Monday, August 31, 2020


After a month's break, work resumed on the Neste Resins (Chembond) wood chemicals plant in Springfield, served off the Marcola Branch.  My first post described the history and significance of the wood chemicals industry, with two such plants represented on my railroad.
That first post described construction of the refinery core of the industry using a Walthers oil refinery as the basis.  My next step involved adding piping and tanks--lots of tanks.

I began this phase by assembling more of the piping spine that runs through the facility.  This major pipe run is elevated and shows prominently in both satellite and street views of the facility.  A Walthers refinery piping set (933-3114) provides a suitable selection of four-wide pipe runs with various 90-degree bend sections and vertical supports for the overhead run.  Using the satellite view as a guide, I assembled two pipe runs to bracket the intercooler pipe set that is part of the central refining facility.  

Looking down the central pipe run spine for Neste Resins.

Surrounding the pipe run and grouped off the ends of the two runs are several tank farms.  I needed to scratch-build these tanks, as nothing suitable was seen in model railroad catalogs.  I needed narrower diameter tanks.  Taking a cue from the Plastruct tanks I built as part of the refinery core (described in the first post), I built my tanks from sections of PVC pipe.  I used two diameters, roughly 1-inch and 1.5-inch.  I cut suitable lengths for 16, 20 and 22 scale-feet tall tanks.  I capped both ends, just as done with the earlier Plastruct tanks.  I scribed weld lines, just as I had done with those Plastruct tanks.  The several tank farms of the facility consumed close to sixty scratch built tanks.

Painting the tanks silver and then a subsequent coat of flat finish revealed the printing on the PVC pipes bleeding through the paint.  Ooops!  Fortunately, I had attached the tanks with rubber cement to the tank farm bases, so I could pull them up easily.  A fresh coat of automotive primer and then silver and finally flat finish yielded properly finished tanks.  

I mounted the tanks on sheets of styrene edged with 0.125 x 0.250-inch strip representing retention berms.  I needed to adjust my plan for tank placement several times based on limited space at one end of my model facility.  Indeed, one of my tank farm pads saw three rounds of surgery as I wrestled with creating a suitable scene that included space for an access road to the tight end of the facility.

The "tight end" of the Neste Resins facility.  I had to adjust my tank farm arrangements of the three major groupings at this end of the facility compared to the satellite view.  The end effect remains--a lot of tanks to support the process.

At the broad end of the facility, I added the first of several buildings seen in the satellite and street views.  I used a Pikestuff Yard Office (541-16) as a representation of a building alongside one of the tank clusters at the south end of the facility.  More Pikestuff buildings are planned, but I grew weary of cutting window and door openings in the soft plastic used for the building sides.  I will just keep working on it over time.

Neste Resins seen from the south end of the facility.

My model of Neste Resins is a work in process.  It is a large, sprawling facility with many different parts.  As such it will take time to build the component pieces.  Still, enough of the facility has been built now that it is very recognizable as a major chemical industry served by the railroad.

Monday, August 3, 2020


The beginning of August marks the anniversary of construction start on my SP Cascade Line.  I mark the occasion each year with a photo survey of the railroad.  Last year's survey may be viewed at:   One can work back from there in prior posts to see what I have accomplished over each of the past eight years.  While Year Seven represented a bit of a construction pause, this past year has seen considerable filling in of previously open space with terrain at Cascade Summit and Cruzatte and a major structure effort in Eugene and Springfield.  

While the outside world shutdown this spring and summer, my model railroad world has seen considerable visible progress.  The construction start anniversary was an appropriate time to very carefully reach out to the first small group of regular operators.  Five of us met to hold an afternoon gathering, mostly on our patio for "Show and Tell" with distance and masking protocols observed.  We eventually went into the basement for about an hour's worth of operations.  Trains were moved and cars switched in Eugene.  This was the first time anyone other than myself or my wife has seen the positive production produced by "Safer at Home" policies.

Follow along with the 02-EUOAY (Eugene to Oakland Manifest freight) as we travel the full extent of the mainline.  Along the way, we will see my limited operating crew productively doing what the railroad was designed for--moving (simulated) traffic!

