The “REAL” McDonalds Story

If you were to Google the history of McDonald’s, you would find this:

“The original McDonald’s was opened in California by Maurice and Richard McDonald in 1940. A hamburger sold for .15 cents back then. After several attempts, the McDonald brothers had created a successful eatery. They were looking for a new franchising agent and Kroc saw an opportunity. In 1955, he founded McDonald’s System, Inc., a predecessor of the McDonald’s Corporation, and six years later bought the exclusive rights to the McDonald’s name and operating system. ” This is what you will you find on Google.

But you can’t always believe what you read on the internet…..so here is the “true” story of McDonalds.

Jerry Beaudroux, known as JB by his friends, was a successful businessman in the town of Beaver Falls, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. His business, overalls for the hard working man or woman.

He was CEO and chief overall tester at the factory, located on the west end of Beaver Falls. JB was known all throughout the town and valley for his love of a good burger, his love of overalls (he wore them every day and everywhere) and for having his companion Jenny at his side all the time. His favorite place to eat in Beaver Falls was Grinnell’s Diner. His favorite order, the Grinburger with fries and a Coke. Now Grinnell’s offered a fine burger, but JB was a busy man and didn’t like to waste time sitting in a diner. He had a business to run and trains to watch at the local depot.

Side story: Being a train enthusiast, he loved to sit at the Beaver Falls depot with Jenny and watch the trains go by. Freight trains, passenger trains, all trains. Anytime a train would go by, he would stand near the edge of the depot platform so he could feel the rush of wind and power of the train as it rushed by. This made Jenny nervous and she would start foaming at the mouth. Overtime, those who saw JB and Jenny watching trains began referring to them as “Foamers”. True story and this term is still used today for any train enthusiasts.

Anyway, back to the story. JB wanted a faster burger and he found it in the fall of of 1954, when the McDonald brothers opened their first burger stand in Beaver Falls. It was built in the northwest corner of town, in a fast developing business area. JB’s factory was only half a mile to the west! As the new McDonald’s was being built, JB wondered what it could be? That October he would find out.

It was a Friday and JB was heading over the Grinnell’s Diner. He always had a burger on Friday. On his way he spotted the Grand Opening signs at McDonald’s. He pulled in to check it out. There were banners, balloons, and a long line of people. JB decided to give it a try, though he worried how long it would take to get through the long line. Could it be longer than sitting in the diner and waiting? To his surprise he had two burgers, fries and a Coke in hand in less than 5 minutes. He sat in his truck and ate his burgers. They were delicious. A little more basic than the Grinburger, but delicious.

JB and Jenny at McDonald’s

The next day, he took Jenny. It was a Saturday and JB knew he had to go back for another burger. He put on his finest overalls, grabbed Jenny and headed down to McDonald’s. He bought 4 burgers, 2 fries and a Coke. Jenny devoured her 2 burgers and fries. JB took his time and savored every bite.

Fast forward 1 year. JB and Jenny have been eating at McDonald’s 3-4 times a week. The McDonald brothers knew JB as their best customer. Jenny even gets her burgers for free! One day the McDonald brothers approach JB with a business proposition, as they know JB is a successful business man. They want to expand McDonald’s to new locations, but they didn’t have the capital. They wanted JB’s advise. JB suggested franchising and saw an opportunity. In 1955, he founded the McDonald’s System, Inc., a predecessor of the McDonald’s Corporation, and six years later bought the exclusive rights to the McDonald’s name and operating system. This is is the story you will NOT find on Google.

  • After a decade of building McDonald’s franchises, JB introduced the Big Mac in 1967. Remember, JB loved the burgers from McDonald’s, but always thought they were a little too plain, compared to the Grinburger. The Big Mac, two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. I’ll be you sang that, didn’t you! JB never liked the middle bun idea, but corporate did, so it stayed. To this day, JB takes out the middle bun when he gets his Big Mac every Friday. Oh, and the name Big Mac. It came from Jenny’s father, Big Mack.

More Details

Mountain goats have claimed new territory

New hillside scenery work begins

A scratchbuilt trestle will go here

The boat works looking towards the paper plant

Watkins Paint is busy from all the new construction in the area

Honoring the brave……and the town drunk

Skateboard and roller skate fun in downtown Beaver Falls


Trestles and Fast Food

This week at the CSME:

New trestles are being installed on the upper mainline.

Pink foam magma is growing a new peak above Big Wood Canyon

Jerry, Gene and Randy workin on the railroad

Concrete work has begun around the new trestle bridges

More concrete supports

Lonnie is working on ballasting the main yard in the north room.

Beaver Falls will soon have a new service station, Mobilgas.

As Beaver Falls expands west, new roads are being built to support new businesses. The foundations have been poured for a new “fast food” restaurant that will revolutionize the industry (keep in mind, this layout is set in the 1950’s).

A look down Main Street in downtown Beaver Falls. New businesses are popping up, including: Grinnell’s Pancake Corner, PB&N Trains, Doug’s Toys, Bergemann’s Market, Kester & Landrock, Attorney’s at Law, Jeff’s Food to Go and Jordan Music.


Wednesday at Club – Even Gnomes Need Transportation

After a long day of work, things get a little blurry

Beaver Lumber and Supply

Watkins Paints, a distributer of fine colors

Unleased and yet to be completed industry in Beaver Falls.

H. Sherwood fruit processing.

Waiting for the evening train. Even Gnomes need transportation

UP track cleaning crew round the point

UP – Dependable Transportation


Bridge Upgrade

Several of our bridges were installed as basic plywood and roadbed, knowing that we would come back someday and upgrade them to more prototypical versions.

The old plywood bridge and roadbed have been separated from the rails and dropped out of place.

Doug inspects the new bridge for a smooth rail transition across the gap.

Rolling stock is tested for smooth operation

Rock work added to support the scenery and abutments

Rock has been painted and the first train crosses the new bridge!

Doug decommissions the old bridge by eating McDonalds fries with ketchup.


Beaver Falls

Work continues on the town of Beaver Falls. Some new details have been added. Street improvements have been made. And, unfortunately, crime is on the rise.

Officer Landrock frisks “Doug”, the local town hooligan, outside the Green Door Tavern.

Chief Brock gives a treat to the firehouse dog, while local hounds harass Gene the mailman.

Citizens of Beaver Falls line up for the matinee showing of Cinderella

Annoyed at the local deputy for her jaywalking ticket last week, Miss Violet takes her time crossing the street while he waits in his car.

Doug, the town hooligan, is sent on his way with a bus ticket to some other town far from Beaver Falls.


Wednesday at Club

Gene sets up train for operation in the yard, while on the other side, Randy works on some electrical issues

Some rock patching has begun on a spliced section of layout

Basic cardboard is being used as a base for the rock wall along the upper mainline

Is it a double-deck bridge? Jerry is working to upgrade the upper mainline bridge. His new bridge sits below its future installation site.


Workin on the Railroad

Work continues on the CSME railroad. Several members (the retired ones) attend work sessions on Mondays and Tuesdays. The rest of us attend on Wednesday evenings. Quite a bit of progress has been made. The lower and upper mainlines are now operational and members have begun to run some trains. We still have electrical work to do, mainly connecting switch machines and power to track sidings.

Larry and Dan figuring out a fascia project on the helix.

Landrock Shipbuilders in the making

View of the north room

View of the south room

Amtrak 375 makes a test run through the helix tunnel


It’s Been Awhile…

It’s been a long time since we have been able to update this page. A lot of work has continued on the layout, despite Covid. We chose to cancel our November Open House weekends and have high hopes to be open to the public in 2022.

We hope to do our best to do weekly updates.

Scenery work continues. This dock in located in a new area that includes a shipbuilding industry
Larry and Dan figure out how low the fascia can be installed and still allow old guys to access the inside of the helix.
Looking at the southern end of the layout.
Looking at the northern end of the layout.
Zoomed out view of the shipbuilding industry
Amtrak has now begun service on the layout. Notice the oddly fractured rock….a work in progress or an earthquake?

Tunnel Vision Dance Steps


The last report was quite technical and there were more colorful developments this week in addition to DCC documentation.  One of these included a major step in helix construction.  George has worked diligently for several weeks to wrap a fascia around the lower frame of this part of the layout.  This fascia wrap created a tunnel almost 15 feet long and covered up Larry’s hard work on the rock liner.   George’s framing included uprights to support outside edges of the subroadbed.  On the lower level these uprights also provided a router guide allowing us to use a laminate bit to route out windows.  These windows can be used for viewing trains inside the tunnel and good access to the tunnel interior. 

We had a sneak work session to rout out these windows.  Larry and I did this on Saturday because we knew it would be extremely dusty and noisy.  Gabe, a 6th grader from Redmond, Oregon came by to visit.  Larry was cleaning up from the routing job and he drafted Gabe into running the “suckulator”.  Even though we put him right to work, Gabe said he wanted to come by again.

Not only has great progress been made on the south helix but also our drive-in movie has found a home.  With great frustration and challenge, Doug successfully modified existing framing in Corvallis to fit the theater module into a corner.  We’ve been concerned about how we might locate this icon.  For those of you who don’t know, this diorama was made by member Lyle Friese who has since passed on.  The featured film, 3:10 To Yuma, was the movie playing when Lyle took his wife on their first date.

We have mystery dance steps with directions appearing on the floor between George’s Gorge and Eagle Point.  It may be that CSME is the first model railroad club in America to have foot placement dance diagrams affixed to the floor complete with labels for “L” and “R” feet.  During lunch this week a lively discussion developed about who the author of this artwork might be.  Doug quickly defended himself against any allegations advising all present that it wasn’t him because he couldn’t spell “L” or “R”.  Current evidence points to Lonnie.

Hopefully this progress report reads a bit easier than the last one and provides some exoneration for the infliction of such a highly technical document upon the membership.


DCC Documentation


CSME members who are interested in DCC documentation for our layout can review this narrative.  It is NOT a requirement to run on the layout, however, if there are problems, it can often help to define exact locations to assist in troubleshooting.  This is written as the DCC wiring system is being designed and as of revision 4/21/21.  Names and wiring assignments may change but we will try to keep documentation up to date.

Here is a very simplified explanation of our DCC system.  It has, among other components,  the basic parts as shown in figure 1.  We have a DCC command station that gets radio signals from our hand held throttles, processes them and sends commands to our 11 boosters.  These boosters send information through (up to) 4 circuit breakers to sections of track called power districts.  This information tells our trains to puff, toot, ding, back up, and go slow or fast. But how do we make sense out of all this stuff as it relates to our layout? 

There are two pages that will help in understanding our DCC wiring:  1) A layout track plan labeled CSME as built schematic and  2) A chart labeled CSME Electrical Documentation.  (Figures 4 and 5)  The track plan uses a legend found on the 2nd page of the CSME  Electrical Documentation.  This legend indicates place name abbreviations on the track plan and other information.  At this time these are working documents and are functional rather than neat and pretty.  Some things to know about this documentation:

  1. It  deals with booster, circuit breaker and power district levels in figure 1 
  2. Place names use 2 letters (CO = Corvallis, C8 = Camp 8, etc.)
  3. Power districts use 2 numbers (8.2 = booster 8, power district 2)
  4. 4 colors are used on the track plan to identify power districts: #1 = green, #2 = yellow, #3 = orange and #4 = blue.  PLEASE NOTE: these DO NOT refer to wire color.  These colors were hi-lighters used to make sure we had all tracks assigned.
  5. Each of our 10 boosters has 4 available power districts – 1 thru 4.  We’re using the old Zephyr as a booster and it has 2 power districts – Z.1 and Z.2.
  6. Several power districts are un-assigned and are labeled “open”.  These are purposely left un-assigned to provide balancing capability once we start running.  For example, we may find that we are often tripping breaker 4.1 currently assigned to BL-NA. (Booster #4, power district #1 supplying power to the mainline between Blodgett and Nashville).  Open power districts allow us to split a power district into 2 sections or re-assign it to another booster to balance capacity.  It is difficult to predict where these overloads will occur because of the number of variables involved.  We did a fair job of balancing power but an intense “run night” will show weak areas in the system.  Open power districts allow us to respond and, after several sessions, we should have the system pretty well balanced.
  7. How do we predict where power districts should start and end?  We base these points on several considerations including 1) how many locomotives will be using this track at one time, 2) are they pulling hard uphill, coasting downhill, or running level, 3) how many feet of track are in the power district, 4) how many feet of wire will it take to power the whole district including reaching back to the booster, 5) how many locomotives will be running on this same booster at one time and 6) the location of intuitive track blocks and insulated rail gaps.

