Wednesday, July 19, 2017

La Patera, Part I

From the beginning I have had La Patera on the plan for the Santa Barbara Subdivision.  Somehow when we first laid down the roadbed and the tracks, La Patera was bypassed.  Now we are going back and putting it in.

La Patera is Spanish for duck pond.  It was the name of the ranch of Sherman Stow just west of Santa Barbara and may have been named after a pond on the property or the nearby Goleta Slough which was the home of countless waterfowl.

From the time tracks were first laid north from Santa Barbara in the Autumn of 1887, there has been a station named La Patera.  When the tracks were realigned in 1901, the station remained.  Some businesses grew up at the site and it is currently the only location in the greater Santa Barbara area that receives rail service.

Over the years, businesses that received rail service included:

Goleta Lemon Association - 1935 
US Marine Corps Air Station Santa Barbara - 1942
–County Lumber
–Hayward Lumber [The only Santa Barbara business currently getting rail service.]
La Patera Team Track
Sears Roebuck  [Direct Relief International - no known rail service]
Shrode-Nelson Produce - 1944
– A1/Don Cabinet Co
–Fabri Print Co.

Amtrak now has a platform at La Patera that acts as its Goleta facility for the Pacific Surfliner.
There are ten trains per day.  Six that teminate or originate at Goleta - 3 from San Diego via LA and 3
 to San Diego via LA.  Four additional trains stop as they pass to and from San Luis Obispo.  Amtrak
 also has a service track to wash the cars.

La Patera SPINS (Southern Pacific Industrial Numbering System) showing tracks at La Patera including Sears and Shode-Nelson Produce track 3131, Goleta Lemon Association 3138,  Hayward Lumber 3137 and the Goleta Siding 3141.
The biggest business at La Patera for the railroad was the Goleta Lemon Association.  They would routinely have   cars for the railroad each day.  Here is a photo I took.




and some recent aerial views  





For comparison, here is a link to an aerial photo of the plant when it was in full production back in the 1950's
http://www.citrusroots.com/oldsite/santa-barbara-packinghouses.html

Notice the cars at the plant, the cull bin and also the produce sheds on the track closer to the main.





Here are some rough sketches I did of what I would like to include on the SPSBSUB:





 More later when I get some track in.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Plan, Build, Diversions

I love to plan!  But unfortunately I am slow to do :-(

Those of you who read this blog regularly also know my actions of building the SP Santa Barbara Subdivision are very slow.  This will be another post of making excuses...

In June of 2016, the SPSBSUB was a bonus layout for SoCal Ops, a model railroad operations event in Southern California.  I hosted six operators and we attempted to run some trains.  There were lots of problems.  The first train out left Santa Barbara for Carpinteria and before making it
to Summerland, ran into a 2 foot section of rail that had completely left the ties making the track impassable.  We managed to get past that and he did his switching in Carpinteria and returned.  The SB YM did some other track repairs and switched several arriving freights.  The train to Lompoc and White Hills ran semi-successfully.  The White Hills plant switcher/Vandenberg AFB switcher job did well.  One intermodal ran.  One passenger ran.

After about two hours we stopped.  A couple operators headed for home and the rest of us went down to Santa Claus Lane and ate about 20 feet from the tracks.  We had just finished lunch when the Coast Starlight went by with a PV -Patron Tequila T- on the rear.  At least some trains ran that day!

There were lots of problems on the layout but everyone seemed to have a good time anyway.  They want to come back in two years and see it really run.


Several of the operators later sent me encouraging emails filled with advice on what to do.  I read them over several times and have sat discouraged for a major part of the past year.
I basically have to take up the track and start over.  Once that decision was made, I started planning - always a bad thing for me to do [see above].  I have also acquired some material including flex track and Homabed.  I still like the Central Valley tie strips and will be putting some of that back down.  I will have the capability of putting spikes in to hold the rail in place more securely than the contact adhesive originally used.

As long as I will be tearing up the track, I will be adding a few additional tracks as I replace.  One is the house track at Goleta and the other is the track and industries at La Patera.  More on both of these in another post.

