Line in the Eugene terminal area.  This yard served the local industries in Eugene while the hump yard classified cars for outbound trains and broke down in-bound trains for most of Western Oregon.  One of my layout design decisions was to choose not to model the major yard complex, but instead concentrate on serving the on-line industry of the modeled railroad.  That led me to my eight-track Classification Yard.  

A normal full crew working my Eugene Yard consists of a Yardmaster and two switch crews who work the Classification Yard.  They coordinate operations with the Arrival Departure Yard which is usually staffed with the Santa Clara Tower Operator who serves as the Yardmaster of that part of the yard complex and a switcher who assists in making up and breaking down the road freights.  As my engine terminal develops, I expect to add a hostler for locomotive movement duties.  

The Eugene Yardmaster plays a critical role in managing the overall activities of the yard, choosing classification designations for the eight yard tracks, changing those designations as needed for the current classification work.  With only eight tracks, the Yardmaster never has the luxury of permanent destination designations for the tracks.  Indeed, there are times when multiple destinations will be assigned to a single track.  The Yardmaster can use label tabs which fit between the rails.

Classification underway with Track 5 designated for Los Angles cars and Track 6 for Roseville.  These are the two largest destinations for outbound cars on my railroad.

The Classification Yard builds local freights and breaks them down when they return to Eugene.  It also classifies blocks of cars which arrive in road freights at the Arrival-Departure Yard. Activities ebb and flow as trains arrive or depart.  The photos below illustrate a typical cycle of movements.

The Eugene Yard at the start of a shift.  Two locals have arrived on the City Yard tracks and await break-down by the yard.  Small blocks of cars for local jobs are gathered on several yard tracks.

We will do most of our yard work with the RR-West Switcher, with SP3851 assigned today.  Full operations include an East Switcher as well.  Assignments for each are determined by the Yardmaster.

The first order of business for our switcher is to remove the caboose from each train.

The inbound local train's power pulls away from its train and heads to the engine facility for servicing.

Our switcher works the RR-West end of the Classification Yard, switching cars onto appropriate designated tracks.  

As the cars are placed on their classification tracks, the Yardmaster ensures their movement documents--the car cards and waybills--end up in the correct sorting box.  When the inbound trains have been sorted, classified blocks of cars are transferred to the Arrival-Departure Yard.  That yard has tracks habitually designated for the major outbound destinations.  The A-D Yard Switcher usually switches the sorted car blocks from the Classification Yard onto the proper destination tracks.  

An important move in and out of the Classification Yard is the wood chip traffic for the Halsey Branch.  Construction of the Branch is underway yet.  For now, the wood chip cars are handled as block swaps of loads for empties.

Another important block swap concerns the outbound classification blocks previously noted and the inbound block of local traffic.  The local traffic includes both loads and empties for the modeled industry on my railroad.  This move typically comes off of A-D Yard track 12, nominally identified for Eugene cars, but lumber empties are also gathered on that track by the A-D Yard crew.

The A-D Yard inbound cut has been split between tracks 6 and 7.  The A-D Yard switcher will couple to the outbound cut on Track 5 and will take it back to the A-D Yard to build trains for the major destination yards such as Los Angeles or Roseville.

An important task for the Yardmaster is to ensure all cars included in a local train packet have a "Spot Card."  A "Spot Card" ensures there will be a spot for that car at the designated industry spur.  If a car destined for an industry does not have a "Spot Card," it needs to stay in the yard until the next cycle--there is insufficient space at the industry for it.  This is a system I adapted from my friends in the Willamette Model Railroad Club.  They in turn adapted it from Lee Nicholas, a significant model railroad operations innovator in Corrine, Utah.

Finally, a pair of local freights have been built up and moved over to the City Yard tracks for departure.  The two trains there have their cabooses attached and are awaiting power and crews.

I have found a good balance of local train sequencing as well as road freights that fits the capabilities of my Eugene Yard and crew.  The yard crew is kept fairly busy for most operating sessions.

Monday, June 8, 2020


During this period of "encouraged" shut-in, I have continued to fill blank spaces in the Eugene and Springfield areas of my railroad.  The current gap-filling is with the Eugene Freight House.  The freight house was located near the Eugene passenger depot and train order station.  Back in the days of extensive railroad less-than-carload and express service, the Eugene freight house saw daily service.  Indeed, a regular baggage-express run had a car come down from Portland to Eugene for set-out at the freight house and then return to Portland in a subsequent First Class train.  By the 1950's, this service was provided by the Klamath, Trains 19 and 20, the mail and express train on the Shasta-Cascade Route.  

I struggled with a design for this freight house for many years.  A Walt Paschelke photo published in the Austin and Dill Southern Pacific in Oregon Pictorial showed the office end of the freight house and a narrow-angle view along the mainline track side.  The subject of that photo was a steam-powered relief outfit train on the main, but it also revealed important details of the freight house.  My search for additional photos or information kept drawing blanks.

Motivated by a presentation that was to have been made at the Eugene convention of the Pacific Northwest Region of the National Model Railroad Association, I decided to simply plow ahead with the modest information I had on hand.  This included the published photo, standard freight house planforms published in Henry Bender's Southern Pacific Lines Standard-Design Depots book, and various plans for SP Common Standard depot structures.  This last point provided a common architectural style with which to interpret both the photo and the freight house planforms.  

Using the Walt Paschelke photo of the office end and sighting along the trackside platform and a boxcar spotted at the freight house, I could estimate dimensions.  I chose a building 25 feet wide--a common SP standard for wood structures such as this freight house and combination depots.  I estimated the eave height at 18 feet.   Common Standard depot plans gave me a roof pitch at a 30-degree angle.  Those plans and the freight house planforms in Bender's book suggested freight doors spaced at 37 feet, which proved convenient for the length of building materials I was using.  I chose to model four freight bays and an overall building length of 160 feet which included a 25-feet long office.

