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Yosemite Valley Railroad: Progress Report

May 21, 2010

Well, it’s been some time since I posted anything, and I wanted to give you all an update on my own layout progress (since I see the Mission Valley is doing well!).

Ground has indeed been broken on my Yosemite Valley Railroad. For those of you not familiar with the line, the YV ran from connections with the Southern Pacific (and ATSF) in Merced, CA, 77 miles to El Portal, CA from 1907 to 1945. I’m modeling 1939 (more on that another time).

It makes sense to me to start at, well, the beginning with the layout. The first part to get work done has been the area in Merced surrounding the Southern Pacific interchange.

YV Benchwork 1

In the above photo you can see the benchwork for the interchange section. I started out using some pre-built sections of benchwork from the Sievers Benchwork Co. These are sections ordered from the company, shipped to me, pre-drilled, and with all the hardware included, in a modular form. They needed assembly, which went quickly. I started painting the benchwork sections (the Sievers parts are the gray color), however, after the 1st coat, I stopped. I decided that it wasn’t worth the time, would be extremely cost prohibitive, and nobody would, under normal circumstances, be seeing these sections, so everything else is natural wood.

I then built some extensions and fill pieces along with the support legs. The legs are 1×3’s made into “L” girders with blocks at the floor end that have furniture feet inserted to allow leveling. Because my layout room was intended as the garage, there is a nice pitch and slope to the floor. The section by the door into the room (at the left) is almost 2” lower than the section by the other wall.

YV Full Size

In this photo you can see the track plan printed and laid out on the plywood decking, ready to transfer the track plan. The planning was done in a CAD program, so printing out full size is possible. Then I use a big black permanent marker to color over the centerlines and that transfers through the paper enough to allow me to come back and draw in the track centerline.


In this photo, more progress. The roadbed is down. I’m using a homosote product from California Roadbed. It is milled roadbed, and fantastic to work with. When I ordered my roadbed about a year ago, they didn’t make turnout pads in the height (branchline) or profile (60 degree bevel) that I wanted, so I made turnout locations fit as if I was using cork roadbed. Now they make the right turnout pads, and I’ll go to using those on the rest of the layout.

The roadbed is laid in a thin bed of latex paintable caulk. This was so easy! Then the track comes on top, gets fit in place, another thin layer of the same caulk, and bam, done!

You can also see that there is lots of wire going on. I want to ensure that I don’t have electrical problems in the future, and even though I’m going to be putting DCC in, I’ve decided to wire each section of track to the power bus so nothing has to rely on connections between track sections for power. The wires are being soldered to the bottom of the rail so once in place, painted, balasted, you won’t see the feeders.

The majority of the track you can see is Atlas code 83. The code 83 is being used for the SP mainline, but then I’m transitioning to Micro Engineering code 70 for the YV tracks and SP sidings.

Hopefully in the next few weeks I’ll be able to show you some more progress as more benchwork and more track, as well as a few other projects, get really rolling.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 2, 2010 9:42 pm

    Jeremy, congrats on your ground-breaking. I look forward to seeing more pictures of your YV. It’s one of my favorite railroads. –Thomas

  2. High Sierra Trader permalink
    September 12, 2010 4:44 am

    Thanks for showing and explaining how to get started with a fixed layout. I am considering a YV logging railroad layout as my first HO scale pike. Looking forward to more photos and tips from you in the future.

  3. Paul Saunders permalink
    October 13, 2010 11:37 pm

    I have really enjoyed my time on your website, it is so rich in information. I am new to model railways and am in the planning stages of my first railway which will be a shelf layout. Your site has been a inspiration and I look forward to your updates.


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