Willow Creek & Orchard Valley Railroad

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Gra2472
Posts: 87
Joined: Sat Jan 25, 2020 8:02 pm
Location: Monte Rio California

Willow Creek & Orchard Valley Railroad

Post by Gra2472 » Mon Aug 17, 2020 5:03 pm

I wanted to share my progress on my backyard short line Willow Creek & Orchard Valley Railroad. Many of you have endured my questions about building switches and finding rail. As it turns out, the rail that I have is not Culp rail as was suggested but in fact Cannonball standard rail from the 1980's. I picked up about 1700 feet of it a few months ago, and have been working steadily. Yesterday my wife and I finished the curve beyond the trestle and took our first ride on the railroad.

The railroad is planned as a loop, with about 400' of main track, and another 200+ of yards and sidings. The curves are laid out at 35 feet, though they look much tighter in the photos. My beloved wife, the good sport that she is, has been helping with the project. We spent two days laying out the railroad using basic drafting methods. Long ropes, stakes, and second guessing.

The track is 7.5" gauge in the tangents, and 7.625 in the curves, laid on a mix of 12" and 13.5" wood ties depending on what was donated or scrounged from other projects. The ballast is locally sourced 3/8 blue chip from a quarry in Cazadero that supplied ballast to the North Pacific Coast Railroad. As a point of interest, the original narrow gauge right of way, and grade, runs behind my property above the track FRA (Feline Railroad Inspector) inspector in the photos. This was the line to Guerneville. There are still remnants of the railroad here and there.

I haul ballast in the (clearly) home made ballast car. I built it in a day out of scraps laying around the yard when I decided that hauling ballast in buckets would take longer than the building of the pyramids. The car has two bays, each holding about 400 lbs of rock. The doors are held shut with basic ratchet straps. It works really well. In fact, I built the curve beyond the trestle in one day, including hauling and dumping three full loads of ballast. My wife enjoys riding the loaded ballast car down the hill to the trestle along the side of garage. I can tell you, it's a thrill.

The trestle in the photos is Big Trees trestle, at 16' in length and 1' tall, it spans a seasonal creek that fills up occasionally in winter. The railroad plans call for another larger trestle at the end of track in the photos. This one will be on a curve, about 27' feet long and just under 2' high over the creek.

The main track runs behind garage to the stub switch at Newton Junction, (named by a friend of mine for the apple tree over the track). The main track along the garage runs down a short 3.5% grade to about the center of the garage, then climbs up again at about 2.5% to the stub switch.

As we progress, with lots of help from our friends (Kevin S. and his son) and my father (the old guy working on trestle bents) I will post updates. The section will be the switch and yard leads to the garage, and the main track across the front of the property. It is a lot of work, but it sure is fun.
Attachments
grading big trees.jpg
20200717_162721332_iOS.jpg
20200816_025353660_iOS.jpg
20200717_212301218_iOS.jpg
20200724_233520830_iOS.jpg
20200817_002116743_iOS.jpg
Last edited by Gra2472 on Mon Aug 17, 2020 5:21 pm, edited 3 times in total.
7.5" Allen Mogul
3 x 7.5" West Valley Baldwin Westinghouse Electrics
The Mrs. wants her railroad around the house!
G. Augustus
Monte Rio, Ca.

Gra2472
Posts: 87
Joined: Sat Jan 25, 2020 8:02 pm
Location: Monte Rio California

Re: Willow Creek & Orchard Valley Railroad

Post by Gra2472 » Mon Aug 17, 2020 5:04 pm

A few more photos
Attachments
20200816_025447989_iOS.jpg
20200817_001352955_iOS.jpg
20200810_180345487_iOS.jpg
7.5" Allen Mogul
3 x 7.5" West Valley Baldwin Westinghouse Electrics
The Mrs. wants her railroad around the house!
G. Augustus
Monte Rio, Ca.

Gra2472
Posts: 87
Joined: Sat Jan 25, 2020 8:02 pm
Location: Monte Rio California

Re: Willow Creek & Orchard Valley Railroad

Post by Gra2472 » Mon Aug 17, 2020 5:07 pm

I haven't quite figured out how to post pictures. Bear with me.
Attachments
20200728_024429258_iOS.jpg
20200817_000539205_iOS.jpg
20200816_232642673_iOS.jpg
7.5" Allen Mogul
3 x 7.5" West Valley Baldwin Westinghouse Electrics
The Mrs. wants her railroad around the house!
G. Augustus
Monte Rio, Ca.