What the heck is an intuitive track block?  Let’s take a look at figure 2.  Numbers 1,2 and 3 define track blocks.   Thick black marks indicate insulated rail gaps.  1 and 2 are mainline blocks and 3 can be a passing track.  In terms of operability, a Gene Neville term,  an eastbound (L to R) 4 unit set of powered, sound equipped F-7’s rolls thru block 2 followed by 4 powered, sound equipped SD-45’s in block 1.  Meanwhile, in block 3 a set of 4 sound equipped, powered F-3’s move a westbound (R-L) train into the clear.  In this situation, we could have 12 sound equipped, powered locomotives in these 3 blocks.  We want our layout to be able to support this kind of operation.  By blocking the track into mainline (1 and 2) and passing track (3) blocks with gaps near the fouling points of the switch, we can split power demands among boosters.  The gaps make sense because that’s where trains would stop when given limited authority.  This exact situation exists on our layout at the ends of Nashville and Eddyville.

How about something more complicated? Check out figure 3 where we have a figure 2 situation complicated by a yard entrance.  We shorten block 3 to stay clear of the yard ladder fouling point and add block 4 to power the yard.  In terms of operability we can have  2 eastbound  trains on the mainline in blocks 1 and 2, a westbound train easing up to the fouling point in block 3 and a switch engine working the ladder in block 4. If the switch engine or cars stumble on a switch in block 4 causing a short, it doesn’t shut down the mainline (1 & 2)  or siding  (3). This condition exists, sometimes with a double track mainline with crossovers, at the ends of Philomath, Corvallis and Toledo.  Wow!  We can see where dynamic balancing can be a bit tricky when we want a layout with prototypical options. 

With a bit of study of this narrative, along with the documentation pages mentioned above and noted below in figures 4 and 5, one can go a long way in understanding our DCC wiring system.  In addition, Randy, Gene, or myself would be glad to walk you through the system.  It is not our aim to make each member a DCC aficionado but rather provide a basic understanding that will enable members to locate problem areas.  The documentation package will be available in a binder near the command station when we get up and running.  It is our hope that several folks will take an interest in the system and be able to help others keep it running.  As old age creeps up on us, it will become more and more  important to de-centralize this knowledge.

Figure 4 shows a small portion of the power district assignment sheet. This is the peninsula between Philomath (left) and Corvallis (right). Place names and power district assignments are as noted in numbers 2 and 3 above.  Colors are explained in number 4 above.  Note that lower level tracks are powered by boosters 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7.  Upper level tracks are powered by boosters 2, 3, 4, and 7.   By spreading the load across multiple boosters and power districts we can accommodate very intense train running .  Figure 5 shows a portion of our Electrical Documentation chart.  Columns are used as follows:  Booster is the booster number, P Dist is the power district number (1 through 4), Pwr Dist Name is the location of the power district using 2 letter abbreviations.  When final names are selected for the layout this column can be     updated.  Wire will be the colors of the wire pairs running from the circuit breaker to the power district.  Notes include explanatory notes such as “includes rev. loop”.   

It is hoped that interested members can use this documentation to understand the control system and thereby make it more manageable.  At a minimum, an engineer can look at a blinking red light, identify the power district number, look it up in the documentation and report it to proper personnel.


What’s With the Blue Tape?


Some months back we requested a visit from the fire department and they sent 2 representatives over to have a look at our paper plans on the floor. We asked for suggestions regarding the layout and proposed open houses. Among other things, they  advised that we needed a floor length fascia around the south helix. George has been working on the design and fabrication of this part of the fascia. Basic framing for this unique part of our layout was completed this week. 

George adds short studs to a custom made base on the south helix for a drop down fascia requested by fire marshals. 

Doug has been working on re-forestation of Eagle Point. He’s also replaced the lighthouse and keeper’s cottage up on the bluff.  Scenery in this area will be spectacular as he works his magic. 

This construction requires constant sweeping and vacuuming.  Bill and Randy have been very diligent in this effort. If anyone wants to come down during off hours and help out, we’d love it. Most of the dust is contained within the cutting room, however some cutting must be done in the main layout room. Any assistance would be much appreciated. 

Randy does a classic 2-step with broom. Keeping up  with construction mess is a real challenge. 

As we near completion of framing and track laying there are many small pieces left over from the old layout. Many of these pieces including “L” girders, track boards with cork and track, short legs, 22,412 lineal feet of used blue and orange #12 stranded wire, and scenery sections are in the new layout room. These serviceable pieces will not be used on the new layout and have been slated for a dump run.  Come by in the next week and you can have your choice. They are laying along the east wall awaiting removal. Free to all members. Come and get them. Text or e-mail Jerry, Randy, or Gene if you have questions. 

So, what’s up with all the blue tape labels and colored push pins along the track and between rails? Good question. Here are some answers:

Power districts marked up with tape. Points ofthe left  switch are in poor shape and will be repaired. MP 49.2 note is  from old layout and holds no authority on new layout.

Blue tape stuck along the right-of-way but NOT between the rails represent feet from our zero point at the door end of the Albany yard. They are placed at 20 foot intervals. It can be thought of as if surveyors started at the UP/SP interchange in Albany and measured west to the end of the line. This was done by Larry and Bill using a measuring wheel. Total length of mainline track on this layout ended up being 452’ – somewhat longer than the 406’ of our previous mainline. We can use these markers, which will be made more permanent and prototypical later, as markers for track and right-of-way work. 

Blue tape stuck BETWEEN the rails indicates power districts and booster assignments. 7.4 means booster 7, power district 4. Also 7.2/8.1 means the end of power district 7.2 , rail gap, beginning of 8.1. The heavy bar indicates where the rails should have gaps (offset  about 1/4” rail to rail). We expect to have 10 boosters plus a Zephyr, each one having 2-4 power districts powered by a PSX-4 circuit breaker. These power districts are defined by operability (probable number of locomotives within the district) as opposed to location  only. Documentation will be thorough and simple. This makes it accessible to interested members for possible trouble shooting. 

There needs to be enough power capacity so this layout can be marketed to prospective members as being able to support multiunit operation. This is a first class layout in space, aisle width, mainline length,  trackwork, passing track capacity, maximum grade, minimum curve radius and a number of other parameters.  We need to have a first class DCC system with sufficient power to support operation, “open house” running,  and member needs. This power system will be consistent with those high standards. 

Push pins along the track have to do with rail gaps. We will put together a legend for pins, tape, and distance markers so all members can see what’s going on. It will also help us keep track (pun intended) of what we’re doing. 

C’mon by and see what’s going on.


Prepping for the Golden Spike


Today’s report will be mostly pictures since it’s spring and there’s lots of ranch work to be done. To be sure, progress continues on the layout. Specific scenery details are being added, DCC power districts are being defined and refined, and DCC components are being ID’d so purchases can be authorized. If you visit the club to inspect the work, take note of the blue tape tags with weird numbers on them placed between the rails on some of the track. DON”T Move them. These are power district block indicators for our wiring crew.  

Here are some pictures of this week’s work:

Bill working on Deep Canyon which is in the left side of the picture between the concrete abutments 

Larry working on the lower level of our helix
using his rolling workbench

Patrick painting the backdrop for the Corvallis

Doug painting “mud” at Eagle Creek

Track foreman Ben Dover ran his Fairmont M-14 out on the
Eagle Point trestle. We have no idea how he got it to curve along the
timbers. Neither do we know who the young lady sitting in the car is?
When asked about the surveyor’s bent rod, he told us it was for laying
out curves.

The immensity of the mountainside dwarfs the little
motorcar. Amazing, no ties and no rail, but Ben got his “pop” car out

Eagle Cove begins to recover some of its lost detail.

Doug lays out an additional industry
for Eagle Cove

Deep in Eagle Canyon, O’Flarety’s crews get ready for the Golden Spike Ceremony. Track engineer Sureshot Smith pointed out that before we can lay the track, we need the BRIDGE!!


Pterodactyl Screams


Developing a DCC system for large layouts requires a great deal of thought. Randy, Gene, and myself sat down Monday and Tuesday mornings, put our heads together and developed a plan. This plan was based on maximum operability of the layout or, in other  words, the heaviest, best use during an operations session. We wanted to take advantage of the full capabilities of the layout. This included switching in 5 towns, a logging operation, 2 major yards, 2 locomotive facilities, staging capabilities, and several trains on the mainline all at the same time. Actual train crews can number 15 or more with a crew being 1 to 2 people. This is consistent with our minimum 36” radius curves,  maximum 1.7% grade, minimum #6 turnouts on the main, 48” wide aisles and long passing sidings. We also had to design in the ability for one or a few persons to come in, turn on the lights and the layout and run a train or switch a few cars. 

DCC planning session complete with colored diagrams, power district documentation, cookies, french fries and highly motivated participants. Jerry, Randy, and Gene maintain a laser focus on all things Digitrax.

In addition to an operations based plan, we had to develop a wiring system with specific and consistent standards. These standards had to be in as simple a form as possible so members with an interest in layout wiring could understand it, identify boosters, locate power districts and trace circuits. This makes trouble-shooting much easier.  Moreover, this same documentation can be used as a guide to actually wire the layout. 

The Digitrax DCC system uses wireless throttles that talk to a command station which in turn tells locomotives what to do through a series of boosters, circuit breakers and a wire distribution system. Color coded wires using several colors will be used and copied into the documentation. Booster stations and circuit breakers will be visible and accessible from the aisle thus allowing quick and easy assessment of problems. Our general thoughts were to make the DCC system robust enough to align with the full capabilities designed into the layout, and at the same time, make it user friendly.  This work will begin next week and continue for 2-3 weeks.  

Gene helps Jaymes with a decoder problem in a Missouri Pacific Alco PA 

The adept hands of Randy check power district gaps with a “tweeter” and then marks them with push pins.  The first time this tweeter went off 3 guys who wear hearing aids grimaced in pain and simultaneously grabbed for volume controls. The piercing sound of this device probably replicates the attack scream of a 25 foot Pterodactyl.

As vaccinations become more widespread, more and more folks are coming by on Mondays and Tuesdays to work, inspect, or just see what’s up. We welcome any who want to visit or work. We always have jobs available. Bill has started working on Deep Canyon scenery. Patrick continues his work on the town in Corvallis. Jaymes came by to get some help with installing a decoder into a really nice MP  Alco PA. Larry continues work on the helix “tunnel” liner and ballast. George is making track joints on sidings and Gene continues preparing electrical drops for power districts. Lonnie came by with his famous RS-3 to test the south helix concluding that the new helix allows his engine to pull 19 cars up the hill compared to only 12 on the old layout. Doug continues his work in Eagle Everything and has branched out into marine biology to include menacing sharks, sunken logs, and secretive fish.  And then there’s lunch – a time of supreme culinary delights and highly intellectual exchange of thought. 

Eagle Creek tumbles into Eagle Cove as this below the bridge aquarium view reveals a lurking shark, sunken log, and other submarine details. 

