Filling in a Blank Space on the Backdrop (Part 1)

Since I took over North Hallelujah and changed its theme to the 1950s Southern California town (and renamed it Hemet in the process), I’ve always had a big sky blue backdrop behind the town.

I started with a bit of research, going to Jim Lancaster’s site, coastdaylight.com to go through the various pictures he and others have compiled of some of the remaining packing houses in the southland. From this, I found a few packing houses with which to work off of – aspects of packing houses in Piru, Redlands, Olive Park, and Corona could be cobbled together to make a large, 4 door packing house, with some added visual detail.

Most of these were Sunkist packing houses, so we’ll need to add in that signage detail too.

Using the ideas from above, I wanted space for 4 doors. As this will be a transitional structure, I knew that one blank space and one door would give me about 40 scale feet. To make way for the height of the addition (which would have been storage or refrigeration on the prototype), I used both a double wall and an additional single wall to give a bit of height perspective.

For added strength, I then cut foam board to glue to the back. The structure still won’t stand upright due to a slight warp (and the backdrop isn’t straight), so I need to reinforce the base a little more. Before that though, I brought it down to the club for a test fitting.

I’ve got some gaps to fill and paint, but so far so good. Proper doors, signage and details (downspouts, a little weathering, some paint patches, and maybe some ivy growing in a spot or two) will help really give this some character. More to come!

Modern Operations – Sept 2019

Everyone was kept pretty busy during our September Ops, making sure that freight was moving across the layout and getting to its final destination. Everyone had a great time – so much fun in fact, that we didn’t take as many pictures as we had hoped!

Manifest trains meet in Fryton
A manifest passes through Greeley, with the branchline below quiet.

Transitional Ops – August 2019

Every now and then, we add a special twist to our operating sessions. This time it was night ops, where we run part of the session with the work lights in the layout room turned off. The layout lighting is set to night mode (a dark blue light setting), and operators use flash lights and head lamps to read their paperwork and do switching chores.

Many places on the SVL layout are illuminated and they really “pop” at night. Some members commented today how the mood on the layout is much more serene and peaceful when it’s dark and lighted trains are traveling through cities or dark stretches of scenery in the middle of nowhere, but see for yourself.

Modern Operations – July 2019

It was a packed house last Friday when we held our monthly Operations session, with members and guests a plenty in attendance. Once trains got moving, there was nary an open space of track available as long trains and multiple section trains traversed the layout.

Everyone had fun and much freight was moved. Check out the pictures below for some railfanning shots taken during the evening.

We had a special sighting during Ops, as NS 911 (Decorated for First Responders) made a cameo pulling a run-through autorack train. Here it is passing through Silicon at speed while a local is switching the tracks.
Crews waiting around Nowheres above, while a long freight passes through Jacksonville below.
Frisco GP38-2 #695 creeps across the High Bridge at Mt. Nicholls with a trainload of gravel and covered hoppers for switching in Silicon
Western Pacific Uboats wait just outside the cover of the snowshed as an autorack train passes by just south of Mt Marvel.
More Western Pacific power waits in Nowheres as SVL’s own GP-15s pull into Nowheres with train 690, having finished their switching on the lower level.
The Hallelujah Paper Mill switcher is parked on the pulpwood lead waiting for the next shift change, when it will be back to work moving cars around the mill.
Rio Grande GP60 3155 cools its heels in Nowheres after working hard to pull a gravel train up from Jasper into the yard.

Transitional Operations – June 2019

We had our June operating session a couple weeks ago, and thought we’d post some photos of the evening. In total, about 24 trains were run by members and guests, including a bit of varnish and some commuter service. Feel free to contact us if you’d like to stop by and check us out at our next Ops on Friday, July 26th – We look forward to seeing you!

Photos

Our intrepid Engineer is working the Yardmaster in Nowheres to sort out the engine and cars he needs for his Southbound train

Northern Pacific 5138 (a Challenger) is pulling into Paso for a water stop and to let Nowheres clear up. It’s lugging 30 cars for Nowheres to break down and sort into future trains.

An NKP Berkshire is crossing right in front of McKeown coal with some hoppers for switching in Jacksonville.

Mail pays the bills, and so here both 400 (coming off the branch) and 220 (outbound to Hemet) have to wait while train 99 makes its way through Dayton Junction and on to Bakersfield.

SVL’s Pathfinder pulls into Hemet’s new station platform to ensure that proper clearances were adhered to when it was built

Hopefully the crew for 220 has a clean stack and won’t need too much power to pull cars – they forgot to use an idler, and as you can see, there’s not a whole lot of space for exhaust…

Travelers from Across the Atlantic

The great thing about the Bay Area is that we are a melting pot of cultures and interests and our members show this diversity as well. Some of our club members do enjoy running trains from their home country, and as such, bring their trains out from time to time to run on the layout, typically on the weekends or quieter periods.

Saturday was one of those days, and in passing by SVL, we had some German locomotives and wagons roaming around the layout!