Thursday, January 27, 2022


Continuing to develop industry for the new spurs off the industrial siding at RR-East Eugene, I built up the core structures for the Nabisco bakery.  Photos and the SPINS (Southern Pacific Industrial Numbering System) diagram place Nabisco fairly near the Eugene depot.  That area on my layout has been occupied by other SP clients, also historically within that zone, so I chose to shift the location for Nabisco a little further away.  It occupies the closest industrial spur to the depot off the new industrial siding.


Core structure elements for the Nabisco bakery at RR-East Eugene.


Photos show the National Biscuit Company (the historic formal name of the company) as a concrete block structure with an office space facing a street perpendicular to the railroad.  My track layout has the spur at an angle to the backdrop, so I needed to deal with a partial building cut off at an angle along the backdrop wall.  I began by preparing a plot plan.  I laid out paper and then rubbed a pencil along the tops of the spur rails.  That gave me the space and the angle along the wall.  I used an NMRA gauge to establish building clearance from the wall.


Plot plan for the Nabisco bakery.  The near end is fixed at the end of the next industry spur and the rest of the Nabisco spur has been highlighted with a pencil rubbing of the rails.


I chose to use a Walthers “Magic Pan Bakery” (933-2915) as the core of my bakery model.  This structure kit is more modern than I would have preferred, but the core structure has the correct concrete block walls.  I used the modern flour silos which move product around with air pressure.  Consider this to be just one of several bent eras on my layout.  I chose not to use the kit office structure.  That kit section was just too modern for my intended model.  Instead, I fabricated a simple block wall structure for the face of the office section along the tracks.  My bakery consists of three main parts:  the flour silos and handling structure, the core bakery, and the office section.


The Walthers kit provides a quite adaptable set of modular walls for the bakery core.  One can assemble the walls in any configuration one might choose.  I chose to use the double freight door wall modules, but in retrospect, I should have chosen single door sections for the railroad freight doors.  I may revisit this core structure, but for now it fills the need.  I mitigated the door section oversight somewhat by extending slim freight docks out past the walls, spanning between the two doors of a wall section.  I cut a new base plate and roof from large styrene sheets, using the plot plan to establish cut lines for the back wall.  Similarly, I formed a new plain styrene back wall.  No detail is needed there!  I braced the walls with 0.125 x 0.125-inch styrene strip to maintain long straight walls.  I also installed three cross-braces as roof supports across the middle of the open span between the rail-side wall and the back wall.



Bakery wall sections assembly.  On the left is the next wall module.  Above the gap is the kit splice piece that fits into the miter joint along the ends of each wall module.


I used Pikestuff concrete block wall sections to form the walls of the office section.  The business “front” wall is only a small sliver.  I was able to use base plate and roof sections from the pieces cut off the styrene sheet for the core building.  That saved doing the angle geometry a second time.  This structure was built very similarly to the core building, albeit on a smaller scale.  


The flour silos and handling tower were built per the kit instructions.  The silos were formed as two halves with vertical seams joining them.  Much like joining model airplane fuselage halves as I did in my youth, I used tube styrene cement for the joints.  After this set, I applied putty as the joints were rough.  Fortunately, these silos have no weld lines or rivets, so sanding the putty to achieve smooth joints was relatively easy.  With the silo base painted a concrete gray and the silos white, I used canopy cement to mount the silos.  The doors and exterior stairs on the handling tower were painted a medium gray, so they too were added to the structure complex with canopy cement.  I found I needed to use gap-filling CA to add the piping, as I needed to have those joints solidify quickly.  


Nabisco bakery seen from the flour silo end.


I painted all major components white, as seen in photos that show pieces of the prototype bakery.  The roof sections were painted a dark gray.  They will receive weathering and additional roof top details when those pieces arrive on order.  Signs are planned, although the rail side of this complex normally would have minimal signage.  My operators will need signs, though.  For the moment, chalk this up as another major space filler in my developing RR-East Eugene industrial zone.


Saturday, January 8, 2022


I have now hosted fifty full operating sessions on my railroad!  In spite of Covid-19 precautions and limitations which significantly cut back on operating sessions over the past two years, I finally reached this milestone. 


Cutting the celebratory cake for my fiftieth full operating session.


Recounting how far I and my operating crew have come, the first test operations with more than myself took place on March 1, 2014.  Three of the four operators (other than myself) for that session were here for this fiftieth session.  That test operations ran from the Eugene Depot and classification yard through Springfield to Oakridge.  That was the extent of the mainline at that point.  


During that first test session, the Springfield Turn returned to Eugene with 28 cars.  That was way more than I expected for a local and was beyond the nominal design train length of a bit over 25 fifty-foot car plus power and caboose.  That immediately led splitting Springfield local services into two separate local turns.  A third Springfield area local was created for the Marcola Branch.  This pattern continues to today.  The fiftieth full session featured the “Springfield-B Turn” as the local serving that area.


The first operating session held on the full mainline was held June 6, 2015.  The Golden Spike marking completion of the mainline was driven on April 12, 2015.  The next two months 

were occupied by adding more tracks in the Eugene Arrival-Departure Yard and tidying up other details.  Once again, my original four test crew members were present as well as eight more.  Significantly added to the June 6 crew were three former Southern Pacific railroaders, from whom I learned a great deal.  Two of them came to me during that session noting I needed to “extend the WP Siding” into the Arrival-Departure Yard at Eugene.  That task finally was accomplished this past year as I dealt with the complex track-work (five double-slip switches!) and wiring.  


The fourth full operating session on my railroad was conducted on August 25, 2015 as part of the Operations Special Interest Group activities for the PDX2015 NMRA national convention in Portland.  Although my anxiety was high in advance of that session, the raw railroad performed well enough.  Helping that feeling was an experienced boomer crew of visitors from afar, half of whom were my former weekly lunch-mates from my working life near San Jose, CA.  I just made that deadline!


Since then, I have conducted nearly monthly operating sessions.  Our greater Portland area operating crew agreement has me taking the First Saturday slot.  That automatically eliminates July and September due to holidays.  This year I had to deal with the start of the new year, but I was able to slip a week to today’s session.  


The lock-downs of the past two years seriously delayed my reaching the fifty-session milestone, but we have figured out how to live with restrictions and health advice while still gathering to operate.  Viable vaccines proved a critical component, with all present being vaccine-effective.  A key adaptation has been reducing the crew size to as small as we can while still performing the normal required tasks.  The fiftieth session drew a crew of only ten, with several others dropping out in the preceding week with cold symptoms or other activities sprouting up with priority.  We had just enough crew to get the job done.  Thanks to the current health crisis, I have now tested the lower bounds of design crew size and found those design criteria were valid.


I look forward to many more operating sessions!