Spring has sprung in the northwest necessitating an increase in ranch work. Spraying fence lines,  fertilizing pastures, mowing perimeters, and fixing farm equipment that more resembles yard art or museum antiquities rather than working equipment will make these progress reports shorter and less timely. Oh yeah, and then there’s a mare who is going to foal near the end of the month and, as always, in the middle of the night.


The Stuff


Doug, ever the inventive scenery guy, embarked upon a clandestine mission to pour Woodland Scenics Water Stuff into Eagle Creek and Cove. The pictures speak for themselves. Figure 4, however, is very interesting. It shows liquid-liquid interfaces of 3 liquids of differing densities. The most dense cloudy stuff is on the bottom while the clear, least dense catalyst floats on top. The dye (blue) has a density between the other two and so it sinks thru the first layer and rests on top of the bottom layer. In figure 6 Doug used a stick to pour the stuff so he wouldn’t get bubbles in the water. One bubble did form so he hit it with a propane torch, busted the bubble, lit off the log floating in the “water” and darn near burned up the trestle. It was really fun to watch him dance around on that one but, alas, no pictures. I was too busy ducking and dodging him.  

Gathering the stuff

Pouring the stuff

Smelling the stuff

Interesting physics stuff

Doug was so excited about the success of his water pour that we both marveled at it. After about 10 minutes of marveling, Doug realized he hadn’t stuck the trestle, whose piers had to go INTO the water, in place. He managed to get the trestle situated – just barely. We quit marveling and got back to work. 

Mixing the stuff

Pouring the stuff

Inspecting the stuff

Inserting trestle into the stuff

In the last picture, with no caption, look closely into the deeper water and find some fish just above the submerged log and a SHARK bottom center. They don’t need a “no diving from bridge” sign with that guy cruising around. These critters will be visible from the fascia side of the cove not only by looking down into the water but also by looking into it from the side (as if you were swimming in the water—away from the  shark). This is sure to be a hit with the public. Good work Doug. Also, thank you Bill and Gene for stopping by to supervise and help.


Ties, Rail and Barnacles


We would like to thank all of you for your continued support and cheerleading.  When a Progress Report is issued and you take time to respond to it, to get in the spirit of the report, to compliment the work and workers, it is noticed.  It is also greatly appreciated.  It means that someone actually reads this stuff and our work is for a worthy cause.

Comments about progress reports are often discussed during the workday and particularly at lunch.  Conversations around the 4’ X 8’, socially distanced, lunch table often times soar to intellectual heights heretofore unknown in the annals of model railroading.  Not only are member comments discussed but also details of upcoming work, specific design parameters, sources of materials and methods of construction.  Massive amounts of detailed engineering specs are shared and evaluated.  And then, after the French fries have disappeared, we resume work or go home to take our naps.  

George and his wire caddy

Progress to date has been great.  Larry has completed his rock wall tunnel liner around the base of the helix and he is ballasting pre-painted track within the tunnel.  Design work has started on the helix fascia including the “windows” to showcase Larry’s work.  George is the point person on this.  We also ran out of 1/8” Masonite and large pieces of ¾” plywood.  This meant off to Home Depot for additional supplies.

Gene reports wire drops are almost complete on the mainline.  We used existing drops where possible and then added  new ones per Randy’s electrical design specs.  Patrick continues working on the Corvallis area and Doug keeps up the effort in Eagle everything.  Jaymes J, a new member, came by for a bit on Monday.  He’s very interested in all phases of model railroading and wishes to help and learn.  Welcome Jaymes.  We’ll be happy to provide on the job training.

Doug works on the Eagle Point trestle

With framing and mainline trackage about complete, layout construction is ready to move into new phases.  We can start thinking about wiring and scenery patches.  Wiring will come first and we have been doing some planning and purchasing for that.  George made a rolling wire caddy that holds up to 9  500’ spools of 12 gauge stranded wire.  We can move it around from booster location to booster location and roll out whatever wire we need.  Boosters will be decentralized so they can be installed near the areas they power allowing us to keep our  wire runs to less than 30 feet in each direction – 60’ total.  There will be 4 power districts per booster each having its own color code. Most wire connections will be made using suitcase connectors – authentic 3M brand rather than cheap knockoffs.  Terminations will be made with spade connectors and terminal strips.

Documentation for layout wiring will be designed so all can read and understand it.  It will be readily available in the layout room and demonstrations and clinics will be provided for those interested.  In this way we hope to have several members able to maintain and trouble shoot the layout electrical system. 

Eagle Point trestle awaiting ties, rail and barnacles

During lunch today Gene brought up the idea of using station names different than actual locations.  For example, Eagle Cove is not a real place and therefore buildings and details need not match a prototype.  It still looks real but we don’t have comments like “gee, that’s not how I remember it”.  It requires new names for Corvallis, Philomath, Blodgett, etc.   There probably needs to more discussion among club members.  To change or not to change, that is the question.  If change is in order, then, to what?  Care to provide feedback via e-mails?  Let ‘er rip.


Golden Cork


Last week was particularly important in regards to several items of interest. First, we actually started running trains – well at least test trains. You can review the previous post for a first hand glimpse of the excitement gripping workers during test runs. These test runs were based on the availability of DCC power on the track. We started at the west end of Philomath (beginning of new helix) and sent power through rails to the top of the helix. This worked out pretty well with the loss of only 1/10th of a volt so we patched up some jumpers to get into Blodgett. That got us clear to the end of Blodgett so another jumper  was strung through a hole in the scenery over to a loads in/empties out tunnel portal and twisted together. That got us to the Nashville siding and so on.  Amazingly we only had about a ½ volt drop in DCC  track voltage with our temporary wiring for 135’ of track.  

We also had a “Golden Cork” celebration at 10:30 AM on today. Golden Cork is like a Golden Spike but involving cork roadbed. This means the cork roadbed has been completed for the mainline. Gene,  George, and I have been working on this for several  weeks. Doug, Larry, Patrick and Lonnie jumped in when we needed help. The Golden Spike ceremony isn’t far off. We just need to turn Doug’s Eagle Creek drawbridge into a fixed deck girder bridge and we’ll have the mainline pretty well finished up. Gene will be  cutting in a new switch to the north end staging yard next week. 

Golden Cork Documentation

 Doug’s Eagle Creek Drawbridge (?)

Larry has been working on a rock liner for the  “visible tunnel”. He’s developed a pretty good technique for working in this awkward location.  Progress was pretty slow on Monday but by Tuesday  he was really cooking. Tinfoil and Sculptamold were  flying everywhere. While I was working on the helix track it was necessary to jump out of the way on  several occasions. 

Larry at his “rock tunnel liner” work station 

George finished the logging branch from its connection to the main all the way to the camp at the center wall. We might put an extension on it to provide for a longer run-around. There is also an option to tunnel through the wall and run into the north room for another camp. 

George working on the logging branch. 

A fine example of advanced DCC wiring for our test run

Sadly, I must report a significant crime at CSME Tuesday. It involved collusion at the highest level. It was premeditated and, although unproven at this time, clearly  conspiratorial. The culprits know who they are. A bit of background is required to acquire a full understanding of this dastardly deed. Laying track on our helix has involved  6’ pieces of flextrack nicely soldered together ahead of time by Gene. I come along and lay 4 or 5 of these pieces on the roadbed, make the required cuts, align the ends and solder them together on the curve. This 24-30’ flex track snake (Snaketrakus atlasii) is then set over to the inside of the curve. Upon signal, the crew takes preassigned stations and I lay a bead of caulk on 24-30’ of  roadbed. While the caulk clock is ticking, the crew spreads the caulk, carefully picks up the long piece of flex track WITHOUT kinking it or breaking solder joints, and feeds it to me as I lay it in a smooth curve and subsequently press it into the caulk. Mind you, we do this in very long sections and timing and orchestration are of the essence. It is a well- planned ballet – maybe ballet stretches the point but you get the idea. It results in very smooth curves. 

This morning we were orchestrating our ballet. The looooooong flex track had been prepared, the crew was standing by, spreading tools at the ready, and I began laying down the carefully measured bead of caulk. This starts the caulking clock running and no time can be wasted. When I asked for the caulking gun I presumed it would have a full tube of caulk – it did not. Furtive glances among the perpetrators revealed a major crime was beginning to unfold. 

Running out of caulk after only 6 feet, realizing that time was of the essence and good adhesion demands wet caulk, I had to get another tube immediately. I was gleefully pointed to an additional tube – carefully staged I’m sure by certain nefarious individuals. I galloped over, grabbed the tube, got it into the gun and began running my bead. I ran out again after only a few feet. Jumping Jerimiah!! Not again!! I knew there were new tubes of caulk clear at the other end of the room – a full 80 feet away. I ran north, got a NEW tube and chugged back south. On my return trip I noticed “the crew” all wearing “cat ate the canary” grins. I accused them rather loudly as they proclaimed innocence. Then they all became “over-occupied” with spreading caulk with heads down but I heard a number of giggles and snickers. I think there may have been a comment about some 75 year old guy galloping up and down the room. We just barely got the track down as they slinked away to their respective work areas. I told them I would report the incident in full detail to the  highest authority. This narrative makes said report. They are, even after this, however, a really good crew — rascals every one. 


Kink at High Bridge


Low Water Hogan, longtime hog head on the SP&S and somewhat famous for being quite the throttle jockey, leaned out of the window of the big 700 and soaked in sounds of staccato exhaust bouncing off cliffs and hills. He had her workin’ hard with full tonnage on the 1.4% grade out of Philomath. He knew full well that a stretch of 1.7% was coming up as soon as he crossed under the high line bridge. Pop Off McGaffe, Low Water’s favorite fireman, was well aware of what the old girl needed and he had the firing valve full open. 

The big S P & S 700, running lite back from Nashville, tip toes out  onto the high bridge. This engine is the star of today’s progress report.  Thank you George for provide such a fine steed. And thank you to Gene, Larry, Doug, and Lonnie, for helping make this happen.

The endless line of freight cars on the tender hook leaned into the curve behind the  engine and tried to hold her back but to no avail. The 8 big drivers dug into the polished steel and kept the whole thing moving. Suddenly Flatwheel Smith, head end brakeman who was hanging out of the gangway watching who knows what, jumped across the deck and grabbed Low Water by the arm. He yelled in the hogger’s ear over the cacophony of big steam sound “Hey, there’s a red flag around the bend!”.  

Low Water, knowing full well what stopping on the ruling grade meant, eased off on the  throttle and the speed dropped quickly. Pop Off slammed the firing valve almost closed and the stack erupted with clouds of black smoke. Soot rained down on everything. Low Water grabbed the train at about 4 miles an hour so he could stop ½ the distance to any obstruction.  Pretty soon they saw it. It was Spiker Mulligan running toward them like a scalded jack rabbit.  He grabbed the gangway ladder and jumped into the cab. “Don’t Stop” he yelled. “Keep her at  4 and ease out onto the high bridge”. “My boys found a sun kink in the right rail but we think  you can make it across”. “You THINK ” yelled Low Water, “It’s almost a hundred feet down off this thing”. “Yeah, I know,” shouts Mulligan, “but I’m not going to be the guy that has to call a helper out of Philomath for ya”. Low Water nodded acknowledgement and deftly played the  throttle and Johnson bar to keep from stalling. 

Flatwheel hopped back in the gangway ready to join the birds. Pop Off, eyes bulging,  turned around and grabbed the brakeman, jerked him back and pointed down off the engine.  Both men latched on to anything steel as the lower loop of the high line passed under the engine and gave way to a yawning chasm of rock and trees. Pop Off got right in Flatwheel’s ear and hollers “it won’t be the fall the kills ya’, it’ll be the sudden stop at the end!” Flatwheel backed up to the center of the cab and breathlessly thanked the fireman.  

