The right choice for me, modeling wise, encompasses several things.
I’ve just spent the last few years starting to learn 1920’s freight equipment. When I tell you that by 1939, the world of freight cars is vastly different than it is in the late 1920’s, it’s no joke. The depression had an effect on the freight fleet of the nation. New rules for safety appliances, and new rules for trucks on freight cars, along with more steel and less wood cars means that when I went back to 1927 and started modeling, the learning curve was steep, but now I’m comfortable in the late 20’s. I want to stay modeling that window of time and build equipment appropriate to the pre-depression era of railroading.
My struggles the last few months have not only been vision related, but subject related. The things I thought were drawing, wound up not being so, and as time went by, I got to the point of not really being interested in the research. That likely contributed to the “drift” in my planning.
How to remedy these things with a move to Proto:48? Staying in the pe-1930 era is relatively easy. There are lots of subjects that could be modeled. I know there are models in O scale of the locomotive I used to look at in books I checked out of the library as a kid, a Santa Fe 1950 class 2-8-0. I saw one at the O scale meet, and in O, those are even prettier than they are in HO. There are models of Southern Pacific “Valley Mallet” 2-6-0’s available from Glacier Park. I’ve seen those too. There are Nickel Plate, Great Northern, Pennsy, and other railroad small steam out there in O. While tempting, they’re not the right fit.
The right railroad is the one I stopped modeling to hone my skills as a modeler. I’m going back to the Yosemite Valley. It’s “the” railroad that really has my interest, and this time, I’m ready, and I’m excited about the choice.
Staying in the pre-depression era, I’ve chosen August, 1928 as my modeling month and year. By selecting that date, I can include a great many of the class Yosemite Valley points of operation like the logging operation and the limestone movements to the Portland cement plat just outside Merced.
There were plans to import Yosemite Valley 2-6-0’s in brass in the early 1990’s, but those plans wound up being canceled. The locomotives, then, will need to be scratch built. That will be a challenge, but I believe it’s something I am ready to tackle. Without the need to build 100+ pieces of rolling stock for a layout, I can spend the time to build a locomotive. It’s actually exciting to consider because in O scale, dead-rail or battery operation is a real possibility and something that I am interested in including in my build. I may wind up building 2 or 3 locomotives over time.
My plans for a layout are going to be focused on a portable, storable, modular layout. 18” wide, and with each module 6’ long, I am currently planning for a layout that runs, without staging extensions, to about 42 feet long completely set up. Should I decide to build curves so I can bend the layout, it’ll wind up being even longer. Curves will come later.
With just over 77 miles of railroad, picking locations to model, even in 42’ of length, means making some serious selections and leaving much out. The obvious location to pick for at least one town is Merced. Merced had the interchanges to the Southern Pacific and the ATSF, the largest YV station, locomotive service and other facilities, a house track, small yard, and a few small ice and cold storage industries. CLOSE to Merced, so, still within yard limits, was the Yosemite Portland cement Co. plant. It’s a stones throw outside Merced.
The other location that really has some of the heart of the YV operation wise that I can see including is Merced Falls. The massive sawmill with log pond, drying fields, box factory, station, a YV turntable, and other lumber loading, Merced Falls provides destinations for log cars, the occasional rock car, and lots of boxcars.
Further up the line, places like Bagby, Emory, Incline, Rancharia Flat, and El Portal are really tempting locations to model. I think for now, those will have to be suggested with traffic running from an interchange in Merced to a staging location just past Merced Falls. In the future, I may build additional modules to include one or more of those.
There is, on a map, space between Merced and Merced Falls. There are a few things I could fill that space with, but it’s likely that, at least to start, I’ll fill in with a model of Edendale creek and the bridge across there. Eventually I’d like to add Snelling because I really like the station there, and probably Hopeton for the stock pens that were still there with a set of scales in 1928.
There is much more to come. I’m really excited to get started on this whole project.