Sunday, July 16, 2023

Searchligh Missing Part Obtained and Installed

 When I installed the Southern Pacific H-2 Searchlight Signal I had brought together parts from various locations.  You can see the searchlight and read about putting the parts together in an earlier blog.

The one missing part was the part that holds the door tight against the case.  I tried finding the part but did not really dig deep into the search.  Whenever I talked to someone I thought might be able to assist, I would ask.  I talked to former SP employees and other rail artifact collectors.  

Recently, I was visiting a friend up near Donner Pass.  He was a former Amtrak employee. He had a couple of  rail artifacts in his yard including a dwarf signal and so I asked if he might have a lead on acquiring the missing part.  He said he had a friend who might have one.  He called and the friend confirmed that he had the part.  My friend was traveling down my way before he could get the part from his friend so he removed the part from his signal and brought it down.  Here are two photos of the part.

So when he delivered the part to my house, I asked him to hold the ladder while I pulled the wires that had held the door closed, installed the part, screwed it nice an tight so the door was sealed and dropped the hasp over the loop for the lock and we were done.  Here is a photo of the finished installation.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Roadbed and Track

Still catching up a bit, I did not wait long before I started laying down the Homosote roadbed on the new plywood.

I had come into possession of a box of Homabed from California Roadbed.  The product is a milled Homosote in the general profile of a railroad roadbed.   The company had been out of business for some time but I had the supply so I used it.  Another company, Cascade Rail Supply, had begun making a similar product.  Because I want to elevate my main line over sidings and other tracks, I needed a lower profile roadbed so ordered a supply from Cascade Rail Supply.  The product was similar but probably a little superior to the old California Roadbed product.  Unfortunately, Cascade Rail Supply closed in 2019 so modelers are left with no source that I know of for Homasote roadbed.
Homasote is still manufactured although not always easy to obtain out west.  The manufacturer maintains a web page and has a product locator

I roughed in where the tracks were to go and laid down the Homasote road bed using white glue and clamps.
 Wood glue was used to attach the roadbed. C-clamps and small pieces of wood were used to hold the roadbed in place until dry

 Here the roadbed has already been laid and some flex track loosely set on the road bed to check placement.  Some of the underlying route markings can be seen in the right foreground for future roadbed locations.

Once the roadbed was down I laid the track.  For the main line I used Shinohara HO Scale Code 83 Flex Track.  The flex track has hole in the ties every so many ties so we used those and small spikes from Micro Engineering to secure the flex track main to the Homasote roadbed.   I got some help from the local model railroad club I belong to.
                John R laying track on the lower level near Summerland  while Bob L lays track beteen Surf and Tangair

Sometimes working on both levels at the same time got a bit crowded

For the sidings I reused the Central Valley Branch Line Tie Strips which I had salvaged during the removal of the Masonite Splines.  These tie strips have the ties spaced further appart than either the CV Mainline Tie Strips or the Shinohara HO Scale Code 83 Flex Track.  I also utilized code 70 rail to further differentiate between the main and the siding.

 Because I had had some issues with the contact cement holding the rail onto the ties, I actually spiked the rail down.  This entailed drilling holes in the ties and manually spiking the rail in place.  I used track gauges and spiked every 6th tie or so.

This is a later photo but shows the array of tools that I use to lay the rail on the Central Valley Tie Strips.  The tools include Ribbon Rail gauges, Railway Engineering Rollee Holders, MicroEngineering small spikes, a pin vice with a small drill bit, an NMRA track gauge, rail joiners, a MicroMark pair of spiking pliers and sometimes a mirror for sighting down the tracks.

Tools in use while adding rail to Central Valley tie strips

Another view down the track with some other tools

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Removing Spline and Replacing with Plywood

So after having some issues with the Masonite splines, I regretfully decided to remove most of them and replace them with plywood.

The principal reason for removal and replacement was that even though I tried my best to keep them level both along the track and also across the track, I was not successful.  I tried using a belt sander.  That did not work.  I tried putting in shims to level the track across.  That worked to a degree but was very time consuming.

The other disadvantage of the Masonite spline was that I could not spike into the Masonite.  Originally, I had assembled the splines with a beveled edge on the outside of the roadbed to simulate the shoulder of the ballast.
                                                  Photo of a piece of removed spline showing the beveled edges.                                                  The slot visible in the upper portion was for the track feeders

I had glued the Central Valley Tie Strips directly on the Masonite splines.  When the original Barge cement dried the rail often came off the tie strips and needed to be reattached.  If I had put a Homasote roadbed on the spline I could have spiked the rail down that would have helped but that was not to be. 