I did not sit around all year crying over the poor operating condition of my track but continued to operate on other layouts and find other projects.

In December, I took a trip north and operated on Seth Neumann and Tony Thompson's layouts.  Both were very enjoyable.  Seth is the principal in Model Railroad Control Systems  Seth and Chuck Catania have been doing lots of work with arduinos and cpNodes.  Seth also does telephone systems.
Chuck brought over a module which emulates a CTC lockout circuit.  It worked well.  I have also seen a module that runs the train order boards at Don Morenzi's Alaska copper railroad layout.
Richard Brennan, Al Daumann and Tony Thompsonon Seth Neumann's Union Pacific Niles Canyon

Seth Neumann and Tony Thompson at Shumalia on Tony's SP Santa Rosalia Branch

Chuck Catania, Tony Thompson and Al Daumann at Ballard

In January this year I operated on Dave Loveless's SP Monterey layout.  I dispatched for half the session and then ran a train off the branch and up to San Jose.
Dispatcher's Train Sheet with copies of active Track Warrants above

                                                    Schematic of layout with magnetic train ID's on the                                               Dispatcher's Board.  Note the helix just behind on the left.

View of train in the helix from the Dispatcher's desk

Trains passing at Fort Ord


Dave has a double ended aging yard which has automated routes.  I really liked it and need to do that to my staging yards - especially the east staging as La Patera will be right above the yard throat so the turnouts will no longer be easily accessible.  Turns out Chuck Catania of Model Railroad Control Systems did the electronics for the staging yard on Dave's layout so I have been discussing with Chuck putting together a similar system for my staging yards.


In April, I attended Hog Rails in Arkansas operating on five layouts.

Flour Mill on Jim Senese's Kansas City Terminal

Produce Dock on Jim Senese's Kansas City Terminal

Steam pulling a short train on the branch on Doug Farner's Blue Ridge Southern

Yardmaster Doc Shaffer on Norm Bruce's layout

Steve Seidensticker running the "Varnish" on Norm Bruce's layout

Yard and packing house on Art Danz' Milwaukee Road/Chicago Great Western

Cattle grazing near the summit of Tennessee Pass on John Ferrell's DRGW

After one week rest, I participated in the PCR Daylight Express 2017 convention in Bakersfield.  One of the clinicians, Dennis Drury, presented a clinic on a simple ABS signaling system.  Southern Pacific had ABS along the Coast Line where I model and I have always wanted to do signals.  The plan is to dispatch using DTC but the ABS signals provide a level of protection.  They were there before 1985 so if I ever want to go back and dispatch using Timetable and Train Order, they will still be appropriate.  As long as I am taking up track and laying it down again, I might as well put in the infrastructure for the signals.  Dennis' board is available from Model Railroad Control Systems.

The end of April I was operating in Utah on three layouts - Ted York's ATSF Cajon Pass, Bob Gerald's Milwaukee Road, and Gary Petersen's Salt Lake Southern.
Don Ball at Sullivan's Curve on Ted York's Cajon Pass layout

Bob Gerald at the throttle on his own Milwaukee Road

Don Morenzi working Pocono on Bob Gerald's Milwaukee Road
                                  
Steve Seidensticker working the lower level on Bob Gerald's Milwaukee Road
                                        

Yardmaster Norm Bruce on Gary Peterson's Salt Lake Southern


Dispatchers on Gary Peterson's Salt Lake Southern


May found me at the La Mesa Model Railroad Club's Tehachapi Pass layout in San Diego and then at the first Western Oregon Operations [WOOPS] where I operated at Bill Decker's SP Cascade Pass and the Willamette Model Railroad Club's Columbia Cascade and Western.

                                                 Train 11 Coast Starlight appears to be floating above the clouds                                                         as it approaches Cascade Summit on Bill Decker's SP Cascade Line

Dave Houston engineers a train on the Columbia, Cascade and Northern
Columbia, Cascade and Northern loco crosses one of many trestles on the line

Seth N was at Bill Decker's and we discussed some of the projects.  I have ordered and received the   MP5 turnout motors for the staging yard.   I am in discussion with Chuck about the staging yard automation.  I am about to start building some Fast Track turnouts for Goleta and La Patera.  And also starting the lift-out section for La Patera that will sit over the East Staging yard throat.

