Tuesday, August 31, 2021


With the long-delayed mainline track revision in the throat area of RR-East Eugene completed, I turned to the open space against the wall hemmed in by the new mainline tracks between the Eugene depot area and the fanning-out of the departure end of the Arrival-Departure Yard.  I always planned to develop more Eugene industry in this area, but awaited the completion of the mainline track.


A new industrial siding parallels the mainline track through this area.  This track is accessed at the depot end via one of the double-slip switches installed as part of the mainline track effort.  The other end of the industrial siding connects to the “Halsey Branch” which runs along the wall beside the departure end of the Arrival-Departure Yard.  The RR-East turnout along this siding was installed with the access switch that helps form part of the Halsey Branch.  The remaining track and turnouts were left to be determined once I had a clear idea of the space.  


I left this part of the planning undetermined in my original track plan.  “There be industries.”  I have learned over time to leave some spaces of a layout undesignated to allow them to artistically “speak” to the designer (me).  I needed a sense of the three-dimensional space, aided by a couple of building mock-ups.  I settled on adding six industrial spurs off the siding.  


New industrial siding with six turnouts for spurs alongside the pair of main tracks joining the Eugene Arrival-Departure Yard to the Eugene Depot area (behind and to the right).


With space for more industry, the task of picking those industries proved both interesting and challenging.  I wanted to stay true to Eugene, but the second largest city in Oregon provides a lot of industry variety for selection.  


A couple of industries were identified throughout the long design and construction phases for this layout—a couple of decades now.  Nabisco had a bakery warehouse closer to the depot, but I could not fit it in there.  Still, I wanted Nabisco on this layout.  The photo above shows a Walthers “Magic Pan Bakeries” kit box (933-2915) just poking into the right side of the photo.  That is where something using those kit pieces will eventually emerge.  In the middle of the photo and industrial siding are sides from the Walthers “R.J. Frost Ice and Storage” kit (933-3020) that will become Eugene Freeze.  I have always liked this kit structure.  It fits well in many areas of the country, including here in Oregon.  Ordinarily, I resist using stock Walthers structures.  They appear on many, many layouts.  I hope I can modify these enough to at least show they are not stock, out of the box.


Another industry that commended itself to me is the partially-assembled Campbell plastics manufacturer—the olive-green structure in the photo.  I started building this kit many years ago.  Campbell designed this structure as a lift-slab (sides) building with a bow roof.  This is very common mid-century industrial architecture on the West Coast, so it fits well here. Little did I realize when I started this kit and picked a color scheme that the green would fit well in Eugene.  The University of Oregon (boo-hiss—I am an OSU Beaver!) colors are green and gold, so a lot of structures around Eugene pick up on that.  Maybe this is a plant making little rubber duckies!  <wink>


With three of the six sidings determined by both Eugene industry research and existing structure kits, the other three need something different.  From days gone by, I recalled a “petroleum row” north of the Eugene downtown.  Those bulk oil dealers are no longer there, replacing railroad service with pipelines and trucks.  Still, bulk oil dealers were a staple of railroading for much of the Twentieth Century.  With the bulk oil dealers no longer showing on SP (SPINS) track charts of 1977, I needed to look elsewhere.  I conferred with one of my regular crew members living in Eugene, a retired SP engineer.  He and his wife confirmed my memories and suggested a couple of dealer names and oil brands.  I subsequently found a Eugene City Planning Department historic document that added to my understanding of this now-absent industry.  One of the spurs will serve two or three dealers, just as they did back when they were rail served.


Another industry was identified when I consulted my model railroad “brain trust.”  I posed a question to several fellow modelers, particularly the few with strongly prototype-based layouts.  One came back to me with an excellent suggestion—survey my freight car fleet to identify if any car type had under-represented industry on my railroad.  That quickly led to my identification of mill gondolas as that under-used car type.  At least one steel fabricator was identified and another is either a fabricator or scrap yard feeding steel scrap to a steel mill near Portland.  I will place a steel fabricator on the spur at the RR-East end of the industrial siding, tightly alongside the wall.  


