GENERAL INFORMATION AND OPERATIONS
The mainline of the railroad represents operations in the Blue Mountains in the state of Oregon. I have chosen a section roughly from La Grande to The Dalles. Six intermediate towns are represented between La Grande and The Dalles. From east to west; La Grande, Kamela, Meacham, North Fork, Reith, Echo, Messner and The Dalles. I have used complete "modelers license" in representing these towns and I have not attempted to duplicate the track arrangement or buildings actually present. Certain other liberties have been taken. For example, during the time period modeled, all steam power used oil fuel. Coal towers are still very much in evidence on the layout.
A LAYOUT TOUR
We will start our tour at the east end of the layout at La Grande. As we leave La Grande we encounter a 1.8% grade as we climb the 6.5 turn double track helix to Kamela. The trip requires nearly 28 fast (8:1) minutes. When we arrive at Kamela we will first replenish our coal supply at the large concrete coaling tower and take on water. Kamela has a number of industries that ship by rail. Among the major shippers is a large grain elevator that supplies the breweries on the layout. Also important is the American Can Company plant and Western Beef Supply. Kamela is also the point where we change from double to single track.
Leaving Kamela we shortly arrive in Meacham. Meacham is a fairly small town but has a number of important industries. A brewery, a box factory, and a boat manufacture are present along with several smaller shippers. As we leave Meacham we encounter the steepest grade (2.1%) on the layout. Our train loops back over itself and if we look down we can see the small town of Pilot Rock on the branch line. We cross a high wooden trestle and approach North Fork. North Fork has no passing track and train orders instruct west bound trains to place setouts for North Fork ahead of the engine before leaving Meacham.
As we pass North Fork we plunge into a short tunnel and soon arrive at Reith. Reith is a major stop on the railroad for several reasons. It has major yard facility, and several routes originate or terminate here. It also is the point where the Pilot Rock branch joins the main and all freight to and from the branch interchange at Reith. The railroad has its coal grading facility here and all coal for use on railroad originates at Reith. In addition, an interchange track and several major industries are present.
After taking on fuel and water, we again head west. Shortly we encounter the second helix and this time head downhill (1.6%) and emerge from the tunnel just east of Echo. We stop at the Fountain Brewery for a tour and free samples. Shortly we're back aboard and in about 15 fast minutes arrive at Messner. As we enter Messner we notice a cannery, large warehouse a fruit exchange and an interesting stone depot.
Our train orders indicate that are to wait on the siding for the east bound PFE reefer train, and at 4:30 pm (right on time) PFE 298 emerges from the tunnel and crosses the bridge into Messner. Shortly we cross back onto the main and continue west to The Dalles. Upon arriving at The Dalles our train is turned and readied for the return trip the next morning. We will wait and catch the City Of Portland back east where we plan to stop at Kamela for the night and take the morning motor car the remainder of the way back to La Grande.
Operations on the railroad are based on freight fowarding which managed by a computer program from Sonora Software (RMS 3). A typical 3 hour operating session will involve the movement of 10 to 14 trains. Generally two turns are run in each direction between La Grande and The Dalles. The routes are designed so that the two east bound and two west bound trains switch different sets of industries in each town thus spreading the work among the four trains. In addition, local freights operate in both directions between Reith and La Grande, and Reith and The Dalles. Due to the number of industries, these locals may occupy a crew for most of an operating session. As of late, we have been using local crews at the major towns to handle most of the pickups and setouts. This has streamlined operations to a large extent. Fortunately RMS supports the use of local crews and will print a set of instructions for each town.
In addition to the local freights, a number of passenger and express freight movements are included in any operating session. These trains make limited stops and add interest to operations.
Operations are coordinated by a dispatcher. Communication is by two way radio. A tranceiver is located in each town and we require operators OS all trains.
The optimum operating crew would be 16, but we usually operate a crew of 6 to 10, and we can operate with as few as 4. Solo operation is also possible as an "extra" train can be called whenever desired.
SCALE AND GAUGE: HO standard gauge
PROTOTYPE: Union Pacific
LOCALE: Pacific Northwest
PERIOD: Steam to diesel transition, late 1940's, early 50's
LAYOUT STYLE: Double deck point to point with division point yard
HEIGHT: Lower deck 36 to 40 inches, upper deck 56 to 60 inches
MAINLINE RUN: Approximately 500 ft
MINIMUM RADIUS: Mainline 36", Industrial track 24"
MAXIMUM GRADE: 2.1% Between Meacham and North Fork
ROADBED: Homasote roadbed over half inch plywood
TRACK: Flextrack, code 70 (La Grande yard), code 100 (hidden track), code 83 (remainder of railroad). Track is by Rail Craft, Atlas, Micro Engineering.
TURNOUTS: #5, #6, #8 Shinohara, approximately 140 turnouts are present on the layout
TURNOUT CONTROL: 95% of the turnouts are powered by slow motion type switch machines.
SCENERY: Scenery is about 20% complete and is plaster over cardboard framing.
CONTROL: DCC by CVP Products (Easy DCC)
FREIGHT FORWARDING COMPUTER SOFTWARE: RMS 3 (Sonora Software)
OPERATING SYSTEM: By track warrant with train movements controlled by dispatcher
ROLLING STOCK: 165 Freight cars and 22 passenger cars
MOTIVE POWER: 38 Steam locomotives, 13 diesels, 2 motor cars
- Visitors Since 08/01/2001