Limited Opening Hours

As the Coronavirus situation develops over the coming weeks in Santa Clara county, Silicon Valley Lines will be closed to the public through the end of May.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

This post has been updated to reflect emerging guidance for shelter-in-place restrictions in the Bay Area.

Those Weeds Grow Fast

At Silicon Valley Lines the layout is always changing in some way. Hemet is only a few years old and has come a long way. Silicon is another area under construction, it has had quite a lot going on for a long time but its been lacking the details.

About a year ago Silicon was selected as the group project space and progress has been mainly planning. Progress has been going steady at the north end of Silicon with the Mount Nickols. This has been balanced by the work going on in the south by Ravine.

This stretch of land was Homasote Central and recently started getting some scenery. First the rocks get a test fit.


After that some sculptamold gets added and the rocks set into it. After some paints and washes with some ground foam sprinkled on top the rocks get painted. A dry brushing of a light gray brings out the rocks highlights.


Once everything is dry the next step is static grass, a rather shocking way to charge the scenery up a notch.


Everything can be left to dry or if you short on time you can move onto the next step and add small brush etc.



A hour or two of work goes a long way to making a empty area seem alive. It has some more work but at this point it is presentable.

Time for Inventory

Once a year, Silicon Valley Lines does an inventory of all rolling stock to ensure that we know which cars are present on the layout and the actual location of each car is consistent with where the computer thinks it is. With 1300 cars on the layout this is a lot of work for our train master, so a few folks helped out.

How can it be that cars are not where they are supposed to be, you ask? Simple. We’re all humans. We make mistakes. We take an extra car on a train we’re not supposed to. We forget to take all cars we’re supposed to. Sometimes a planned train doesn’t run as scheduled for a variety of reasons. For operating layouts using computer-based paperwork, this drift between reality and what the computer thinks is quite common. Here are all the cars I found in Nowheres and Jasper Jct that didn’t belong.  This is quite a bit more than expected. We determined that one of the freights from Nowheres to Bakersfield must not have run in a recent session.

By the way, layouts using car cards & waybills have similar problems where due to human error the pairing between car card and car is lost, resulting in cars without a card, or cards without a car. On small layouts this is usually resolved easily and quickly, but ends up being just as much of a challenge on large layouts, and owners usually have a system to keep things in sync.

Fall Open House

We had out Fall Open House last weekend. Plenty of people came down to enjoy running trains, and those trains got a lot of mileage on the lower level loop!

Couldn’t make it out? Not a problem! Feel free to come by an Ops session to check us out, or you can look ahead our Open House in June 2020!