‘HO’ – WESSEX ARMCHAIR MODELLERS
Wyandotte Siding is an HO-gauge model railroad set in the early 1950s steam-to-diesel transition era on the Southern Pacific. (For those unfamiliar with US terms, the siding in the layout’s name is a passing loop).
The layout’s location is deemed to be somewhere between Marysville and Chico on Southern Pacific’s East Valley line in the Sacramento Valley of Northern California. This line linked (and still does, although under Union Pacific ownership since 1996) Southern Pacific’s big Roseville yard, east of Sacramento, with the Pacific Northwest. SP’s long-distance passenger trains used the West Valley line on their journey from Oakland (for San Francisco) to the Pacific Northwest, so these do not feature on the layout.
The only passenger trains on the line during the period modelled were locals nos. 201 (Gerber to Sacramento) and 202 (Sacramento to Gerber). For many years, I have been unable to reproduce these trains, since suitable heavyweight passenger cars have been available only as expensive brass models, but I now have some plastic models of SP Harriman cars, finally allowing me to run a passenger train on the layout.
Peco code 83 is used for the switches (points) and the main track, with MicroEngineering code 75 on the siding and code 55 for the spurs. Layout control is Digitrax DCC, with Tortoise motors and Hare decoders operating the switches. All the locomotives regularly in use are fitted with sound. Automatic block signalling using working searchlight signals will eventually be installed, replacing the current dummy semaphores.
Operations include non-stop freights, trains that stop to wait for opposing trains to cross or overtake them, trains that stop to set out or pick up cars from one or more of the industry spurs, and local freights that are run specifically to switch the whole complex, before returning to where they came from or continuing to the next scheduled stop; and now, of course, passenger trains too will be putting in an occasional appearance. There are four industries: fruit-packing sheds, a grain elevator/silo, a beet loader and an all-purpose team track with an end-loading ramp.