Fantasy Switchback Railroad

For the past three days I have been working on the design for a complex layout for a friend. Much, much frustration trying to get everything “in”. To relieve my inability to get it “all right” I began fantasizing about what sort of model railroad I might put/create along a twenty four foot wall in my train room. I dug into one of many boxes where I store layout ideas and came across the pic below which  initially baffled me as to why I had kept it. Then I remembered why.

One of the many layouts I want to create is an HOe layout. HOe uses HO scale engines and rolling stock and runs them on N scale (9mm) track. The “e” means metre gauge. Most of what little is produced in HOe are European models and the prototypes run on one metre wide (39 inches approx) track. The metre gauge railroads often run through mountainous terrain and need to get over ridges and up mountains so switchbacks abound.

Have you got it yet? How about if I design/build an HOe railroad that climbs eight feet along the twenty four foot wall? Look at the pic and think railroad instead of road.

How about "Switchback Hell" for the name of the railroad?

How about “Switchback Hell” for the name of the railroad?

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm …………..

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1865, 1873, 1876, 1889, 1897,1910, 1994 and 2007 Maps of Noyo and old pictures of Noyo

Thanks to club member and muqquomp of Noyo harbour, Dusty Dillion we have some very interesting maps of Noyo. First is the 1865 map:

1865 map of mouth of the Noyo River

1865 map of mouth of the Noyo River

At the top of the 1865 map you can see the location of the Richardson mill -built by George Hegenmeyer.

Next is the 1873 map:

1873 Map of NOYO harbour showing site of mIL

1873 Map of Noyo harbour showing site of mIl

In the 1873 map you can see that the mill has moved downriver onto the flats on the north side.

The 1876 map:

1876 Map of Noyo Harbour showing land ownership

1876 Map of Noyo Harbour showing land ownership

This map does not show the mill but does show the road and the bridge over the Noyo for the first time.

The 1889 map shows the land has bee sub-divided along the coast road:

1889 Map of Noyo River showing land ownersip

1889 Map of Noyo River showing land ownership

The 1897 map is VERY interesting. Did you know that Fort Bragg had a race track? I sure didn’t. I don’t know if the track was for cars or horses. As there was car racing at Pine Grove just south of Noyo I’m guessing it was cars. The second really interesting piece of info from the map are the rail lines and chute in the upper left hand corner.

1897 Map of Noyo River showing location of race track and rail lines leading to wire loading place

1897 Map of Noyo River showing location of race track and rail lines leading to wire loading place

This picture that Dusty recently gave us shows the chute at work:

Noyo Harbour

Noyo Harbour

This pic, also from Dusty shows spectators watching the chute at work.

Watching the chute at work

Watching the chute at work

The 1910 map adds a few details to the 1897 map.

1910 Mao of Noyo River showing County Road

1910 Mao of Noyo River showing County Road

Lastly we have an aerial photo map showing how things have changes since “back then”.

1994 Aerial View of Noyo Basin

1994 Aerial View of Noyo Basin

Last, but not least is a street amp of the area around Noyo harbour dated 2007 which shows the growth in streets but interestingly the original coast road remians.

 

2007 Street Map of area around Noyo Basin

2007 Street Map of area around Noyo Basin

Thanks Dusty – your contribution and knowledge is invaluable.

 

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Night Time Run On the Sonora Pacific N.G. RR.

Club member Frank Smith lives way south of us Fort Braggers in Northern California. Frank lives near San Luis Obispo. Frank’s friend, John LaBarba, has just completed his garden layout – The Sonora Pacific N.G. RR. In John’s e-mail to Frank he said, “Finally got most of the tweaks out of the track. My Consolidation [loco] is on the bench, so the Shay had to cover for active service. Everything needs weathering, and I have to make up some crews for the loco’s & rolling stock. But after close to three years, it nice to see a train finally run on the pike.”

Well John has produced something I have never seen before, night time picks of a G-scale layout. Check ‘em out:

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DSCN1809Thanks Frank. Great pics John.

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Roots of Motive Power (in Willits, California) Annual Open Day

Club members Dan Fessler and Mike Aplet and I made a pilgrimage to Willits a week or so ago to attend the annual open day at Roots of Motive Power. Roots is a museum of working and non-working steam powered machines that worked in the logging operations when steam was king. Dan took his super duper hypersonic camera so I left my Kodak Brownie camera in my pocket! So, credit to Dan for the pics below:

Roots of Motive Power Sign

Roots of Motive Power Sign

Roots has a one mile circle of standard gauge track on which their Mason County Logging Co. 2-6-2 was happily taking visitors for rides under the VERY hot sun (90 plus).

