El Portal First Plans

El Portal, 1928, in 20×20. Lots of work to do, but a start.

Last year on Model Railroader Video Plus, a series on how to track plan, and the process that goes into track planning, a location in Illinois on the CNW walked viewers through the process of planning Crystal Lake and fitting the location into a confined layout space.  The gist of the series was that photos and maps are important resources for getting started, sketching ideas is a starting point, and actually drawing plans may take several tries to get things “right” for the space and modeler.

Those tips are valuable, and the series on MRVP is fun to watch as the plan for Crystal Lake comes together.  I’ve been working slowly on a plan for El Portal on the Yosemite Valley, and as I’ve been digging in, and learning more about the yard and locations at El Portal in the 1920’s, I’ve started to sketch ideas.

First and rough sketch of El Portal in my 1928 rendition.

The first sketch I did is just a rough one.  Working from maps like this one: http://www.memorableplaces.com/yvrr/Map.Base.DIR/Blind.Maps.html and maps from Trains to Yosemite, I began drawing.  The 1913 map from the link above would have been changed by 1928, with the large train shed having been added adjacent to the station and new tracks at the station added, from photographic evidence, as well.  In 1924, the logging company moved to other grounds at the YV station known as Incline.  However, this is a time of some lack of information and photographic documentation on the YV.  We have some things, but other things are a bit hazy.  

I decided to stretch, slightly, the logging company using the wye at El Portal and to use that as a way to generate some additional operational opportunities at this station.  I did include the Standard Oil facility that was built and serviced by the railroad, and I also included the barium bin at Rancheria Flat for some more things to do.

The first rough sketch gives you the starting spot for what I’m thinking about.  The logging wye is split into two parts, one where deliveries of oil for oil reload and logging supplies can be left along with picking up of loaded log cars, and the other end, near the station, with the empty log car storage and the wye lead.  I did not choose to connect the two legs of the wye, which makes accessing the rest of the yard easier.

With the first rough sketch done, I then set out to draw something in CAD.  I started with a space 20’ x 20’.  This gives me roughly a two car garage sized space to draw in.  We’re still early in the track planning here, There will be multiple iterations of this as I work toward making this something that I can build, not just something I could build.  A 2 car garage is a luxury I don’t have available to build something like this and leave it up in right now, but it’s also the maximum space I have available in a house that I can imagine living in, so it’s the best starting spot.

You can see from the CAD drawing that leads this post where I’ve gone.  The yard had to bend around the corner, online in my rough sketch, but I did get everything from my sketch into the drawing.  No fascia or benchwork is yet induced, but that will come.

A couple of things still need to be sorted out before I finalize a plan.  Benchwork needs to be drawn in with the sections I plan to use and the plan adjusted to allow for the limitations of my sectional layout style.  I still want to adjust to get the YV turn table into the plan, not just the lead.  I need to figure out the ability of a locomotive to navigate curves.  This plan is drawn with a minimum 48” radius, and if I can go smaller, but not too much smaller, I would in a few places.

This is, however, the right sport on the YV for me to model.  There is plenty of interest and operational possibility here to hold my interest in modeling it and operating it.  There is lots of equipment to build that I might have overlooked, along with full size models of the structures at El Portal.

Time to get back to the workbench.


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