Saturday, November 7, 2020

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 2) - Research & Changing Track Plan

This week I've been working on some changes to the design.  Remember that this track plan has the operators standing inside the space looking out to the "East" generally geographically.  Railroad East (Geo-North) is to the left and railroad west is (Geo-South) to the right.  This gets messy as some of the siding sides are really geographically east and west of the main line, but in railroad terms are north or south of the east-west main track.  So hopefully the direction conventions in this post don't get too confusing!

Under steam, SPNG 18 meets SPNG 9 at Laws, Sept 23, 2017 - Jason Hill photo.

Scott Inman reminded me that Trainline No.135 (Spring 2018) from the SPH&TS has a beautiful photo gallery of Owenyo from the lens of Robert M. Hanft and several others, courtesy of the Western Railway Museum.  John Signor adds his great plan drawing of Owenyo and a short history of why the SP Narrow Gauge and Owenyo should be coming up again with the renewed interest (as of 2018) in the operations at Laws. Many of the photos have never been published before!

Front cover of SPH&TS Trainline No.135, Spring 2018.

Those of you that have subscribed to the quarterly issues of Trainline with your SPH&TS membership, can go pull out your copy and follow along!

Original Nov.3, 2020 Plan

Track plan as of Nov 3, 2020

The changes of just four days of design considerations are shown between the two drawings (above and below).

I should note that I'm using my professional copy of SolidWorks to draft and render the CAD trackplan and other features of the space I'm considering. The walls have been eliminated to allow easier viewing of the space.

First Revision Nov.7, 2020 Plan

Among the first changes is dropping the idea of a 'continuous running loop' with a grade climbing back up the front of Owenyo to meet at the West Door. Also dropped is the idea of connecting into the middle of the wye with the continuous track, as that will really destroy the look of the wye area, town, etc, and add a diamond to the middle of the area. Adding a diamond doesn't really scare me building it trackwise, but I don't want to change the 'signature' scene in the town that much.

So the main line will drop and duck under at Owenyo. I have also pulled the staging mainline in slightly at the SE corner of the room to clear a bookcase that will have to move onto the desk in the SE corner. This should only be a change of a couple inches, and will result in a bit of a tangent that should help in adding a couple of switches to the room's east end of the staging yard.

Track plan with changes as of Nov 7, 2020 (connection across the door at the right side not shown)

The Trainline 135 article also has a lovely drawing of Owenyo by John Signor to accompany the photos which shows several other details of the company buildings, an over-head crane (which probably used ground rails and was a simple overhead bridge based on the photo in the article), and the livestock transfer platform.

The major compression in this version as of Nov 7, 2020 has much of the central trans-loading platform compressed out of existence, leaving only 120ft of platform.  The loading ramp has been moved to be at an angle and off a wye-switch at the east end of the north track.


The general plan, as shown in Part 1, calls for Owenyo to be built over a Mojave Stating Yard, which will be about 5.5" lower.  This may cause some clearance issues, and I may have to push the grade up towards 1.75% or even 2% if needed.  I believe I can fit about four tracks under Owenyo comfortably and plan to have most of the switches along the close side of the staging area.  A single crossover at the stub end should allow run-arounds and a short stub for extra cars or engines I wish to keep on the layout, but not assigned to another track or train consist.

It is possible that I may depth compress the structures slightly and even pull the whole arrangement of Owenyo off the wall slightly to make room for 'scenery flats' along the wall with NG boxcars and the faces of some buildings and trees to overlay the basic background of the scene.

Owenyo with roughed in buildings, transfer pit/ramp (far left) and the trough for the Dump Trestle (right).

Owenyo had some company dwellings inside the wye. I have used GoogleEarth's measure tool to measure the length of the disrupted dirt at the end of the west leg of the wye (~300ft). The radius of the wye show at about 570ft, which puts it at about three times larger than my plan for 24" radius. The result is I'll probably only have room for 3-4 dwellings, not the prototype five structures.

East end of Owenyo with some rough structures blocked in.  Mojave Staging in gray below Owenyo.

The water tank was an elevated design, so easy to raise it.  I don't see a raised oil tank above the trees, so I have sketched in as a low tank.  The buildings along the space between the SG and NG might be adjusted to try to get more transfer docks and shift the crane to the east.

I measured the length of what my Mk-6 (SP 3266) with 120-C-6 tender is, and it works out to about 12.5".  The regular engine I plan to use is my Mk-2/4 (SP 3203) which is about the same length.  The two stub tails of the wye therefore need to be about 14" from the headblocks to the end-of-track.  I could probably save an inch, but I would prefer to have a bit of extra space for the engine to drift to a stop, etc and not risk hitting anything.