The final industry spot floated around in my head for a while.  I had a number of possibilities, including another bulk oil dealer spur or perhaps one of the many wood products mills in town.  I decided I did not need to add still more oil dealers, letting the single spur with two or three dealers suffice.  I disposed of the wood products mills as they consume a lot of space and I already have three large mills represented on my railroad.  Looking at the SPINS track charts again, I spotted the Bi-Mart warehouse.  Bi-Mart is an Oregon-based retailer much like Costco, but definitely local to Oregon. Home base is Eugene.  We frequently shop at Bi-Mart.  We have a funny story concerning our daughter’s “discovery” of Bi-Mart during her Freshman year at OSU.  Parents can’t tell a teen anything!  Bi-Mart has earned its way onto this railroad!


While I was settling the industries, I still needed to fabricate the turnouts and build the industrial spur.  I use FastTracks tooling for my turnouts.  This time, instead of confining the rails to that needed to fill out a FastTracks switch tie block, I chose to extend the rails on both ends.  I have noted with more recent turnout installations that I get better results with a bit more rail extending from the turnout, particularly on the point end.  This time, I chose to extend the rails enough that I could join them together and not need any additional track to complete the industrial siding.


I had some FastTracks flex ties from a prior project, but I needed more ties for this project.  Instead of the flex ties, I selected both fixed (straight) and flexible “Quick Sticks” tie blocks.  These have groups of five ties separated by spaces to insert and use a pc-board tie to maintain rail gauge.  This took some assembly planning on my part.  I needed to glue the rails to the ties, just like the switch blocks, but then cut out the connecting web to allow insertion of the pc-board ties.  I also needed to account for the gentle curve needed between a pair of the turnouts—an area using the flexible “Quick Sticks.”  


Underside of track sections extended from the switch tie block using “Quick Sticks” ties.  The upper track has had the gap webbing removed and the underside of the rail cleared of paint to allow insertion and soldering of a pc-board tie.  The lower track still has the webs in place.


I formed the curved track section in place, gluing it and fixing it with a hot soldering iron (heats and vulcanizes the Pliobond adhesive).  I used both three-point track gauges and “RibbonRail” curve fixtures to assist this process.  Once that set, I removed the turnout and track and removed the blank space webbing.


Once all the turnouts and extended tracks were mounted on their ties, I needed to mount them on the cork roadbed.  This was done with adhesive caulk, as with the rest of my railroad.  I marked all the gaps for pc-board ties and made sure the caulk was not present in those areas as I spread it elsewhere to fix the ties to the roadbed.  I chose to mount turnouts one, three, and five first, and then follow up with the other two, fitting them to the already installed turnouts.  


Initial dabs of caulk adhesive laid before spreading in place and then mounting the turnout and extended tracks.


The track is now installed for this industrial siding, although I do need to install the pc-board ties.  I move next to installing switch machines, controls, and track wiring.  I also need to install the rest of the spurs, for which I will use regular flex track.  I also can begin fabricating the industrial structures for this busy section of railroad.

Sunday, August 1, 2021


August 1 marks the anniversary of the start of construction on my SP Cascade Line.  Each year I conduct a photo survey of the railroad to document progress.  Last year’s survey may be viewed at:  https://espeecascades.blogspot.com/2020/08/the-railroad-at-year-eight.html  You can work back from that post through preceding years.  


While the past year has seen challenges, a major track project finally extended the WP Siding from in front of the Eugene Depot to fully one side of the reverse loop staging and arrival-departure yard.  This project was suggested originally by retired SP railroaders Tom Dill and Rick Kang at the first full operating session in June 2015.  You will see in this year’s photos that project required five double slip switches.  That completely explains the delay in accomplishing this track rearrangement.  Double slip switches are not something one should add to a model railroad lightly.  


