Find Your Way Around Our Site


Travels To Distant Places

The Sierra Western & Santa Fe RR

Our email addresses

  August 9 Update

Below are pictures of the construction progress for your enjoyment. Click on the thumbnails to open larger, full screen size, pictures. (Suggestion: "right click" to open the image in a new window so that you can easily toggle between it and the discription).

Another two weeks have passed since the last update on July 27. Most of the progress this time is in the Douglas area, the interchange point with the Sierra Western RR, a fictitious railroad that was the name of my old layout. This is appropriate since about a third of that layout was salvaged and will be incorpoprated into SW&SF. It's the section hanging from the ceiling over the Chico Wye area. For a look at some of the handlaid track on this section, click on these two thumbnail images:


This salvaged section will be the northern end of the Sierra Western - Douglas will be the southern end. The run between the two ends will be about 125ft long. After future installation at the proper elevation, Heldatt will only require Tortoise switch motors installed to power the 24 turnouts in this yard area, plus the wire drops from the rails connected. The electronics and control panel to power and automatically align the turntable included in this section is still intact and should be easy to connect.

In Douglas the Santa Fe will have two industries, a passing siding, and a house track. The Sierra Western will have one industry track, a run-around track, two short yard tracks, and a small turntable with three storage tracks. Part of the Santa Fe house track will be used as the interchange track between the two railroads. A crossover between the house track and the passing siding allows trains to work the house track without being blocked by cars on the interchange track. All these tracks will require handlaying 17 turnouts, several of them curved.

The final securing and leveling of the support base for Douglas has been done, the homasote sheets cut to size and attached, and all the ties laid. The ties are now ready for staining and ballasting. Then we can start laying rail in Douglas, but only after all the track in Redding, which is the highest priority, is completed.

The mainline between Redding and Douglas still needs ties installed. To avoid accidentally getting plaster between the ties the hardshell along the mainline needs to be installed before the ties go in, so that needs to be done before the ties are installed.

In addition to working on Douglas, a monitor and camera system is being installed to view the staging yards under Redding. This will help us see the yard better since the fascia at Redding will limit the visibility of these tracks.

I've also included in this update the finished track schematic for Redding showing all tracks, the track names, and the industry names.

Here is the final track schematic for Redding with the tracks identified and the industries named. Note that there will be additional tracks serving Champion Lumber and Simpson Paper. We used to have two each, now there will be three. There is also a team track, a five track yard, a short storage track, a yard lead on each end of the yard, and a track labled "out of service" that can be used to store bad-order equipment. The track arrangement for Redding Junction, not shown on this schematic, has not changed. Redding Junction is adjacent to Redding on the left and has it's own schematic.

Douglas will have an arrangement of tracks which I hope will be interesting and fun to operate. The longest track, besides the Santa Fe mainline, is the Santa Fe passing siding. It is long enough to hold the longest trains we might run, including the helpers that will be needed for these long trains. A house track adjacent to the passing siding will be used to drop off cars for the local to switch. It's the equivalent of a yard track. Note that the interchange track is part of the house track, but there is a crossover to increase the functionality of these tracks. The Santa Fe will service two industry tracks here: Douglas Lumber & Supply and the town's team track.

Looking at this scale track plan of Douglas, which includes construction detail notes, you will see that the Sierra Western enters Douglas parallel to the Santa Fe and adjacent to the backdrop (just under the label marked "Upper deck support brackets"). Here is the short passing siding the Sierra Western will use as a run-around track, the short 4.5% connector track down to the Santa Fe's interchange track, and the J. Mahoney & Sons warehouse industry track. The Sierra Western track is about 10 feet higher than the Santa Fe here. Following the Sierra Western's main track counterclockwise and on a slight downgrade the track ends at a small two track yard adjacent to the Sierra Western's small turntable and storage tracks. Here the tracks of the two railroads are level with each other. Another connector track to the Santa Fe is located here. Not expected to be used much, it no doubt will occasionally come in handy.

Here is a view of Douglas from the aisle near where the tower operator sits. From this angle it will be like looking up towards the depot and Douglas from the other side of a river. The river will be at the bottom of the image where the plywood has been cut away. The tracks will appear to follow a bend in the river, with the depot across the three tracks from the river. Behind the depot is the Sierra Western's main. The SW yard and turntable is out of view to the right of the round backdrop. The SW track leaves town on the left side. Behind the SW's track will be a street with typical small town structures across the street. This will be downtown Douglas. The town structures will wrap around the backdrop, hopefully disguising the tight curve of the backdrop. The camera angle is slightly above eye level for me, and I'm 5'7".