Several people have commented that I should have the tail of the wye able to fold.  As the layout will be at about chin level, I agree that it would be much preferred to be able to lift it, or drop it, out of the way.  At this point, I'm just mentally keeping that in mind, but not spending extra time at this point chopping up the CAD renders, as I'm focusing on the other design considerations first.

Bartlett MP 509.02

Bartlett in the NW corner of my space.  Drawing Nov 7, 2020.

Looking more closely at Bartlett on GoogleMaps and GoogleEarth there was a light duty road which crossed the spur and the main between the switch and the buildings heading down to the lake.  This road will be about where the line crosses the track in the middle of the curve.  The backdrop here will be of the Owens Lake, which today is broken up into various salt mining basins.

Bartlett looking east with a yellow line 100ft long sketched on in GoogleEarth.

Currently I have a shelving unit which would wrap over and around the switch at Bartlett. I probably will have to find a new home for that structure as it will interfere with any scenery that I want to put in at Bartlett.

At one point around 1980, the parent company owning Trona and West End were considering acquiring the rights and the facilities around Bartlett and Owens Lake to mine minerals there.  This was not done and the railroad was abandoned from Lone Pine back to the US Hwy 395 crossing north of Searles.  

From the website, it seems that the station at Bartlett was named for Frank Bartlett, Chief Financial Officer of Clark Chemical, which was the company that I presume was operating the facility at the location.  I do not know the corporate history of the companies that ran the operation at Bartlett after it was started and named.

Little Lake

Looking for more information on Little Lake in the last few days resulted in a quick internet search brought me to's page on Little Lake, which is a great little page and gives some good information.

Roughly my planned view will be about the same as the first photo on the Ghosttown's page "Overview of Little Lake from the west. Largest building is the old Little Lake Hotel. October 15, 1998.Courtesy David A. Wright", which nicely shows the area.  I plan to run the wayback machine about 50 years back however, to bring the town back to life!

Little Lake, snuggled into the knook between the bookcases and over a desk.  Drawing Nov 7, 2020.

The view of Little Lake will be from the mountain behind the track, looking down at the road, hotel, company village and the southern end of the "lake", although most of the lake will be off to the left when viewing this scene, the ridge south of the lake on the east side of the track will probably make up most of the backdrop scene.  Unfortunately, the wye at Owenyo forces the model to be looking "down slope" at two of the other three stations.  Linnie is more or less "flat", but it too is down slope to the east into the usually dry drainage from Haiwee Pass, north of Little Lake.

Hopefully some further investigation will show more about what the railroad 'village' at Little Lake consisted of.  Probably over to the right side there will be a spur with an 'ore dump' near the wall.  I expect there was also a small spur somewhere closer to the middle of the scene in which a water car was being stored in the 1958-1962-ish Alden Armstrong photo... but more research is needed, as the photo doesn't really show the track plan well in the area.

Linnie MP 461.5

Linnie, November 7, 2020 CAD drawing.

In the 1970s, the site at Linnie was a Georgia Pacific Lumber Mill, with several acres of cut logs with misters keeping them from drying out too much.  Thanks to Jim Sommerskier for that memory he recalled of the area.  He mentioned the logs were stored with the bark still on the trunks, explaining how the large piles of bark came to still cover the area in 2002 when I was there.

I have rearranged the spur to be branching off from the south (RR West) end of the station, but looking at the aerial photos on GoogleMaps, it appears that this is wrong, and the spur was from the north end.  Being thoroughly confused now, I will await further research before continuing to take time changing this.

In either case: logs, sawmill, spur, boxcars, flatcars, gondolas, bark on the ground... call it Linnie!

In Closing

I still need to contact CSRM and see if I can purchase the SP ValMaps for the four towns of Owenyo, Bartlett, Little Lake, and Linnie. 

This project is so far been interesting as I start to pull my various notes and research materials together.  I know I have several other bits which I will need to dig out from 15-20 years ago to nail down certain other aspects.  I am very grateful to several friends and new faces that have made themselves known after my first post on this topic.  I look forward to new exportation of this concept, and someday soon constructing it.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 2) - Researching and Changing of the Plan

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 3) - Consists and More Bartlett Research

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 4) - Freight Car Roster

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 5) - Pulling the Trigger (Buying the materials for the benchwork)

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 6) - Q&A Continuing Design Tweaks - Working out the logistics for the staging yards other details.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 7) - Film & Construction Begins - Historic movie film clip of Owenyo Local and starting construction of the layout.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 8) - Little Lake Grows - More research materials have surfaced for my modeling of Little Lake

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