Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Two Years of Blogging - Reflections

Well, it's the 4th of July again! 

Steamed up 1875 built 'Glenbrook' and cosmetically restored ex-CP 1873 built,V&T 18 'Dayton.'
- July 4, 2018 - Jason Hill photo -

Today I went over to the Nevada State Railroad Museum at Carson City.  The Museum had three steam engines fired up and running, as well as the V&T 22 McKeen car.  Since the last time I visited during the 4th of July run in 2016, the V&T 18 'Dayton' has been moved from Virginia City in exchange for the V&T 27 for display in Virginia City.  The 'Dayton' was built by the CP in 1873 with an iron boiler.  She's been cosmetically restored as a historical artifact.  The 1875-built V&T 22 'Inyo', 1905-built V&T 25, and the 1875-built narrow gauge Carson & Tahoe Lumber & Flume Co. - Lake Tahoe Railway & Transportation Co.'s 'Glenbrook' were all pulling public riding cars or cab rides!  I shot a 20 minute video riding in the cab of the Inyo. (linked here:

1875 built V&T 22 Inyo, which I was able to ride in the cab of for three laps around NSRM Carson City.
 - July 4, 2018 - Jason Hill photo -

New Projects in the Third Year

Two years ago I finally made my first post on my blog that I set up many years before.  In the last two years, I've been surprised by the number of people that want to read about my ramblings, research, and modeling photos.  The total hit counts are now over 70k spread over 72 posts (several with over 1000 views) and 9 pinned pages (several with over 2000 views).

Looking over the many posts that I've started writing, but not finished, which I hope to get to again this coming year.  I'm also slightly overwhelmed by the number of projects that I have started. - A common model railroading problem!

Railfans hold an impromptu party as SP 4252 shoves a freight up through Walong on April 29, 1951. James Salkeld Collection

I'm happy to hear feedback on what topics you're most interested to read about or photograph discussions.  Here are a few of the topics that are quing up:

SP Diesels

SP 6150 built from Athearn-Genesis DF-2 class

Several SP F7s are coming up to the work bench, these will mostly be showing the process of adding the signature SP detailing to the Athearn-Genesis models.

SP 'Pike-Size' Passenger Train Modeling

Sacramento Daylight at Lathrop in 1954.

I plan to get to work on my kitbash for the signature 70-BP-15-3/4/5 RPO-Baggage for the Sacramento Daylight and then discussing modeling train Nos.53/54 and the operations around Lathrop relating to the San Joaquin Daylight.

My blog about Finishing SP 5124 (Part 3) is coming along nicely.

I'll probably also be doing a blog about modeling the steam-era (1946-1955) San Joaquin Daylight.  I know many of you have seen the work on some of the cars in previous blogs.  Generally, I want to get the signature cars modeled and at least mostly finished before I do the 'Pike-Size' train consist modeling posts.  The San Joaquin Daylight is rather a monster to both model and research.  I'd recommend reading Don Munger's wonderful article in the SP Trainline, with wonderful color photos.

Modeling SP Road Engines (Part-5) - Passenger Engines

SP 4439 at Bakersfield in 1957 with an excursion - Brian Black Collection

I've already covered SP's Light Steam Engines, Medium Freight Engines, Heavy Freight Engines, and Articulated Engines.  What's left?  Yes, it's time to show some love to the Passenger Engines: GS, Mt, P, and A-class engines.

SP 4351, a Balboa Mt-3/4 class 4-8-2

SP Work Trains & MW Topics

SP 2850 works at Caliente with the KI Local in 1948.

I'll be continuing my posts about the SP Maintenance of Way equipment and operations.  I'll be revisiting the SP Supply Train consist and modeling of some of the more esoteric but critical cars.

Teaser of my heavily weathered OwlMtModels F-50-5, SPMW 3605.

Revisiting the Nos.55/56 Mail Trains!

Photo analysis of SP Trains 55 & 56.  Photos from Nolan Black, Brian Black Collection

While I did a modeling blog on the consist for the SP "Tehachapi" Mail trains.  Because these trains ran overnight between Bakersfield and Los Angeles, photos are very rare.  However, Brian Black has been gracious enough to share his collection of photos around Modesto of the trains during daylight hours!  Generally, I'll be planning to compare the photos to the known consists and see if we can reveal the rhyme and reason for all the baggage cars, where they're going, etc.

Passenger Car Mechanical Standards - A How To

How to Rebuild Passenger Car Mechanicals to Operate

One of the most talked about subjects that has been brought up relating to something I should do on the blog is a How-To on Passenger Cars.  Diaphragms, couplers, trucks, lighting, detailing, operational aspects, etc.

Company Shops

Yes, *Gasp*, I actually do some structure modeling, but I'm not nearly as experienced at it as with rolling stock and engines.  So hopefully everyone will enjoy reading and watching me as I get back into some structure modeling!