Pontiacguy1
Posts: 1215
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:15 am
Location: Tennessee, USA

Re: Willow Creek & Orchard Valley Railroad

Post by Pontiacguy1 » Tue Aug 18, 2020 7:25 am

VERY nice! Building and maintaining ANY size railroad is quite an undertaking, so I admire anyone who takes the time to put in and maintain a private railroad. Nice looking Electric locomotive too. 35 ft radius should allow you to handle pretty much any diesel/electric and small to mid-size steamers such as an 0-6-0, mogul, or small consolidation. That makes your track pretty versatile and able to host a large percentage of the locomotives in the hobby, which is good. Hopefully you have a lot of fun with it. Good Luck.

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Erskine Tramway
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Location: South Dakota
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Re: Willow Creek & Orchard Valley Railroad

Post by Erskine Tramway » Tue Aug 18, 2020 9:12 am

Looks very nice. Keep up the good work.

Mike
Former Locomotive Engineer and Designer, Sandley Light Railway Equipment Works, Inc. and Riverside & Great Northern Railway 1962-77
BN RR Locomotive Engineer 1977-2014, Retired

Gra2472
Posts: 87
Joined: Sat Jan 25, 2020 8:02 pm
Location: Monte Rio California

Re: Willow Creek & Orchard Valley Railroad

Post by Gra2472 » Tue Aug 18, 2020 9:54 pm

Thanks. It’s a fun project. I planned the railroad with the intention of running my Allen mogul, but I hope to have visiting locomotives too.
7.5" Allen Mogul
3 x 7.5" West Valley Baldwin Westinghouse Electrics
The Mrs. wants her railroad around the house!
G. Augustus
Monte Rio, Ca.

DBauer2250
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2016 1:27 pm

Re: Willow Creek & Orchard Valley Railroad

Post by DBauer2250 » Wed Aug 19, 2020 1:27 pm

HI there,
Looks like you are enjoying the railroad building hobby. I am very pleased that your wife likes to participate. It is so much more fun when you can share a hobby. I would love to see some more detail on your ballast car. What a good idea. Also, do you have 3 of the Baldwin-Westinghouse electrics?
I have one that I never finished, but plan to soon. keep up the great progress. Looking forward to more photos.
Don Bauer
Arizona

Gra2472
Posts: 87
Joined: Sat Jan 25, 2020 8:02 pm
Location: Monte Rio California

Re: Willow Creek & Orchard Valley Railroad

Post by Gra2472 » Wed Aug 19, 2020 9:46 pm

Thanks for the encouragement. My wife is a good sport and encourages my hobby. Don't mention it to her, but I think she enjoys it too.

The ballast car is very simple. Its just a plywood box, a couple of trusses for a frame, and 2x4 bolsters with two pieces of Teflon bar stock for bolsters. It has two bays, each cone shaped with independent doors. Its full of rock at the moment, so I'll get some details in the next few days.

We have three Baldwin-Westinghouse electrics, and an Allen mogul that I am overhauling. The green engine is the 1947, that my dad and I built in the 1980's. We acquired two more last year from a family friend in his 90's. Our original railroad name was the Willow Creek and Western. But after acquiring the two Orchard Valley locomotives in a "merger" we changed the name. All three electrics are being fitted with a wireless throttle and Syren 50 controllers, but my father insists on keeping the original relay system intact too. I like the idea of dual control systems but its beyond me. He's the electron wizard not me!

As for track work, I am on a mission to have as much of the railroad built as I can by Christmas. Its an arbitrary goal, but seems within reach. It keeps me working on it. I made a little bit of progress yesterday on the main track across the driveway. I removed the existing temporary track that I installed to reach the gravel pile, and rebuilt it to the curve I wanted. I also had to remove about 8 inches of gravel to bring the track down to ground level. I also started building the switch for the engine house (garage). I have not decided whether to build another switch for the engine house, or to use the motorcycle lift I have as a transfer table. It might prove useful when I have to service our cruisers too.

The curve is about 37' in diameter, and the turnout is about 32 feet. I am using a #5 frog because that's what I have on hand, and it seems to fit the tight radius I need to reach the engine house (garage, my wife just reminded me that it is the garage... :D ) Because the switch is on a curve, I extended the closure rails from 49" in the standard #5 layout, to 60 and 61.25. Its not based on math, its all by eye. So far it seems to work.

