Friday, August 26, 2022


Casting about for summer projects, I decided to tackle more trees for my forest.  I settled upon “furnace filter” speared onto trunks as my basic construction technique for Douglas Fir—the dominant tree in Western Oregon.  I described the technique in my first post on this topic:


I settled on using tree materials from Coastmans Scenery Products:  Coastmans supplies finished trees, tree kits and separate materials:  trunks and branch material.  So far, I have just used the kits, but am about to move to using just the trunks and branch material (mat) as I don’t need much of the other material in the kits, at least for trees well into my forests.  


My first efforts toward making Douglas Fir models were a bit disappointing.  Following instruction by Roger Rasmussen at the 2018 NMRA_PNR Convention in Portland, I split the branch mat material into thin slices before gluing them to the tree trunks.  My efforts left a bit too much space between the disks such that the trees really did not capture the bulk of foliage I see all around me here in Oregon.  That left me disappointed and led to the long wait until this second effort.  As with most artistic ventures, one learns by doing.  I just needed to move that process along.


My earlier blog post (O Tannenbaum!) describes the basic procedure, but I will briefly recap here.  Working over oven pans to capture and control the ground foam that sheds from the branch material mats, I tore suitably sized “disks” of material.  Actually, the “disks were more like squares, but they get further shaped by tugging on the mat material and later trimming it on the developing tree.  I used an awl to poke a hole in the center of each “disk” and then slid the disks down onto the trunk, gluing them in place with white glue.


Making trees.  Working over oven pans helps corral the ground foam shed from the branch material mats for reuse as flocking.


Once the branch material glue sets, further trimming with scissors helps shape the tree.  Spray adhesive is applied and then the ground foam is sprinkled liberally upon the tree “branches.”  Upon reflection, my first effort spaced the branch disks a bit too far apart.  I also did not apply quite as liberal a coating of ground foam as I did on this second round.  As I expected, I needed to augment the flock from the tree kits with more ground foam.  Coastmans uses Woodland Scenics Conifer green Coarse Turf (T1366) on the branch mats, so it is easy to augment the ground foam supply.


Flocking the tree branches.  The three trees on the left have been flocked.  The three on the right are ready for flocking.  Note the space between the thin branch disks on the second tree  from the right.  The flocked trees had similar gaps.


The trees for Round Two.  Most are nine inches tall.  The two in back are eleven inches tall—still short for old growth Douglas Fir.  Both are suitable for layout scale.


I am much happier with my second effort at tree making.  The keys to success were a bit closer spacing of the branch mat disks on the trunks and a more liberal dusting of turf “flocking.”  With this success, I am ready to start my production line.  Think thousands of trees….

Saturday, August 6, 2022




August 1 marks the anniversary of the start of construction for my SP Cascade Line.  It is now ten years since I began this construction and operations adventure.  I do an annual photo survey of the railroad at the beginning of August each year to document my progress.  Last year’s photo survey may be found at:  From there, one can work back through the years to the beginning in 2012.


This past year’s effort was that of consolidation following the installation of the long-awaited second main line between the Eugene Arrival-Departure Yard and the Eugene Depot area.  Structures were the theme.  That new main line track fixed the space available alongside it for industry.  I succeeded in filling the six new industrial spurs with structures before activating service to those spurs--no folded index card signs this time around!  I also completed construction of the Springfield depot using a recent laser-cut kit produced for the Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society.


This year we will follow an RVEUY (Roseville to Eugene manifest freight) as it treks over the railroad from Crescent Lake to Eugene.  This is a RR-Eastbound move as it is away from corporate headquarters in San Francsico.


SP 7308 East begins its journey over the Cascade Subdivision of the Oregon Division as it leaves Crescent Lake.  This twelve-track reverse-loop staging yard represents the RR-West (geographic south) end of my railroad.  The yard is laid on panels suspended from the ceiling.


SP 7308 E rolls through Cascade Summit.  No need to stop here, as our locomotive units are in good shape, especially their dynamic brakes.


Winding our way down-hill through tunnels and rock sheds, we cross the first of three large steel viaducts at Shady Creek.  This scene also shows McCredie Springs on the lower deck, separated by about 2.5 feet of elevation.  Total railhead climb on my model railroad is a bit over three feet.


After the Shady Creek trestle, we roll through Cruzatte.  In days of steam power, this was a mandatory wheel cooling stop as light brake-shoe pressure was set at the summit.  With dynamic brakes we do not need to set those brake-shoe retainers so we keep moving.


Perched between two tunnels and rock sheds, Noisy Creek is the second of the large steel viaducts on the line.


Salt Creek Trestle is the third, longest and final of the large steel viaducts we cross on our way downhill.  This trestle crosses both Salt Creek and Oregon Highway 58—the Willamette Pass Highway,


After crossing Salt Creek Trestle, my railroad rolls through Wicopee.  I had to compromise during layout design to put the trestle on the opposite side of this important siding.  Wicopee is the mid-point in the climb up from Oakridge to the summit.  It was a habitual water stop with steam locomotives.  It still has an active water tower to support forest fire fighting.


Montieth Rock, also known as Rooster Rock, is an interesting volcanic plug below McCredie Springs.


Salmon Creek is just outside Oakridge.  The track on a temporary “bridge” in the foreground leads to the Pope and Talbot mill on the geographic east side of Oakridge.


SP 7308 E continues to roll through Oakridge.  Oakridge was the historic steam helper station at the base of the climb up over the Cascades.  While the SP closed it down when steam was replaced by diesels, I retain it as my helper station.  The rear of the Oakridge Turn local freight train is in the foreground.  This tends to be a big train as it serves the two big sawmills that bracket Oakridge:  Pope and Talbot and the former Western Lumber at Westfir.  We see the Pope and Talbot loads at the rear of the train.


Our train crosses the North Fork of the Willamette River as it exits Tunnel 22 from Oakridge and enters Westfir.  The former Western Lumber Company mill was owned by the Edward Hines Company in its final years of operation.


SP 7308 E swings around industry on a branch on the geographic east side of Springfield.  The old agricultural business is being replaced by forest products industries such as Neste Resins (now Arclin).


Continuing into Springfield, we pass the large Rosboro Lumber mill, still very much active.  I had to selectively compress my models of prominent structures of the mill complex.


SP 7308 E continues to roll through Springfield past the Springfield Depot.  The delightful Queen Anne style depot has been moved and preserved to serve the Springfield Chamber of Commerce.  I was delighted when the SPH&TS produced a kit for this depot plan—the second most common depot plan on the SP.


We cross the Willamette River on our way from Springfield into Eugene.


SP 7308 E works its way into Eugene.


SP 7308 E passes the Eugene depot and freight depot.  The passenger depot remains in service for Amtrak.  My layout planning led to placing my classification yard in front of the depot scene.  This yard serves the industry physically modeled on my railroad.  It is very similar in function and size to the Blair Street yard which was the original yard at Eugene, before the large hump yard was built along the mainline with construction of the Natron Cutoff (toady’s Cascade Line) in 1926.


SP 7308 E completes its trek over the Cascade Subdivision as it rolls into the Eugene Arrival-Departure Yard.  Seen in the background are some of the new industry structures completed as part of the track project in this area over the past couple of years.


I hosted nine formal operating sessions and two small group sessions this past year, returning the railroad to its intended purpose.  The crews have been smaller than those of years past as everyone is more cautious and selective about activities.  Still, we have managed to enjoy the hobby!