Gateway to the Sunset Route, 1973
Werner Brandt

Welcome to Werner Brandt's Layout
"Gateway to the Sunset Route, 1973"
Our Premier Operating Session Layout

Day and Time to be announced at a later date.

Although this layout is still under Construction (95% Complete, mostly scenery).
So, there is plenty of time to have much of it completed prior to the 2017 Convention.
In Fact, with the help of Werner's charming wife Dianne working on the Scenery
there is no doubt that much of it will be completed prior to the Convention.
And what a great job she's doing, I was very impressed when I took
photos back in August, 2012.

All About this Layout

Overview and Orientation for Operators

This HO layout models a part of Southern California railroading. It covers the route of the Southern Pacific from Taylor Yard LA (implied) through Fontana, onto Colton Yard and Colton Crossing. It then continues through San Timoteo Canyon, across Beaumont Hill to the Coachella Valley and beyond, with a branch to the Eagle Mountain ore mine. Also modeled is the shared route of the Santa Fe and Union Pacific, from Hobart and East LA yards (implied) through Mira Loma and Riverside, onto San Bernardino Yard and points beyond, with a Santa Fe branch to the Hemet Valley. The year is 1973. West Colton Yard is in operation, and AMTRAK is still in its Rainbow phase. Certain artistic liberties have been taken with the geography of this region. The railroads represented are the Southern Pacific, Union Pacific, Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe, Amtrak, Eagle Mountain Railroad (EMRR) and the fictional Hemet Valley Railroad and Historical Society (HVRR).

The layout consists of two major loops, the SP Loop and the ATSF Loop, which intersect at Colton Crossing. Each loop includes an East/West staging yard. These yards are as readily accessible as all other points on the layout. The trains are controlled by MRC DCC, with 13 radio CABS and two tethered CABS available.

One operating session will last about 2 1/2 hours in real time. There are about 38 trains to be run. However, the actual number of trains that will run depends on the number of operators available during a session. Trains operate under dispatcher and train order authority. A tower operator will control the movement of trains in his domain, which most notably includes Colton Crossing. Railroad cars are routed by the Micro-Mark 4-cycle waybill system. A signal system does exist, but it does not totally control traffic flow. More on train orders, waybills and signals in subsequent paragraphs.

Train Orders

An operator is given a train order before departing with a train. The train order has a time table structure, but without time entries. For that reason a train may depart only when cleared by the dispatcher. Specific instructions are entered for relevant stations. For westward trains the train order is read from top down, while for eastward trains the train order is read from bottom up. The instruction “meet a train” is especially important. For example, “meet UP Reefer” means the train must wait, say on a siding, until the UP Reefer has appeared on the main opposite the siding and is out of the way. The “meet train” instruction may only be cancelled by the dispatcher.

Way Bills

A standard 4-cycle waybill, available from Micro-Mark, is in use. However for this session the waybills have been omitted. Waybills will be used in a subsequent operating session.


Most signals are linked to turn-outs and warn the operator about turnout settings and route selection, such as main vs. siding. All signals control both directions of traffic; i.e. a signal facing west must be heeded by westward trains as well as by eastward trains. The important rule for the train engineer is: Do not proceed against a red signal.

The Colton Tower Operator

The Colton tower operator has authority second only to the dispatcher. The Tower controls the traffic across the junction and sets all the track alignments in his domain. When a train approaches Colton Crossing it must halt and wait for clearance from the tower to proceed. The Colton Tower's domain includes the following locations: The ATSF main and UP siding across Colton Crossing; the SP main and Colton yard track across Colton Crossing; the ATSF and UP interchange tracks of Colton Crossing; Hemet Junction; ATSF Rainbow Junction and approach to Rainbow Bridge on the Desert Route; SP main and Rainbow siding on the Cut-off Route.

Running Trains

The train engineer is responsible for proper alignment of turnouts along the train's route, except in the domain of Colton Tower. As a general rule turnouts along the main are left in the normal position for the next train. When there is a train meet, the first train arriving at the siding will set the turnouts in such a way that the second train can pass through without stopping. It is imperative that the engineer of a train in motion or a train about to depart, look ahead to ensure that turnouts are aligned properly and all signals are at green or yellow. The engineer must always assume that turnouts ahead may be misaligned and signals ahead may be at red. Most derailments have been found to be due to misaligned turnouts.

Cars are uncoupled with wooden skewers. If an operator should have a problem with uncoupling, i.e. if that certain twist in the wrist is missing, the car end may be lifted up by the old reliable 0-5-0, uncoupled, and then placed back on the track. The 0-5-0 may also be used for fine adjustment of cars left on a siding or spur, the coupling between two cars, or the coupling of a car to an engine, etc. etc.

Gateway to the Sunset Route

Owner: Werner G Brandt

Gateway to the Sunset Route, 1973
Welcome to Werner Brandt’s Layout
"Gateway to the Sunset Route, 1973"
Our Premier Operating Session Layout
Day and Time to be announced at a later date.
This layout recreates Southern California Railroading in 1973.
The principal railroad is the Southern Pacific Lines.
Supporting railroads are AMTRAK, the UP, the ATSF, the
Eagle Mountain (Kaiser) R.R. and a fictional Hemet Valley
Railroad and Historical Society (HVRR).
The main objective of an operating session is to create two
very busy main lines that intersect at Colton Junction, but
there is also car forwarding going on, with online customers,
and in the railroad yards at Colton, San Bernardino and
Ferrum. The layout occupies a combined space of 790 sq. ft.
on two levels, with three connecting helixes. Trains are
controlled by MRC DCC Radio Cabs.
One operating session will last 3 hours in real time. The optimum
number of operators is eleven; the minimum number of operators
required is five.
Those who have registered, and plan to attend an operating session
during the Ontario Manifest, are invited to contact the layout owner
at to receive, upon verification of
registration, a more detailed description of the operations scheme,
plus an orientation package.
Trains operate under Time Table and Train Order authority, modified
by an “Event Driven” component, and by the “Rule Book.” The Time
Table for each train is included in its Train Order. Time is measured
by a 5:1 fast clock.
This scheme has been described in detail in the OPSIG “Dispatcher’s
Office” magazine of October 2014.
Waybills and Signals
Railroad cars are routed by car cards and 4-cycle waybills, available
from Micro-Mark. An extensive signal system does exist. Most
signals are linked to turn-outs and warn the operator about turnout
settings and route selection, such as main track vs. siding track.
Running Trains
The train operator, in addition to following the instructions in the
train orders, is also responsible for proper alignment of turnouts
along the train's route, except in the domain of Colton Tower.
Gateway to the Sunset Route
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