In case anyone was wondering, yes, I am building the track on the ground just like the real thing. Its not because I am some sort of glutton for pain in my knees and back, rather that the joint offsets are 45". Because I am not using a rail bender, I have the joints spaced this far out to help support the rail in the curves. I guess old habits from having been on a professional track gang early in my career has stuck with me.

My work week starts on Wednesdays, so I probably won't get much more done this week.

Garrett and Sara A
Monte Rio, Ca
Attachments
tripple header.jpg
yard 2.jpg
yard 3.jpg
7.5" Allen Mogul
3 x 7.5" West Valley Baldwin Westinghouse Electrics
The Mrs. wants her railroad around the house!
G. Augustus
Monte Rio, Ca.

Gra2472
Posts: 87
Joined: Sat Jan 25, 2020 8:02 pm
Location: Monte Rio California

Re: Willow Creek & Orchard Valley Railroad

Post by Gra2472 » Thu Aug 20, 2020 8:57 am

I meant to say 37’ radius not diameter.
7.5" Allen Mogul
3 x 7.5" West Valley Baldwin Westinghouse Electrics
The Mrs. wants her railroad around the house!
G. Augustus
Monte Rio, Ca.

Glenn Brooks
Posts: 2451
Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2014 1:39 pm
Location: Woodinville, Washington

Re: Willow Creek & Orchard Valley Railroad

Post by Glenn Brooks » Sun Aug 23, 2020 2:51 pm

Nice progress! Looks like some cool, scenic wilderness areas along your mainline.

One little trick I discovered when building my trestle- if you experience any low points, dips, or unevenness on your trestle, from the ground settling, you can insert 1/8” or 1/4” metal flatbar shim stock between the top of the bent beams and the cross beams that support the ties. Hence raise that portion of the track to horizontal and square without messing with the as-built bents. Particularly a year after the build, if the ground under the foundation settles in...

Glenn
Moderator - Grand Scale Forum

Motive power : 1902 A.S.Campbell 4-4-0 American - 12 5/8" gauge, 1955 Ottaway 4-4-0 American 12" gauge

Ahaha, Retirement: the good life - drifting endlessly on a Sea of projects....

Gra2472
Posts: 87
Joined: Sat Jan 25, 2020 8:02 pm
Location: Monte Rio California

Re: Willow Creek & Orchard Valley Railroad

Post by Gra2472 » Sun Aug 30, 2020 8:07 am

Here are few more pictures of the progress on the WC&OV this week. I rebuilt the main track across the driveway, completed the engine house switch and lead, extended the main past the switch, and installed the lift table. Everything works great, with the minor exception that I need to add a support under the end of the lift table. The weight of a locomotive causes the end of the table to drop slightly when transitioning from the track to the table. I am now able to get the locomotives and cars in and out of the engine house (garage) with ease.

My wife Sara was the engineer on duty. We hauled the mogul out of the engine house to do some testing on the valve gear motion we rebuilt earlier this year, and needed to reposition the tender in preparation for stripping and paint. She handled the hospital train with skill. We took the train down to the trestle and checked how the mogul handled the track and curves. I will admit that things look a bit tighter than I expected, but it handled it well. It did not derail as I half expected, except for when we shoved the chassis through the engine house switch. I suspect that this is mostly due to the light weight of the chassis without the boiler. I will test it again when it is reassembled and adjust the guard rail slightly if needed.

That's all the track construction for now. I am starting into stripping the mogul and green electric for paint, then reassembly and testing. Hopefully I will get it mogul back in shape before winter. After paint, I will be adding air brakes to the locomotives and cars, as well as remote control to the electrics.

Enjoy

Garrett
Attachments
yard_switch_1 (2).jpg
main_start_1 (2).jpg
yard 1 (2).jpg
lift_1 (2).jpg
on the main (2).jpg
lumber load 1 (2).jpg
7.5" Allen Mogul
3 x 7.5" West Valley Baldwin Westinghouse Electrics
The Mrs. wants her railroad around the house!
G. Augustus
Monte Rio, Ca.

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rwmorris
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Location: Healdsburg, CA. USA
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Re: Willow Creek & Orchard Valley Railroad

Post by rwmorris » Mon Aug 31, 2020 9:16 am

Outstanding! I take it you guys didn't get evacuated during the Walbridge fire? I was on duty for about 10 days straight.

Railroad looks awesome!

~Robert M.

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