Noting the genesis of that track project also brings a sad moment, as I reflect upon the loss of two of my core crew and the health challenges faced by others.  We lost Chuck Clark to heart issues at the beginning of lockdowns in March 2020.  Chuck was the foundation stone of our mid-Willamette Valley operating group.  This past spring, we lost Tom Dill to cancer.  My blog post on Tom attempted to convey his impact:  https://espeecascades.blogspot.com/2021/04/tom-dill.html  Still with us, but facing severe health challenges is Rick Kang.  Rick contributed mightily to the operating scheme on my railroad.  He has educated a great many of us on SP operating practices and the art and practice of railroad dispatching.  Each of these men and others have had a huge impact on my model railroad experience and I greatly miss their presence in my basement during operating sessions.


The railroad continues to roll and see enhancements.  Follow along as Amtrak Number 11, the southbound Coast Starlight, makes its way over my railroad.


AMTRAK No. 11 exits staging track #1 (representing traffic from Portland) and pulls over the first double slip switch that helps form two main tracks between the staging yard and the Eugene Depot.


The full scope of the track rearrangement at East Eugene.  Five double slip switches were required to establish a second main track while maintaining full access to Eugene Depot tracks and a developing industrial siding—seen here with switch tie plates placed in their future locations.


Befitting its status on the railroad, No. 11 has taken the main track at the Eugene Depot.  Typical of the SP, the main track is displaced one or more tracks over from the depot.  In the case of Eugene, the track closest to the depot is the “WP Siding” (reference is to the company name used to construct the Coos Bay Branch).  As seen in the previous photo, both the main and the WP siding now extend fully to the departure side of the arrival-departure yard.  Also notable in this view is the Eugene freight station, completed during the past year and a half.


As AMTRAK No. 11 rolls out of Eugene, it passes the Crown Zellerbach warehouse and the Eugene Planing Mill.


No. 11 crosses the Willamette River and into Springfield, passing the former Borden Chemical plant along the river.


At Springfield, No. 11 passes the under-construction Springfield Depot.  The depot kit is of an SP Type 18 depot produced by the Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society.  We also get a view of the industry developing in Springfield.


No. 11 passes alongside sheds that are part of the extensive Rosboro Lumber Company facility in Springfield.


Rounding the curve at the end of the Springfield peninsula, No. 11 rolls by industry on the Marcola Branch.  The Neste Resins wood chemicals plant continues development.


No. 11 passes the former Western Lumber mill at Westfir and then crosses the North Fork of the Willamette River before plunging into Tunnel 22 and into Oakridge.


At the RR-East end of Oakridge, No. 11 takes the main and passes another RR-West freight waiting for it in the Oakridge Yard.  The freight has its mid-train helpers entrained and is ready to follow AMTRAK up into the mountains.


No. 11 continues to roll through Oakridge.  Both a through freight and the Oakridge Turn (local freight) await AMTRAK’s passage.  One of the tasks of this past year was to paint much of the exposed track on the railroad.


No. 11 passes under Montieth (aka, Rooster) Rock.


No. 11 crosses Eagle Creek on its way out of McCredie Springs.


Halfway up the Cascades climb, No. 11 rolls through Wicopee and out over Salt Creek Trestle.


No. 11 crosses Noisy Creek Trestle and passes through Tunnel 9 on its way into Cruzatte.  Wicopee is down below, on the right.  


No. 11 passes the company village at Cruzatte.


Just beyond Cruzatte, No. 11 crosses over Shady Creek Trestle, the third major steel viaduct on the line.


No. 11 completes the climb to Cascade Summit after passing through Tunnel 3, the Summit Tunnel.


At the other end of Cascade Summit, No. 11 rolls by the wye with its unique single-ended tunnel for the tail track.


Our journey is complete as AMTRAK No. 11 takes it habitual spot on the outside track of the Crescent Lake staging loop.


The big effort this past year involved completing the second main track at RR-East Eugene.  Four of the five double slip switches were installed and wired to a new control panel this past year.  The railroad has been brought back to life—carefully—after the shutdowns of the previous year and a half.