Mulligan leaned out of the cab as his boys scattered off the tall trestle and he got low on  the ladder. Big drivers turned slowly, heavy exhaust churned up the air, black steel glistened in the sunlight and he looked up to give Low Water a slow go ahead signal. The rail mashed against the ties as heavy pilot wheels eased onto the kink. If the big 700 made it all the rest would as well. Everyone in the cab held their breath as they tip toed across the high bridge. Audible sighs of relief filled the cab as the monster engine crossed the deep ravine below and made it to the abutment. The crew gave each other knowing smiles.  

This is what mountain railroading is all about. This is what happened after lunch today  at CSME. We got a picture of the big 700 as she returned to Philomath on a light engine move.  This is not a normal progress report. This is just a short note to let you know that we ran a train from Philomath, thru Blodget and over to Nashville. The wiring we used would make even the finest DCC aficionado blush. George was all smiles as his engine performed flawlessly and 6 grown men almost became emotional. 


The High Bridge


Sometimes we have to engineer parts of the layout on the spot. We call an engineering meeting, evaluate the options, figure in the fix, and get to work. From time to time the fix is complicated enough that a drawing or sketch is in order. An example is where the top of the helix has to cross several tracks far below and, at the same time,  provide abutments for a bridge above. We couldn’t support it on normal risers so we had to use cantilevered stringers to support the sub-roadbed while leaving the lower level mainline untouched. We also wanted scenery  levels to be somewhat below track grade to provide room for a fill. Moreover, this piece provided the transition from the helix to the second level of the layout at Blodgett and vertical accuracy was a must. This required a sketch and some thought. 

George and Doug celebrate the fact that their construction matches almost exactly the required  elevation of the helix. Right under the level is where the  “high bridge” will go. 

The temporary “high bridge” launches out into  pace, sailing almost 100′ above the valley floor. Hugh donated this 1″ aluminum square tube many  years ago and it’s been waiting all this time for a place to star. Thank you, Hugh.  

Once completed and explained, Doug and George took the sketch and got right to work. They turned it into 3 dimensional reality in record time. As they neared completion, we began checking for level and plumb. This whole process took about 2 hours. As they dialed it in closer and closer, excitement built. We installed the temporary bridge, put a level on it, a nd,  HOTDANG !!, it was dead on. This was the culmination of  about 5 weeks work and will be a focal point for the  railroad. 

The high bridge provides us with some pretty neat things. At 48” (almost 400 HO feet) long and 12” (almost 100 HO feet) high it will be a dramatic scene.  It’s very satisfying to have calculated the helix to crossover itself 3 times, maintain 1.4% and 1.7% grades,  use 48” and 45” radius curves and arrive at precisely the height needed to match the existing height of the upper deck.  It’s close to the edge of the layout and will provide great photo  ops. It has a robust temporary structure so the mainline will operate during the time we take to build an actual bridge.  

The actual, on site, high quality, fully  dimensioned (with tolerances) sketch from which George and Doug worked their magic

DCC control boxes built by Gene ready for  installation. Also note the backdrop behind the yard being  installed 

Larry’s prototype tunnel with open front wall, rock backwall, and dark colors to enhance the  “tunnelism”. 

In his own shop, Gene built boxes which will support our DCC system. These boxes are designed to hang below the layout with shelves for booster, power supply, circuit breaker board with 4 breakers, and terminal strips for power districts. The large holes in the sides are for cooling air. They are very nicely built with dadoed and rabbeted joints. As soon as these are installed and bus wires run, trains can go!! 

Larry has begun experiments using various rock forming techniques to create a “back wall” to our helix “tunnel”. Right now he’s using Sculptamold layers with crumpled tin foil rock forms pressed into the wet plaster. An India ink wash will be applied to deepen crevasses and dry brushing with light grey will bring out highlights.

It is our intent to complete track laying on the helix next week. There are long pieces (18’-24’) laying loose on the helix cork right now. If you go by the club  to take a look, please be careful of the temporary track placement and high bridge. 

In general, the work is progressing very nicely and somewhat ahead of schedule. There are many other things happening we don’t have room for (or time to write about) this week – Patrick’s town development, the Eagle Cove barge slip, and an almost finished mainline. 

Doug demonstrates complicated and accurate cutting and sanding as he fabricates parts. We haven’t  figured out what this is but it sure looks good.


The Schnabel Test


Gene Neville reports that when we lay in the remaining helix track and he makes a few more patches, the mainline will be complete. That is exciting news. It means we can start running test trains once we stitch the electrical together. Of course, when “test” trains start running, actual “work” slows down considerably.  We all know that “tests” need to be conducted with all kinds of motive power and various train lengths including passenger trains.  In order for these “tests” to be conducted, not only do we need qualified engineers but also many observers for “roll by’s” and detailed track inspections. Moreover, we need to insure that the “tests” can be done over and  over with consistent results. I feel sorry for the poor little ½ mouse power DCC Zephyr power supply and the two number 20 feeders for all 450’ plus mainline. 

Larry Vogt painted the roof of the lower helix level today with black paint and has a great idea for the backdrop along this section of track. It’s supposed to be a rock tunnel that spectators can see into thru openings in the front or outside wall. He’s going to apply Sculptamold to the back wall of the lower loop and press wadded up tinfoil into the wet  goop. When he removes the foil, rock impressions will be left in the wall. Dark grey colorant mixed into the plaster and dry brushed with light grey highlights will create realistic rock coloring. This tunnel will be about 18 feet long, but completely accessible from the outside wall. 

The Sistine Chapel this is not, but we do have our ceiling painted. 

Jerry H’s Schnabel car runs thru the lower level  helix track. Note black ceiling, openings in the tunnel,  and back wall awaiting “rocks”.

Jerry H. came by with a Schnabel car today — about the largest piece of rolling stock we’ll ever see on the layout. This thing has 64  wheels or more. He brought it by for some repair ideas and we confiscated it, put the thing on the track  – that took a bit of doing – and sailed it thru the lower level tunnel of the helix. Clearances were fine and we didn’t knock any parts off the car. Thank you Jerry – also, good to see you up and around. 

George worked with me on finalizing grades on the helix including the upper vertical transition. These grades are very close to those calculated in the beginning – 1.4% for the bottom loops and 1.7% for the top loop. The top loop has a steeper grade because of the smaller radius and subsequent shorter circumference. Please understand that radii of 48” and 45” are very generous in HO scale and grades below 2% are very train friendly. For comparison the old layout helix had a 2.2% ruling grade and 36” radius.  

George successfully stuck this piece of old layout  into the new layout 

Overall view of helix. Note openings in lower  level “tunnel”. This will have a much more finished look as  we progress. There is well over a scale mile of track in this  structure so we want as much of it visible and accessible as  possible 

We built a vertical transition – easing the grade into level track — about 12” before we get to the bridge. It’s very difficult to build a vertical transition into a bridge structure so we avoided that. Incidentally, this bridge is going to be a little over 4 feet long and about 12” high. In HO scale that’s about 400 feet long and almost 100 feet high. 

Doug is really getting serious about scenery around Eagle Cove, Point, Mountain, Creek, and Canyon. He brought his red scenery wagon over from the old club house along with his personal hobby shop of dirt, rocks, trees, glue as well as other assorted accoutrements with which he works his scenery magic. He also told me of a plan to have fish swimming in his water.  They will be suspended in Eagle Creek and visible from the aisle. Lengthy and detailed discussions will undoubtedly be held at lunchtime regarding the species  and whether they are protected or fair game. 

The lunch bunch. Here the free flow of creative  and innovative ideas interspersed with copious amounts of French fries is awe-inspiring.




We have some great pictures to share with you in this progress report. Doug, the mayor of Eagle Cove and Grand Poobah of it’s 28 inhabitants, has created his mountain masterpiece for Eagle Point. He has also, unknowingly, re-created a truncated mountain face found several times along the Oregon Coast. That is a mountain, often times over 500 feet high, that meets the ocean at a sharp angle. The wave action over a period of eons wears away the base of the mountain and it starts falling into the ocean. Hard rock like basalt slips off the face in large chunks creating cliffs and softer sedimentary rock just slides down a long slope into the sea. One of these slopes occurs just north of Lincoln City at Roads End Point and is a great source of landscape material for model railroaders. You just can’t take it – legally.

Doug inspects the big cliff at Eagle Point. A long trestle will run along the fascia at the base of this cliff. 

George has been working on the upper level framing, cork and track.  His latest efforts are to create the “S” curve opposite Eagle Point in the north room and inserting some of the more memorable scenery from the old layout into the new layout. The picture below shows a chunk of the old “high line” that he’s going to insert in the upper main across from the roundhouse. He also has his eye on the sidehill trestles that Doug built for the old layout. These will probably fit near the “S” curve. 

George plans the exact placement of a piece of  the old layout

Patrick came by this week and started to plan Corvallis. We will support him by building the basic benchwork and then he will work his downtown magic to create some city scenes. He has some great ideas. I don’t know if they’re classified or not so, in the  future, we may be able to share them with you. In addition to these, he also keeps up with expenditure reimbursements and spending allocations. Thank you Patrick.

Gene continues to work on track joints. He has become best friends with Walther’s code 83 rail joiners. He had a bunch to start with and we ordered 8 more packages of 50 each. That was enough? Nope. He just told me today that he needs 8 more packages!  

The helix as of 2/24/21. Starting from the bottom up: temporary MDF fascia to stabilize the end of stringers, first loop with roadbed and track laid in (this will be  visible as the “inside of a tunnel”; second loop with sub-roadbed only will be scenicked;  third loop mock-up with reduced radius set inside other loops also scenicked. Grades  are 1.4% and 1.6% and radii are 49” and 45” respectively. Reverse loop will be set at  bottom level and hidden like on the old layout. Note BIG BRIDGE mock-up in upper right  hand corner crossing over to Blodget – probably a Micro Engineering tall steel viaduct (any takers??) We should be laying helix track next week.


The Helix


Last report we indicated the helix had been “corked” and rail would go down this week. I’m happy to report that it did. The crew of Doug, George, and Gene, helped me glue down a piece of flex track almost 25 feet long and done all at once! We did this to insure against kinks in the curve. It took some serious preparation and genuine concentration to make it happen but it turned out to be a beautiful 49” radius curve. Moreover, it was on a 1.7% grade and we had to get it right – curve, grade, consistent radius. This curve serves as a base for the rest of the helix and must be pretty accurate. Most of this progress report will be about the process leading to a serviceable helix circle. After setting the sub-roadbed (plywood) and roadbed (cork) we started getting ready to lay in the track. Gene soldered up several sections of flex track 2 pieces long or about 6’. We would need 4 of these long sections plus one 3 foot section. Next, I temporarily laid these long sections of flex-track on the cork and soldered the joints.  After connecting this 25 foot long snake I set it off to the inside of the  curve on the sub-roadbed. The crew was summoned, each given a 6” wide sheetrock paddle and stood at the ready. I shot a 3/8” bead of  Polyseamseal (clear latex caulk) along the inside edge of the cork and we all went to spreading. Short side to side strokes made quick work of the whole circle. Pursuant to my previous instructions, the boys picked up the 25 footer and held it over the cork. I went along laying the track in the center of the cork as the crew fed it to me. In short order it was all down. 

Doug, Gene, and George caulking the helix in preparation for laying in a 25 foot  piece of flex rack. 

Figure 2 George and his roller. ever in creasing pressure insures that track is im bedded in caulk but not pushed out of  alignment.

Using a small compact mirror (3” x 4” ) I sighted the curve and  all looked well. Next step was a 1” neoprene roller and I lightly rolled  the track. Then George went over it several more times to insure good contact. 

Lonnie came by later that afternoon and we powered this  section of track so he could test it. After some experimentation we found that his engine, a Kato 4 axle RS-3, could pull 16-18 cars up the grade. On the old helix Lonnie reports that it had a 12 car limit. On  this helix the engine did really well except in one location where it routinely stalled. A helix problem had become apparent. 

