Gateway to the Sunset Route, 1973
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.
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.
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.
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