Looking down onto the Douglas depot area, you can see the turntable and the small yard at the right. Other railroad structures for the Sierra Western will be located in this area, including a small one track cinder block engine house. The street outlines can be seen behind the SW's track. The road will cross the two mainlines at the right of the image. Access to the depot is at the right between the two sets of tracks, with depot parking to the right of the depot. The area to the left of the depot will be used by Santa Fe to store supplies, equipment, etc. The SF mainline is 38.5" radius, while the SW mainline is 28".

The following eight images are of the east and west ends of Douglas with the ties newly installed. There are two copies of each image - one plain, and one with track labels.

This is the approach to Douglas from Redding. The yard aisle is on the right. We're looking towards Chico tower. The Santa Fe is on the right. The Sierra Western is on the left. Both enter Douglas on a downgrade into town - the Santa Fe on a 2.3% grade, the Sierra Western on a 3.5% grade.

The same image as above, but with track labels. The Sierra Western on the left is about 1" higher than the Santa Fe here. The connector track is on a steep, but short, 4.5% grade. This will be fine since only a few cars will be interchanged here, mostly lumber going to the Santa Fe.

This is the view of the same tracks in the above images but from the opposite direction. The Santa Fe can be seen going upgrade to the summit at the end of the aisle. The Sierra Western spline roadbed is still not yet installed. Between the road along the backdrop and the SW track will be the J. Mahoney & Sons warehouse. Store fronts will be on the right side of the street as far as the street will be visible. The warehouse building will help conceal the road disappearing into the backdrop.

The same image as above. The higher elevation of the Sierra Western tracks is apparent in this view. Also visible is the crossover between the house track and the passing track on the Santa Fe that will allow switching into the house track without affecting the cars stored on the interchange portion of this track. This in effect gives us the functionality of two tracks out of only one.

The view entering Douglas from the north. The Santa Fe single main is at the bottom left. The passing track and house track immediately begin here, as well as the connector to the Sierra Western. The SW's turntable and small yard is also visible on the right. Still to be installed are the turntable storage tracks.

The above image with the labels. If this were a real scene, we'd be standing on the top of a tunnel entrance to take this view. The tunnel will act as a scene divider between the Douglas area and the isolated mountain track between Douglas and Raymond, which will be located at the end of the aisle on the other side of the room.

Looking from the opposite direction from the above images. The two railroads are level with each other here. While the Santa Fe is level throughout Douglas, the Sierra Western is still dropping downgrade into it's yard and turntable area. The reason for the turntable is that this is the end of the line, and there is no room for a "Y" here. In the steam era, the SW used the turntable to turn it's small steam locos for the trip back to the other end of the line at Heldatt. Even though we are modelling the early 70's, the SW will still be using the turntable to turn it's aging "F" units, which will be used regularly. Old GP-7's and a variety of other hand-me-down locos will be the remainder of the motive power for this barely surviving raiload.

Heading timetable west out of Douglas the Santa Fe will be entering a tunnel shortly after going back to single track. Where the label marked "Santa Fe Mainline" is pointing is where the tunnel entrance will be located. This will be a short tunnel, only about 200 scale feet long. On the other side of the tunnel will be the turnout to the second mainline that will be modeled as under construction.

Also being installed now, but in the lower staging yard areas under Redding, are two infrared cameras and a monitor to assist in viewing any movements into and out of the three staging yards in this area - Santa Fe's 18 track Valley staging; Sacramento Northern's four track staging; and Southern Pacific's three track staging. The cameras are mounted under the Redding benchwork and will give acceptable B&W images of the yard throats, similar to what we have been using for Richmond staging for years. The camera/monitor system will be helpful because when the fascia is completed for Redding, the view we have had in the past will be partially blocked. The camera/monitor system was ordered from MicroMark.

The monitor is small, measuring 4.5", but is adequate. The two cameras are connected to the monitor and a built-in switching circuit toggles the two camera views at an interval that can be set from two to twenty seconds. The monitor will be installed either in the fascia under Redding, or into the surface of the control panel top, much like the control panels are.

This is the actual view of Valley Staging taken from the monitor with my digital camera - an imperfect technique at best. The image is much better in person.

And the image from the 2nd camera. This camera is aimed to view both the Southern Pacific and the Sacramento Northern staging tracks.

Well, that's it for this update. Thanks for checking out the progress!

Homepage  |  Travels To Distant Places  |  The Sierra Western & Santa Fe RR  |  Our email addresses