Figure 3 Here is a close-up of a helix ad justment. Note the stringer and riser (just  visible below rear engine truck. In front of  riser is an “adjustable riser” with the diagonal  cut. This allows us to push the sub-roadbed up  in very small increments.  

This morning Doug and I went to the club with another lightweight engine (Athearn GP-7) and tested for consistent operation. We identified the slip out location. We put a  straightedge across the plywood and found it to be a bit low causing a hump in another place – right where the engines stalled.  Before checking the actual grade in this location we re-leveled the  “L” girders using levelling screws in the bottom of the legs. This further defined the problem area in the sub-roadbed. Releasing the screws from the sub-roadbed into the top of the riser, allowed the plywood to adjust itself. It also caused another problem area.  We adjusted both areas (see figures) and re-tested with a train. 

Now folks, it’s been 5 months or more since we ran a train on the club layout. I tested the helix several times and then Doug wanted to re-test it – several times. About then Gene came by and he wanted to re-re-test the helix – several times. That poor old  Athearn GP-7 went up and down that curve many times as we  “confirmed” test results. I’d say that curve has been thoroughly tested. In fact, we tested it to full locomotive slip-out – quite a few times. Those wheels were SHINEY!  Not only did we have glistening wheels but the code 83  (.083 high) rail is now probably about code 79 (.079). In other news, Doug and George re-set the grade into Eddyville. After a bunch of hard work they have all of the mainline sub-roadbed installed in the north room! 


George’s Gorge


The first loop of the helix has been “corked” and track is due to go down next week. This will be about 25 feet long and we’d like to test it. We want to hook up a Zephyr (Digitrax)  power supply to the rails and have some of you come by and try it out. The idea is to see how many cars certain engines will pull up this 1.7% grade on a 49” radius. It is still possible to recalculate and reset this grade, although it would be a major pain. The idea of the test is to see if it’s something we can live  with. We will report test results in one of the next progress reports. We’ll let you know when it’s ready for testing and particulars about how to do it. 

Gene, John and Randy kibitz over the newly corked helix. 

As framing began for the mainline above the old Albany Yard (Diesel facility) we came up with a plan to cantilever the stringers over the main level. This will create a second deck and provides support for a single track mainline and separate logging line above. Stringers are angled downward in front to define an embankment which can then be “rocked” to create a right of way built on a fill over natural rocks and hills. This second deck also provides for more room behind first level main lines for streets, buildings and (?). 

Doug and George align framing for the second deck above Albany yard. Angled stringers will provide for enhanced scenery potential.

An exciting development happened today as we unveiled the beginnings of a spectacular geological formation known as “George’s Gorge”. It will be found across the aisle from Eagle Point and runs for 15-20 feet.  This amazing piece of model railroading extravaganza will include scenery extending from knee level up to head high and above. The crossovers at old Asher will cling to the side of a mountain while the “hi-line” will snake through  several curves as it traverses the rocky crags above. Side hill trestles, a tunnel or two, and certainly a rock shed will punctuate this bit of scenic delight. Close access will make  this a photographer’s delight and kids will remember watching trains over their heads for years to come. How did this concept come about? Well, it all started with George standing on a ladder confirming track alignment. Then he and Doug, always politically correct, summoned me AFTER lunch to answer an engineering question regarding the “S” curves. As we concocted one theory after another and attempted to rationalize what the two of them had done, ideas began to flow. Gene joined the conversation and creative juices really erupted – mostly it was hamburger grease from lunch.  One thing led to another and a conceptual landform emerged that would make any self-respecting  geologist cringe. We concluded that a master’s thesis could be written about our ideas and they would involve bending the tenants of geomorphology to the  max, but we could make it work. Thus began George’s Gorge. Stay tuned for additional details. 

Doug and George team up on the “S” curves through George’s Gorge 

Possible scenic contours are developed with a tape measure near the “S” curves. The cliffs could actually be this high . . . we’ll  see.


The Robe and Chariot Guy


This week we worked on additional rail joints, Eagle Point, and adding sub-roadbed to the helix. The Whistle Stop delivered on time and under budget with 8 packages (384) of Walther’s code 83 rail joiners for about 1/3 the cost of what we expected. Great deal? Well, not necessarily. They have changed vendors and the current code 83  joiners are very much simplified but still serviceable. Gene,  the rail joiner guy, says the jury is still out. He’s used several of them and they work but he has yet to render a final decision. We’ll keep you posted on his deliberations. 

Gene meticulously solders rail joints. He tried blowing the solder fumes away from his face with the mask on but it didn’t work

Doug continues work on Eagle Point and has defined the mountain with pink foam and roughed in the canyon with Sculptamold. rock castings have been laid out and he is deciding upon what type of geologic stratigraphy he wants to incorporate into this yawning  chasm. His concept of superposition, faulting, synclines and anticlines will impress even the non-rock hounds.  Believe me, graduate students in geology at OSU will have a field day trying to explain all this. Our railroad  traverses some amazing landforms and Doug will make them even more spectacular. 

Eagle Point begins to take shape. The pink foam and white canyon are where the geology lesson will take place.

We occasionally pull Doug off his scenic endeavors and make him work on the more mundane aspects of layout building such as sub-roadbed. Last week we completed the radial framing to support our helix and this week we glued up and set the first sub-roadbed circle. It is big – about 8’ in diameter. This is what we need to get our 1.7% grade and 12 ½” rise. We used pocket screws and Titebond II glue to glue up sub-roadbed on Monday and Tuesday we started setting the grade. 

Some of us in our golden years can remember the TV series Welcome Back Kotter – the story of an obstreperous kid who came back to his old school as a teacher. His numerous sins were revisited upon him.  Kotter can’t hold a candle to the CSME construction crew I work with. To wit: The construction of a helix has,  by its very nature, some math involved in its assembly.  So my teacher juices started to flow and I asked George and Doug if they wanted me to share some of the math with them or just hand them the screwdrivers and  drills and have at it? Doug immediately wanted the drill. Before handing him the tool, I gave a very brief  review of radius, diameter, circumference and the concept of Pi. I advised them that we were going to set this grade mathematically and also check it with a level. I  figured it would help to have a common vocabulary other than profanity.   Doug said “I know all about that stuff, let’s get to work “. “Really”, sez I. “Yup, you know that guy Pith-a GOR-us”, sez Doug. I sez, “that sounds like a dinosaur”.  Then I asked “you know about Pith-A-gorus?” Doug sez,  “yeah, y’know, he’s really old, always wears a robe and rides around in a chariot”. I sez, “Pythagoras has to do with right triangles, although it does relate to a thing called a unit circle”. Doug sez, “Hand me the drill”. I got him back at lunch.

George and Doug drill pocket holes in roadbed using Gene’s Kregg Drilling fixture and guide. 

Some “cork fries” were added to Doug’s lunch but he caught them before they went down. 

The first turn of the new helix in place and at grade. Note the difference in size when compared with the old helix as drawn on the paper below. This baby is big but it reduces the grade,  increases the radius, offsets the top loop, includes a reverse loop,  stays out of the hallway, and is mostly visible track. We’ve accommodated most of the design parameters requested by club  members.

After all that, we got to work marking off linear measurements of circumference at each stringer around the first circle. Then we multiplied that run in inches times the rise per inch (.0177”) and added the height of the stringer (2.875”). That gave us the total length of riser required at that point. We called out the numbers to George, he accurately cut the risers and we clamped  each one to its respective stringer. After we had the base circle set (and ran out of clamps) we used the grade tool to check the grade. We also calculated  total circumference and then compared that number to our physical measurements. George and Doug had built the circle so accurately that we were only off by about ½%.  

Next week we’ll screw this whole assembly (sub roadbed-risers-stringers) together and begin to lay in the middle level. This will be a much easier task because all we do is use match cut blocking to raise the middle level straight up from the bottom level. The off-set top level will have its own risers and by then George and Doug will be “helix masters”. I’ll just sit back, relax, and watch them put the old guy with the robe and chariot to work.


Gene Gets Serious


BIG news today – Gene is back at work and he started putting the actual track together. He’s already got the mainlines hooked up through the yard and is moving west. He’ll be laying cork and flex track. For being this soon after knee surgery he’s doing really well – I’ll bet he won’t tell his doc what he’s doing. 

Doug starts painting the fascia

On Monday we engineered access to the HVAC wall mounted unit in the south room. We landed a peninsula directly under the unit so that the opposing curves form a “Y” against the wall providing an access. This will be hidden with removable foam blocks of scenery. We’ll provide the foam blocks, club members can invent the scenery when the time comes. George and Doug continue to be . . . well . . . . George and Doug. I think we should video some of their antics and offer DVD’s for sale. Doug got loose with a paint roller and can of paint around noon, and not to be out done, George grabbed a roller as well. Within about 40 minutes we had a new coat of primer on the whole lower fascia of the layout. During lunch George decided to institute and new quality control program for the layout as seen in the picture below.

 George’s new quality control program

At close of business today, we had all of the lower level sub-roadbed done and the upper sub-roadbed complete in the south room – Philomath and Corvallis plus 2 blobs. This does not include the helix. The upper level, as I have indicated, can be a challenge to support in some places, however an interesting and highly effective process has developed. I plan the layout pieces or new plywood sub-roadbed as required. I cut and fit it where needed. George comes along and cuts risers, shelf  brackets and gusset plates. Then Doug comes over and helps George set the grade or level as required and they screw it all together.  

Gene gets serious about track joints. This one is on the double track main through Toledo yard.  Double track hanging in the air to the left is part of  Eddyville and track in immediate foreground is Eagle Cove extension going to the paper mill 

Gene was putting in some time today on rail joints and I happened by. Shortly thereafter Lonnie showed up and was waiting for Randy and John.

 Doug checking out his abandoned track in the Eagle Point tunnel. 


Bridges and Helix Stringers


Doug continues to work on Eagle Everything (Cove, Canyon, Tunnel, Mountain). His latest projects are the bridges over Eagle Canyon. We all know Doug doesn’t do anything half way and this is no exception.  Bridges can be made very simply by gluing Micro Engineering bridge girders to the plywood sub roadbed and you have a ballasted deck girder bridge. Not Doug.  He has to hack out the whole track, ties, cork, and plywood structure and replace it with a see-through, lacy,  super-detailed, deck truss bridge complete with  abutments with forming lumber lines and all. It will be a  showpiece with not 1 bridge but 2 bridges and a trestle.  Big time open house photo location here.  He also showed us a sneak preview of some mill structures he’s working on at home. When it’s rainy  outside he can’t wreck RC airplanes so he works on  building kits. These are very high quality, meticulously  weathered and super-detailed. Can’t wait to see them in  place. 

Doug’s handy work included here so you can say you saw it when it first started

Gene is working away on stitching up our mainline. This week he worked himself right out of rail joiners. He got as far west as Ashar (sp) and had to quit. The Whistle Stop hobby shop in Portland is coming to our rescue with 8 packs of Walther’s Code 83 rail joiners. Thank you John. These are pricey little rascals, even with a discount, but hold rails in  alignment very well and make great expansion joints. 

Helix L girders in place. The large circle is  the 49″ radius outside curve. The inside curve  approximates the reverse loop 

George continues to be our framing guy. For 2 days he chased me around with a screw gun and so we started the helix construction. We have been asked to reduce the grade of the helix and that’s been done. Instead of a 2% grade with a short section of  2.1% it will now be 1.7% throughout. In order to do this we had to increase the radius to 49”. We had  several considerations when arriving at this radius measurement: 1) upper to lower grade difference of  about 12.5 “, 2) reversal of helix direction because our room width was reduced by almost 5 feet which shortened up Philomath and it’s western approach,  3) a location for the reverse loop with a minimum radius of 30”, and 4) the Fire Marshal’s “request”  that we not encroach on the hallway to the door. We  have accommodated these issues with a really nice design that minimizes hidden trackage and allows for easy access. It will also provide for a “peek inside the  tunnel” view. 