Basic construction was relatively straight-forward for me using styrene.  I obtained a 24-inch long sheet of V-groove siding from Evergreen Scale Models that I cut out the sides from.  The ends were cut out from a similar sheet of more readily-available 12-inch long sheet.  Interior partitions were cut from 0.040-inch thick styrene sheet.  These helped maintain wall and roof geometry.  I used long sheets of 0.040-inch thick styrene for the sub-roof panels, but had to splice them for my desired length. 

Basic freight house construction.  The long interior walls are braced at the top and dock level and ridge-line bracing will support the roof.  The loading platforms were estimated at five-feet depth.  The sub-roof panels have been spliced to get the desired length.  The office has interior walls and the floor section, painted brown, is off to the right.

As usual with what appears to be a "simple" project, the "devil is in the details."  Easiest was the use of Tichy windows and the personnel door for the office.  I selected Tichy parts that were similar to SP practice--a tact taken with a number of commercial structure kits.  Looking at freight section ends of various depots, I decided I could use a long window high in the gable of the freight end of the building.  I pieced together four windows cut from a Tichy horizontal sliding window.  The office chimney was a Tichy part.  I added interior walls to the office section and even a floor with the office counter on it (the brown square to the right of the depot in the photo above).  I braced the walls and the ridge line of the building with 1/8-inch square styrene.

I chose asphalt shingles for this structure--a common choice as seen in photos of SP company structures in Oregon.  I used JTT Architectural Model Parts #97440, marketed by MRC.  One package with two 7.5 x 12-inch sheets was sufficient, although I did need to splice these for my full roof length.  Although the embossed shingle sheets were styrene and the sub-roof panels also were styrene, I chose to laminate these parts together using contact cement.  This gave me the working time I needed to position the shingle sheets on the sub-roofs.  

As seen in the Walt Paschelke photo, the roof overhang was cut down on the mainline side of the building, but left intact on the street side.  I used a five-feet roof overhang on the street side and for the ends.  I made simple eaves brackets from 0.040 x 0.060-inch styrene strip.  These were painted and added after the main building paint was applied, as they appear to be painted SP's trim brown.

I painted the structure using TruColor paint.  This was my first use of TruColor, although it handles very similarly to AccuPaint which I used several decades ago.  Water-soluble Floquil Polly-S acrylic paint is no longer available and my personal stash is growing thin.  I will reserve use of that stash for other areas of the layout that have structures painted with it already.  My Eugene and Springfield area is self-contained, so I will use TruColor for company structures in this area.  TCP-153 SP Colonial Yellow lives up to its reputation an excellent rendition of that color.  My judgement is reserved on TCP-164 SP Trim Brown, as I had difficulty with that color.  I blew right through the single bottle of it I had before I had even half of the parts I needed painted that color.  I wanted to keep this project moving along, so I switched to a suitable Polly-S color I had.  Taking a cue from Tony Thompson's "Modeling the SP" blog, I faded the TCP-154 Moss Green with white at about 4:1 when I painted the roof.  This matched well to my previous use of Polly-S Depot Olive.  One consequence of using TruColor paint is its gloss finish.  I needed to apply a flat finish to the mostly complete structure before installing the windows with their clear glazing.

I have found with SP structures that it is useful to paint the trim separately before applying it to the main structure.  Fortunately, there is very little trim on this freight house, especially for my desired 1950's appearance.  One item with considerable contrasting trim was the freight door design.  I painted the basic door sections SP Colonial Yellow.  I subsequently built up the trim which was painted brown, attaching it with canopy cement.  In concert with others (including Tony Thompson, from whom I got the inspiration), I find canopy cement a very useful adhesive.  It works like white glue, including its working time.  That was very useful when aligning trim boards on the freight doors.  I also applied the door frame and other trim to the main structure in the same way.

Trim strips being built up on the freight doors.

A final detail for this freight house was the roof-mounted "Southern Pacific Freight Station" sign.  I could just make out the end edge of such a sign in the Walt Paschelke photo.  Looking through Southern Pacific Lines, Pacific Lines Stations Volume 1, published by the Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society, I found Salem, Oregon, had a similar freight house with roof-mounted sign.  This made sense, as both cities were sizeable and had competition from the Oregon Electric (Spokane Portland and Seattle).  Indeed, the Oregon Electric Eugene passenger depot was only two blocks away from the Southern Pacific depot complex, so a roof-mounted sign identifying the SP made sense.  

I made a sign on cardstock using a standard font in PowerPoint.  I might have been able to find a more exact match to the type-face used on these signs, but what I have is close enough.  It appeared that the sign was white letters on a black background, framed with trim brown.  I laminated a pair of the signs printed on cardstock and then added styrene trim painted brown.  using the mounting system seen at Salem, the sign is supported on round posts (styrene rod on my model) above the roof ridge.  Diagonal braces formed with brass wire on my model lead outward on the roof.  Mounting and attaching this sign proved a bit challenging, but I eventually got it done. 

Completed Eugene freight house with roof-top sign.

The Eugene freight house, ready for business.  As with most of my Eugene scene, the freight house was built as a mirror-image of the prototype building.

I still need to weather my freight house and set it into the scene--much like the rest of my structures.  Still, I am enjoying having a structure with distinct SP common-standard architecture and standard SP colors occupying an important piece of real estate on my railroad.  In this case, I will even make a rare exception for me (an Oregon State graduate!) and accept the similarity of the SP colors to those of the state-rival institution in Eugene.  <wink>