#7 at work

#7 at work

Head on shot of #7

Head on shot of #7

We found that Roots had a new arrival – a Shay that belonged to the Robert Dollar Logging operations.

Robert Dollat Shay

Robert Dollar Shay

Patent sign on the Robert Dollar Shay

Patent sign on the Robert Dollar Shay

Dan’s camera managed to withstand the shock of taking a photo of me ……..

Me standing beside a ginormous steam roller

Me standing beside a ginormous steam roller

The hit of the show for me were these Sterling logging trucks which had been wonderfully restored.

Sterling logging trucks

Sterling logging trucks

There were three old CWR (California Western Railroad) pieces of equipment languishing at Roots. Sadly, they were all in sad disrepair.

CWR 2-6-2 #14

CWR 2-6-2 #14

Inside of the old CWR Caboose

Inside of the old CWR Caboose

Nearly hidden at the back of the lot was CWR Diesel #53

Nearly hidden at the back of the lot was CWR Diesel #53

Ravel, one of our layouts most frequent and knowledgeable visitors was there with his mum and Dan snapped Ravel in front of the Heisler that was having difficulties.

Ravel beside the Heisler

Ravel beside the Heisler

Great visit.

Posted in Mendocino Coast, CA , Local History, Steam ups, Exhibitions | 2 Comments

R H & D R loco lent to R & E – which translated means that the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway lent a locomotive to the Ravebglass and Eskdale Railway

When we got back to Ravenglass we dived into the gift shop where my first acquisition was a Ravenglass and Eskdale DVD. Then I saw this amazing pottery train thingy:

9 inch pottery train model

9 inch pottery train model

Back view

Back view

I sneaked a peak at the bottom to see the price and promptly, very carefully, put it down. 200 pounds or $375. This guy caught my eye:

Angus cow

Angus cow

My wife’s, “And what are you going to do with that?” caused me to, reluctantly, relinquish him.

So we went back to the car and started up ready to troll off to Manchester to see relatives there and have chips and fish – hake being the choice of fish. Just as we were about to pull out a gigantic lorry pulled into the parking lot with a steam engine loaded on the back.

Lorry with steam engine on board

Lorry with steam engine on board

How many times in my life was I going to see a steam engine being unloaded from a lorry?  So, after a few minutes of cajoling, bribing and pleading wife Sarah agreed that I could watch them unload.

The first item off of the lorry was a boiler which had just been re-tubed. The new boiler was to be fitted into the engine that had just pulled us from Dalegarth. This meant that the Ravenglass and Eskdale would be down to a bare bones number of locos for daily operation and the busy season started in a week or so. Hence the decision to borrow a loco from the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.

Slowly, carefully up

Slowly, carefully up

Ever so gently down and off to the engine house

Ever so gently down and off to the engine house

Next off was the tender …….

Tender being wiggled onto the tracks

Tender being wiggled onto the tracks

Next came the really tricky part. The loco weighed a tad over five tons and the crane was rated for five tons when the boom was fully extended. So, lifting her up was ok …..

Lifting her up

Lifting her up

Swung up off the lorry and over the fence

Swung up off the lorry and over the fence

We were collectively holding our breath whilst watching the boom at this point.

With the boom fully extended up over the wall and the path beside the rails she is gently placed on the track

With the boom fully extended up over the wall and the path beside the rails she is gently placed on the track

The lorry driver and everyone about (except my wife who sat oblivious knitting in the car) uttered a VERY audible sigh of relief when the thumbs up sign came from the track crew that it was mission accomplished.

I got back in the car and wife Sarah said, “What was so special about that?”

Sometimes it is better to remain silent.

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Boot, the end of the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway and Morecombe Bay Shrimp

As you can see from the map the seven mile trip ends at the village of Boot. Well, not quite – the end of the line is at Dalegarth. The totality of Dalegarth seems to be the station there. The village of boot though can be see from the station.

Map of Route

Map of Route

It was a beautiful day when we arrived so we strolled to Boot to see what ancient treasures it held.