George traced out patterns for the helix parts. Gene and Doug worked in Gene’s shop to cut out all the  parts. Helix L girders were put in place Monday and we started framing the helix base Tuesday. Today – Wednesday – the base was pretty much completed with a finish nailer. Doug and George will screw all the  parts together next week. 

Radial stringers are in place atop the L  girders. Note the square access hole in the middle  (piece across the access area is a temporary center point). Some of these stringers are cantilevered quite a bit, however, a stout fascia will  provide support.

We have reached a few milestones. We can now take out the rest of the paper plan that documented the original layout as it has served its purpose. We just installed the last L girders for the  helix – no more L girders. We have only 3 or 4 more lower level stringers to install and those will be complete. Well done, crew. Until next week. 


Radial stringers require angled  joints


Upper Level Work Begins


The CSME work crew for this week was Doug, George, J erry AND John stopped by as well as Gene. John has taken point on the bathroom fan and trim finishing projects. That’s great. Gene said he had gotten “really bored” at home and needed some of the Doug and George show – he got it. He also brought lunch so he can come back anytime.  He says he wants to start on track laying.  That’s a good thing. 

We began work on the upper level moving from south to north or from Blodgett to Nashville. Some of the framing for the new Blodgett area became quite creative since we had no wall for attachment and had to do it with cantilevers, brackets and posts – none of which will get in the way of operation in Philomath.

George went after the last two chunks of old layout and produced some useable scenery sections, stringer and riser stock, and trackboards – plywood, cork, and flextrack.  Some of this material is available to club members for free. For example, we have about 90 lineal feet of “L” girders that are not pretty but certainly serviceable. They are laying under  Philomath in a bundle – come and get them but put back what you don’t want. Also, the scenery hills with a foam/screen substrate are pretty stout and can certainly be moved, cut and fitted, and installed on a new layout. They are sitting in Corvallis. This foam/screen  technology was imported to the club by Larry Vogt and it’s too bad we can’t use them in the new layout. The major rock casting walls want to stay at the clubhouse for a bit since we  may be able to fit those into place.

Some of our framing had to be done from  outside. Neither rain nor snow nor cold nor  salamanders nor tree frogs can deter our intrepid  workers. “Model Railroading is fun”. 

Doug is still working on Eagle Cove and Eagle Point. He’s laying the groundwork (pun intended) for some more of his famous “arte de ferrocarril”. We’re all looking forward to what he has in mind. He put a new blade in his oscillating saw and now he’s like a wild man. He already chopped a big hole in his old scenery and claims he’s going to put  bridges across the chasm. He says he likes the new blade because the old one was so dull it made a lot of smoke – it did! 

A typical scenery section carefully excised by George. These are available to club members on a first come first served basis and the cost is minimal — $0.


Upper Level Bracketry


The City Administrator of Adair Village stopped by the new club on 12/29/20. He was most impressed with the progress on our layout.

This additional 2020 post references the construction of the upper deck. We share this progress report in hope that it may come in handy on home layouts.  

We will be using heavy shelf brackets in some areas of the upper level. They are metal  and our layout is framed with plywood – how to make the connection AND keep a fairly exact dimension is the problem. We will do this in two steps. First we apply a wooden plate to the  bracket as shown in figure 1. Notice that it has a rabbet and chamfer to clear the upturned end of  the bracket. Second we set the bracket about 1/8” low and shim up to the proper level, figure 2.

Figure 1: Wooden plate screwed to heavy metal bracket 

Often times when supporting the upper level we have trouble cutting risers to the exact dimension we need. This is when we use a temporary adjustable riser. These are fairly simple as seen in figure 3. We make a 10 degree diagonal cut across the riser (dark line) and then slide the joint up or down as required. This  allows us to frame to a pretty exact  dimension. Once we’ve hit this dimension we clamp and screw  pieces together. Alternately we can  leave the temporary riser in place, mark the slip joint with a vertical line, apply Titebond 2 glue to the slip faces, match the lines and secure with an air powered finish nailer. As we connect new sub roadbed to existing sub-roadbed,  making sure joints are straight and strong can be a challenge. We will be using ¾” plywood gusset plates below the sub-roadbed joints. They  will lap as much as 8-12” on either side of the joint and be glued and screwed for strength. Figure 4.  

Figure 2: Bracket in place, notice shims

Figure 3:Temporary riser. This is the Blodgett piece above Philomath about where the old rock shed was on the high line. 

Figure 4: Gusset plate extends out to the right just  behind the clamp. Temporary riser is used to support  plate while we run the screws in. Switch control panel  is for the logging line crossover in Blodgett.


2020 Comes to a Close


As we close out the year, we must remember that at 12:01 AM on 1/1/21, for the first time ever, hind site will actually be 2020. Not an original thought but certainly interesting. Progress reports have been lax because the writer got Santa Claused,  however, layout re-construction has been moving forward nicely. In fact, just before Christmas George,  Doug, and I completed the lower level sub-roadbed from the old Toledo yard all the way around to the end of Philomath where the reverse loop used to take off. We were delighted about that. 

Doug has been working on an area called Eagle Point. He has abandoned the old line thru the tunnel between Toledo Yard and Eagle Cove leaving nothing but ties, rusted spikes and tie plates in the dank darkness. A new line skirts the mountain side running along the water’s edge on a trestle. He has sub-roadbed installed along with a plywood water base and fascia. This will be a unique piece of layout design and sure to be a show stopper.  George continues to provide close support and framing expertise. He did most of the sub-roadbed assembly on the lower level and assisted in fascia installation. If it  needs to be taken apart or put together,  George is the one we call upon. As the project moves along to upper level installation the pieces and parts will become more complex and this  support will become even more important.  

Doug works on Eagle Point. Eagle Cove is in the far right background. The truncated mountain will have a cliff to the water, trestle will go where the orange cord crosses and abandoned track emerges on the near side of the double track tunnel. 

Abandoned track tie detail.  Wood ties ACC’d on top of flex track.  Pictures of Doug’s glued together fingers have been omitted to protect the innocent.

Much of the upper level mainline already exists as it rides along with lower level chunks  of the layout. This is by design as layout pieces were carefully cut to provide this head start. Additional pieces of upper level mainline that will connect these existing sections will require creativity and innovation. For example, this sub-roadbed will be supported using combinations of heavy angle wall brackets, risers, and cantilevered stingers. Moreover upper level framing needs to provide an access for the south room air conditioner, keep operational areas below clear and all the while keep in mind room for a logging line. Plenty of challenges here.  Framing and sub-roadbed work are not the only points of progress. Lonnie has been researching and developing a plan for the paper mill. We have included a picture of his truly remarkable conglomeration of “buildings” to show his fidelity to detail,  appreciation of scale, and dedication to process and function. Bar Mills Models and Fine Scale Miniatures never reached this pinnacle of design.  Pat Hare, City Manager for Adair Village, stopped by today. He  was really impressed with our progress and very interested in the project.

See text regarding description of this “mill”.


New Phases of Construction


The CSME average Covid distance ratio measured in feet ranges from 40’ down to 26.6 feet given the number of workers – 80 foot long room with either 2 or 3 workers. This is way more than the recommended 6 feet. On the one hand this is great since we can show CSME to be highly responsible but it also means that progress is slowed way down. This is not a political statement as we are an apolitical  group – just a statement of fact. On the other – other – other hand each worker has plenty of room and we are not falling over one another.

There are signs of other folks working in the layout room during off hours including an  individual planning out a paper mill and chip  yard . . . . hmmmm . . . . might these marks be  Lonnie tracks? (pun intended). 

Somebody is thinking and drawing plans for the mill area. Might these be  Lonnie tracks?? 

Work is moving into a new chapter as we close out the moving chapter, the paper on the floor chapter, and the hernia chapter (big  chunks going up on L girders). We are entering the hook it all together chapter, the new  construction chapter, and we see evidence that the wiring chapter may be about to open with Randy and Hop-a-long Gene.  

George is turning into the “go-to” framing and destruction guy. We give him an unusable chunk of the old layout and he delivers a neat pile of sticks and useable track board sections made up of plywood subroadbed, cork,  and flextrack. He even takes out the screws and  nails so we use far fewer band aids and saw blades. Thank you George. 

And then there’s Doug. Sometimes we wonder if it’s wise to have a guy that routinely wrecks airplanes and helicopters working with power tools on the railroad. Not only does he provide great entertainment, but also gets a lot done. For example, whole new switching areas that comprise the mill,  chip yard and the Red Rock branch line have been built by Doug with close support from George. For reference, these combined switching areas — additions to  our layout — are equal to about a 50’ along the wall home layout.  

The aforementioned Doug Taylor working on the Red Rock Branch

We have built the existing Red Rock section into this area but the rest remains a blank slate for the switching gurus. We did frame in for a possible Walther’s 90’ turntable in the N/E corner of the building.  This can provide a means to turn steam engines on the stub ended Red Rock  Branch.  

The very tedious work of hooking up old track and new track sections, connecting cut points, and engineering new roadbed to bridge gaps has begun as well. This connection process is pretty straightforward but must be done very  carefully since any deviation in the subroadbed will be reflected in the track and subsequently in the trains. Imagine a  beautiful string of graceful 85’ pullmans gliding along immaculate track and then each car in turn does a big wobble as it negotiates a bad joint – not pretty. 

We can mitigate bad track joints by  using ¾” splice plates below the ¾” subroadbed. After fitting the actual roadbed together including any fill-in pieces, we clamp the splice plate in place. This clamped joint must be grade consistent and stable, that is, no change in grade at this point and plywood is rigid. Glue and screws are then added to the joint and after a few hours it becomes a rigid structure. This results in an even joint along the bottom  surface but there can be a variation along the top surface – right where we need a smooth joint for cork roadbed and track. Accommodation for this difference is made with .010, .015, .020  thick ¼” wide styrene added between plywood and cork to smooth out any difference.

These two galoots seem to want it right there. They want no argument. 

A good example of the new and the old. Here we are creating new roadbed for the yard lead while using an old crossover section that was behind Scott’s Mill


3 Months After Beginning the Move


This progress report will be mostly captioned pictures to catch up on other work going on at the club.

 Framing for paper mill and chip yard at the end of  the Eagle Cove branch. That’s the NW corner of the new  train room 

Doug added sheathing to the mill and chip yard

 George begins L girder work for south room center peninsula. Notice how they are built right over the full size drawing 

George continues L girder work. Notice free standing portable L girder to the left.

Completed L girder array for center peninsula

Layout chunk atop L girders and it FIT

Gene taking down the layout skirt 3 months ago. We’ve made exceptional progress in 90 days: documenting, cutting apart, transporting, re-building.


The 4th Law of Physics


Some of you know I used to teach physics.  Today Doug Taylor and I used all 3 of Isaac Newton’s laws of physics and invented a fourth.  In addition to Big Ike’s laws of inertia/momentum,  force mass and acceleration, and equal and opposite forces, we invented a fourth. That is to  say that if it doesn’t WANT to move, get back farhter and get going faster and it WILL move.  We had to get back further and get going faster today because it was just the two of us and we huffed and puffed the last big chunks of layout  up onto the L girders. 

Doug contemplates the laws of  physics and the mass of this piece. Yes, it needs to go up on the L girders 

After 3 months of actual demolition, hauling and reconstruction, all major pieces of the layout are now in place. They are also in pretty much the same relative positions as they  were in the old room. We have some areas that need to be extended and some areas that  need to be slightly reconfigured to make angles match. The basic plan remains as it was. 

Our basic priority was to get the lower level mainline chunks set in place. These served to define locations for the upper level main and it remained fundamentally the same.  The logging line had to be the third priority and it will change a bit probably for the better – longer. With these pieces in place it became apparent that the clubs wishes for more  switching can certainly be accommodated. 

