Sunday, August 27, 2023


Most model railroaders set up an assembly line at some point in their work.  Owners of large model railroads such as myself often resort to assembly line techniques.  My current examples involve trees and a bit of boxcar assembly on the side.  Building on my success with the initial forest planted in the Cruzatte scene, I attacked another large group of trees to both add to the Cruzatte scene and perhaps begin another scene.

Tree core assembly line in process.  Tree cores consisting of branch disks glued to the trunks are stored on Styrofoam slabs, awaiting the flocking process.  Eight more trees are underway in the middle of the picture.  In the distance is a separate work station where boxcar assembly is underway.


I have found it convenient to work on eight trees at a time.  I tear off coconut mat material for branch disks for all eight trees.  I typically prepare four of these disks for each tree, laying out all thirty-two such mat disks prior to punching a center hole with an awl.  I then glue each tree’s four disks in place with white glue and then repeat for the next tree.  The process is messy in common with many scenery processes.  


While the glue sets on eight trees, I move on to some other task.  Currently, one of those tasks is digging into my collection of SP boxcar kits to finally assemble them.  When the glue sets on the first group of four branch disks, I return for another set of four until I reach the top of the tree.  A rhythm develops as the learning curve makes for ever more efficient assembly. 


I exhaust either myself or my supplies eventually.  At that point, I move on to another of the major assembly steps.  For the trees, the next steps are shaping or trimming the tree cores and then flocking.  I went through a number of spray adhesive cans on the current batch of 120 trees.  After flocking, I moved the trees stuck into Styrofoam slabs to a convenient place on the layout.  Right now, that happens to be in the greater Salt Creek area alongside the Wicopee Siding.  I need to add more ground cover before planting more trees.  Coastmans Scenery Products ( ) is getting regular orders from me for more tree supplies.  


Trees staged below Noisy Creek Trestle in the Salt Creek and Wicopee area of the layout.  A different form of “staging” is represented by the train in the foreground.  That train is in place for the next operating session start up.


I am taking advantage of my enthusiasm for adding trees to my forest based on success with my first major forest scene.  I also am taking advantage of warm dry weather to use the spray adhesive for tree flocking outdoors.  I have a lot of forest to plant!

Wednesday, August 2, 2023


Each year I do a photo survey of my railroad on or about the First of August which is the anniversary of the start of construction.  The survey provides two benefits.  It documents visible progress through the year and it prompts me to reflect upon where I have been and where I have been going.  It also serves as a handy reference that I can send out to folk who might be planning a first visit or who haven’t seen the RR in some time.  Last year’s decade anniversary may be viewed at:

One can work back through prior year reports using similar links at the top of each annual photo survey.


This year featured just a couple of visible improvements.  The just-reported-upon planting of the first forest scene at Cruzatte is the big news for the year.  The other visible “improvement” was my mock-up attempt for the engine shed at Oakridge.  That effort was a bit disappointing as the roof bowed up—pagoda style.  Importantly, it helped identify a needed track change to provide more space between the three engine service tracks covered by the shed.  The mock-up effort also identified construction challenges and opportunities (lots of roof trusses!) for the final model.


A forest of three-dimensional trees now provides the backdrop for the company village at Cruzatte.


As I looked through my blog posts over the past year, I realized I spent much of the year developing and consolidating operations on the railroad.  My railroad has returned to regular operating sessions with most having full crews.  We were able to host our nominally biannual guest operating event, Western Oregon OPerationS (WOOPS 2023) in June.  Both we as hosts and our guests enjoyed this major social aspect of operating model railroads.  As hosts, we also had to relearn best practices for preparing our railroads and hosting guest operators.


Countering the high of hosting operating events was the reminder of human mortality.  I reported on two influential model railroaders passing this last year.  Working on my railroad and hosting regular operating events reminded me of two others who passed since 2019 and who contributed mightily to my railroad and its operation.  Rest In Peace:  Chuck Clark, Tom Dill, Rick Kang and Paul Kohler.  Memories of your contributions struck me throughout the year.


This year’s photo survey follows a Eugene to Roseville manifest freight, climbing the Cascades in my basement.  The train we will follow actually was a staging move preparing for my next operating session.  You will see some evidence of that as we meet and overtake a couple of trains left at their stopping positions at the end of the second WOOPS operating session in June.  My operating sessions leave trains out on the line, to be picked up by a new crew at the start of the next operating session.


Our train will start from the base of operations at the Eugene Arrival-Departure yard.  As with the rest of the trains prepared for the next operating session, our train is just out of the picture off to the right.  Standard traffic flow in the Eugene reverse loop staging is clockwise.  Shown in this view is the rest of the yard including the developing engine facilities.  The historic steam facilities are on the left around the turntable.  The modern diesel facilities, built by the SP in 1958, are represented by the three tracks on the right.