The main attraction was the Mill which, by English standards was quite recent:

The Mill Race

The Mill Race

The Mill

The Mill

The age of the Mill

The age of the Mill

The item in the cluttered “museum” that was attached to the mill was “The Mangle”. When I was about eight I was conscripted by my grandmother every Monday (except when it was raining) to man “The Mangle”. I hated my job as a latter day Roman slave. And for those of you who have never seen  “The Mangle” check out the pic below:

The dreaded Mangle

The dreaded Mangle

The explanation of what the mangle was used fo

The explanation of what the mangle was used for

The village of Boot didn’t offer too much in the way of epicurean delights so we decided to go back to the station and see if the station caff could offer us a tea and sticky. When we got to the cafe (note the upgrade in term here) we found it offered a limited, but superb menu. And, much to my immense delight, they had Morecombe Bay shrimps as the special of the day.

Morecombe Bay potted shrimps

Morecombe Bay potted shrimps

Morecombe Bay potted shrimps are a traditional Lancashire (a county in north-east England)  dish made with tiny brown shrimp flavoured with nutmeg. The dish consists of the brown shrimp in nutmeg-flavoured butter, which has set in a small pot. We ate ours with baked that morning granary bread.

Potted shrimp was a favourite dish of Ian Fleming who passed on his predilection for the delicacy to his famous fictional creation, James Bond. Fleming reputedly used to eat the dish at Scotts Restaurant on Mount Street in London where it is still served to this day.

How good was ours? I pigged out and had a second pot!

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Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway

Question 1 – where is Ravenglass?

Location of Ravenglass

Location of Ravenglass

Question 2 – Where is the Lake District?

Ravenglass - not far from Scotland and Hadrian's Wall

Ravenglass – not far from Scotland and Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall was a defensive fortification against the Scots in Roman Britain begun in AD 122 during the rule of emperor Hadrian.  In addition to its military role, gates through the wall served as customs posts.

So now you know where I went on my vacation. My first two visits to the Lake District were 45 odd years ago in winter. The rain clouds were inches off the ground, the wind howled and the rain lashed down. I never told wife Sarah this ‘cos I thought she would refuse to go. Anyway, we went and it was a glorious English spring day and for the first time I saw the Fells – the name given to the hills/mountains of the area.

Rhododendrons as far as the eye can see

Rhododendrons as far as the eye can see

To my stepmother, who was evacuated from the Manchester area during WWII to the Lake District the railroad on which we were to ride was not the Ravenglass and Eskdale but La’al Ratty.

La'al Ratty

La’al Ratty

The original Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway was a 3 ft (914 mm) line opened on 24 May 1875 to transport hematite iron ore from mines around Boot to the Furness Railway standard gauge line at Ravenglass. Passengers were permitted from 1876 and were carried until November 1908. It was the first public narrow-gauge railway in England. The line was declared bankrupt in 1897 although it operated for many years afterwards. It was forced to close in April 1913, due to decline in demand for iron ore and small volumes of passengers in summer. In 1915 Bassett-Lowke and Proctor-Mitchell, two model makers, converted the line to the 15 in gauge that it is today.

La’al Ratty was number 3 on my Bucket list and my first glimpse of our loco was enough to tell me that I had not erred.

River Mite on the turntable

River Mite on the turntable

Inside the cab

Inside the cab

Running around the passenger cars

Running around the passenger cars

The ride is seven miles long.

Seven miles of heaven

Seven miles of heaven

A great ride on a great day.

 

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Electrification of Second Main Line of the Mendocino Coast Railroad and Navigation Co. G Sclae Layout

Our layout is a mite more complicated than the normal G scale layout boasting two main lines, ability to run eight consists contemporaneously and has five levels. The schematic below gives an insight to its complexity:

Schematic opf the layout

Schematic of the layout

The design envisaged that only one of the two main line tracks would be powered through the rails and that the other would be used by battery powered trains and at a future date battery powered trains with radio control. Like all good plans this one came to an abrupt halt when faced with reality -our learning curve on what it takes to keep battery powered trains in operation seven days a week – we are open to the public seven days a week – has proved a steep one.

So, with reluctance on the part of some club members the decision was taken to change the second line to powered through the rails in such a way that if wanted to reverse that decision it could be made with relative ease. To make the change to RTR (Running Through the Rails) required a GREAT deal of tedious, methodical work. Fortunately we have the right man for the job – club member Joe Green. Below you can see that Joe did everything right and we can now have a powered through the rails consist running on each of the main line tracks.

Joe watching the results of his work - two trains passing each other on the main line tracks

Joe watching the results of his work – two trains passing each other on the main line tracks

Thanks Joe for a great job.

 

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