I have spent the last months operating as a great diversion.  I have gathered some great ideas and have planned my next steps.  Now it is time to get to work and build!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Searchlight Signals

Southern Pacific used Union Switch and Signal H-2 searchlight signals in most of the system when they were using Automatic Block Signals.  On the Coast Line most of the semaphore signals were replaced by searchlights in the late 1940's.  These signals lasted until the Union Pacific merger in 1996 when some were replaced by tri-lights.  Some survived in some of the more remote areas but almost all are gone.  One issue is that they have moving parts that need to be maintained.  The newer digital signals have no moving parts and are thought to be more reliable.

I do not have any signals on my layout yet, but when I do they will be searchlights.  I do have a working searchlight but it is full sized.

I did not have a pole for it.  The prototypes were often attached to the old semaphore poles.  These were about 5 1/2 inches in diameter.  I had a basketball pole that I was not using but it is about 3 1/2 inches in diameter, so I had to do some special accommodation.  I took the challenge with a drawing and the support arm to a local welder.  He came up with a welded steel cap that fit over the top of the basketball poll.  The cap had tabs on it to hold the support arm while it was tightened.  It also had concentric rings inside so that it stayed relatively vertical on the pole when the weight of the signal on the support arm was applied to the cap.

bottom of pole cap showing concentric inside and support tabs

Side view of pole cap
Before actually installing the signal, the pole was cleaned, sanded and repainted with a Rustoleum primer and then an aluminum outer coat.  Other parts were also touched up including the disk that fits around the signal.
Painted former basketball pole
I also buried some PVC pipe going from near the garage to near the pole and installed some electrical wire to carry the less-than-12 volt current to the signal.
Aluminum painted PVC at base of pole

Aluminum painted PVC at Garage end

Having all the parts ready to go, I gathered a few ladders and invited the local model railroad club over to assist in mounting the signal.  About 6 or 7 members showed up to assist.  We did this at the end of October after 7:30 in the evening so I had a light or two on outside but we also a strong beam flashlight that one of them directed on the work being done.  One took photos while work progressed. Two assisted me in mounting the different parts including the oldest member of the group present - 78 years old.

The pole adaptor had already been put in place so the first to go up was the long support arm.  It weighs about 40 pounds.
Long Support arm on the ground  Note:bearing surface for signal housing.

Lifting support arm up the ladders.  Note adaptor cap on top of pole

Support arm in place on pole

Next we muscled the housing up and placed it on the arm,  The housing assembly weighs about 100 pounds so it was a struggle to lift it up the nine feet to the support arm and get it in place.   This was especially difficult as it was done from ladders.  Makes you wish you had a boom truck like the railroads to hoist the parts in place.
Muscling the housing up the 9 feet to the top of the pole
Trying to align the pin and the housing onto the bearing surface

The housing finally in place, the bolts are being secured

Next the target disk was hoisted and installed.
Lifting the target in place

Securing the target disk

Bottom view showing securing the target disk

Attaching the hood

Now that it looked like a searchlight signal we installed the mechanism.  The mechanism has all the moving parts and electrical connections and is enclosed in a glass case.  It is designed to be removable by signal maintainers and repaired in the shop and just installed.  I had already tested the mechanism so it was in working order.
Attaching the electrical wires
Back of housing showing mechanism in place and connected.
Close up of Mechanism label and maintenance sheet

The electrical power was attached and we tried the signal.  It was on but hard to see as the signal was adjusted to be parallel to the ground so it shone in a beam 9 feet above the ground.
Just barely make out the red signal as it shines over our heads


Eventually, I adjusted the signal so it shines down right at our front door.  Here are some photos from the front door in the daylight.


The signal is countrolled by a DPDT toggle switch inside the garage.

Inside the housing was a maintenance card for the signal.  Hopefully, the signal will continue to function fine so I will not have to do maintenance.
Weathered (mold and rust) maintenance card

Here is hoping you always have Green Signals!
.