Our train with symbol EURVY is pulling out of the Arrival-Departure yard.  We are using the “West Main,” with the “East Main” and switch lead closer to the aisle.  The industrial siding to the right of the West Main was part of the “Covid Project.”  Six new industrial spurs lead off this siding.  As operations on my railroad developed, we found clockwise flow to work best for the reverse loop staging.  This results in left-hand running past the depot.


Our train passes the Eugene depot on the WP Siding, the track closest to the depot.  The mainline is the next track over, closer to the aisle.  Several structures were added to the Eugene depot scene over the past few years.  They range from a full building for the Eugene Freight Depot (distant background just above the water tower) through a truncated building (Eugene Planning mockup on the far right) to a building flat (Zellerbach Paper warehouse just below the thermostat “in the sky”).  My RIP (Repair In Place) track area has a backlog of repairs needed.  Most of these cars are awaiting parts or something else (like weight in a closed-up car).  I did work through a couple of the cars here as I prepare for my next operating session, so there is some movement.


Sweeping over the Willamette River and past the Borden Chemical plant, we enter Springfield.


Rolling through Springfield, we find most of the major structures now in place.  The large Rosboro Lumber mill is in the foreground.  Even as a selectively compressed facility, it still justifies the frequent heavy switching service it receives.


Sweeping around the turnback curve at the end of the Springfield peninsula, we pass industries located along the former Marcola Branch.  The large wood chemicals plant (Neste Resins, now Arclin) takes much of the space, but the old agricultural business is still represented.


As we approach Oakridge, we pass through Westfir, site of the former Western Lumber Company mill (later owned by Hines Lumber before a major fire closed the mill).  Western Lumber had the contract for processing timber cut during the building of the Natron Cutoff—the Cascade Line.


I could not resist the slight time-warp represented by the Willamette and Pacific (successor to the SP operation of the Westside lines in the Willamette Valley) orange and black wood chip car.  The W&P repainted a former SP chip car in the school colors for Oregon State University.  Their leased track runs through the OSU campus next to the athletic facilities and the School of Forestry.  Go Beavers!


My sawmill is represented by kit-bashed parts from the Walthers sawmill complex.  That model was based on the nearby Hull-Oakes mill in Alpine, Oregon.  This was one of the last steam-powered sawmills in the country.  Though now electrically driven, it has the niche business of milling large old-growth timber.


Piercing the (oak-covered) ridge separating it from Westfir, we enter Oakridge, the historic helper station at the base of the big Cascade Mountain climb.  Though an anachronism, I retain Oakridge as my helper station into the diesel era.  We are meeting our helpers on the next track over, while a RR-East train waits on the siding further to the left.  My Oakridge engine shed mock-up can be seen in the distance—mostly just roofs over three tracks.


Cutting in our mid-train helpers at Oakridge.  Our train has been cut and the helpers are crossing over to our track. The too-tight clearances of my engine shed are evident in this end-on view on the left.


Beginning the major climb out of Oakridge, we cross Salmon Creek.  The foreground track leads to the other major sawmill in the area:  Pope and Talbot.  I hope to tackle the long-delayed bridges for the Pope and Talbot switch lead this coming winter.


Continuing the climb out of Oakridge, we pass under Montieth Rock (aka “Rooster Rock”), an interesting volcanic plug.


Climbing through McCredie Springs, we cross Eagle Creek.


We pass another RR-West train at Wicopee.  Noisy Creek trestle is high in the background.


Climbing out of Wicopee, my RR crosses Salt Creek trestle, the largest steel viaduct on the line.  Oregon Highway 58 crosses underneath the trestle.


Our train crosses Noisy Creek trestle which is book-ended by rock sheds and tunnels.


Our train enters Cruzatte, site of my current scenery efforts.


The company village at Cruzatte provides housing for the train operators (left) and the trackwork section gang (center).  With the new forest backdrop, this scene is coming alive!


We exit Cruzatte through a tunnel and out onto Shady Creek trestle, the third and final large steel viaduct on the line.


Our climb takes us through the longer rock shed for Tunnel 5, into the Summit Tunnel, Number 3, and into Cascade Summit.  Here we first pass the section gang housing.


Having reached the summit, our helpers are cut out of our train. The Beatty Spur is the track to the right (closest to the aisle) where helper units were often collected prior to moving back down the hill for their next push.  Train Order Operator housing is to the left as are water tanks of the steam era.


Our journey ends at Crescent Lake.  Just as the Eugene Arrival-Departure Yard, this is a twelve-track reverse-loop staging yard.  Historically, Crescent Lake was the demarcation between the Portland and Shasta Divisions of the SP.  It had a modest holding yard, even more modest engine facilities, and a station with Train Order Operators for the two Divisions.


My railroad is maturing with a gradual rise of the overall detail level.  Some years see major growth spurts and others see more consolidation.  This past year has been consolidation.