Monday, November 27, 2017

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Heading home

The return trip was event-free. Some rain in Oregon, some clouds at the view point north of Mount Shasta

Yummy burrito for lunch in Mount Shasta, CA.

We kept on driving south with the sun setting in the West.

The last driver swap at Starbucks in Williams was carefully observed by the driver in the car next to us.

We left Portland at 8:30 in the morning, and arrived home in San Jose shortly before 9pm where Tatjana was already waiting with spaghetti bolognese and apple cake. What a treat!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Blue = Freezing

Seen at the exit from a Fred Meyer store. Perfectly normal for our friends, a novelty for us.

Union Pacific on Steel Bridge

Coast Starlight on Steel Bridge

Chance encounter. Lots of fun when trains cross the bridge. ... And the engineers were waving at us.

East Bank Esplanade

The brand-new Tilikum Crossing Bridge is the first new bridge built across the Willamette River since 1973. It's a unique design with an unique purpose. Only light-rail, bicycles, and pedestrians can use the bridge.

Tilikum Crossing with the submarine moored at OMSI in the foreground
We walked along the East Bank Esplanade from Tilikum Crossing all the way over to the Steel Bridge.

A very enjoyable walk past several bridges. We were not the only ones who had that idea. The nicely built-out bike path was quite busy. Vera Katz, the former Portland mayor who initiated the East Bank Esplanade project, would approve.

The Union Pacific main line runs through town only a couple blocks East from the esplanade.

Union Pacific's Albina Yard is on the east side of the Willamette River, while Portland's Union Station and BNSF Lake Yard is on the west side. Since 1912 the Steel Bridge carries the main line across the river. It is the second oldest vertical lift bridge in the U.S., and the only double-deck lift bridge in the world with independent lift mechanisms for the two decks.

The proximity to the two yards, as well as Portland Union Station makes this a busy place to watch trains ... at least by U.S. standards.

I was here in 2015 for the NMRA convention, and that post has some shots of the extremely tight curves onto the bridge deck from the East. The approach into Union Station is just as tight.

I was quite fascinated by the construction of the rail connection between stationary rails on the approach, the rails on the lift deck, and deck construction.

A true dinosaur doing its duty day in, day out. While walking along the tracks crossing the river, we caught the south-bound Coast Starlight, and a north-bound UP freight crossing the bridge.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

Lots of fun cooking Thanksgiving dinner with our Oregon friends. The bird is ready, the table is ready, ...

... time to eat.

Fall Colors

Oregon clouds

There's blue skies and sun in Oregon, too. Must be the Californian influence.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


Caffeine and sugar refill in the shadow of Mt Shasta.


Stopping for coffee at Starbucks in Orland.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Instruments in an instrument

Seen at the Dickens Fair at the Cow Palace in Daly City, CA. One of the vendors there is selling music instruments. This diorama of a fiddle maker's shop inside a cello was very cool.

Saturday, November 18, 2017


Fried Rice for lunch today was a father-daughter team production. We used what the kitchen had to offer, and Franziska followed the recipe she had learned in Nutrition at school as couple weeks ago.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

New Car Cards

All active freight cars have new car cards. Time to retire the Micromark car cards. This is quite a bit more work intensive than hand written cards. Most of the work is due to my choice of raising the bar: Baseball card plastic sleeves, printing the car card with a picture of the respective car, stickers on the outside of the sleeve, ... I think it's worth it, but only time will tell how this system holds up to regular use.

On to making more way bills.

Apple Cake

I noticed this morning that I haven't made any cakes this fall -- contrary to last year -- and decided to promptly address this burning problem. Yumm.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Open House

Today was the Fall Open House at Silicon Valley Lines. I helped set up this morning, and prepped the paper mill yard for a small switching exercise with car card & way bills.

The Northern Pacific "Main Streeter" is passing Hallelujah Paper at track speed on the SVL main line, while Dave and Jon run the paper mill switcher.