It was a difficult decision to remove 175 feet of spline as it had taken quite a lot of time to install it and lay the track.  It also is the major part of the railroad.  Only the yards were on a plywood Homasote sandwich so all the main and siding tracks outside of the yards was removed with the exception of the Surf Wye.

Gary Siegel, of the L&N Eastern Kentucky Division, volunteered to help.  The entire railroad was done in about three days over the period from July 28 to August 4, 2017.  The first step was to remove the Red Rosin paper a la Howard Zane that I had used adjacent to the roadbed.  The track feeders from the  power bus were removed.  The switch motors were removed from the turnouts for sidings and spurs. Then the track and ties were removed.

East end of Goleta Siding area showing Red Rosin paper

Middle of Goleta Siding area

West end of Goleta Siding
West end of Goleta Siding with Red Rosin paper, track and ties removed

We set up saw horses just outside the garage and cut the plywood using a jig saw. The spline was cut in sections and used as a template to cut the plywood.  In most cases the plywood was cut just a little wider than the spline it was replacing.  Where there were spurs or sidings, the plywood was cut wide enough to handle both tracks. 

Because I had model the sidings lower than the main I used two methods to achieve this.  Most of the time I used two different thicknesses of Homasote roadbed (more in a later post).  In some areas the replacement plywood was cut to allow for the lower grade on the spurs and sidings.

For the most part, the horizontal supports for the spline could be reused but the vertical supports were adjusted to level out the plywood.  As the plywood was installed, a level was used to check both across the track and along the track to eliminate the problems we had with the spline.

With just the two of us, we were busy so I did not take a lot of photos.  Here are a few from the Goleta - La Patera area.
Goleta Station looking east showing plywood replacement in progress
Goleta Station area looking west showing plywood replacement in progress

Goleta Station area looking east with plywood replacement complete

Goleta Station area looking west showing plywood replacement complete

Here are two more photos of the pile of removed splines.

Pile of removed splines

Close up of removed splines with a yard stick for scale

Monday, April 6, 2020

Return, Rebuild and Beyond

Has it really been over two years and eight months since I posted here?  So much has happened.

The railroad is still alive,  In fact it is getting closer to operation than ever.  After the disasters of the operation session during SoCal Ops in June of 2016 - see the Plan, Build Diversion post - I did manage to plan for the replacement of the Masonite splines.

Over a year later I finally tore out about 175 feet of spline and replaced it with plywood.  That was followed slowly by laying Homasote roadbed on the plywood, and later relaying track on top.   I took the opportunity to add additional tracks at Goleta and La Patera.  I also added detection for a future signal system.  All this will be posted here in more detail as I catch up in the coming weeks in reporting the progress of the Santa Barbara Subdivision.

I continued my usual diversions including operations events, national NMRA conventions in Kansas City and Salt Lake City, trips to Spain, Portugal and Morocco,

 a trip to Canada to find some of my roots,

participation of an excursion of the restored Big Boy 4014,

along with all my responsibilities locally, both railroad related and otherwise.  I will share some of these experiences as well as we move forward.

I have enjoyed railroads and model railroading for the past 67 years and hope to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  Stay with me on the journey.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Goleta, Pt 1

Between Santa Barbara and La Patera is Goleta.  Southern Pacific located a Train Order office at the Combination 22 depot built in 1901.  The depot served the people of the Goleta community until 1973 when the agency was closed.  The building was saved and relocated to Los Carneros Park where is serves as the centerpiece of the South Coast Railroad Museum

While the depot was moved in 1981 and many of the industries once located near the Goleta have been out of business since the 1960's, I really like way freight switching and want to run a local to Goleta.

When I first put tracks down I included the Goleta siding, which was on the opposite side of the main from the depot, but did not include the house track or any of the industries.  Over the years there were the following businesses which received rail service:

1901 Depot – Kellogg and Depot Rd

Santa Barbara County Walnut Growers

Goleta Lima Bean Growers Association

Southern Pacific Milling – Hansen [concrete batch plant]

Deardorf Jackson Produce [tomatoes]

Southern Pacific Railroad Nursery [plants for landscaping Coast Line SP Depots]

I will probably only model the produce, concrete batch plant and the Depot lcl freight.
The produce was packed in a structure added to the east end of the depot.

 The batch plant was also on the east end but across Depot Road

         Here is a picture of the area with the main and siding only before the roadbed replacement.  I have drawn in the proposed location of the depot and the house track.  The concrete batch    plant will be down the spur beyond the depot.

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

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 Thompson at Seth Neumann's UP Niles Canyon layout

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!