With major chunks of layout on the L girders there are several large pieces of upper level main that remain unattached. These pieces will have the risers removed so we just have subroadbed (plywood), roadbed (cork) and track left. We can take these track-boards and knit them together to create attributes of the former layout. Some new construction will be necessary as in new stringers and risers. When this is complete,  we will do the same with the logging line.  This requires that we keep the upper level main and logging line in mind as we set the lower level pieces in their final locations so there’s room for all of it. 

Doug applies Big Ike’s 4th law — Shove really hard

Several areas of total reconstruction exist. The helix area outside of Philomath that gets us to the upper level, the Eagle Cove extension (leading to a paper mill?),  staging/set-up yard, and 35 feet of new  switching area. We will be arranging to get input regarding club wishes regarding these  areas although many ideas have been put forward already. Lack of specific direction will not, however, impede progress on the rest of the layout. There’s much work to be done before switching areas need to be  addressed. 

Next steps involve creating custom cut parts to knit major sections together.  This will involve some precision work and  be a bit tedious. We will probably start with the big yard in the north room and work our way south to the yet to be  defined helix area.  

Doug responds appropriately and collapses as Jerry documents the arduous task

The north room – Eagle Point (center) and main lines rounding the shear wall (lower  left). Big yard in background

 The South room — old Corvallis along  shear wall (rear) and Philomath blob


Rounding the Shear Wall


Your construction crew had a conversation about response options to virus numbers across the state. We decided to continue working in small groups, wear masks, wash our hands, and use sanitizer. Normal workdays are still Monday and Tuesday 9-1 PM, however individuals can come and work at any time as long as work follows our general plan. In this manner we hope to continue making progress while keeping safe. We all recognize the risk and hope to minimize it using this format.

This week we rounded the shear wall with George, Gene, and Doug setting L girders along the walls of the south room. George did the bulk of the work and Doug and Gene provided help as needed. Today we all got together and hefted Corvallis in place. It fit nicely with very little modification. 

George works on south room L girders as Doug picks up the last pieces of  what was once a large pile of cut-offs.

Doug has concentrated efforts in Eagle Cove and Eagle Point and it shows. The area behind the roundhouse has been framed in and the sawmill has moved into that area. Track re-alignment is developing around Eagle Point and will be spectacular when complete.   It will be clinging to a cliff, jumping across a small bay on trestlework and finally landing on its original alignment near where the old sawmill  used to be. 

I framed in the area where the paper mill and chip yard will be. While working on that I was able to provide access to a window and set up for Eddyville to be installed. This framing will support lower level access to Red Rock as well as upper level access to the staging yard. This framing had to be all new because it didn’t exist on the old layout.   Another big effort today was picking up all the small chunks of plywood that develop during a significant rebuild like this. We had a substantial pile in the middle of the south room and also a large box next to the chop saw. We dumped it into my truck and I was going to take it to the burn pile at the ranch. After considering the number of screws and nails in this stuff, I decided to take it to Coffin Butte Landfill. This will reduce the number of holes in the horses feet and the amount of time I’d have to spend pulling them out and treating them. It also enhances domestic tranquility between the barn boss and myself. 

The east end of Corvallis is now in place. Notice the gap between the two layout  chunks. This will be filled in once we know the  exact location of the Corvallis chunk.

A word about setting chunks of the old layout in place is appropriate here. We carefully calculate where L girders will be needed to support our layout chunks and then install these girders complete with spacers and stabilizing braces. These are then carefully leveled with reference to the perimeter L girder on the wall. The layout chunk is then lifted into place and aligned. Most times this alignment process requires  tweaking the ends of chunks to change angles or add/subtract length. Once this is complete we screw from the L girder up into stringers of the layout chunk. 

There was once a wall on this end of Eagle Point but Doug and Gene hatched up a pretty nice scenic detail to round off the end of this peninsula.

A closer view of the roundhouse back and new location for sawmill. This area did not exist on the old layout as there was a wall here. That’s why the back wall of the roundhouse was left off.

Framing for the paper mill and chip yard.  Blank area to the right of new framing will be the 43” aisle in front of Red Rock and staging yard. There is an access hatch right in front of the window.



Making Progress


Today was a busy work session as we moved forward on several fronts.  During lunch the crew discussed the upcoming restrictions on work, holidays and their impact on work sessions. It was decided to hold off on formal work sessions for the next two weeks. Individuals can come in and work on special projects. For example, Doug wants to continue work on Eagle Cove and Eagle Point and Gene wants to work in the old clubhouse dissecting Digitrax electronics for salvageable parts. Others may want to keep moving on their own projects and nothing will preclude those efforts. We’ll keep you posted on work sessions during December and into January.

Doug and Gene use a fascia board to determine the outside edge of Eagle Point.  George works on the destruction of Ashar.

Doug has some exciting ideas about the resurrection of Eagle Cove including extending the waterfront northward a few feet, abandoning the existing track thru a tunnel and replacing it with track on trestlework as it skirts a headland by running out into the bay.

Gene worked on fasteners to hold yard sections to the L girders thus stiffening the whole structure nicely. He also planned the framing around the existing roundhouse and how to modify it to blend with Doug’s Eagle Point. 

George sets stringers for the new construction between Toledo Yard and Ashar along the west wall. Notice the string line along the end of the stringers, This insures a straight fascia. Also, stringers have been notched in case we want to lower the mill area (or whatever  industry fits in this place, if any) plywood scraps and cardboard. Notice a staging yard at this level allows sight lines clear  to the back of the lower switching area. This yard can be supported on brackets with no structure below.

George completed the stringers along the shear wall and over to the entrance to Toledo Yard. He also carefully disassembled the Ashar/Scott’s Mill section so we could use the trackboards on new framing. Trackboards include the ¾” plywood subroadbed, cork  roadbed, and flextrack . We lined out how these pieces would have to be modified to accommodate new dimensions and planned to use most of the available track and switches. 

The Ashar crossover module sets close to it’s final alignment along the shear wall.  Curved track in the foreground will be trimmed  to an alignment angle with Ashar. Upper track  in this figure is the upper mainline. 

This individual claims he was, in fact, working and not taking a nap! Guess who.

Jerry worked on south room L girder layout, north wall deck separation and assisted others as required. We built mock-ups of north wall sections to determine separation requirements in one to one, three dimensional models.  We built both 5 track (existing) and 4 track (modified) staging yard sections in order to check sight lines and accessibility.  


Where There is Smoke, There Might be Fire


Work continues on the layout rebuild as we set L girders, add legs as appropriate, figure grades and place additional layout chunks in place. This week we made good progress as McDonalds on 9th street came to know our order before we placed it. Our group has thinned out a bit as Covid facts weigh in and some members respond to these concerns. We respect these responses and will continue to work as virus numbers and Adair Village policy allows. Please understand that County responses to the pandemic may require all of us to suspend work. We do have a plan “B” however, and that is to do pre-cuts (pieces fabricated in home shops and brought to the layout for later installation) in  our home shops such that they will be ready when things start up again. We haven’t heard  about any shut downs but we are ready. 

Final alignment process on the Eagle Cove/Eagle point section 

Doug and Gene worked for two days to complete framing below Eagle Cove and Eagle Point. Additionally they attached the harbor, helix, and turntable yard chunks together to form one large layout piece. This is a complex process made easier by nicely leveled L and T girders. Some adjustments were necessary but layout joints are looking good with only minimal – less than 1/16”—adjustments required for smooth track. Congrats to these two guys who are pioneering reassembly processes. As they sharpen their skills we will develop many more opportunities for them to demonstrate their expertise. 

Lonnie, Vic, and George assembled additional L girders for use in the south room. They  had quite a process going on as they clamped, glued, air nailed and screwed them together.  The original L girders were getting pretty well picked thru as we used them up in the north room. 

We had to hold an impromptu engineering meeting Monday morning regarding an  gradient dilemma. This had to do with the difference in floor levels of almost 6”, between the main room and the yard area in the old building. When we rebuilt the layout 8 years ago we accommodated this difference with clever grades on the mainline and a reduced height at Eddyville. Most folks didn’t notice these adjustments. Monday morning these anomalies bit us in the butt. Lively discussion ensued. 

The problem was defined as a difference of about 3 inches in the framing leading up to  Eddyville. Leaving the yard and going up the Eagle Cove helix was going to require an added rise of over 3” defined as an additional 15 feet of run at 1.7 percent. Several options were discussed including cutting the top off Eagle Mountain, adding another circle to the helix, and  replacing the peak. Doug Taylor, builder of the original Eagle Mountain, came close to apoplexy as he almost swallowed his mask and passed out from hyperventilation. 9-1-1 was considered but other options were quickly suggested and color soon returned to Doug’s face. The L girder he had ahold of , however, will forever have his fingerprints embossed in it. 

The selected option included continuing the 1.7% grade for another 15 feet into Eddyville. This requires one leg of the staging track wye to be on a grade but the math shows this can be  reduced to 1.3% or less. Discussion regarding the need to back up the wye with a long train and subsequent problems with backing on a curve and grade made obvious the need for the staging  yard entrance to be bi-directional. It can now be entered either from the east or west and crossovers and a turntable in the yard allow for reversing trains. A side benefit is additional clearance between the upper staging area and lower switching area. 

Grievous damage as the result of the  blaze

On Tuesday, excitement was ignited among the group by a fire in the shop. The conflagration started in the chop sawdust bag. It was immediately reported by George and quickly dealt with by him running outside in the rain. Other members of the crew attempted to evacuate the building but we’re pretty old and all were laying under the layout. This resulted in a winning scene for America’s  Funniest Home Video as 3 old guys tried to gain an upright posture suitable for the evacuation. They grabbed anything to  assist in standing up including each other yielding a rather savage scene. Just as they all got to an upright stance satisfactory for evacuation, George came back having gained the upper hand in controlling the blaze. One member, who got up quickly, was seen leaving the scene but later returned with a package of hotdogs from the little store. There were no injuries or damage to the building. The picture above pretty clearly shows damage sustained by equipment. 

Subsequent investigation yielded a cause for the incident. A member was using the chop saw,  inadvertently nicked a hardened screw, the resulting spark flew into the sawdust bag , slowly smoldered amidst the dried sawdust, finally ignited and blazed forth in all its fury right in front of poor George. The investigation also showed that George reacted well by reporting the incident to Jerry while holding the bag. Jerry, standing next to a fire extinguisher and being a Cajun, sent George somewhere else – outside.


The Blob


Today the crew was pretty focused on technical issues of leveling and aligning. We did however, have time to set the last piece of the Eagle Cove peninsula and begin engineering the  Corvallis “blob” around the shear wall. 


 Eagle Cove peninsula is now open  where there once was a wall. Pink foam was up against the wall.

Gene, Doug, Larry and Jerry worked on completing the Eagle Cove peninsula.  This involved some L girder trickery – T girders, set down L girder, and cantilevered stringers. This was complicated by the fact that Doug had built framing under Eagle Cove strong enough to support cement mixer trucks – 2 of them . . . loaded . . . side by side! This of course had to be deconstructed and then re-constructed for the current need. Doug builds ‘em strong. 

Randy and Vic took on the “blob”. job” and reverse engineered it to fit the wall. This meant setting the chunk down on wheels so it could be moved around easily and then cutting and fitting until it lined up. Several things had to be taken  into account throughout the process including two aisleways at 44” minimum,  alignment with the Ashar crossovers and  alignment with the actual town of Corvallis  section. Careful measurements from the  west wall to the end of the shear wall were necessary to insure Corvallis would fit. This  process proceeded with the “blob” on the floor and L girders were built above it.  