We prepped Bayshore Yard with a wide selection of different trains that visitors could run on a loop on the lower level.

Towards the end of the day I ran the UP "doodlebug" on the upper level from Windsor to Nowheres, down to Jacksonville and back. The single car unit got quite some interest because it stands out due to its distinctive color and ... aehm ... length.

M-32 at Vampires Rest in Silicon
M-32 in Nowheres

Friday, November 10, 2017

Rain again

Beautiful rain for the second time this week.

It wasn't that much really, and was over pretty quickly. Oregonians or Seattleites would laugh, but this made me happy today. More of this, please.

Fall Sunrise

We had some really nice sunrises the last couple of days. Due to Daylight Savings Time ending and time of year, my bus departure time lines up with dawn just before sunrise. Combine that with clouds and fog, and the folks waiting get treated to a flaming sky for a few minutes in the morning.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Dave Park's Cumberland West - Western Maryland

Tonight the Western Maryland was the active railroad. Contrary to the fully signaled B&O with big time main line railroading, the WM is scrappy and still uses Timetable & Train Order operation (TT&TO), which is a nice change I always enjoy.

I started the evening with finishing the Elkins Mine turn (EMT), switching Douglas Mine and taking the fully loaded coal train home to Knobmount Yard and on to Hagerstown.

That run took a surprisingly long time, ... but I wasn't exactly in a hurry, either. By the time I came back to the train master, the remaining pickings were slim. I got BT-1, a fast manifest from Hagerstown to Connellsville. There was traffic ahead of my train coming up from staging, the operators were busy with other trains, ... "wait and hurry up". I used the opportunity to chat and take photos.
When I got to Ridgley Yard it was pretty late in the evening already. BT-1 was too long for the yard, so the yard swapped cars on the main line, which ended up blocking the only through track in Ridgley to the detriment of all opposing trains.

Here's a section of my train on the main line. In front on the left is a west-bound passenger special holding short of Ridgley station, on the right the yard switcher with cars pulled from my train. In addition there was a coal train waiting behind the passenger special ... The car drivers probably needed infinite patience to wait for the railroad crossing to clear.

Once I had all the cars I needed, BT-1 proceeded through the Cumberland Narrows. The two-track B&O main line is on one side of the river, the single track WM on the other side.

A little bit later we see BT-1 at track speed entering Frostburg. Shortly after the run ended in the Connellsville staging portal.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Sleeping Dragon

The Welztalbahn didn't have an ops session for over a year now. During the break last year I focused on building things and getting ready for the Open House in January.
A new assignment at work, a new layout project, various small projects, and operating on other layouts conspired for me to ignore Welztalbahn operations.

I want to get the layout back into operations state. Tonight I took stock of cars and existing paperwork. The next step will be to determine car routes and build the respective new style paperwork. I hope that this will go quickly if I transfer the routes from the existing car cards for now, and fine-tune later as needed.


By way of a recent Ebay purchase, this Buchfahrplan from Summer 1971 found its way to me. Among several routes north-east of Stuttgart it covers all traffic on the Murrbahn in my chosen time frame. Digging through the schedule tables it confirms that in 1971 there was still regular steam operation on the line, usually with classes 23 and 50.

Between Backnang and Stuttgart (and Kornwestheim) trains usually ran with Diesel locomotives (classes 211, 215, and 221), or electrics (classes 141 and 144). Diesel rail cars (class 795) were used for passenger runs outside commute hours. All steam-powered trains changed locomotives in Backnang, since Stuttgart Hbf was declared "smoke free" in the mid-1960's.

There were various transfer runs from Backnang to nearby stations, too.

Plus, several local and through freight trains from Nuremberg / Crailsheim to Kornwestheim / Untertuerkheim, though most of the trains to Kornwestheim went via Heilbronn.

I have copies of the respective schedules from 1968, too. It appears not much has changed three years later. Either way, there is plenty of inspiration here for an operations-oriented model railroad. Now I just need to plan and build it ... Hah! That might take a while ...