Our journey begins at the Eugene Arrival-Departure Yard.  The turntable was installed this past Fall and approach tracks laid.  Temporary roundhouse and garden tracks help show what is yet to come.  Sharp eyes might even spot something else on a roundhouse track pointing to the eventual goal of an equipment era shift.

Properly masked, regular operator Rodger C. pulls the 02-EUOAY out of the Oakland departure track and across the new double slip switch onto what is now labelled the "West Main."  An operational check of the new track alignment is this area was a prime goal for this limited operating session.

Rodger C. proceeds past the Eugene Depot with the 02-EUOAY.  Several new structures fill what previously were blank spots along the wall.  The Eugene freight house is in the distance, beyond (left of) the Eugene depot.  Our locomotives are running alongside the Zellerbach Paper warehouse and are about to come alongside the mock-up for the Eugene Planing Mill.  

With the departure of the 02-EUOAY, Santa Clara Tower Operator Dave H. pulls a long string of cars out of the Arrival-Departure Yard as Eugene Yardmaster Craig L. watches.  Yet another route through the new trackwork received an operational test.

Later on, Yardmaster Craig L. works on that string of cars, classifying them for the several local freight jobs served by this yard.

Tom D. pulls one of those locals (made up by a previous yard shift) through Springfield on his way to Oakridge.  Some of the roofs of the new Rosboro Lumber complex are in the foreground and National Metallurgical is at center-right.

Back to the 02-EUOAY and Engineer Rodger C.  Here he is running the train past the Rosboro Lumber complex at the RR-West end of Springfield.

Swinging around the broad turn-back curve at the end of Springfield, our train passes the developing Neste Resins (Chembond) on the Marcola Branch.

Our train passes the Western Lumber mill at Westfir on its way to Oakridge.

In Oakridge, our train takes the habitual track for RR-Westbounds.  The train is broken in two and the helper locomotives are being inserted mid-train.

The 02-EUOAY leaves Oakridge and starts the climb toward the top of the Cascades, here crossing Salmon Creek.

Our train continues its climb, passing Montieth Rock.  This scene is much brighter thanks to a string of LED lights installed this past year.

The 02-EUOAY continues the climb through McCredie Springs and over Eagle Creek.

The climb continues through the mid-point siding at Wicopee.  Company structures and water towers--mostly an anachronism for our 1984 equipment--have appeared.

The 02-EUOAY crosses the Salt Creek Trestle--a signature scene on the railroad.

Our train crosses Noisy Creek Trestle and enters Cruzatte.

Terrain at Cruzatte was installed this past year and the company village now has the context of an isolated spot high in the Cascades.

The 02-EUOAY is strung out through Cruzatte and is approaching the third large steel viaduct--Shady Creek Trestle.

Our train exits Tunnel 5 and one of the signature rock and snow sheds that protect the tracks on the Cascade Line.

The 02-EUOAY passes the section gang housing at the RR-East end of Cascade Summit.

The helper locomotive set is pulled off at Cascade Summit near the water towers, Train Order Operator housing and station.  Terrain rises up behind the track, filling in a major gap on the railroad.

The 02-EUOAY has been put back together after removing the mid-train helpers and completes the journey by entering the RR-West staging at Crescent Lake.

Looking back on the past year, I am pleased to report accomplishments include installing the turntable and approach tracks in the middle of the reverse loop staging and arrival-departure yard at Eugene, adding quite a few structures in the Eugene and Springfield area, and nearly completing the base terrain forming with efforts at Cruzatte and Cascade Summit.  The railroad has industry to serve and mountains to climb.  I celebrated this construction anniversary by carefully hosting a small group of model railroad friends for the first time since March.  The railroad benefitted from the break in operations.  I just kept building structures through periods that otherwise would have been devoted to preparing the railroad for operating sessions.  It also benefitted from the clean-up and maintenance that prepared for this anniversary.  Finally, the new trackwork received its first operating test by folk other than me, the builder.  Onward!