SP 4279 during regular shopping at Bakersfield

One of the projects I'm returning to is working on the Shops area at the La Mesa Model Railroad Club in San Diego.  I plan to have some new posts coming up about SP Company Shops and Structures related to many major Division Point yards.

Bakersfield - Company Material Yard (Rail & Tie Yard)

There will also be other posts as I work on other structures and industry modeling at the club.

Prototype drawings for West Bakersfield

These posts will cover selective compression choices and planning how to 'lay out' the industries.  One of the real luxuries of the La Mesa Club is the space and prototype feel of not having too many industries jammed into areas, there's usually plenty of room to do the switching without too many unrealistic 'puzzles'.  The real railroad crews hated 'puzzles'.  "Get the job done and move on!" was the name of the game.

This will probably overlap a bit into the following topic as well...

Freight Cars Over Tehachapi - A New Series

Freight Car Modeling! - Over Tehacahpi, Bakersfield SP Yard

While the title might not be immediately appealing to all my readers out there in Internet land, I hope to cover some nice freight cars and also some lighter kitbashes to make cars that will be useful for SP freight modelers.

Freight Symbols Over Tehacahpi - Operations & Patterns

SP 4279 leads a VXE freight eastward over Tehacahpi Pass in 2007 at LMRC, San Diego, CA

"The cars become like drops of water.  When they're put into an operating fleet, it's like putting your drop of water into a swimming pool. --- But each drop has a story, a reason for being where it is, and for what it is doing there."  Many years ago, in discussions with other friends at the La Mesa Model Railroad Club this quote came out.  The railroads developed 'rivers', if you will, paths that moved individual cars en mass from one place to another.  Like the drops of water in a river, a train passing by doesn't seem to be made of single cars, it is one massive thing.  But what is the story of each of the cars or drops?  Did it come from a mountain spring or was it a great cloud burst?  Has it seen only the open fields or has it jumped down steep mountain slopes?  Did it linger a while as a snow flake and then in a massive snow pack before melting and getting moving again?

So how did the real railroads move their cars?  How can we simulate that in model form? 

My Story in Learning Operations

This is one of the things that sometimes is intimidating is prototypical operations.  I know in the early days of my experience reading about "Prototype Operations" in various books such as:

How to Operate Your Model Railroad
, by Bruce Chubb, 1977 Kalmback..

Or another classic:

Track Planning for Reakistic Operation
, by John H. Armstrong, 1979 Kalmback,

These books were certainly helpful in my early experience with 'prototype operation' and the various levels and aspects of it.  However as I joined the La Meas Model Railroad Club, I felt woefully unprepared for the 'complexities' of what was being recreated.  One of the things that became my favorite aspects in the club's recreations was the movement of freight over the Tehachapi Pass.

Unfortunately, the books and most magazines being published in the mid-1990s that I owned didn't talk about southwestern US prototype railroading, but instead focused most often on east coast and coal railroading!  Over the years, I learned the flow of traffic in the South and Western US States, hopefully I can likewise shed some light into some of these areas, and encourage more of you to take the plunge... or at least to learn about what really happened so you can 'tweak' your railroad to make it 'fit in' to the rest of the larger world!

Symbols and Schedules

A monster river of reefers, a BK-OK-R snakes its way down through Bealville and Allard in November 2004 at LMRC.

One of the interesting things about the railroads that I learned was how the railroads set up "Symbols" to move or 'protect' certain traffic under agreement with the shippers on certain 'schedules'.  I should stop and rephrase that.  These 'schedules' were actually a series of 'cutoff' times by which the traffic would have to reach the next major yard in time to continue to move on the 'guaranteed movement' provided by that 'schedule' for that 'symbol.'

SP 6151 leads the BK-OK-R as it arrives on Ice Deck 2, Bakersfield, Calif. at LMRC in 2005.

I'll plan to cover in this series of posts each of the symbols that operated over Tehacahpi, and also how they connected to the Bay Area, the San Joaquin Valley and out of Mojave both to Barstow and beyond and to Los Angeles and beyond into the nation-wide system of freight movement.

The Continuing Story ---

Jason Hill, at the Bakersfield CTC Machine in 2006. - D.F.Willoughby Photo

Well, again I want to thank everyone who has been reading this blog and making comments.  I hope to be able in the coming years to write more interesting articles inspiring more people to take up prototype model railroading and understanding that it's a skill set that is learned, practiced, and crafted.  It is not "too hard" and remember Rule One... Model Railroading is Fun!

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

First Steps: A New Modeling Blog - The first post two years ago.

The Shasta, a revised "Pike-Sized Passenger Train" from 1987 article.

Overview of 1950's Timetable & Train Order Operating Sessions on Tehachapi Pass (Part 1)

A Month Away - Modeling on the Road

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