Nowheres Station Lighting

Many projects have been going on at SVL during our maintenance shutdown. Most are practically invisible on the layout as they are wiring and under layout mechanical fixes, important but not visually stunning.

One project that is visually stunning is the new Nowheres Passenger Station lighting.

The station is lit with LEDs and the photo was shot with a iPhone 13 Pro.

Silicon Valley Lines Curfew: December & January

With our November/December operations session in the books, SVL tucks itself in for two months of operations shutdown. Being a operating layout we try to keep our mainline open from February to the start of December so members and visitors alike can run trains without interruption. During this shutdown period we take much needed time to work on track and do projects that otherwise take the mainline down for days at a time.

This year some projects up on deck are adding detection to the helix so Dispatch can see where trains are at when queuing up. We also have a few turnouts that have failed either mechanically or electrically that need to be troubleshot and replaced. Kaos Junction being the worst offender.

Another project up on deck is replacing the core hardware for our CabCam POV cameras and upgrading to a new software that runs more efficiently. Stock levels of hardware may make this a unrealistic task.

To continue the theme of software upgrades we need to streamline our roster and get all active locomotives onto the list to make ops go a bit smoother. This is key to our remote operations.

As SVL sleeps we will still be having our weekly meetings at 7:30 PM on Fridays for working on the layout. Please drop us a line as if you would like to attend.

We will see you next year for operations on Friday January 28th at 7PM.

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.

This post was originally started in February 2020 but then the world changed and the remaining work for this area has been put on hold.

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, 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!