Serious consideration of the many variables involved in cutting and fitting the Corvallis blob around the shear wall

Vic and Randy cut and measure 


Placing Pieces on Girders


As work sessions go, today was pivotal. We set the first 4 sections of the layout up on L girders and aligned them. This was very exciting. These sections looked just as good on the new L girders as they did on the other ones in the old room.  Sections placed today included all 3 pieces of the main yard (old Albany and Toledo) and Eagle Cove. Minor modifications had to be made to the  yard sections resulting in a pie shaped section being removed. This allowed much more room in the operator’s bay, a larger access, and both sides being almost parallel. 

Please understand these sections are merely placed on the L girders. NO track or electrical has been hooked up. This allows for final tweaks after all north room sections are set in place. Tomorrow we hope to set several more sections. 

Doug cuts the proper angle on a yard section

Larry once again proves he is the fastest vacuum cleaner guy in the world as he keeps the place picked up. Picture shows the old Albany yard being prepared


Moving at a Brisk Pace and Under Budget


Friday morning Gene, Doug, Larry and Lonnie went down  to the club to hold a few L girders while Jerry thought about where they should go. One thing led to another and we ended up  building and leveling the L girder system for the center peninsula in the north layout room. It came out really well and is now ready to accept several large chunks of layout including the old Albany  yard, Old Toledo yard, the big horse shoe that connects them and the Eagle Cove module.  With a bit more work we can add L girders for the Eagle Cove helix and set that up. Having the helix in place will define where the shear wall turnback chunk goes (it used  to be between Corvallis and Scott’s Mill). With this curved piece set we can begin framing the  connection along the shear wall and on into the new  Toledo yard. 

Larry keeps everyone on the  level with a laser and demanding  exactitude. 

We have brackets for the double deck north wall staging yard and switching area. Once these are installed we can modify and move the old staging  yard and set it in place. This will require some cutting and framing as defined by bracket location.   Base L girders are in place for the lower switching area along the north and east walls and this is ready  for the installation of Red Rock along with additional framing.  

Some re-construction is defined by existing  chunks of layout, however, additional pieces need  to be framed in to connect the chunks.  Membership can have a big say in how these pieces are built and what function they will serve. The  November business meeting will be critical for  those of you who want to help define the direction of the layout since footprints of these “new” pieces  will be pretty well defined. Within limits, the crew can accommodate wishes of members at this point because as we go along, footprints, grades, and  subsequent track layout become increasingly  defined. 

Doug wants to know how many  times he has to measure this thing and  Gene quips that he’s already cut it off  twice and it’s still too short!

We find ourselves focused on the north room because, by getting certain sections off  the floor in the south room and onto girders in  the north room, additional floor space is freed  up for construction to continue around the  corner.  For the financially minded folks  reconstruction has proceeded at a brisk pace and is under budget. Purchases of plywood, fasteners, glue, markers, band-aids for Doug, and other incidentals have been frugal and focused. Several members have  stepped up with their own funds for materials and for that we are grateful. Additionally, a chop saw was borrowed by Doug (the owner knew he had taken it), Larry provided a table  saw and vacuum, and crew members have brought their own tools. El Presidente alluded to the need for reimbursements at the business meeting and, that too would be much appreciated. 

That’s about it for this report. Monday  we will start installing big chunks. We need  beef to move these things so any help would  be much appreciated. Work will probably start  in earnest about 9:30 AM. The project is moving forward ahead of schedule and under  budget. Good work one and all. 


L-Girder Thievery!


Progress on the CSME layout re-build is moving  right along. The planning phase is coming to a close and real construction has begun. This Monday and today the crew ran amuck with L girders as actual  cutting and assembly began.  

A small crew met at Gene’s shop and ripped and assembled new L girders to be used for the  critical perimeter locations. These perimeter L girders  were carefully placed along the walls and they became  the basis for all elevations on the finished layout. To accurately place these critical pieces,  Grinnel brought his laser level and led a crew who placed level reference marks around the  walls. Seems like they said total discrepancy from south wall to north wall, a distance of 80  feet, was less than ¼”. Pretty close for model railroad work. 

Using these reference marks, perimeter L girders have been fixed to the walls in the  north room. These are the new L girders assembled in Gene’s shop because they are all  reference points. These are nice to work with because they are not all hacked up with screw  holes and saw cuts everywhere. They have become a premium during this phase of  construction. In fact, L girder theft is becoming more and more commonplace as “good” girders are used up leaving only the leftovers. Crews have to guard their girders until installation.  Photo evidence of this pilferage exists!!

Photo evidence of L Girder thievery exists. George complained vehemently but to no avail.  The perpetrators continued on with their skullduggery.

As we set girders this morning an engineering problem became apparent. It had to  do with the north wall double deck portion of the layout. We have plans to create a lower level switching area and an upper level staging yard (Albany) along this wall. Simple oversight created this dilemma stemming from the floor level difference in the old layout room. This difference resulted in 7” of vertical clearance between the Toledo Yard and Eddyville instead of 12” which exists everywhere else. 7” is not enough vertical clearance to create an operational area below,  therefore, we called an immediate “engineering  meeting” with all hands on deck. Within a few  short minutes we had a number of options for  mitigation. After consideration of these changes,  it was decided to implement several of them including raising Eddyville taking care to not exceed 1.7% grades, creating tapered framing under the existing staging yard sections, hanging the yards using robust shelf hangers so no vertical supports are required and reducing the  width of Albany by 1 or 2 tracks. 

These changes will require additional work to create modifications, however the crew is up  to it. We feel confident that, even with the  required compromises, switching and staging  functions can be preserved along the north wall. This points out one of the beauties of ¾” plywood  construction – it can handle these additional  stresses.




Several folks showed up to talk about re-assembly of the layout on Wednesday  evening including: Cody, Grinnell, Lonnie,  George, Larry, Gene, and Jerry. After reviewing the 1:1 drawings we talked about  the railroad track plan both from an operational and open house perspective.  These discussions yielded several modifications and clarifications that will make this club layout fit the needs of members. It was a very  positive and productive discussion.  

This free flowing exchange of ideas showed that, in several areas of the layout, pieces  can be re-assembled using the present track plan with an eye toward later modifications that  will provide even more enjoyment for members. It also showed that we can begin reassembly  on Monday and leave room for these changes to occur. Since we are merely constructing the L  girder substructure with layout chunks sitting atop them, none of these ideas will be set in  stone until after the membership has had a chance to review them. Thus, the business meeting  scheduled for 11/4 will be most important. 

We talked about a major change to the operations of the layout to more closely emulate  a point to point run from the SP/UP/SP&S interchange at Albany out to the coast at Toledo. This can be accomplished in a most efficient way and can include provisions for “round  and round” train running as well. These concepts can be included in the present track plan. 

We talked about using the existing staging yard for both open house setup/takedown of  trains and operating session gateway/interchange switching. Most of these functions can be  provided by the existing yard with a modification to the entrance and construction of a new bi directional wye coming from Eddyville. Other track changes can be made later and we can  more clearly show these adjustments during the business meeting. 

A scenery discussion was held regarding modifications to the helix next to Eagle Cove. Years ago there was a tidewater trestle running from Toledo out toward Yaquina Bay.  Doug Taylor wants to take this on as a major scenic element. During the re-build all we have to  do is set up layout chunks in such a manner as to leave space for this to happen. As it turns out,  this will be quite easy to do.  

Discussions were held regarding the placement of the first peninsula wrapping around  the shear wall and what tracks will penetrate the wall. Two different concepts emerged and we  will refer that to the membership.

A lively brainstorming session was held regarding the  south helix between what we have called lower level  Philomath and upper level Blodgett. The group came to  consensus about recommending to the membership  certain aspects of the helix including: building a new  single track helix, making it partially hidden and partially  open track, using a “herniated helix” rather than a  concentric set of circles, including some windows into  tunnel areas, providing grade reduction by adding an  additional loop or extending the grade into Philomath  and/or Blodgett and keeping the reverse loop.  Membership will have to weigh in on these concepts. 

There are about 4 workdays between now and  the business meeting. These sessions will see big  changes to the club as L girders / legs are set and large  chunks of railroad put up on the frame. These chunks  will, for the most part, still be  moveable as they sit loosely atop the L  girders. We can’t screw them into  place until membership approves.  Exciting times at CSME!! Stop  by if you have a chance. We work M  and T from 9-1. There are lots of jobs available including “heavy  construction” and “sit down” types of  work. As a side benefit we attempt to  have highly structured, intelligent,  creative and meaningful discussions  during lunch – it hasn’t happened yet


L-Girders and Window Film


After so much destruction we have finally started to put stuff together. Randy and Doug are  busy applying a film to windows in the new club room that allows us to see out but makes it  difficult to see in. It will also cut down on heat infiltration during hot afternoons. In addition to that, Vic, Gene, and Jerry started cutting and assembling new L girders. 3 sheets of plywood  were cut up to provide almost 200 lineal feet of these L girders – it’s always nice to use new  girders along the wall because that becomes the base for all vertical measurements used on the  layout. We’ll finish those tomorrow and begin installing them according to the club consensus  regarding layout height. We want it about the same as the old layout.

Installing film on the windows

L-girder cutting

L-girder assembly

There was a grading crew working setting  elevations around the room for L girders using  Grinnell’s Laser, however, they worked so fast and  efficiently that the photographer couldn’t  document it. Thanks anyway guys.


A Safe Layout


During the business meeting of 10/7/20 I advised club members of a meeting today at 10 AM  with fire officials regarding our layout footprint. Gene responded and we met with  Jonathan, Deputy State Fire Marshal and Chuck, Adair Fire Captain. The meeting  was very positive and they seemed happy that we came to them PRIOR to filling the building  with benchwork. Their concerns, although simple and easy fixes, need to be addressed from  the git-go. They are as follows: 

1. Round off the south helix near Philomath (remove the sawmill complex) and drop a  structural fascia to the floor for about ½ way around the circle. This will help keep a  stampede of bodies from getting stuck as they try to squeeze into the center hallway. 

2. Maintain a 44” minimum in all aisleways particularly between the Asher Blob and the  Eagle Cove blob. Also, during open house add a chain across this opening and limit  access to club members only (folks can still see the areas from the main viewing aisles).  This paves the way for the option discussed last nite for staging and switching along the  north wall if we decide to go that way. 

3. Limit open house to 49 guests at a time (this does NOT include club members running  the RR). 49 is a magic number above which requirements change drastically — $$$$$.

4. Exit sign at N door needs to be mounted at 90 degrees to the wall so that it is visible  from the entire viewing area. 

5. Mount an exit sign near the center emergency lights on the east wall with arrows  pointing toward doors. 

6. Set up one way visitor traffic during open house.


Socially distanced meeting, of course


In the Spirit of Meaningful Discussion


A work session was called  for Monday 10/5/20 and we had a crew of 5 – Gene, Larry, Vic, Randy, and Jerry.  Doug was out on injured reserve status – NOT from model trains but from another hobby he has that deals with very sharp propellers.  We wish him well. 

Big layout  chunks surround the south room

Two large chunks of RR were moved to the south room today along with legs and “L” girders that were placed in the small room.  This allows free access to full size plans on the floor of the north room where large yard areas (Toledo and Albany) reside.  We did this in preparation for the business meeting (Wednesday evening 10/7/20) where discussions may be held about operational modes of the layout, locations of staging areas, and traffic flow during op sessions and open house.

  Layout legs ready for installation

In the spirit of providing a meaningful initial discussion regarding directions the layout planning process will go, we encourage members to attend if at all possible.  Member interest and priorities regarding train-running have changed with the times in terms of operation, control systems, new locomotives and basic layout footprint.  This is a golden opportunity to begin to re-assess design parameters of the layout and make sure they fit the enjoyment desires of members. 

    North layout room ready for discussion

By moving full-size layout track plan papers around the room, we can all get a close look at various ideas developing among members.  We will also have the ability to create new full size track plans on site in real time.  Having this resource will help us keep our discussions grounded in reality.  

Come on by and help us make this layout fit your “druthers”.  It should prove to be very interesting.